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To continue with this process of learning tertian polychords, next step, after one has learned by rote and memorized permutations, is to apply their understanding of poly chords to an improvisation setting. Before one begins improvising with other musicians, one should improvise alone. This will familiarize oneself with polychords without aid of written materials. One should strive, during this stage, to improvise with polychords without much thought. Other permutations on this stage include improvising within a strict harmonic setting. For example, one can improvise on chords that are a minor third apart. Similarly, one can improvise on a series of polychords.
In last stage of development, one should perform with other musicians and observe how polychords affect other musicians playing and one's performance. During this stage, one should apply their polychord knowledge towards Jazz standards, modal tunes, or atonal standards. Each form of Jazz standard offers its own rewards and challenges. Due to pros and cons of each form of standard, outcome will greatly differ. In addition to performing Jazz standards, one should attempt create their original composition with polychords. Furthermore, one should attempt to re-harmonize a Jazz standard with their new understanding of polychords.
In end, this article focused primarily on practicing and application seventh chords and triads in a polychordal environment. One can venture into larger tertian harmonies or into other harmonic formulations, such as segundel, quartal, quintal, and all other similar formulations. During one’s venture into other tertian or non-tertian formulations, one should observe impact polychords have on one’s and other performances. As a reminder to one’s practicing of polychords, for one to be successful at polychords, one should remain diligent in their practice and application of tertian polychords. The process of learning polychords can be tedious, but in long run, rewards are greater than not learning this harmonic concept. In next article on polychords, polychord progressions and its application to composition will be discussed.
Andrew Hanna is the CEO & Production Manager of At Hand Productions, Inc. At Hand Productions is a leading Philadelphia concert and theatrical production company. Andrew Hanna has 20 years of composition experience and 16 years of performance experience. His compositions range from duets to large theatrical productions such as My Journal, Requiem for the Now, and Prophecies of War.