Peacocks Takeaway

Anyone trying learn the bridge of Jimmy Rowles’ sublime composition “The Peacocks” will end up consciously or otherwise doing a MOVES breakdown of the patterns it contains. In the illustration you can see the bracketed patterns are {-1 -3 -1 +3} and {-9 +1 +9} with linksums (do the math!) of -2 and +1 respectively, which if you’ve been keeping up, means that one descends in whole tones at each iteration while the other rises in halfsteps. The first thing the player will want to do with these patterns is play them through all keys as an exercise. But that is not the only takeaway offered by this tune. With MOVES notation the range of possibilities explodes. By substituting any integer for those 3’s and 9’s we can derive a host of other patterns, some that descend in whole tones, and others that rise in halfsteps. In addition, if we need patterns that rise in whole steps or descend in halfsteps, then we simply reverse the + and – signs. Just staying within one octave, that gives us 48 different patterns, which when you multiply by 12 houses is going to keep you busy for at least a day or two!


In the old days, the customary method for studying such chromatic patterns involved buying Nicolas Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns and slogging through pages and pages of infra- ultra- polations and ditone progressions. I don’t know what happened to my copy but  I remember the weight used to topple my music stand, sometimes ending on my foot. My feeling is that while Slonimsky is great for one’s sight-reading, it does nothing to free up your improvising soul, and the dividend in intervallic awareness sometimes gets lost in the visual process of reading.

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About jazzpanflute

jazz panpipe pioneer and designer
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5 Responses to Peacocks Takeaway

  1. Very good. isn’t this what Sid Vicious was working towards, before his tragic early death? ‘How I got over that I’ll never know.’ Bernard Manning.


  2. jazzpanflute says:

    That these compositional insights should transcend stylistic boundaries is no surprise. The history of music is full of talents cut short in their prime, as if the Almighty wished to deny us the mature fruits of their genius.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On a more serious note, reading and playing your material would be a good exercise for any musician, however advanced.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Science of Licks | Intervallic Awareness for Improvisers

  5. Pingback: MOVES to the rescue ! | Intervallic Awareness for Improvisers

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