This is a FAQ for newcomers to the Google Group for
discussion of the New Guide to Harmony
with LEGO Bricks (NGHLB) by Conrad Cork. Answers are shown as bullet points
below the question to which they apply.
This is the first update to the FAQ since November 2010 (3.5
years). The main reason for the updates is that many of the links no longer
work due to Google changing the way that Google Groups work.
I am new to this method, where should I start?
yourself to the group since you might find someone with common aims, or
someone that lives near you. But be warned, there are now over 280 members
at the time of writing but never more than a few active at any given
period since I have been a member!
NGHLB. It is amazing how many people buy it and don’t read it! However,
you don’t need to read it all to start using the method.
- You might
find the index
to the January 2008 edition of NGHLB useful.
- Read this
FAQ to orient yourself, and then browse whatever discussions on the Group
interest you. There is a post
which summarises the most interesting ones if you find the search engine
is not helping you.
- Apply the
method as soon as you can to a song you are working on to make it real.
Search the Discussions to see whether your song has been discussed before.
- When you
are using the method and get stuck, post a question to the group.
that this is a practical method of helping you remember chord sequences in
a meaningful way to make you a better improviser. It is not the absolute
give up. Jazz takes thousands of hours to learn to play well. NGHLB helps
you direct your time in productive ways to get started as quickly as
possible. But remember, you will still need to put in the hours in order
to internalise the sounds and moves you need in order to improvise well.
Is there a summary of the NGHLB system?
above, the latest edition contains a summary of the bricks in both
absolute chords and roman numerals. This is based on a summary originally
produced by Phil Clark, a member of the group.
Keller produced a Field
Guide to help himself when first reading the book. It contains a
potted explanation of the main concepts in the system and is also
available from the Files area.
in Jazz contains a summary chapter on the original LEGO system
plus a summary of the system with extensions used to analyse 230+ songs.
It comes with audio recordings of 55 major bricks.
Where can I find examples of analysed songs?
- There are
several uploaded to the Files area and others are discussed in the
- A Book
of LEGO.pdf contains 79 songs analysed by Phil Clark for his
personal use before Insights In Jazz was written.
in Jazz contains 230+ songs analysed using a system based on the
Is there a template for producing my own song analysis like
the ones loaded to the Files area?
I hear that one of the unique things about the system is the
concept of joins. But what exactly are they and when do they apply?
- There has
been a considerable amount of confusion about joins since NGHLB does not
treat them with complete rigour.
intention is that joins are the magic moments that we can hear, even in an
a cappella solo, between one
resolved place in a song and a following unresolved place. Therefore, the
chord roots are not necessary in order to feel a join.
- In NGHLB,
joins are always referred to as to a minor seventh chord. Whereas, in
standards, it is quite common to have a dominant seventh chord not “broken
and therefore not preceded by its minor seventh chord a fifth away.
- See the Quick
Start Guide to Joins in the Files area for a draft theory of joins. This
is an extract from Insights in Jazz.
Do joins apply any time any place in a song?
joins are used to achieve particular moves between harmonic milestones and
it is these that the player needs to be familiar with. These are listed in
Start Guide to Joins in the Files area. This is an extract from Insights
How do I test whether I have learned the feel of a join?
- You could
try the ear training test, Name
That Join!, set up by Bob Keller.
Can I practice all joins round the cycle?
- If you
join to the same cadence type each time, not all joins will take you round
the complete cycle of keys. Some visit all 12 keys, some just six, some
four, some three and some just one or two.
Why can I not see the Rainbow
Cadence in the chords for Over the
coined Rainbow Cadence because
he played Eb | G- | Ab
for this song. He then went on to say that there is a similar variant in
other songs that goes Eb G7 Ab.
notes that the original Rainbow
Cadence can be found in I
Concentrate on You recorded by Lee Konitz on
the album of the same title.
- I find
the variant form really useful
so I treat the latter as the real
Rainbow Cadence. Unfortunately, it should not have been named this way. I
suggest a Misbehavin Cadence since it does occur in Ain't Misbehavin', but I
fear it is too late now.
Is On off on any
use if it does not specify the chords in the brick?
- This is a
sort of template brick that is very useful. On is the current key centre, off can be anywhere else, but the point is that we are coming
back (to on) immediately
- On is
well defined by the key, the off needs to be defined at each usage of this
- So the
opening of I Remember You, Groovin’
High and Meditation are an
identical On off on, chord-wise.
The off is a VII7 – that’s all
you need to remember.
What editions of the Conrad’s book are there?
latest (blue spine) was published in January 2008. Conrad says that this
is the last edition he will make and he has now retired. This version has
more bugs kicked out and has the following significant additions:
at the end of each Part.
summary table of the bricks
- The first
NGHLB edition (red spine) was published in 1996.
original “Harmony with LEGO bricks” was first published in 1985. This was
revised and extended in 1990.
Are there versions in any other languages?
Italian version is being worked on.
Is there any advice as to how to get hold of the entire
LISTEN NOW companion tracks?
Where can I get the play-along tracks that go with the Play-along
Part of NGHLB?
is now officially retired, so you can no longer get the play-along tracks
free from him. However, he is working on his web site and maybe they will
appear there? http://www.tadleyewing.co.uk/
they can be downloaded free from
4shared.com. Just do a search for 'lego bricks'
and the 77 tracks are contained in four zip files which are easily
downloaded. The first of the four files is at http://www.4shared.com/file/ZoB9pTtp/lego_bricks_1to20.htm
- You can
buy the play-along CD from http://sendmemusic.com/
in the form of MP3 files.
- You might
ask someone who has the tracks to make you a copy, since Conrad places no
restriction on their distribution.
What other books are there about hearing/memorising
Elliott, Insights in Jazz, 2009.
- Jerry Coker, Bob Knapp & Larry
Vincent, Hearin’ the Changes, dealing with unknown tunes by ear,
Advance Music, 1997.
Should I buy Grigson, A Jazz Chord Book that is referred to
extensively in NGHLB?
- At the
time of writing, Grigson is no longer for sale.
The Grigson estate has not renewed the licence
with Jazzwise (aka SendMeMusic).
- Grigson was chords only – no melodies.
latest edition (red cover) was published after Grigson’s
death. It was the first computer typeset version and has quite a lot of typographical
versions of the book were much better, apparently, and contained
variations on the chords sequences and explained which are used for the
heads, which for solos and which for other circumstances.
- If you
can see beyond this, it is still a useful collection of chords that are
actually used for standards, rather than the ones that you might find on
the source sheet music. Excellent recording sources are used such as Bill
Evans and Parker.
- The songs
are laid out in grid format that allows the structure to be easily seen,
unlike most real books that provide the melody and words.
- If it is
just chords that you want, there are many other sources, but the good thing
about Grigson is that much unnecessary
obfuscation is removed.
- Some find
the current edition of Grigson intolerable
because so much has been lost. Similar to Grigson,
are "Pocket Changes" (2 vols), which
is a quarter-size format, based on Aebersold's
changes (mostly). Available from Aebersold and jazzwise.
- Free or
black market sources of chords are problematic since they are usually
inaccurate. Reliable free sources include:
- Impro-Visor: You have to access the
chords from within Impro-Visor.
I’m having trouble getting into NGHLB and cannot find a
teacher to support me. What should I do?
- You can post questions
to the Google Group and learn from this online community.
- You could check out Insights In
Jazz which has a free series of podcasts explaining elements of the
method in easy bight-size chunks (10-20 minutes each). See www.dropback.co.uk.
What is Impro-Visor and
how does it relate to NGHLB?
- A tool
from Harvey Mudd College Computer Science
- There is
a folder of LEGO play-alongs for Impro-Visor.
These allow the tempo, style, etc. to be varied by the user.
What is Transcribe!
and how does it relate to NGHLB?
- A tool that can
help with transcription. It allows you to slow down music without
changing its pitch, to analyse chords and show you what notes are present,
and the capability of adding markers and textual annotations so you can
easily navigate around the track.
What is Transpose
and how does it relate to NGHLB?
What is Seventh String
and how does it relate to NGHLB?
- This is the
home of Transcribe! (see above) but also contains
a real book search
engine. You type in the standard name and it tells you which real
books it is in.