October 13, 2012

Nelson Veras lessons: Messian modes

Nelson Veras Clinic at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam

Maarten van der Grinten.
The amazing Nelson Veras did a very nice clinic at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam
Nelson, born in Bahia, Brasil, now living in France, is 32 years old and already wellknown among musicians for his unique style.
This explains the number of interested guitarists and non-guitarist attending the clinic in the so called Amsterdam Blue Note, the jazz stage of the CvA.

Nelson Veras

Nelson started out with a solo performance of Besame Mucho.
He recently recorded that tune for his brilliant new CD, "The Solo sessions, vol.1", but it was the first time he performed it on stage. Although the meter was the same (as he explained, short-short-long-short, 2+2+3+2=9) the performance was totally different from the CD version.
This immediately showed one of the main things Nelson wanted to share with us. He is constantly trying to seek for ways to avoid playing things he already can play.
He spoke about his technique. His technique differs from most jazz guitar players since he does not use a pick. He explained how he uses the fingers of his right hand and complained about the instability of the nails and about 'the mess' his right hand fingering is.

Listen to the first 40 minutes on this sound file (right click for downloading the mp3). Note: Nelson has a very soft voice so to get a little bit of a balance the sound had to be compressed a lot

In the second half of his clinic he spoke about his influences. He named a.o. Milton Nascimento, João Gilberto, Toninho Horta, a number of classical composers, Stravinsky, Debussy, Messiean and -of course Miles, Parker, Trane and Jarrett. Although he likes jazz guitarplayers (Metheny, Montgomery) he never tried to really copy them. Avoiding the traditional jazz licks.
He doesn't see himself as a passionate guitarist per se. He's more interested in the character and style of a musician than in what instrument he plays.
He showed how he practiced with metronome. Making a division of e.g. 5 per beat.
Also with the goal of being able to apply things you know in four over a meter of five he showed how he practices playing a classical piece and Donna Lee against a metronome.
Besides his very strong rhythmic approach there is another thing that make his style so outstanding: the seemingly endless flow of modal/chromatic elaborations. This specific sound in improvisation comes from the extensive use of the so calledMessiaen modes.
Nelson showed how he uses three modes, the'M3', 'M4' and 'M6'.

Messiaen's 3rd mode
1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ - C D E♭ E G♭ G A♭ B♭ B C

Messiaen's 4th mode
½ ½ m3 ½ ½ ½ m3 ½ - C D♭ D F G♭ G A♭ B C

Messiaen's 6th mode
1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ - C D E F F♯ G♯ A♯ B C

The French compose Olivier Messiaen defined these Modes Of Limited Transpositions in his work 'The technique of my musical language'

Nelson showed his creative approach in soloing and finding chords in these symmetric scales.

Listen to "this sound file for the second half of the clinic.

For more info about the Messiaen Modi check the article on Wikipedia.

The clinic was closed off with a spontaneous performance of Nelson with to students, the Israelian Eran Har Even (You & the Night & the Music) and the Hungarian Gabor Gsongrádi (How Deep is the Ocean).
Here Nelson showed the thin line between soloing and comping like a master musician like he feels.
He left the room full guitarist in great admiration for this impressive yet humble musician.
A great clinic.

Check these 8 videos of the clinic:

Nelson on right hand technique single string

Nelson on Messiaen mode 3

Nelson fooling around w/ Messiean mode

Nelson looking for voicings, trying to surprise himself

Nelson praticing with metronome (quintuplets)

Nelson on practicing the Messiaen mode 4 and 6

Nelson w/Eran Har Even playing You and the Night and the Music

Nelson w/Gabor Gsongradi playing How Deep is the Ocean

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this ! Nelson Veras is really a huge player, the boss of the rhythm for sure :)
    I just came across your blog and it seems really great, a lot of videos from masters I didn't see, thanks again for sharing and please keep up the good work !