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Ive heard a lot about reharminzation however i am kinda confused now because it appears as though you can basically reharmonize any note with a chord as long as the chord fits that note. Which i wouldnt think would be the case because doing such a thing spontaneously could cause a massive wreak beacuse there is so much more room for error

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    What sort of errors do you mean specifically? What's an "error" here? – piiperi Reinstate Monica Apr 20 at 15:44
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    Like if we are playing a song and the chord is A7 and the melody note is C# like any band member could potentially reharm the chord to C#7, C7b9, Eb7, E13, F7 #5, F#7, G7#11, G#7sus4. Those are just the possible dominant 7th chords so like changing to any chord and soloing over it while your band mates are picking there choice seems like it would lead to a cluster of different scales and modes all clashing over different chords but i am not sure if this is the correct perspective – user68809 Apr 20 at 16:03
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    Yes it's possible to create clashes if what you're doing isn't in control. Then again, it's also possible to learn to know the other players and what they're going to do, and it's possible to learn to react to spontaneous changes. Or agree on these in advance ... and not everybody has to to play full thick chords all the time, even if they're written in a lead sheet. :) Is this a big band or a trio? Good question by the way. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Apr 20 at 16:49
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A reharmonization is typically done in advance and is often written out on the page, so that all musicians have access to it. The song is reharmonized relative to the original chords of the song. So all band members are on the same page, and they don't play clashing scales, etc.

Sometimes, a soloist will "go outside" and play notes that are not part of the written chords. In these cases, the soloist might clash with the rest of the band--and this is often the point. However, advanced rhythm section players will often hear the soloist going out, identify the new chords/scales/changes that the soloist is using, and adjust what they're playing to match the soloist.

Or, the rhythm section players might hear that the soloist is "going out," and they might start comping in a more amorphous way so that they are less likely to clash with the soloist. For example, when a bassist hears that the soloist is "going out," it's pretty common for the bassist to switch from playing the chords and instead play a pedal (stay on the same bass note while the chord changes pass by). A pianist or guitarist might respond by playing quartal voicings (chord voicings where the notes are separated by fourths). Much of traditional harmony is based on the interval of a third, and by playing quartal voicings, the chord often matches a wider range of scales. These techniques can minimize the extent of the clashing.

By the way, your understanding of how reharmonizations work is correct. Your description (take a melody note and reharmonize it using a different chord that contains the selected melody note) is one of the broader, less constrictive ways to approach reharmonization. There are other ways: one might reharmonize only by back-cycling dominants, or only by introducting descending chromatic ii-V's, or by only using tritone substitutions. These and other more constrictive approaches to reharmonizing exist.

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    I don't remember who said it, but when e.g. the guitarist is not playing a solo, but someone else is, the guitarist's main task is not to provide a "harmonic context" filling all the space with notes. The guitarist's main job is to provide rhythm and let the soloist improvise new harmonic scenes. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Apr 20 at 16:30
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When a soloist improvises over a chord sequence, everybody else knows exactly where they are in the chart. It's one person chaanging one thing. The opposite doesn't happen! We cannot have oe soloist playing a melody, and several others playing different chords (from each other) under it. Well, we can, it's called cacophony!

However - any piece can be, and probably has been, re-harmonised. It needs writing down, or at least agreeing upon - so it happens prior to being played, cetainly not spontaneously - unless of course, there's only one accompanying player, and the soloist doesn't stray from the original tune.

It's probably the most used way - as you say - to take melody notes and play a different chord containing those notes. That can get very restrictive, and might involve several changes per bar to accomodate certain notes in a harmonious way. But, there is often no need to incorporate each and every note into a new chord.

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  • Thanks for the response so i guess reharm should be agreed on before performing unless you just dont want to – user68809 Apr 20 at 16:38
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    The others don't have to play the chords, or they can play only barebones versions, and only little of that. Why can't reharmonization be done spontaneously? If you know everyone else is going to play a plain C major and it won't clash with rest of the tune or the style, by all means throw in a little D major or Db major, even A or F# major over the C. :) Or C half-whole diminished scale. Or a G major making it a Cmaj9. Or ... just about anything, as long as you know what the combination will be and others will tolerate a different sound. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Apr 20 at 16:42
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica - it's never worked well for me. If I'm on bass, I need to know what chord, or at least what some of its components are, and spontaneous re-harmonisation won't really give me a clue. if i'm on guitar or keys, then a couple of added notes isn't going to throw too many players, but I really need to know what others are playing. I do not like playing even a Db triad over someone else's C triad, for example. Not my sort of 'music'.If I know what someone else is playing, I'll know what to play alongside, but 2 playing completely different chords is not often good. For me! – Tim Apr 20 at 16:57
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    @Tim, there are some common ones that can be done on the fly and everyone knows what they are (tritone sub over a ii-V-I, Trane substitution over a ii-V-I, play the ii-V up a minor third, etc.) – jdjazz Apr 21 at 0:50
  • @jdjazz - true, to a degree. Tts is one which works well - provided only tritone notes are used. Take a simple C#7 instead of G7 (in key C), two notes work perfectly. But - C# against D, and G# against G? I don't like it, and it's a good reason why so many think jazz is unco-ordinated! Prudence is needed. – Tim Apr 21 at 7:50

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