The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization


The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization
George Russell's book, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, first published in 1953, was the first theoretical contribution to come from jazz, and was responsible for introducing modal improvisation which resulted in the seminal recording of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue."

Since it's publication, there have been scores of books on the market which have "borrowed" bits of the Concept's information, but there is only one original.

"[The Concept] was the great path-breaker for Miles Davis and John Coltrane's modality."
- Joachim Berendt, The Jazz Book.

first described in a self-published pamphlet in 1953, marks a radical expansion of the harmonic language for both composition and analysis and also marks an abandonment of the major-minor system which dominated Western music for over 350 years. Radical as it may be, the theory is more than one person's eccentricity, having considerable precedent in the work of Ravel, Scriabin, Debussy and in some of the learned works of Bach. The word "Lydian" is here derived from one of the classical Greek scale modes. Russell's root scale follows the natural overtone series and runs from C to C with F sharp, rather than the customary F natural of the major scale.

For searchers like Miles and Coltrane and Bill Evans, and many in the generations that followed them, Russell's theory provided a harmonic background and a path for further exploration. It also gave rise to the "modal" jazz movement that enjoyed great popularity in the 70's and 80's for better and for worse. We should not underestimate the extent of Russell's enterprise. His work stands head-to-head with Arnold Schoenberg's "liberation" of the twelve-tone scale, the polytonal work of Stravinsky, and the ethnic scale explorations of Bartok and Kodaly. If you've listened to jazz during the last fifty years, you've heard a good deal of George Russell's ideas; he is one of the 20th century's great originals and one of its bravest innovators.

Having finished this work, Russell is completing another volume on related elements which he has been simultaneously developing over the last several decades.

The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization was expanded several times over the years, and has grown greatly since its first appearance in 1953. It is with pride and pleasure that we present this fourth and final edition.

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Type: Book

submitted by: GreenAsJade