Filling the Space - Joachim Schoenecker's solo on "Along Came Betty"

solo by Joachim Schoenecker, as heard on Dialogues (2009, Parashoot Records)

Dialogues album cover

With another dive into my transcription archives, I found this beautiful Joachim Schoenecker solo from his duo project with Peter Bernstein, an album entitled Dialogues. Taking a look at the ink itself and listening through, I find that my younger self omitted quite a few of Schoenecker's subtle but powerful ornamentations, including a few diad lines and grace notes that somehow didn't make it to the page. In any case, it's nothing you can't hear on the recording. If you print the transcript, I encourage you to pencil those in.

Although I often omit the head for transcriptions of standards, this one merited inclusion. The bolero-esque, straight eighths intro leads into a relatively straightforward rendition of Golson's melody, but the interplay between the two guitarists is what is worth noting. Bernstein's rhythmic accompaniment neither overstates the meter nor leaves awkward amounts of space, and Schoenecker's take on the melody is lightly ornamented and the slightest bit adventurous, but remains anticipate-able throughout and allows Bernstein to confidently fill in the spaces. The same intro lick, along with its straight-eighths feel, makes another brief appearance before Schoenecker begins blowing.
A passing glance might lead you to believe this is a very dense solo, given the amount of ink. There are quite a few notes, a fact necessitated by the instrumental texture: just two guitars means there is a small need to fill the space more than in a larger group. However, Schoenecker is careful to leverage his above-average note density with strong dynamic contrast. Some lines, even in a string of 16th-notes, dive to such low volume that it becomes difficult to hear. That drop in volume allows him to create unique rhythmic motives on his own using accented notes. His longer lines almost act as a pad, setting a control point from which his other notes can be measured. This is a technique that works well in small group settings like this, but larger ensembles, particularly those with drums, will swallow up low-volume lines much more quickly.

Schoenecker's phrasing is also worth note here. The opening two bars or his solo set up an eighth note motive that pulls together the first seven bars into a single phrase (mm. 43-49), with development occurring largely through increasingly smaller subdivisions. In bar eight we see an ascending triplet line that sets up a series of triplet figures for the F# minor section of the tune, which then develops into a four-bar 16th note section leading into a blues-infused take on the bridge--note the change in feel from mm. 59 through 62. A long 16th note line leads us into the head out, with the fastest notes occurring here as triplet 16th turns on the chord tones of the final A section. Those "devolve" in the next two bars; that is, the lick at mm. 67-68 and the lick at mm. 69-70 are actually the same pattern, minus the turns.


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