Freddie Green's Positional Leaps on the Fingerboard: A Hypothesis
by Andrew Snee
As I viewed performance videos of Count Basie's band, I was puzzled by an aspect of Freddie's playing. He would often leap up or down the fingerboard, yet there would be little or no change in the pitches he was sounding. Why?
I once read an article on voice leading that proposed the smoothest way to make fingerboard leaps is to switch inversions in the middle of the duration of a chord; this is supposedly less jarring to the ear than if you leap "between chords", say from C7 at the 3rd fret, to F7 at the 8th. This theory states that to move smoothly go from C7 at the 3rd fret, to C7 at the 8th, and then to F7 at the 8th.
Switching inversions might explain why there is often little or no change in pitch when Freddie makes a leap up or down the neck.
Andrew Snee is a magazine editor and reformed rock guitarist who plays