Thanks to Chad Linsley for the comments on my posts (here and here).
Here is an excerpt, and my response below:
“From a jazz arranging perspective, Monk is deliberately “breaking” a cardinal “avoid minor 9ths” rule on this E9sus4(add3) chord. Thad Jones loved this sound. In closed position, this chord has a minor second between the top two voices which is a “no-no” in harmonizing four part block. These examples brilliantly illustrate Monk’s love of minor ninths/seconds… You raise a very interesting question as to whether Monk was playing a wrong note by accident or on purpose.”
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I think it’s all deliberate. Their frequency and consistency imply that Monk had it worked out. I call them “wrong notes” only because they go against everything music theory teaches us!
Is it possible to have a music theory that encapsulates everything that’s beautiful? I’m not sure… But if someone wanted to develop a theory that includes Monk’s music, he/she would have to look above and beyond traditional harmony and counterpoint; there’s a greater architecture happening in his music.
I love this quote from Stravinsky’s The Poetics of Music, and I think it’d be a great place to start:
“All music being nothing but a succession of impulses and repose, it is easy to see that the drawing together and separation of poles of attraction in a way determine the respiration of music.”
Consonance and dissonance; tension and release; sound and silence. How does Monk mess with these poles of attraction and how does he differ from everyone else?
This chord from Ruby my Dear could be written: E9sus4(add3) or D-triad/E-triad, but those symbols don’t fully explain what’s happening. For that kind of explanation, I think there needs to be a “bigger picture” perspective. What do you think?
I’m glad you’re enjoying; thanks for the comments!