Talk:Block chord

Latest comment: 5 years ago by Jerome Kohl in topic Wow
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Definition edit

The article currenlty lacks a clear definition. Here is what I have been able to figure out:

Teach Yourself Chords and Progressions at the Keyboard (by Bert Konowitz (1998), p.9. ISBN 0739000179) shows as a block chord a C major chord closely spaced in root position. This is then replaced by a LH rhythmic figure (dew ok,endo,kwedomweomkdewkomdwwof the same notes with saxwsxwsxnaspoo poo and weeroot position, and simultaneity.

"...Phil Moore, perhaps best known as an originator of the locked-hands 'block chord' style later popularized by George Shearing." Wedowskdkjwemxdwx, Richard M. (2001). Lost Chords: White Musicians and their Contribution to Jazz, 1915-1945, p.404. ISBN 019514838X.

Carl Humphries in his The Piano Handbook: A Complete Guide for Mastering Piano (2003, ISBN 0879307277) distinguishes between broken and block chords: "Here are the other broken chords you should know right now. First play through each one in block chordsnhuwecbhuswbxws" (p.64). "Block" appears to refer here to the simultaneity and nothuwdxbuhdwxuhbwsxubwsxuhwb eqc inversion (as there are various inversions). I don't know about spacing. However, later he claimes that "A common way to harmonise tunes 'as you go along' in jazz piano (ie, freely and flexibly) is known as block chords: the hands move in parallel, providing a chord for each note of the melody. This often uses a technique derived from the way jazz arrangers write for four horns ('horns' in jazz means saxophones, not the brass instruments of classical music) or four trumpets: this is called four-way close." (p.87)

Hyacinth 11:38, 7 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

After a couple of readings of this article and with my (somewhat limited) knowledge of musical theory and terminology and some prior knowledge of the sound of the artists mentioned, in conjunction with what is written above in the talk section, I think I may have some sort of idea what block chords are. But I ain't sure. If it means what I think it means (essentially the use of chords rather than single notes to play a tune or melody, but with some technical specifics(?)) I'm sure a more simply expressed explanation could be included, alongside the more technically precise one. As written, the article is not accessible to a general audience. Mutt Lunker (talk) 16:17, 13 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
How so? Or, which bits are you unsure of or seem too technical? Hyacinth (talk) 22:47, 13 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It’s simply that, as per the tag, I don’t see a "general audience" getting much, if anything, from the article as it stands. It would benefit from at least having a simple explanation of the term in the introduction, in addition to but not instead of the existing text. If my understanding of the term is correct, the first sentence (”Block chords are chords or voicing built directly below the melody to create a four-part harmonized melody line in rhythmic unison.”) is accurate (and rendered more so by your recent edit) but, as currently the most accessible sentence in the article, still not sufficiently comprehensible on its own to a non-musician. Keep that definition but add something simpler and less technical as well.
As a musician, the sentence may not seem that technical to you but I really don’t see non-musicians understanding the concept, even after cross-referencing the terms therein. Personally, as more of a long term "instrument owner" than a proper musician, but therefore somewhere between a general audience and a student of music, I know the meaning of each individual term but I still struggled a little to tie them into a mental picture of the concept.
If the use of block chords is something broadly along the lines of “playing a tune with chords rather than just single notes”, even if an over-simplification and with some notes more significant than others, something like that would convey an idea to non-musicians. The existing text would then provide a more detailed and accurate technical description to musicians and those with more theoretical grounding.
My understanding in simple terms as above appears, to my layman’s eyes and ears, to be confirmed in this example.
That’s my main point but I’m also unclear about aspects of some other passages. ”Block chords…are easily used in a melody line that has a swing feel…" –why is this so, and is it not so for music with a different feel? The phrase ”uses diminished chords for the notes that are not part of the chord” seems at best obscure if not actively nonsensical.
Hope that helps. Mutt Lunker (talk) 21:30, 14 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good to see some refs, thanks - I'd meant to mention that. I like the new "A common way to harmonise..." paragraph as this gives a clear statement (of what I understood the term to mean at least). However I do have new questions and some doubt as to my understanding due to the second para of the intro "Block chords are a simple chordal harmony in which "the notes of each chord may be played all at once"...". Does this mean that the term block chord is used when all the notes of a chord are played simultaneously even when not in the context of "providing a chord for each note of the melody"? In which case is this article actually about a specific use of block chords rather than block chords in general? Is it a block chord if one simply plays all the notes of a chord as musical backing to a melody line but not in rhythmic unison with it? Does one only use the term when the chords are employed in rhythmic unison with melody line? Is the term only used in jazz but the concept existent in other forms?
Going back to my earlier post should ”uses diminished chords for the notes that are not part of the chord” be ”uses diminished chords for the notes that are not part of the of the melody"?Mutt Lunker (talk) 07:38, 15 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Father of the Block Chord edit

Didn't block chords originate with Milt Buckner? -- megA (talk) 18:04, 6 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

=Ambiguity edit

The article seems split between two views of block chords--the guitarist's simplistic view that they are just non arpeggiated chords, and a more complicated theory from jazz piano.1Z (talk) 00:02, 19 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Nonsense? edit

I took out this because I wasn't sure what it meant:

palo addition to George Shearing, [ing a non-moving chord in his left hand, then an octave in his right hand, with 1-2 notes in between. Fine examples of this can be heard on various recordings of his time with the Miles Davis quintet. Bill Evans is also remembered for his use of block chords when he played in Miles Davis' band in 1958. write for four horns...or four trumpets: this is called four-way close."

It could be rewritten like this:

George Shearing would play a non-moving chord in his left hand, then an octave in his right hand, with 1-2 notes in between. Fine examples of this can be heard on various recordings of his time with the Miles Davis quintet. Bill Evans is also remembered for his use of block chords when he played in Miles Davis' band in 1958.

but I'm not sure if that's even true and plus i had to take out that last bit cause it really didn't make sense. Eman235/talk 01:55, 22 May 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Origins much older edit

I see this stuff all the time in much older keyboard lit. All three example types given in the scores here existed at least as early as 200 years ago, and the first one goes back at least 300 years. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:37, 7 December 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wow edit

Well it takes real skill to produce a Wikipedia entry as obfuscated and confusing as this one. Carefully evading any attempt at a simple definition. Fascinatingly looking at the musical example, the difference between 'block chords' and 'shearer' chords seems to be that the latter have a single bass note added with no sign of arpeggiation? Also, since when has G# been in a C-major scale? Bollox such as I never have seen, eh Yoda? Stub Mandrel (talk) 19:46, 24 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, no, not quite. As explained (in what I think is, by default, the least obscure sentence of an amazingly unclear article), Shearing (not "shearer") chords double the melody at a lower octave in the bass. It would be helpful, though, if somebody could sort out how "block chords" are different from "homophony". I can't see any difference, myself, but my PhD in music theory is probably getting in the way.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:03, 24 April 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]