I’ve always been curious about the different sounds I hear especially in improvised music. Recently, I reviewed some books on outside sounds such as Looking Glass – A comprehensive study of Allan Holdsworth’s improvisational ideas, patterns, scales, charts & tunings by John Vullo, In the Mystery: A Deconstruction of the Harmony, Melody, Compositions and Improvisations of Allan Holdsworth by Brett Stine and Outside Sounds and Substitutions for Modern Jazz Guitar by Kevin Miller.
This particular book by Xabier Oró is a welcome addition to the books that explore the world of more “outside” sounds. Through 8 chapters and 100 pages, we get a wealth of ideas and observations that come from Xabier’s eight years of investigative work into this topic.
In terms of structure, the book is a mix between an theory textbook (written in a friendly accessible tone) but with the depth of a music college level class.
This is not a surprise since Xabier studied with great musicians and thinkers such as Tim Miller, Mick Goodrick, David Fiucynsky, David Gilmore, Ed Tomassi and Dave Santoro among others during his time at Berklee College of Music.
I can imagine Xabier’s book being used as a textbook for a class on this topic. It does in fact remind me of my Harmonic Awareness in Improvisation classes I took with Professor Ed Tomassi at Berklee. Related to that, this book in fact has received positive response from Ed Tomassi.
I found myself reading and rereading sections again and again to really understand the concepts and sounds that Xabier shares. I also enjoyed playing the lines that he includes in section VI. Musical Examples & Exercises. The only thing I wish was included are recordings of the lines, exercises and examples here. It’s cool that many parts of the book have audio examples, but this section in particular could really benefit having an audio component to it.
Xabier is also generous with the suggested next steps that he includes in the end of the exercises part of the book. This is great for students who want to get deeper into certain parts AND for teachers who want to give assignment to their students working on these topics.
All in all, this is a cool book that will potentially reward the hardworking musician who uses it as a basis for exploration. Kudos to Xabier for documenting his findings on this sound so that others can benefit from this.
Pros: An amazing work done with a lot of passion, curiosity and love for this topic. Lots of stuff to study and try out.
Cons: Audio files do not include recording of the Scale Motives and Patterns Examples from section VI. Musical Examples & Exercises (which I feel is a very important part to hear the scale in context).
TLDR: If you want to explore a less common sound with a systematic way both harmonically and melodically, this might just be the book you’ve been looking for.
Get the physical book & eBook here:
Thanks to Xabier Oró for access to a review copy of the eBook.
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