Response to Alan Smith--My view of the Concept

The main body of the LCC and its practical application, including all 4 published versions of Book 1 with their inserts: the 1959 tan cover; the 1959 light green cover Japanese edition; the 1970‘s white cover, which adds an illustrated River Trip to the 1959 edition, and the currently available Fourth Edition, 2001.

The authorization code is the first word on Page 198 of the Fourth Edition of the LCCTO.

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An open letter from Alice Russell. June 21, 2011, Brookline, Massachusetts. 1. DO NOT make insulting, mean spirited remarks about anyone or their work; there are a plethora of sites where you can rant unfettered. If you attack someone personally, your comments will be removed. You can post it, but I'm not paying for it. Go elsewhere, and let those artists who are actually interested in discussion and learning have the floor. 2. There will be NO posting of or links to copyrighted material without permission of the copyright owner. That's the law. And if you respect the work of people who make meaningful contributions, you should have no problem following this policy. 3. I appreciate many of the postings from so many of you. Please don't feel you have to spend your time "defending" the LCC to those who come here with the express purpose of disproving it. George worked for decades to disprove it himself; if you know his music, there's no question that it has gravity. And a final word: George was famous for his refusal to lower his standards in all areas of his life, no matter the cost. He twice refused concerts of his music at Lincoln Center Jazz because of their early position on what was authentically jazz. So save any speculation about the level of him as an artist and a man. The quotes on our websites were not written by George; they were written by critics/writers/scholars/fans over many years. Sincerely, Alice

Response to Alan Smith--My view of the Concept

Postby marcrossi » Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:36 am

George has had to deal with relentless criticism his whole life, in light of being a brilliant composer and theorectical innovator, thel ikes of which can only be compared to JS Bach, Bartòk, Shönberg, Coltrane, Miles, etc. and people of that level.

There is no question that the second book on HTG would help clarify some of the importatnt principles and tie some things together, but from the first book alone there is a clear direction that it points one in, specific yet with a lot of freedom---big laws that liberate you. Concept is NOT a methodology--it requires you to confront and examine yourself and your preconceptons, and pushes you to the limits of your knowledge. Some people may not be ready to experience this. George included the MauriceNicoll quote in the book: "In time all things are seeking
completion. In now time all things are complete." That says it right there,
and defines both VTG amd HTG.

Any theoretical system can have holes poked in it--it does not matter
what it is--by someone determined to find flaws. But even for a beginner, the Concept makes you rethink and re-examine the most basic ideas of what time and space in music are--via vertical and horizontal, the concept of tonal gravity, tonal orders, and the all the implications. Also Tthe Concept was in part a needed response to the dualities of Western major-minor systerm and all its non-inclusiveness.

SVTG and VTG is the overiding ascendant force, but HTG is a big part of
the moment to moment developmrent, and sometimes very subtle. These principle are amazing and so universal that any advanced musician should be able to extract something of great value from them both practically and philosophically, even if the person is not totally clear on some issues. As George pointed out, big laws describe the
behavior of music--they don't dictate what it should be. And also, as
concentric realities intersect, one can always see the bigger picture.

Marc Rossi
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Postby bobappleton » Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:10 am


Thank you for so succinctly reminding us of why the Concept is important.

In 1960 I was 13 years old. I was listening to and reading about Ornette Coleman. And I didn't understand how Jazz "experts" could praise Charlie Parker for his originality, and damn Ornette for his.

And that's when I read George's 1960 interview with Martin Williams (it's also in the 1964 edition of the LCC). And I've remembered ever since, that this man - George Russell - understood and was willing to stand up for freedom of expression: "There's a lot of gorgeous music still left to be said between the two poles of tonal music and centerless music."

Many people have now heard those ideas - which relate to our larger world view. And in this context it seems to me that The Concept, alongside other important works of the late 1950's, is a kind of Manifesto for the creative arts - not just a musical theory.

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Postby bobappleton » Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:49 pm

This link is to the Martin Williams Interview with George Russell from the 1964 edition of the Concept (with permission):
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Postby Alan Smith » Fri Apr 27, 2007 2:49 pm

In re-reading my original post in retrospect I feel some of my criticism appeared more harsh than I intended given that as you say the Concept was never intended to be a 'methodology' as such.

I dont take issue with the basic thrust of the Concept, only with the manner of it's presentation. As with most students, I have benefitted enormously from it's insights and I take your point that in following through the implications of Vol 1, a motivated student should be able to see for himself the vast resources it opens up.

However it might be true to say it's easier to appreciate the depth of the rewritten version for those with the benefit of hindsight afforded by the earlier and perhaps more concise edition.

The 1964 edition gave equal emphasis to the more outgoing vertical and horizontal approaches, highlighted the tonal gravity chart as the ultimate source of intervallic material, included discussion on Ornette Coleman's methods and went out of its way to stress that member scales of the LCC are not the only resources one can draw on; something that was apparently a misconception at the time. Beyond this there was at least a brief overview of how the LCC relates to non-standard harmonic structures. And yet given all this, there was still scope for a promised second edition even at the time of publication.

I'm aware the concept has no stylistic boundaries and has great implications for composition and arranging in the wider sense. My concern is that some newer jazz improvisation-oriented students without the benefit of this hindsight or of one-to-one tuition may initially be put off by the more complex terminology and the piecemeal manner in which SMG's and HTG are introduced.

Perhaps some will not need any further help to see where this is going.
Others, ready or not may unfortunately conclude wrongly that the concept is just a more complex progenitor of the common chord-scale approach that dominates jazz teaching today and nothing more.

As fundamantal as the member scales of the LCC are, it would be a shame if exposure to Vol1 furthered the more mechanical, cerebral, self-concious tendencies we see in much of today's jazz improvisation for want of the broad overview offered in previous editions. Particularly in view of the author's aversion to this kind of imtellectualism and his reverence for intuitive intelligence.

I feel scales are for ear training; the ultimate goal in practical terms is to use your ear without worrying about what scale you are relating to. That's something this edition could have emphasised more as I'm sure this is the ultimate goal of the concept in improvisational terms.

I certainly hope I am wrong about all this and I'm worrying unnecessarily. By the time vol2 is published most of these concerns shoud be renderered academic if they are not already.

Alan Smith
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