Tendency Tones

The natural tendencies of pitches to resolve plays a major role in the strength and integrity of melodic lines. These tendencies, most evident in approach patterns- the two to four note patterns that link melodic phrases together at chord changes- supply energy to melodies and drives their forward motion. In this lesson, learn to hear diatonic and chromatic tendency tones by studying how Hank Mobley uses them in his solo over his tune "This I Dig of You" from his 1956 Blue Note release "Soul Station" and learn how to harness these notes to create strong and natural improvised lines.
Lesson Stats
Date added: 8/30/11; Updated 3/15/09, 1/15/14
Duration: about 27 minutes
Chord Changes to Tunes Used:
This I Dig of You

Q. How strict are these tendencies? For example, does "re" always have to go to "Do?"

A. No. You will see "re" move to other notes all the time. For example, passing tones, which move from one chord tone to another fill in the steps between chord tones. You will see "re" move to "mi" and "fa" and "sol" as a chord scale fragment. The tendencies in this lesson are common, strong melodic motion that serve as a guide for you when you are constructing melodies. Feel free to experiment and to deviate from these tendencies.

Q. How subjective is this idea of tendency tones?

A. The tendencies do vary from the ones described in this lesson because tendencies are affected by their harmonic context. In general, however, if you build lines that abide by the tendencies outlined in this lesson, they will yield, more often than not, strong, satisfying lines.

Q. Are there harmonic tendency tones?

A. The tendencies do function harmonically. For instance, the strong harmonic motion of the V-I progression is driven by the tendencies of "sol-do" and "ti-do." The tendency of "fa-mi" is the basis for the sus chord.

Further Listening
Listen to the source recording of the transcription used in the introduction to this lesson, "This I Dig of You" on Hank Mobley's album "Soul Station."
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Further Reading