On Rich Perry's concept

Here's an e-mail I received from Paul Harper, a former student of Rich Perry. This should be in the comments section of my 'Rich Perry- Eating standards for lunch', but I felt it warranted it's own post.

In my post 'Innovation or Emulation' I described a similar exercise as Rich has his students do-

"The chord/scale approach has a tendency to lock you into playing only the scale notes over a chord. The scale should only be thought of as consonant notes. All twelve notes should be available to you over any given chord. The non-scale notes each have their own 'tonal-gravity'. They only sound wrong if you don't know where they want to resolve to and you don't deal with them correctly. It's a good exercise to sit down at a piano and play chords while experimenting with every note over each chord. Listen to where each 'avoid' note wants to resolve. Try things like a major third over a minor seventh, a natural 11th over an altered dominant chord, a natural fifth over a half-diminished chord. Be thorough about this process and take notes as you go. Once you realize that you can play anything over anything you will be able to relax a little. You won't be so worried about playing wrong notes because you will have the skills to adapt to any possibility."

Here is what Paul had to say about studying with Rich Perry:

"I just noticed your comment referring to my posting about Rich Perry. I took some lessons with him about 8-10 years ago. He really emphasized just a couple of things:
Learn the 'classic' bop resolutions (#9, b9, 1; etc, etc, etc). There are a number of Parker oriented resolutions that drive an immense amount of this music. Rich was really big on knowing them in every key, and really making sure you heard them.
Then, be able to hear any note against any harmony. He would put on one of the Abersold 2-5-1 exercise discs, and play interesting notes against the progressions. It was really about hearing novel ways to resolve. My comment about resolving to the #11 stems from this. Rich has such big ears, he hears, I believe, the resolution to #11 and other more exotic resolves as perfectly good options. Most important perhaps is 'not resolving'. You hear Rich hang over the resolution point a lot, creating and elongating the harmonic tension. He's someone who makes this work better than most anyone. What we didn't talk about (not sure if you can) is his uncanny way of making all this work in, to my ears, his uniquely lyrical way. We also didn't discuss phrasing all that much. His phrases and rhythmic placement are another reason he sounds so unique.


Tim said...


I have been working a great deal on resolving notes per the ideas in this and others threads on your blog. What are some common bebop resolutions other than #9-b9?


David Carlos Valdez said...

We're talking about dominant resolutions here. This means any V7 that moves down a fifth in root motion (doesn't matter what chord quality it goes to). On any V7 that moves down a fifth you may play any of the common dominant chord/scales .

Here they are, from less alterations to more:

#11 up a fifth melodic min
b13 up a fourth melodic min
b9,#9 down a whole step melodic -
b13,#11 whole-tone from root
b9,b13 up a 4th harmonic minor
#9,#11,b13 up a -3rd melodic min
b9,#9,#11 diminished up a 1/2 step
b9,#9,#11,b13 up 1/2step melodic -

Anonymous said...


I like your spectrum of tensions over the V chord. I don't think that's what is meant by be-bop resolutions. The resolutions are how you connect the V7 and the I chord. Here's how I perceive it.

The fist vertical list show the movement by scale step and the second shows pitch names. The resolutions are the glues between the chords. The tension and release.

b5=>1--- Db => C
b9=>5--- Ab => G
9 => 5 --- A => G
3 => 1 --- B => C
5 => 1 --- D => C
7 => 3 --- F => E
V => I --- G7 => CMaj7

I could be dead wrong, but what's right and wrong anyway. Of course there are many more resolutions but these are some of the basic ones.

Gregory Dudzienski said...

Really late to the party here, but I think Jon has it right when it comes to Rich's idea of resolutions. I've been working on similar things. As far as the altered tension and their resolutions, here is how I think of it.

b9->5 (Ab->G)
#9->6 (Bb->A)
b5/#11->9 (C#->D)
b13->9 (Eb->D)

And, of course, the common 7->3 (F->E) as well...

Unknown said...

Having been blessed to share the bandstand and record with Rich over the years, I can say his lines always give the dual sense of 'surprise' and 'inevitability'. Thanks for the insight!