Duncan Haynes

VOCAB 2: Working Backwards

• This is a collection of assorted resources - not a complete, step-by-step system!
• Free for personal use (if you share please attribute me).
• The key is to explore & internalise the ideas before applying them to your instrument.

So now, what do I mean by working backwards? As well as starting from the beginning and building new structures from scratch, it is equally fruitful & important to reverse-engineer our heroes' work. That is transcribing, investigating and assimilating the sounds and ideas we wish to emulate.

This section collates various bits and pieces I've transcribed in order to disassemble them, to try to discover their inner workings so I can aim to reproduce not just the surface, but the essence of the music of the masters. This is a very similar process that a classical musician will undertake when learning a work - to try to get inside the composer's mind so as to make the best possible interpretive decisions.

The goal is to develop and adopt new vocabulary and grammar while at the same time training subconscious decision-making processes that lead a master to create an iconic musical moment.

You are welcome to these sheets, but bear in mind a great deal of the value is in the process of transcription itself - even if we are talking about fragments. It can also be very informative for you and a friend to work on the same material then compare notes.


TOM HARRELL   Solo on Comrade Conrad:  Tom Harrell - Comrade Conrad

BEBO VALDES   Solo on El Manisero:  Bebo Valdes - El Manisero

ELIANE ELIAS   Reharmonisation of Garota de Ipanema:  Eliane Elias - Garota de Ipanema

JOE HENDERSON   Solo on Black Narcissus:  Joe Henderson - Black Narcissus

EARL MAY   Bass-line on Like Someone in Love:  Earl May - Like Someone in Love

CLIFFORD BROWN   Trumpet solo on Jordu:  Clifford Brown - Jordu

CHARLIE HADEN   Bass-line on Mushi Mushi:  Charlie Haden - Mushi Mushi

PAT METHENY   Solo on Question and Answer:  Pat Metheny - Question and Answer

BILL EVANS   Piano solo on Pensativa [plus some bits of Benny Green's arrangement of same]:
    Bill Evans - Pensativa

CHET BAKER   Trumpet solo on Pent-Up House:  Chet Baker - Pent-Up House

CHARLIE HADEN   Bass solo on Solar:  Charlie Haden - Solar

RON CARTER   Bassline on the head of Witch Hunt:  Ron Carter - Witch Hunt

Improve your practice

First principles

Working forwards

Working backwards

Architecture of tunes & solos

Voicings & comping

Also on the way is a book on my concept the


This approach visualises harmony as a journey through a landscape defined by the specific harmonic elements of the music.

Because we don't experience music vertically - in slices of time - but as horizontal through time, that is to say as a narrative in which temporal context gives meaning to what came before and what we expect to follow, it makes no sense to think of music as vertical when we perform it.

In this concept I will do away with vertical notions such as substitution considering instead the infinite possibilities of journeying through the same harmonic terrain.