Musical Analysis Bill Evans Harmony Jazz Music

The Harmony of Bill Evans (Part 1 – Introduction)

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    The Harmony of Bill Evans (Part 1)

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    Composing is the highest calling for a musician. Performing, whether it be interpreting or improvising, always takes second place. The musician in the 20th century, compared to one in the 16th century, is in a unique position; at his disposal are the great compositions of the past 400 years. The inheritance is prodigious. Bach didn’t have Mozart or Beethoven; Mozart and Beethoven didn’t have Brahms or Schumann; Schumann and Brahms didn’t have Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Boulez, Stockhausen, Carter, Bernstein, Gershwin, Copland, Barber, Ellington, or Bill Evans.

    Jazz music is a players’ (improvisers’) art. The written or composed parts used in jazz performances are always subservient to the solo (improvised) sections. The Herman Herds are memorable because of the soloists (improvisers). Stan Getz’s solo on “Early Autumn” will far outlast the song itself, as will Lester Young’s solos with the Basie band, Ben Webster with Duke, Earl Hines, and Charlie Parker. Jazz is most exciting and exhilarating when played by a soloist, or in a duo, trio, quartet, or quintet setting.

    In order to fully develop as an improviser, the jazz musician, like the classical musician, must also play in large ensembles. But the real commitment and challenge that faces the jazz player comes when he is alone with his instrument. He must sit (or stand) with that instrument and improvise hour after hour, day after day, year after year, with NO LET UP!

    He or she must be convinced that there will always be a deeper level of creativity that has not yet been tapped. He or she must have the faith of Saints that these deeper levels will be reached, sometimes by leaps but mostly in upward spirals. He or she must sense, feel, and visualize a light shining inside the body and mind that grows ever brighter as each new level is mastered; and only when that light completely engulfs one during a performance will he or she know the meaning of Joy: a joy beyond description, one that will be felt by all, and that Joy shall be called MAGIC.

    Bill Evans had Magic. He was a Magician on the highest plane of consciousness. He knew all music; all 400 years. He chose to-develop and express his Magic through the art of jazz improvisation. He made a name for himself both as a soloist and with his trio. He was an interpreter of the American popular song. His improvisations were based on the Blues, Song Form, and Free Form structures. Historians and musicians have already acknowledged him as one of jazz’s great innovators, but it may be a while before they rank him as one of America’s great jazz composers.

    The purpose of these analytical essays on Evans’ compositions, including his standard repertoire, is threefold:

    1. to give the jazz musician and the enlightened public insight into the compositional process;
    2. to inspire jazz musicians and the enlightened public to play and learn his music; and
    3. to reveal the depth and richness of his compositions, for they are organic, and therefore complete. There is absolutely no need to change a note, chord, or rhythm in any of his works. Evans never wrote a tune, a melody, or a riff over someone else’s chord progression. He did not consider that the art of composing. Nor do I.

    A composer worthy of the name conceives and hears ideas in his mind’s ear. These ideas will eventually be worked out on manuscript paper. A composer worthy of the name knows how to work these ideas on paper through a complete study of harmony, counterpoint, analysis, compositional forms, arranging, and orchestration. A composer worthy of the name is constantly developing and cultivating his sensitivity to the inner creative impulses so as to recognize them when they arrive. Then he/ she takes-makes!-the time to think, sketch, write, and experiment on manuscript paper so the ideas will find outer form. The composer worthy of the name then completes these sketches and experiments info full-blown composi­tions. A man I nominate worthy of the name COMPOSER, is Bill Evans.

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    by Sean Petrahn

    The shelves of all the major book stores house at least one volume devoted to the evolution of jazz, this uniquely American folk phenomenon. I will not attempt, therefore, to create a curriculum that necessarily complements or parallels the importance and influence of the leading figures of each era in jazz found in the history books. Rather, I shall boil it down to two major talents.

    The evolution of jazz from 1890 to 1980 can be summed up in the music of two pianists: Art Tatum and Bill Evans. They are the towering figures who will outlast, historically, the Jelly Roll Mortons, the Duke Ellingtons, the Bud Powells, and even the Lennie Tristanos.

    That is to say, in the year 2080, only these two names need be mentioned in a jazz history course, because they were the synthesis of all that came before and all that will ever come after. Both men absorbed the innovations of not only the lesser piano talents (mentioned above), but also of the horn players: the Armstrongs, the Beiderbeckes, the Prezes, the Birds, the Zoots, the Getzs, and the Coltranes, those other interesting yet inevitably lower talents who forged the melodic paths of the jazz improvised line. Art Tatum and, more so, Bill Evans, also absorbed the music of the Western classical world, from Bach to Schoenberg, and any analysis of their styles must bring this to the fore.

    What is it that makes jazz different from Western classical music? The answer is deceptively plain and simple. Jazz is almost totally improvised, while classical music is almost totally written down.

    Classical music is a composer’s art: even the greatest geniuses and fastest­working composers in history-Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gioacchino Rossini, Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Hector Berlioz, Richard Strauss-took hours, days, or weeks to compose even so much as one minute’s worth of music. And this is even true of those composers (Bach, Mozart, Chopin) who were known as great improvisers. Very little of their improvisations actually made it into their finished, published works; there was always some finishing or refining process that took place before their’-work went to the publisher.

    Jazz, conversely, developed as an improviser’s art. Despite the fact that there have been some very clever jazz composers and arrangers who formulated, in advance, introductions, main themes, bridges, and codas-Morton, Ellington, Eddie Sauter, George Handy, Thelonious Monk, and Charles Mingus spring immediately to mind-the principal interest in a jazz performance is not the pre-arranged formalities, any more than it is in a classical performance.

    The central crux of the listening experience is the manner in which themes are interwoven or developed. In classical music, this development is written down, while in jazz, it is improvised. There is no editing when you improvise; there is constant editing when you compose. In jazz, then, it takes exactly one minute to create one minute’s worth of music … and therein lies the excitement, the danger, of playing jazz as opposed to playing classical music.

    Despite this difference, there is ( aside from the fact that both utilize Wes tern musical forms and tonalities) one great similarity between the two musics. One learns to compose by imitating the best composers; one learns to improvise by imitating the best jazz improvisers. In other words, the quality of the present in music is always dependent, to some degree, on the quality of the past. It is implicit in this dictum that one learns how to p lay one’s instrument in a virtuoso manner, before one can imitate Art Tatum or Bill Evans. One must be able to read (play) the masterworks before one can learn composition. In this light what, then, is the proper curriculum for the jazz student? Should there be a curriculum at all? Well, yes and no.

    Let’s take a brief comparative historical look at Western music.

    Jazz began when classical music had exhausted itself, circa 1910 – 1913; and if we isolate the elements of music (melody, harmony, and rhythm), we can-by comparison, analogy, and metaphor-gain a clearer picture of what I’m saying.

    The modal (1100 – 1600 A.D.), tonal (1600 -1900 A.D.), arrd atonal (1900 – present) periods in Western music are arbitrary divisions that define and classify the way composers think, and organize their music. Each period created a synthesis of the previous one, and therefore generated more complex structures and vocabularies. This does not mean that I adhere totally to the Kantian principle of evolution, i.e., that for each new stage or period there is a logical progression into the next, therefore, making it more complex. The motets of Gesualdo (modal period) were more complex than, say, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (end of the tonal era).

    I like to think of each stage in musical evolution not as “progress” but as an unfolding gradually, layer by layer, of the total musical universe. A synthesis does create new problems in form, but also new possibilities.

    A composer living today has, indeed, much more to absorb and learn than one who lived in the 16th century, and therefore has greater demands placed on his artistic integrity in order to avoid rewriting the past. At the same time, however, he also has an enormous repertory from which to draw his inspiration. Each composer taps into a layer of the musical universe. The greater the genius, the clearer he translates his vision, and the greater demands he makes on the interpreter and listener.

    The jazz improviser is limited by his technique. There is not one fraction of a second hesitation while improvising, otherwise he loses the “flow.” It is a myth to think that an improviser hears internally more than he can play. It’s always the other way around: you only create ideas that can be executed with precision; otherwise, you would stutter and stammer, hopelessly. NO mistakes are made when one improvises this way: mistakes mean that you are not hearing an idea internally. The hand is the medium of the message.

    The secret is that you only play what you can conceive in your mind’s ear on the spur of the moment. Then improvising is easy, and technical development becomes the means to a greater end … and that greater end is ease, subtlety and eloquence in your playing.

    The jazz curriculum is divided into three stages:


    Each stage parallels the classifications mentioned above-modal, tonal, and atonal-with regard to the evolution of classkal-music. The Blues Form is modal, the Song Form is tonal, and the Free Form is atonal. This may appear an oversimplification, but categories and labels are necessary_when one decides to teach such a vast area of musical thought. I like to think of each stage as paralleling the history of the human race, from instinctive to-intellectual to the stage yet to come, intuitive.

    The student of jazz becomes reacquainted with this long process through the Blues Form (Instinctive), i.e. playing from the “gut” or solar plexus center. The Song Form engages the Intellect. This stage is more concerned with structure, key relationships, and harmony. The study of the Free Form (Intuitive) stage always comes last.

    The student, at this stage, should be a master improviser, his or her knowledge of the past now sunken into the unconscious mind, its function slightly analogous to a main-frame computer that stores billions of bits of information about a subject and its related topics (and subtopics, and subdivisions of subtopics).

    The student must then go through this experience, or rather process, from instinct to intellect to intuition, of improvising at each stage in the curriculum. For example, 1) he must try to improvise on the very basic blues structure-twelve bars, three scales, three chords-and in 4/ 4 meter, totally by instinct, i.e., “feeling his way through,” playing and making up melodies that sound good to him; 2) he must consciously learn and memorize the modes that can be applied to this basic twelve-bar structure, and on which he can experiment. This stage (and every stage) must be accompanied by listening to, and singing along with, the recordings of the improvisers playing the blues.

    This is eartraining and must also include the singing of the modes. 3) He must then “feel” and “know” that what was learned and memorized in Step 2 is second nature and fully absorbed by the unconscious. (I agree with Carl Jung that the unconscious mind is just as active, and probably more so than the conscious mind, and therefore continually digesting the information and readying it for use by the intuitive mind.) It is, in fact, in the unconscious mind that we develop understanding and wisdom. The sense or feeling of “second nature” cannot be defined, yet one knows it when it “arrives.”

    And you know it through your playing. At the intuitive level of improvising, one has the feeling that one is NOT doing the playing; that someone else has taken over your mind, and is using YOUR hands to make music.

    Bill Evans Master Class by Dave Frank

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    Musical Analysis Jazz Music


    Exercises Developed from Excerpts of a Keith Jarrett Improvisation on All The Things You Are“.

    Jazz educators tell students that transcribing solos will help them learn to improvise. It will certainly improve their ears if they are trying to hear the relationships of pitches in a phrase. It will do little to help their ears if they are using software to move the solo note by note and hunt and peck to find that note.

    Students often ask what they should do with the solos after transcribing them. Should they learn it note for note matching articulations. I can imagine this would be very helpful. But has playing non-jazz etudes and pieces note for note with correct style helped them with improvisation? Students who focus just on memorizing other’s work, whether it is jazz solos or classical pieces are typically the least prepared to improvise, even though they may have very well developed technique on their instruments.

    In order to improvise, one must get into the thinking behind the notes. That is difficult when dealing with memorizing a 128 measure solo. It might be easier when breaking apart shorter excerpts from that solo. One of my primarily classically trained students transcribed the first 36 measures of a Keith Jarrett improvisation over the chord changes to All the Things You Are from YouTube. She can probably sight read it at tempo, but is unable to improvise using the vocabulary.

    I suggested taking excerpts; breaking them down, applying them several places in the progression, finding ways to connect these excerpts, and through this process, develop vocabulary. Attention should be paid to appropriate jazz phrasing, articulations, accents and good time feel.


    Jarrett plays this simple line in the first measure of the form. It clearly lines up with the chord – a 5- 3-1 arpeggio idea with one passing tone, which could be expressed as a 5-3-2-1 pattern.

    Apply this fragment to the entire progression (only the first eight measures are shown). As the pattern becomes more familiar, try different rhythmic variations.

    Here is a line from m.2. It could be described as a descending arpeggio (7-5-3-1) with one pickup note or leading tone, and one passing tone.

    Apply this idea to the entire progression. Some rhythmic variations and displacements can disguise the repeated pattern and make it sound more organic.

    Jarrett plays this 3-5-7-9 arpeggio in m.4. In the tune itself, this chord is played as a major 7 chord.

    This is a very good exercise for connecting all the chords using a 3-5-7-9 arpeggio. These arpeggios can ascend, as in mm.1-2. Eventually, you will run out of range on your instrument. A solution is to invert the arpeggios as in mm.3, 5, and 7. Repeat the exercise exchanging where you play ascending or inverted arpeggios. Several kinds of rhythmic variations can be applied, including anticipation and delayed resolutions. This exercise follows outline no. 1 (see discussion below).

    Apply this arpeggio idea to the progression. Some of these excerpts may be too active to be played in every measure. It is a good idea to practice them in alternating measures. This reinforces a sense of stop and go in your phrasing. The example below plays the line in the odd measures and comes to rest on the 3rd in the even measures. (The connection of this idea resolving to the 3rd of the next chord is outline no. 2, discussed below.)

    Now play the 3rd in the odd measures with the line in the even measures.

    Jarrett’s line from mm.11-12 can be reduced to a simple line that connects the thirds of each chord. Jarrett also plays a 3-5-7-9 arpeggio that connects the octave leap from G to F. (This is outline no. 1, discussed below.)

    Practice the line for alternating measures as shown in the previous exercises. Odd to Even:

    Even to Odd:


    There are three common lines found in music from the Baroque period to the present. They may appear with out embellishment or may be highly figured. (I have written a book that deals exclusively with these structures: Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony, Hal Leonard, Inc.)

    Outline No. 1 connects the 3rd of one chord down to the 3rd of the next.

    Outline No. 2 begins with an ascending 1-3-5 arpeggio and the 7th resolves to the 3rd of the next chord.

    Outline No. 3 begins with a descending 5-3-1 arpeggio and the 7th resolves to the 3rd of the next chord.

    The three outlines are shown below for a G7 to C progression. The outlines are used anytime the chords progress down a fifth. Almost the entire progression for this piece is based on chords resolving down a fifth, so these basic outlines will be essential vocabulary.

    OutlineNo.1 OutlineNo.2 Outline No.3

    Jarrett strings two outlines together in mm.13-15. It is interesting to hear how Jarrett’s rhythmic displacement creates interest, but it is better to begin practicing them as they line up with the chords. When the lines become more familiar, experiment with displacement (both octave and rhythmic) and with various levels of embellishment.

    Jarrett Line Basic Outline No. 2 & No. 1

    Outline No. 2 applied to the progression using alternating measures.

    Even too odd:

    Jarrett Outline No. 1 Basic Outline No. 1

    Jarrett outline no. 1 idea sequenced through the progression using alternating measures. Odd to Even:

    Even to Odd:

    Jarrett plays a 3-5-7-9 arpeggio in m.17 followed by outline no. 2 in m.18.

    It may be easier to see as shown belowb. In the second setting below, a Bb replaces the An in the descending arpeggio over the D7. The B is more colorful and suggests chromatic voice-leading from the B .

    The basic 3-5-7-9 arpeggios are followed by outline no. 3 in the exercise below. A very basic shape is shown on the top line. The bottom line is more embellished and rhythmically interesting and may represent how it might be in an improvised solo. It is important to be able to play the basic shapes before attempting to embellish them.

    This exercise is the reverse of the previous one. This one begins with outline no. 3 followed by a 3- 5-7-9 arpeggio. The basic shapes are shown on the top line and more embellished and rhythmically active lines are shown on the bottom.


    Jarrett plays a simple triad shape in m.23. The basic idea is 3-5-1. Jarrett uses a neighbor tone group before playing the E.

    Upper neighbor tones are usually diatonic and lower neighbor tones are chromatic. A simple 3-5-1 arpeggio is sequenced below for the progression.

    Jarrett uses another 3-5-1 arpeggio in m.35, but begins with a neighbor tone group around the 3rd.

    Apply this idea to the progression. As it becomes more familiar, try other rhythmic placements of the line.

    The two neighbor tone groups could be combined in numerous other ways over any basic triad shape. Jarrett used a neighbor tone group around the root in m.23 and around the 3rd in m.35. The exercise below combines those groups and applies them to the progression.


    Jarrett plays an interesting embellishbmebnt #of outline no. 1 in mm.24-25. Jarrett’s embellishment calls.

    Basic Outline No. 1Shape Jarrett’s Embellishment

    This line is also useful resolving to major and may be applied to any of the V7 – I cadences in the progression.

    Writers keep journals. Jazz improvisers and composers should keep notebooks of simple and embellished lines as a way of cataloging, fostering and keeping track of creative growth. All of these exercises can be transposed and used in other standard jazz progressions. Many of these exercises can be combined with one another in interesting ways. (For instance, try using one of the triad patterns with neighbor tone groupings to lead to the altered dominant line, then using another variation of the triad pattern when resolving to the I or i chord.)

    All of these lines in Jarrett’s improvisation can be found in many other jazz solos, yet we can recognize his solos as uniquely Jarrett. As you internalize these common lines your own unique way of putting them together will emerge. Keep the metronome on and keep practicing!

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    Thelonius Monk's Harmony Jazz Music Musical Analysis

    Thelonious Monk’s Harmony, Rhythm, and pianism (Part 2)

    Thelonius Monk‘s sheet music transcriptions are available from our Library.

    Chords and Voicings: From Lead Sheet to Performance

    In modern jazz, seventh chords specified by lead sheets may appear simply as shown in figure 4.2a, but musicians rarely follow what the lead sheet specifies to the letter. Well before Thelonious Monk came on the scene, jazz pianists vied to distinguish themselves with ingenious voicings. A kind of common practice prevailed in bebop, though we emphasize that musicians can and did step outside this practice in search of particular expressions and logics. In the main, though, four complementary techniques developed, two concerning voicing as such and two concerning chord choice—what chord to play where:


    • Extension and omission: addition of tones foreign to the chord proper, and/or dropping tones that are part of it
    • Spacing and doubling: distribution of a voicing on the piano or among instruments in an ensemble.

    Harmonic choice

    • Substitution: replacement of one chord by another with equivalent function
    • Insertion and deletion: increase or decrease in the rate of harmonic motion by adding to or subtracting from changes specified on the lead sheet.

    Extension, omission, spacing and doubling

    Figures 4.2b and 4.3 illustrate possibilities for extending minor seventh, dominant seventh, and major seventh harmonies, and apply them to the initial ii–V–I of ISC. In the first staff each chord is extended upward by thirds beyond the seventh to include the ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth above the root. Each of the resulting seven-note stacks of thirds includes all notes of the D major scale. The fact that all three chords extend through the exact same pitch collections, in the same intervallic arrangement (i.e., a stack of thirds), demonstrates the fundamental role that harmonic function—and not chord or voicing—plays in determining tonal meaning in jazz.

    The chords could in some cases even be voiced in identical ways, but their functional context would make them heard and understood differently. Here is a significant way in which, it seems to us, jazz harmony differs in emphasis from European practice.

    To the extent that the distinction between ii, V, and I voicings blurs, what is it precisely that distinguishes their functions? The second staff shows which of the seven diatonic tones are directly involved in the progression toward and away from the V chord’s tritone.

    Typically, these tones are necessary and sufficient to convey harmonic function. Surprisingly for anyone familiar with European harmony, neither the fifth nor the root of the chord are necessary; indeed these may be dropped (and possibly supplied by a bass player, but not necessarily). But in order to convey function and quality most effectively, the essential tones are typically arranged in the lower register of the voicing, with extension tones higher up.

    The third staff of figure 4.2b distills the optional diatonic tones, which may be used without diluting function or quality, and the fourth staff shows how the tonic note (D) and the fourth scale step (G) are carefully avoided in the dominant and tonic chords, respectively, so as not to carry them over from the chords that precede them, which would impede the ii–V–I motion (see dashed arrows).

    Outside the diatonic pitch collection remain fi ve tones completing the chromatic aggregate, which can provide rich “upper structures” to voicings. In some cases these work against important diatonic intervals; for example, using a G with the Em chord could obscure the minor third between E and G; using it with the A7 chord would weaken the C#/G tritone. But with the DM7 it sounds all right because its diatonic “shadow,” G, is already avoided. Figure 4.3 sketches the effect of chromaticism in each chordal context.

    All optional diatonic and chromatic tones may be withheld or used, and they may be spaced from low to high in limitless ways. Attention is paid to the choice of lowest pitch, the registers of all others, thickness (number of notes played at once), and the use of some pitches in more than one octave doubling. This topic is discussed later in reference to specifi c instances in short excerpts by pianists Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson (figures 4.4a and b), and also at length in relation to Monk.

    Chord Substitution, Insertion, and Deletion

    Because every dominant-quality seventh chord shares its tritone with the dominant-quality seventh chord whose root is a tritone away, the chords in each such pair may be substituted for one another ( figure 4.2c, first staff).

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    Substitutions for V are idiomatic in ii–V–I motion. In D major, this turns Em7–A7–DM7 into Em7–Eb7 –DM7 and causes the roots to descend chromatically by half step rather than by fifth, an especially characteristic marker of modern jazz sound. The second staff of figure 4.2c illustrates another kind of substitution, involving change of chord quality. In the first stage, the ii of

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    the ii–V–I progression is intensifi ed by raising its third from G to G# . This makes it E7, a dominant seventh chord, that is, V7 in relation to the A7 chord, and thus “tonicizes” the root of A7 as if A were momentarily the home key. From here it is a matter of applying the tritone substitution principle just discussed to convert the pair of chords into progression from Bb7 to Eb7. Monk does just this in ISC ( figures 4.1 and 4.5 , mm. 15-16).

    Harmonic rhythm is the rate at which harmonies change. A scan of the various versions of ISC in figure 4.1 shows chords changing usually every two or four beats, though Oscar Peterson achieves special intensity in mm. 1-2 by changing on each beat, and there are scattered instances of chords held longer. Since harmony’s depth of field is rich, even with these severe constraints on harmonic rhythm there can be infinite ways to realize the harmonies in a song and suggest unexpected aural routes through it.

    Sometimes root progressions by fifth are concatenated, as in figure 4.1, staff 2, mm. 2-3. Here, rather than have mm. 3-4 be a repetition of mm. 1-2, as it is in Monk’s version (staff 3), the ii chord of m. 3 is treated as a local tonic and preceded by its own ii–V. The two new bass tones F and B are part of the D major scale, so the motion feels activated but the connections do not jar.

    The major third (D#) of the B7 chord is the only chromatic alteration implied. In Bill Evans’s version, the bass player faithfully provides the root tones (figure 4.4b), but Evans does not reflect the change on the piano. Without the D#, the feeling of tonicization is absent, and we have labeled the chord as Bm7.

    Earlier we mentioned a more deeply hued insertion, at mm. 8 and, which introduces a ii–V (Gm7 to C7) progression borrowed from F major, a key built on a tonic foreign to the D major scale. This motion is so distinctive that it might be heard as one of the strongest markers of the song as a whole. In the fake book version, after slipping momentarily toward F in this way the music slips right back to DM7 in m. 9.

    Monk, however, reinterprets the C7 as a tritone substitution for an F#7, and resolves in m. 9 to Bm7 (the fake book does this too, but later, at the parallel moment in mm. 25). Another insertion in the fake book version, reflecting a mix of diatonic and chromatic moves, comes at the final measures (31-2).

    This characteristic “turnaround” revs up the motion, propelling the music toward the next repetition of the form. Monk’s seeming extension of this passage and the two prior measures reflect a musical action we shall describe later; in figure 4.1 we condense his chords into the thirty-two-measure form (the actual measure numbers cor-responding to mm. 29-38of the transcription in figure 4.5 are shown below the lowest staff).

    Deletions put the brakes on chord progression. In this idiom they are somewhat rarer than insertions but noteworthy for that reason. When Monk slows down the fake book chords at m. 2 he wants to focus on the very repetition of the chord progression in the initial two pairs of measures, and when he does it again at mm. 15-16 it is as if we are asked to savor the tritone substitutions selected for those moments.

    Modern jazz harmonic practice often seems to be founded on the intensifi cation and complexifying of its diatonic basis in the several ways we have just described all at once—so the instances in which this process is slowed or impeded provide a special repose.

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    Thelonious Monk Quartet – ‘Round Midnight LIVE

    J.S. Bach Musical Analysis

    The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach (1695-1717) Vol. I and II

    Table of Contents
    • The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach Volumes I (1695-1717) and II (1717-1750) with ebooks and sheet music (available in our online Sheet Music Library
    • J. S. BACH short biography:
    • Bach’s music

    The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach Volumes I (1695-1717) and II (1717-1750) with ebooks and sheet music (available in our online Sheet Music Library

    This book gives an account of the individual works of one of the greatest composers. The first volume of a two-volume study of the music of J. S. Bach covers the earlier part of his composing career, 1695-1717. By studying the music chronologically a coherent picture of the composer’s creative development emerges, drawing together all the strands of the individual repertoires (e.g. the cantatas, the organ music, the keyboard music).

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    The volume is divided into two parts, covering the early works and the mature Weimar compositions respectively. Each part deals with four categories of composition in turn: large-scale keyboard works; preludes, fantasias, and fugues; organ chorales; and cantatas. Within each category, the discussion is prefaced by a list of the works to be considered, together with details of their original titles, catalogue numbers, and earliest sources. The study is thus usable as a handbook on Bach’s works as well as a connected study of his creative development.

    As indicated by the subtitle Music to Delight the Spirit, borrowed from Bach’s own title-pages, Richard Jones draws attention to another important aspect of the book: not only is it a study of style and technique but a work of criticism, an analytical evaluation of Bach’s music and an appreciation of its extraordinary qualities.

    It also takes account of the remarkable advances in Bach scholarship that have been made over the last 50 years, including the many studies that have appeared relating to various aspects of Bach’s early music, such as the varied influences to which he was subjected and the problematic issues of dating and authenticity that arise. In doing so, it attempts to build up a coherent picture of his development as a creative artist, helping us to understand what distinguishes Bach’s mature music from his early works and from the music of his predecessors and contemporaries. Hence we learn why it is that his later works are instantly recognizable as ‘Bachian’.

    In the second of this study of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, taking into account the vast increase in our knowledge of the composer due to the Bach scholarship of the last sixty years, Richard Jones presents a vivid and in some respects radically new picture of his creative development during the Cöthen (1717-23) and Leipzig years (1723-50). The approach is, as far as possible, chronological and analytical, but the author has also tried to make the book readable so that it may be accessible to music lovers and amateur performers as well as to students, scholars, and professional musicians.

    There are many good biographies of Bach, but this is the first, fully-comprehensive, in-depth study of his music making it indispensable for those who want to study specific pieces or learn how he developed as a composer.

    J. S. BACH short biography:

    Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations, and for vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach Revival he is generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.

    The Bach family already counted several composers when Johann Sebastian was born as the last child of a city musician in Eisenach. After being orphaned at age 10, he lived for five years with his eldest brother Johann Christoph, after which he continued his musical formation in Lüneburg. From 1703 he was back in Thuringia, working as a musician for Protestant churches in Arnstadt and Mühlhausen and, for longer stretches of time, at courts in Weimar, where he expanded his organ repertory, and Köthen, where he was mostly engaged with chamber music.

    From 1723 he was employed as Thomaskantor (cantor at St. Thomas) in Leipzig. He composed music for the principal Lutheran churches of the city, and for its university’s student ensemble Collegium Musicum.

    Bach’s music

    From 1726 he published some of his keyboard and organ music. In Leipzig, as had happened during some of his earlier positions, he had difficult relations with his employer, a situation that was little remedied when he was granted the title of court composer by his sovereign, Augustus, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, in 1736. In the last decades of his life he reworked and extended many of his earlier compositions. He died of complications after eye surgery in 1750 at the age of 65.

    Bach enriched established German styles through his mastery of counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and his adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach’s compositions include hundreds of cantatas, both sacred and secular. He composed Latin church music, Passions, oratorios, and motets. He often adopted Lutheran hymns, not only in his larger vocal works, but for instance also in his four-part chorales and his sacred songs.

    He wrote extensively for organ and for other keyboard instruments. He composed concertos, for instance for violin and for harpsichord, and suites, as chamber music as well as for orchestra. Many of his works employ the genres of canon and fugue.

    johann sebastian bach free sheet music & scores pdf download

    Throughout the 18th century Bach was primarily valued as an organist, while his keyboard music, such as The Well-Tempered Clavier, was appreciated for its didactic qualities. The 19th century saw the publication of some major Bach biographies, and by the end of that century all of his known music had been printed. Dissemination of scholarship on the composer continued through periodicals (and later also websites) exclusively devoted to him, and other publications such as the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV, a numbered catalog of his works) and new critical editions of his compositions.

    His music was further popularized through a multitude of arrangements, including, for instance, the Air on the G String, and of recordings, such as three different box sets with complete performances of the composer’s oeuvre marking the 250th anniversary of his death.

    THE BEST OF BACH Johann Sebastian Bach 1. Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046 Allegro (00:00) Adagio (4:43) Allegro (9:10) 2. Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048 Allegro (13:40) Allegro assai (19:11) Allegro (24:05) 3. Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049 Presto (31:42) Andante (36:37) Affettuoso (39:32) 4. Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051 Allegro (45:02) 5. Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060 Allegro (50:38) Largo (54:59) Allegro (59:32)

    6. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor, BWV 1067: Menuet (1:02:35) 7. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068: Air on the G String (1:05:35) 8. Cantata BWV 147: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (1:10:07) 9. Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 (1:13:32) 10. Harpsichord Invention No. 1 in C major, BWV 772 (1:22:23) 11. Harpsichord Invention No 8 in F major, BWV 779 (1:23:43) 12. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor, BWV 1067: Badinerie (1:24:42) 13. Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach: Minuet in G major, BWV Ahn. 114 (1:27:24) 14. Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach: Musette in D major, BWV Anh.126 (1:28:59)

    15. Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: Bourée (1:30:06) 16. Sonata for Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord, BWV 1028 (1:31:48) 17. Concerto in D minor, BWV 1059: 2nd Movt. (1:35:44) 18. Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat major, BWV 1010: Courante (1:38:54) 19. Cello Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012: Gavotte (1:42:32) 20. Cello Suite No. 6 in D major BWV 1012: Prelude (1:46:42)

    Musical Analysis Jazz Music Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation

    Keith Jarrett’s improvisional style in solo concerts

    Keith Jarrett’s improvisional style in solo concerts

    You can’t keep things totally naked and totally free without there becoming some sort of method. I think if you talk to free players they’ll often try to justify their oeuvre over the years, if it’s all free, with some sort of methodology, and I’m not sure that that’s possible if it’s free. . . . But if you do it too often, [and] I can attest to this from solo concerts, architectures build themselves up over time, and they’re harder and harder to work around, and my challenge in solo concerts was . . . not to come up with good music I had come up with before.

    Keith Jarrett, interview by Alyn Shipton, BBC Radio 3, broadcast April 30, 2005, as part of a Jazz File series of programs on Keith Jarrett.

    In many of the contexts in which improvisation is practiced, it can be said—to borrow a phrase from Nicholas Cook—to be ‘‘relational.’’ Jazz musicians often talk of improvising ‘‘on’’ or ‘‘over’’ the form of a piece or ‘‘the changes,’’ and thus conceive of the act of improvisation in relation to pre-determined structures. This point holds true most especially for jazz which is dependent on song or blues forms, and there have been many analytical studies of improvisation as practiced in relation to such forms. But there is a substantial amount of music in the jazz tradition in which improvisation is not so strictly determined in relation to song structures and chord sequences.

    Such music ranges from the work of musicians associated with the free jazz movement (Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and Cecil Taylor, for example), to other slightly more contemporary examples (Anthony Braxton or John Zorn, for instance). In such contexts, it is not that there is an absence of compositional organization, but rather that improvisation is conceived to be less determined by traditional formal structures than in what might be called the conventional bebop model.

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    In this article, we’ll explore one such non-conventional context, pianist Keith Jarrett’s solo improvised concerts. While Jarrett himself has claimed that his improvisations avoid any structural planning, we examine a sense in which they employ certain stylistic models, or simply ‘‘styles.’’ This is not to suggest that there is anything pre-planned in these performances, but rather that the ‘‘architectures’’ which Jarrett talks of in the epigraph quotation above may come to function similarly to compositional organization. More specifically, Jarrett’s varied employments of ‘‘styles’’ provide parameters within which improvisation can be practiced.

    These architectures consist not only of a number of different styles, but also a large-scale progression through a sequence of particular styles, a device that also has important expressive implications. The epigraph comments by Jarrett also point to another aspect of improvisation in this context, which is a tension that exists between the natural tendency for repetition and the idea of improvisation as the province of the ‘‘unique.’’

    Improvisation is concerned with creation at the moment, and so improvisations are regarded as singular products of their moment of creation. Jarrett articulates a desire to avoid the architectures of which he talks, but he also acknowledges the power they can come to hold for the improviser. This suggests that improvisers may employ strategies which
    attempt to counteract these tendencies towards repetition.

    This interpretation is suggested by John Corbett, who views the idea of risk as an inherent condition in free improvisation, suggesting that improvisers play in order to ‘‘risk the unknown.’’

    While we’ll explore some architectural devices of Jarrett’s solo impros, we’ll also examine an instance which might be understood as an attempt to work against those structures, perhaps testifying to this aesthetic of risk.

    Keith Jarrett began performing solo piano concerts in 1972. Many commentators have seen this venture as representing the adoption of an epic perspective into jazz. This reading can be seen, for instance, in the writings of TedGioia, who characterized Jarrett’s solo piano concerts as ‘‘titanic improvisations.’’ Similarly, Frank Tirro thought these performances were emblematic of a ‘‘grandiose dimension’’ in jazz. Jarrett was certainly
    not the only musician pursuing such a course. As Gernot Blume has discussed, Anthony Braxton had released a number of solo saxophone recordings by 1972, and pianist Cecil Taylor had even begun performing solo concerts in the late 1960s.

    In addition, over the space of a year between 1971 and 1972, the German ECM label recorded albums of solo piano music by Jarrett, Paul Bley, and Chick Corea. The result of Jarrett’s session, Facing You, has often been described as a kind of blueprint for the solo concerts. If the scale of Jarrett’s concerts—in which he would improvise an entire performance of solo piano music—seemed to tend towards the epic, the German ECM label’s releases of recordings of these performances signalled a correspondingly weighty undertaking.

    The first release, Solo Concerts (1973), was spaced across three LPs, while the ten LPs of the Sun Bear Concerts (1976) provoked charges of egotism in some quarters.

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    Keith Jarret’s sheet music download here.

    In terms of his artistic aesthetics, Jarrett’s solo concerts were intimately linked to many contemporary avant-garde performance ideals. The ‘‘new thing’’ associated with musicians like John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and Ornette Coleman during the 1960s, was a philosophy as much as a musical style. The religious ideals which Coltrane and many other musicians espoused drew their roots not only from a rekindling of the sense of black identity which was an integral part of 1960s black politics, but also from the ideals of the counterculture.

    This upsurge in religious rhetoric had essential ties to music making. The result of the connection musicians made between spiritual ideals and music resulted in a conceptualization of performance as a spiritual quest. One of the most famous models of this concept is found articulated through John Coltrane’s seminal 1964 recording, A Love Supreme.

    The way in which Jarrett articulated his aesthetic stance in the liner notes to the first recorded solo concert releases from 1973 establishes a direct connection to this ideology: ‘‘I don’t believe that I can create, but that I can be a channel for the Creative. We do believe in the Creator, and so in reality this is His album through me to you, with as little in between as possible on this media-conscious earth.’’

    While couched in terms typical of those used by many jazz musicians of the time, this creative philosophy has in Jarrett’s case found a very particular dramatic manifestation in the solo concerts. At these events, Jarrett often lectured audiences on the risks involved in this creative endeavor, the result of which contributed much to the dramatic spectacle of these performances.

    The extended scale of the solo performances is directly related to this creative aesthetic, especially through the manner in which the process of improvisation is itself foregrounded in the performances. In Jarrett’s case, the idea of extended form is a consequence of predicating the entire musical ethos of such performances on the unhindered obeyance of the improvisatory process.

    That is to say, the solo concerts extend the kinds of ideals of self-actualization and spiritual quest present in free jazz, while making such extended performances a virtue through which the very process of creation takes center stage. It is from this particular perspective that we want to consider Jarrett’s solo piano improvisations, a context in which the whole cultural import of improvisation comes to take center stage.

    Styles in the Solo Concerts

    Not so long ago, pianists used to fit comfortably into bags. You either played funk or you played free, right-handed ‘‘trumpet’’ style or locked-hand block chords. Keith Jarrett does all these things.

    Bob Palmer, Rolling Stone, 197217

    As the above assessment of Keith Jarrett’s 1972 solo piano album, Facing You, suggests, when Jarrett emerged as a major voice on the jazz scene towards the end of the 1960s, his individuality was perceived to stem from the manner in which his voice incorporated many diverse facets of the jazz vocabulary. This notion of Jarrett as the musician who speaks in different musical dialects has emerged as one of the most important themes in writings on the pianist.

    A prime example can be seen in the work of the musicologist Gernot Blume, who describes Jarrett as a musician who ‘‘traverses a wide musical terrain in pursuit of a variety of styles, traditions and forms of expression.’’ Nowhere is this theme more prominent in both critical and scholarly writings on Jarrett than in relation to the solo concerts. David Ake’s recent discussion of Jarrett serves as a good illustration.

    In his 2002 book, Jazz Cultures, Ake talks of the ‘‘distinct categories’’ which can be heard in the solo concerts, including ‘‘a seamless blend of quasi-Romantic rhapsodies, diatonic folk-like passages, ‘free’ counterpoint, angular atonality, extended techniques (plucking or strumming the piano strings, striking the frame, etc.), and protracted ostinatos.’’

    This kind of description of Jarrett’s performances extends throughout reviews of the solo concerts. For example, in 1982, the critic John Fordham noted that Jarrett’s ‘‘favorite devices are rolling gospelly figures over which the right-hand swerves and wreathes, harp-like slow pieces, baroque semi-classical interludes and—on this occasion—such a trancelike
    flight into soul music that you felt he was about to ascend into the tastefully stripped pine roof of the hall.’’20 Similarly, in 1977, the critic Richard Williams claimed that Jarrett was ‘‘the most consonant of players and his unbroken episodic ramblings consist in the main of extemporised ballad melodies which flirt with preciousness, hard-hammered sequences derived from black church music (rhythmically vivacious but harmonically tedious).’’

    While the sheer diversity of the reference points cited here is inevitably of interest, what is of particular note is the way in which the language used imbues the styles mentioned with a structural significance. There are ‘‘pieces’’ and ‘‘interludes,’’ terms that have a structural significance. These writers clearly hear styles as instantiated in identifiable passages of music, which form constituent parts of the improvisations.

    Jarrett’s improvisations appear to inhabit a musical world which can be mapped out in terms of specific stylistic reference points. Gernot Blume’s view of this aspect of Jarrett’s music is worth quoting here, since it identifies the sense in which Jarrett’s improvisations seem to listeners to invoke convention:

    Jarrett recreates a set of repeatable procedures and formulaic practices that reinstate the effects of idiomatic delineations. He has to create a style out of his mélange of styles to communicate to his audiences within an identifiable conceptual framework. Such a framework of conventions instills in the listener a feeling of familiarity with Jarrett’s music, an element of recognition and understanding of his structural devices and artistic prerogatives. (Blume, Musical Practices, 114–15)

    Understanding Jarrett’s improvisations seems to necessitate understanding the conventions and styles which Blume refers to, essentially identifying a series of reference points from which to map out the territory within which Jarrett operates.

    In many ways, this is a surprisingly traditional approach. In fact, it is little different from Leonard Ratner’s theory of musical topics in the Viennese Classical tradition. Harold Powers has described this concept of musical topics in the following manner:

    Each topic either implies or characterizes a recognizable feature of music from a particular social context. The topics are terminological tags naming kinds and manners of music familiar to a particular society of musical consumers. They are the verbal equivalents for items in a musical vocabulary.

    Harold Powers, ‘‘ReadingMozart’s Music: Text and Topic, Syntax and Sense,’’ Current Musicology 57 (Spring 1995), 5–44.)

    From this perspective, those descriptions of Jarrett’s playing make absolute sense; they identify commonly understood elements in Jarrett’s musical language and label them in stylistic terms, much as the topics which Ratner found in the music of Mozart and Haydn. Just as the ‘‘manners’’ of music that Ratner identified formed constituent parts of a compositional language, so Jarrett’s styles are constituent parts of the language which he brings to these improvisations. Topical theory also points out that these topics, or styles, can prove to be the very things through which music means— or, rather, the nuts and bolts of an expressive language.

    Jarrett’s improvisations have meaning because so much of his music is heard as a reference to other musics. Two qualifications are necessary at this point before proceeding any further. First, the styles we want to consider reflect my work on a specific period of Jarrett’s recordings, namely those made in 1973 and released on the LP Solo Concerts. It is unrealistic to imagine that Jarrett’s playing would not have developed over a number of years, but we do not examine these developments in this limited article. Second, it is not my intention to attempt an exhaustive classification of Jarrett’s improvisations into a series of different styles.

    Part of the reason we adopt the term ‘‘style’’ rather than ‘‘topic’’ has to do with how such classes can be identified in a piece of music. Much of the application of topical theory to music of the eighteenth century has been able to specify very clear-cut divisions between the presentation of different topics. However, in Jarrett’s music this is simply not the case, as will become clear in the following discussion where we identify and explore three particular styles.

    Ballad Style

    The term ‘‘ballad’’ has a very distinct meaning in jazz aside from its connotations in terms of other musical traditions. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz describes a ballad as ‘‘a slow sentimental lovesong . . . [T]hey are performed at a relaxed tempo, in a soft intimate style, and lack the rhythmic drive and intensity of four-beat jazz. The word is often used, loosely, of any slow piece, regardless of its form, style, or subject matter.’’

    (Robert Witmer, ‘‘Ballad,’’ in The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, ed. Barry Kernfeld (London: Macmillan Press, 1988; reprint, New York: St. Martin, 1995), 55–56.)

    As this definition suggests, jazz musicians generally take a rather different approach to a ballad than to an up-tempo piece. By definition, ballads lack the propulsive swing feel of a faster tune. At the same time, melodicism also plays a particularly important role. Many jazz musicians additionally place an emphasis on empathizing with the sentiment of the lyrics of the original song when playing a ballad.

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    The musical extract in Example 1 comes from the opening of the 1973 Bremen concert, as released on Jarrett’s Solo Concerts album.

    One of the most immediately distinctive features of a Jarrett ballad is seen in the piano figuration, in which the melodic line in the right-hand part is supported by broken-chord and arpeggiated figures in the left. The left-hand figures never settle into one particular figurative pattern, but instead shift between a number of different types of formations.

    A Jarrett ballad also has a distinct rhythmic approach, drawing in part on the kind of rhythmic license granted to musicians playing a ballad in a group context, or perhaps the sort of approach a pianist would take in improvising a solo introduction. Ballad passages are full of rubato playing, whereby the length of the beat expands and contracts to create a subtle sense of ebb and flow. Rubato is not employed to give particular poignancy to phrase endings or cadential points, but rather permeates the
    entire passage.

    This sense of flexible time also applies to the harmonic motion in this case. In performances of a jazz standard with a rhythm section, the chord changes generally move at a regular rate, usually in measures or half-measures. In a Jarrett solo ballad though, the rate of change varies subtly; there is a continual expansion and contraction of the period between each change in Example 1, resulting in a fluid harmonic rhythm.

    A ballad also inhabits a very particular kind of world, one that is distinguished by largely familiar and conventional types of short-term harmonic progressions. There are many ii-V or ii-V-I patterns, harmonic building blocks, which are a formative part of the jazz language. On a larger scale, Jarrett’s ballad passages avoid establishing a tonal center, always breaking off to move in a new direction as soon as any cadential
    inference might be drawn.

    In Example 1, for instance, the opening A minor chord (with a phrygian inflection—a distinctive Jarrett trait) functions as the starting point for a series of harmonic excursions, which foray ever further away from the point of departure.

    Thus, the first segment moves through a ii-V-I progression to B-flat at bar 6, and then back onto A minor at bars 8-9. The following passage moves further afield, through C major, and then a sequence of descending progressions lead through flat keys (E-flat and D-flat) onto C, and then quite suddenly onto A-flat. While this opening A minor chord serves an important function as a launching point for these harmonic excursions, it never acts as a tonic key in a functional sense.

    It is evident from Jarrett’s solo concert recordings that ballad passages seem to play a particular role at the opening of improvisations, and this also has expressive implications. Given what we have called the foregrounding of improvisation at the heart of the spectacle of the solo concerts, ballad passages seem to represent the opening of an improvisation in a very specific way.

    These harmonic excursions we have referred to, and the particular way in which a ballad circles around certain diatonic areas while abstaining from establishing a tonic, are all musical features which performative enact the process of improvisation. As listeners, we are drawn to hear such musical features as indicative of the creative process; the gradual unfolding of a
    ballad represents, for example, an improviser gradually constructing a musical world in which to work. The key term here is ‘‘representation.’’

    We are not trying to suggest in any literal phenomenological sense that we can gain access to the process of improvisation through the music, but rather that we hear a certain representation of that process in the music.
    Folk Ballad Style While we located the Jarrett ballad style in terms of certain precedents in the jazz tradition, the style that we term a ‘‘folk ballad’’ indicates the extent to which the musical language of the solo concerts extends its generic reference points rather wider. With a folk ballad passage, there is a certain convergence between Jarrett’s language and the genre of folk-rock prevalent during the 1960s, as exemplified particularly by the music of Bob Dylan.

    As Gernot Blume has discussed, the nature of this influence is nowhere clearer than on Jarrett’s 1968 album Restoration Ruin, which was an attempt (although a rather unsuccessful one) to present his multi-instrumental talents in a context much closer to that of singer/songwriter than jazz musician.

    As Blume points out, in this process, Jarrett has notably absorbed
    influences from specific music styles into his own voice. Folk ballad episodes are characterized by a particular kind of piano figuration,
    consisting generally of arpeggio-like, broken-chord patterns in the left hand, usually employing roots, fifths, and sometimes tenths as well. This kind of left-hand pattern is very much redolent of piano figuration from the classical repertoire, but equally it can be heard as analogous to a guitarist’s arpeggiated chordal strumming.

    Unlike a ballad, this type of figuration is coupled to a steady pulse, resulting in a feel of straight eighth notes. Folk ballad passages take a very different harmonic approach from Jarrett’s ballad passages, employing diatonic triads free from the extensions and alterations typical of ballad style. Example 2 shows the opening of a folk ballad episode from the Lausanne concert, with the establishment of left-hand figuration coupled to a sequential harmonic motion: B-flat major – C major – D minor – C major.

    This particular harmonic pattern is one which occurs again and again in the solo concerts, with the distinctive trait being a sequential move from a major chord to the minor chord a third above, or vice versa. Also, typical for a folk ballad passage is that while B-flat is established as the ‘‘home’’ chord, the modality is actually F major, something which becomes clearer later in the passage.

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    Much like a ballad passage, there is always a strong emphasis on melody in a folk ballad episode, but the sense of phrasing is quite different. The regularity of the underlying harmonic motion (in contrast to that in a ballad passage) is matched by a melodic approach which stresses working out a simple melodic idea. In this instance, bars 2 and 3 of the excerpt are played as two separate but neatly matched phrases, with the following two bars comprising an answering phrase doubled in length.

    While later on in the passage, Jarrett spins the music off into harmonic and figurative patterns more expansive than this opening, the strong impression of order given by the establishment of this passage contrasts sharply to the ballad style.

    In the context of the solo concert from which it comes, this particular folk ballad passage follows on from a ballad passage which has lasted some four minutes. By placing the folk ballad after this exploratory opening ballad passage, an expressive significance becomes clear. We have suggested that the ballad episodes that so typically open a Jarrett improvisation express a gradual unfolding, which in many ways mirrors our sense as listeners of the improvisatory process; the growth in confidence and increasing assurance with which musical risks are taken.

    In his study of the late music of Beethoven, Robert Hatten suggests that topics in the classical tradition can articulate dramatic oppositions, and he focuses in particular on the idea of ‘‘expressive genre.’’ As he describes them, these genres are ‘‘based on . . . [and] move through, broad expressive states oppositionally defined as topics in the classical style.’’

    In other words, expressive effect arises from the juxtaposition of topics, and the progression from one to another. The progression from ballad to folk ballad style is what might be called an expressive genre in Hatten’s terminology. It marks out a change in musical state, from what might loosely be described as unstable to stable.

    This progression is one which is particularly characteristic of Jarrett’s solo concerts and seems to constitute a long-term strategy, whether borne of habit or careful planning.

    Blues Vamp Style

    Jarrett is well known for employing one particular type of stylistic passage in his solo concert performances: long vamp-driven sequences. Vamp passages have none of the more conventional harmonic or rhythmic progressions typically found in a Jarrett ballad. This vamp-based aspect of Jarrett’s conception is one which surfaces in a whole variety of musical contexts beyond the solo concerts, and his use of this texture extends from his time with Charles Lloyd towards the end of the 1960s, through
    groups now known as the ‘‘American’’ and ‘‘European’’ bands, to his longstanding trio with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock. Blues vamps are one particular subset of the wider category of ostinato passages as they occur in the solo concerts.

    These passages are vamp-driven, while containing strong blues stylistics through dominant-seventh harmonies and other typical blues inflections (flattened third and fifth degrees, for instance). The other subtypes of ostinato passage tend towards either diatonic or other kinds of modal configurations, both types of which are also evidenced on these 1973 recordings.

    We use the term ‘‘vamp’’ instead of ostinato for a particular reason. While there is generally some form of repeated figure used in these passages, Jarrett varies such figures extensively, and they can take a number of different forms while still retaining a recognizable identity. The vamps that Jarrett employs in these passages exemplify a particular aspect of his playing, namely the ability to generate a strong rhythmic momentum by creating a texture of sometimes three or more distinct voices.

    In the instance shown in Example 3, the vamp consists of an F-C7 progression, moving every half bar, and this progression is retained throughout this passage. The lower right-hand part generally works within the pentatonic grouping C-D-E-G-A, while the left hand quickly develops a distinct rhythm which counterpoints the motion in the right hand. In passages such as this one, the rhythmic feel Jarrett employs is much closer to a straight feel than a triplet-based swing approach.

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    The criticism most commonly levelled at the vamp-based aspects of Jarrett’s playing hinges on a kind of stasis texture in which little seems to change. In a 1977 review, for example, Richard Williams remarked that Jarrett’s improvisations included ‘‘lengthy spells during which inspiration deserts him, and he merely toys with a simple vamp until a new idea arrives.’’

    These kinds of criticisms center on absence, and primarily on an absence of harmonic development and rhythmic variety. As much as anything, Williams’s comments betray a rather antiquated and narrow aesthetic notion of music. What is explicit in Williams’s case is the idea that musical stasis equates in some way to a stasis in the creative process. The logical
    conclusion of such an argument might seem to be that the rate of development of new ideas in an improvisation can be taken as a sure indicator of the level of inspiration at which the performer is operating.

    This view is hardly an acceptable way of evaluating improvisation. As we’ll suggest, blues vamp passages in the solo concerts can be understood as expressive in a much richer sense than Williams’s comments might suggest.
    The essential quality to these passages in the solo concerts is ‘‘groove.’’ We use the term groove here as indicative not only of a certain kind of musical phenomenon (repeated patterns rhythmically articulated in such a way as to create a strong forward momentum) but of a physical, bodily experience.

    This physical attachment is easily seen by watching musicians playing almost any groove-based music, and by observing the wide variety of ways in which groove is expressed physically in the experience of music, whether through dancing or tapping of feet. Steven Feld talks of how ‘‘getting into the groove also describes a feelingful participation, a positive
    physical and emotional attachment. . . . A groove is a comfortable place to be.’’

    In her 1996 book, Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction, Ingrid Monson talks of the emotional and interpersonal aspects of the way jazz musicians talk about groove. She draws specific attention to the idea that playing in the groove is almost like letting the music ‘‘play itself.’’

    In his performances, Jarrett’s body tends to reinforce this idea of groove as physically-grounded, through motions which may articulate pulse (the tapping of feet, sometimes against the sustain pedal of the instrument) or may instead seem to represent the experience of the performer (standing up from the piano stool). In the latter case, these physical gestures can be
    viewed as outward manifestations of interior states. We have discussed these aspects of Jarrett’s playing at length elsewhere, suggesting that they are crucial to the expressive effect of his music.

    Understood in this sense, a vamp passage in Jarrett’s music may be static harmonically, and apparently show little of the onward momentum and
    exploration of a ballad, but the groove enacts a physical engagement between improviser and music. Indeed, it specifically expresses a quality of exhilaration.

    Conformity and Transgression: Hearing the Improvised

    So far we have explored some patterns in Jarrett’s solo improvisations which may be akin to the architectures mentioned in the epigraph quotation at the outset of this article. One particular architecture is of concern here—that is, the progression of styles which forms an expressive genre in the sense we indicated earlier. This particular progression occurs in many of the solo concert recordings, although not always in quite the same form as in the Lausanne concert, which we’ll discuss here. In the first part of the Lausanne concert, this progression moves from a ballad passage at the outset, through a folk ballad episode (which we discussed briefly above in Example 2), and then into a blues vamp passage (my Example 3 above).

    This is naturally a reductive kind of description, and certainly the musical trajectory is not quite as linear as this might imply. When expressive considerations are taken into account, this progression through styles represents a move from harmonic/rhythmic uncertainty towards the stability and affirmation of the groove.

    The moment in this improvisation which particularly interests me lies just after the end of that progression; the move from the blues vamp into a more open rhapsodictype section. While a groove may be expressive of a kind of physically-grounded exhilaration, it also has clear musical boundaries. Harmonic and rhythmic stability creates expectations; it creates a very clear sense of what the normative is. Any musical element which does not fall within these normative boundaries will be highly
    marked, and heard as somehow ‘‘outside.’’

    For the improviser, this can mean that a groove such as this blues vamp may be hard to break out of, specifically because of the expectations that it creates. Does the improviser simply stop and abandon the groove, or does he attempt to gradually subvert or transform a part of the texture in order to effect a transition of sorts? For the listener, the presence of these boundaries may actually heighten the expectation of change after a time; they may come to speculate on the potential difficulty of effecting a move away from this area.

    As shown in Example 4, at 99 390 (some two-plus minutes into the vamp passage), the left hand starts playing ascending scales in octaves, with the use of a little sustain pedal blurring the texture. While the vamp is based on F and C chords, this ascending line employs an F Lydian mode. The result is that the sharpened fourth degree (B natural) in this line clashes with the B-flats which sometimes appear in the vamp.

    This ascending line also disrupts the vamp in rhythmic terms. The bass line has a kind of stuttering effect, created by the distance between each step changing between a dotted eighth note and a quarter note. The dotted eighth division is the more used of the two, while the right hand retains a quarter-note division of the 4/4 bar. This device creates a kind of temporal dissonance, as if the two hands are playing at different speeds. The disruption of the groove seems to cause the whole vamp passage to disintegrate.

    This effect becomes particularly obvious as the right-hand patterns begin to fragment into isolated chords and single notes. After some time, these patterns settle into a dotted eighth-note division (towards the end of Example 4), which aligns to the tempo being articulated in the left hand. It is as if this rhythmic conflict is settled in favor of the dotted eighth-note pulse. Even from this point onwards, the direction seems unsure. A little later, the right-hand lines become blurred with the use of the sustain pedal as the notes meld into a wash of sound.

    There is an obvious musical tension in this passage between the rhythmic and harmonic function of the left-hand lines and the vamp figures in the right hand. In terms of the normative musical strategies of Jarrett’s vamp style, this left-hand line stands out as decidedly other. It challenges the harmonic and rhythmic primacy of the vamp by confrontation, rupturing the figuration of the ostinato.

    The musical implications of this intrusion seem considerable; the left-hand lines derail the whole momentum of the groove, resulting in the disintegration of the musical fabric. The drama of this particular passage stems from more than just the musical effect of this clash between the two parts. Those left-hand lines represent a physical intrusion into the music.

    In contrast to the rest of the blues vamp where the left hand remains in
    essentially the same position over the keyboard, it now moves in a completely different way, ascending and descending in irregular cycles. Those continuing octave ascents threaten to encroach on the very territory still guarded by the right hand. The key point is this: at this moment, the improviser is heard to intrude into the musical discourse, forcing the improvisation in a new direction by disrupting the rhythmic momentum of the vamp.

    jarrett jazz sheet music

    This example represents what we’re going to call a moment of ‘‘transgression.’’ The transgression is a breaking of the normative expectations of the vamp. This device is heard as a clear and intentional disruption to the flow of the music. It is a kind of dramatic rhetorical gesture in which the scaffolding that holds the music together is
    dismantled, or rather swept deliberately aside. This gesture might be understood to represent what the critic John Corbett calls a quest for ‘‘reterritory,’’ or, rather, a deliberate courting of the unknown by rejecting the familiar. The result is that at this moment the presence of the improviser comes to the foreground.

    In other words, the musical intrusion of the left hand into the vamp functions as a sign of the intrusion of the improviser into the music. This is significant in a number of respects. First, in the solo concerts, Jarrett encourages the audience to make a considerable investment in the performance, emphasizing their role as participants and not just observers. Jarrett has often emphasized that this investment relates to the risks he
    takes when performing in this context.

    Second, there is the ideology out of which the solo concerts come. As explained earlier, this ideology leans towards a romanticized conception of performance as motivated by an external, higher source of inspiration. Taken in this way, the presence of the improviser in the music at this
    point accentuates the aesthetic of risk, and it points attention away from a
    romanticized conception of improvisation, towards a more physically-grounded performer-centred one. Indeed, this might even be considered as a kind of ‘‘breaking of the spell’’; the presence of the improviser at this moment shatters any illusions that this music exists beyond the physical body that produces it.

    We suggested that the analysis of Jarrett’s solo improvisations and their
    underlying architecture might involve the identification of the fundamental stylistic templates which he appears to draw on. These templates seem to function as something akin to what Jeff Pressing calls ‘‘referents,’’ as they serve to provide parameters which guide the generation of music.

    By using styles in recognizable figuration and progressions, Jarrett sets up patterns which not only create expressive effects, but which can then be transgressed in order to convey the taking of risk. Because of a performance context in which the spectacle of improvisation takes center stage, this music is heard to be improvised, and is heard as a reflection of the creative process itself.

    For this reason, moments of transgression may have particular dramatic impact and are likely to be perceived as representing Jarrett leaving behind the familiar in favor of the unknown. In order to study forms of improvised music such as this, it is perhaps necessary to construct an analytical strategy which is capable of dealing both with conformance and digression, and to recognize the expressive effects that music like this can have.

    Keith Jarrett – Tokyo Solo 2002 Encores

    Musical Analysis Did you know?

    APPROACHING PIAZZOLLA’S MUSIC: an analysis of his music and composition styles (2/2)

    Table of Contents

    APPROACHING PIAZZOLLA’S MUSIC: an analysis of his music and composition styles (2/2)

    Milonga del ángel

    As for Soledad, Milonga del ángel has the milonga rhythm as a basis more or less throughout the entire piece. Except for the middle section, the primary melody is repeatedly presented.

    Consequently, the element that is processed is not the melody; instead, it is of more interest to study the contexts of which the melody is placed.

    piazzolla sheet music

    The articulations between the sections are characterised by a continuous flow, and there is no dominant chord that prepare for their arrival; however, the sections are still smoothly merged.

    The first primary section (P) establishes the harmonic environment and presents the primary melody twice. Furthermore, the secondary section (S) starts with modulating sequences and then continues with a part that is reminiscent of P. The last section is more or less a recurrence of the first section, although with a more refined environment. As with Soledad, it
    is possible to read the large scale structure as an ABA structure. In fact, these two milongas are rather similar in large and middle scales respectively.

    In the introduction (O), the motivic chord gesture that opens every subsection, except for T and 2T, is presented. Letting this gesture end the O subsection smoothly merges the O and P subsections; thus, the subsections overlap each other.

    The changes of key areas between subsections enter without fifth motions in the bass line. Instead, the changes are characterized by ascending chromatic motion. Either it is only the melody that is moving, or it is both the melody and the bass line. The bass line’s gesture is probably derived from the arrastre gesture and therefore I define this kind of key change for as ‘change of key area by arrastre’.

    With a single bar gesture as basis, the primary melody is present almost the entire piece through. While preparing for the melody’s arrival by establishing an atmosphere, the introduction also presents a motivic gesture that is frequently recurrent throughout the piece.

    In P and P2, the same process continues, though in different keys, and in P1 and P3 it is slightly accustomed. Remains of the primary melody is also to be found in the S(P) subsection. Just like in Soledad, there is a large amount of ‘jazzy’ II-V-I chord progressions in minor mode; altered fifths and ninths are used frequently. Except for T and 2T, the bass line is pending, moving in fifths or moving in descending motion. In the following illustration, notice how the usage of reinterpretation of the chord in bar four (C#7b9/B to E13b9no1/B) enables an immediate transfer to Am.

    Just as in Libertango, the melody is moving in triads when the bass line is pending; it seems like the melody is active when the bass line is passive, and the melody is passive when the bass line is active. As the illustration shows, the melody is a descending motion from the second to the fifth note in the scale. Linked together with an arppegio, the structural motive
    (D B A G F#) is presented at the beginning and at the end.

    Unlike the other subsections, T is a more rhythmical passage where two tresillo rhythms and the mordent rhythm confront each other in sequences. P1 and S(P) may be smoothly merged without T though, especially since they end with the same note. Perhaps it is not satisfying defining this passage as a transition; hence, it might rather be defined as an excursion or as sequenced tonicizations (to make it more graphically, I have excluded the chords in the illustration).

    The similiarities between Soledad and Milonga del ángel are quite recognisable: e.g. the ‘jazzy’ chords; frequent mordents; accompaniment gestures; lyrical melody; and naturally the milonga rhythm that saturates them. A major disparity though, is the way the change of key areas are realised; in Soledad by descending chromatic motion with pedal, and in Milonga del ángel by ascending chromatic motion. In the latter case though, the gesture is implemented just before the new key arrives; in the former case, there is a preparation that lasts for several bars and it is not that clear where the new key enters.

    Just as Soledad, Milonga del ángel has an ABA-structure and with the milonga rhythm as basis it is characterised by long note values, ‘jazzy’ chord progressions and change of key area by arrastre. Throughout the piece, the primary melody is located in different environments regarding harmony, tempo and instrumentation.

    Fuga y misterio

    In the same manner as for Fugata, I prefer to analyse Fuga y misterio as three sections: fugue exposition; middle section with melody and accompaniment; and a closing coda-section, which differs from the first two sections.

    Covering half the piece, the first section (P) is a fugue exposition in four parts, which through a large-scale fifth motion changes key from E-minor to G-minor.

    The secondary section (S) presents a contrasting theme that is accompanied by a chord progression that is derived from the fugue theme. Leading back to the primary theme, this section reveals the chord progression that has been hinted in the exposition. The last section (K) is a slow cantabile passage where a new melody theme is presented. While the fugue exposition (P) has a polyphonic texture, the other sections have a texture of ‘melody and accompaniment’. Though every section is in minor, the two first sections are a little ‘edgier’ due to the augmented fourth (or the jazz blue note) that is exposed already from the beginning. The large-scale structure can be read as an ABC-structure.

    In the fugue exposition, which is characterized by a rhythmical contrapuntal texture, there are strong accented rhythms. Short note values are predominating. Just as in Fugata, the most frequent surface rhythm of the fugue theme is tresillo 1. The key change between these subsections is realized by transforming the tonic chord into a dominant (e.g Em E7 Am).

    Thus, unlike the exposition in Fugata, there is no preparation of the new dominant. In the following illustration, notice how the last bar of the fugue theme is a diminished variation of the two first bars.

    Reaching G-minor, the exposition is accomplished and the key of the secondary subsections (Em) is introduced without preparation; the only gesture that indicates E-minor is an ascending diatonic bass line (B C# D#). With the marcato base as a basis, the secondary subsection presents a contrasting melody that is characterized by mordents and harmonic
    intervals such as the diminished 10th and the added 11th, which serves as top notes in chords.

    The last secondary subsection is a recurrence of the fugue theme, presented in a homophonic environment though. As pointed out earlier, the last subsection (K) is a cantabile passage that differs quite a lot from the other passages. It is slower, have longer note values, and it is the
    first time in the piece that there is a descending bass line in crotchets present.

    The fugue exposition is rather similar to the one in Fugata, especially regarding the treatment of gestures, counterpoint and change of key areas; it is rather clear to see Piazzolla’s influences from the inventions of Bach. Notice also how the usage of instrumental rubato automatically implies that tresillo rhythms are accented.

    The melody has typically stepwise motion or motion as skips, which reaches chord notes.

    Similar to Fugata, this applies to all fugue parts. The most common intervals in parallel motion are thirds and sixths. In contrast to Fugata’s chord progression, which is based on a descending bass line, the chord progression in Fuga y misterio is instead based on II-V-I progressions. With a cycle of fifth as a basis, the II-V-I sequences implies tonicization; Bm-E7-Am Am-D7-G instead of E7-Am-D7-G.72 The first subsection of S is a more homophonic passage where the secondary melody is harmonized with block technique.

    As pointed out earlier, the chord progressions are rather similar to the progressions in the exposition’s first eight bars, though with altered chords similar to the ‘jazzy’ one’s used in Soledad and Milonga del ángel. In the first four bars, which are rather static due to its harmony based on primary chords, the low notes in the bass line is reached through octave leaps. This implies an accentuation that enhances the static state. As in e.g. Fuga, there are also several percussive gestures produced by dissonant chords.

    Due to its different style regarding tempo, harmony and melody, the last subsection has a completely different character. The most significant characteristics are the descending bass line and the 9-8 appoggiaturas that are exposed in the melody. Implemented as sequences, the chord progression is rather similar to the one that is to be found in the primary subsection of Soledad.

    The very last bars are a descending chromatic gesture presented by diminished seventh chords, though with the tonic pedal as bass note. Ending with a B7b9 (without root note though), these last four bars functions as codetta. The gesture may be regarded as a T-DD-s progression, which is similar to the motivic chord gesture in Libertango.

    Fuga y misterio has a structure similar to the one found in Fugata: A fugue exposition as a start; melody and accompaniment in the middle; and a closing section that is rather different than the other two. There is no key change between sections (but the key changes within sections though), and the harmony is characterized by chord progressions with primary chords
    and fifth motions by tonicization sequences.


    This chapter will give emphasize techniques and musical events that are, in a general perspective, mutual to the compositions that have been analysed. As suggested of LaRue, I have chosen to categorise the characteristics of Piazzolla’s music that I have found into four categories: harmony; melody; rhythm; and structure (I prefer using structure as a category instead of growth). The sketches and the tables are not exact rules of how Piazzolla’s music functions; they are rather to regard as suggestions how to relate to his composition style.

    The change of key areas may be categorised into two main categories: maintaining the key or entering a new key. As pointed out in chapter 1.5, LaRue defines this as ornamental modulation and structural modulation respectively. The techniques, which are to be found in both categories above, I define as ‘tonicization’ and ‘descending chromatics with pedal’.
    Thus, they are used for both purposes. The following illustration shows my suggestion on how to regard the tonicization technique.

    The latter one is concerning the relation between a descending chromatic motion and its pedal accompaniment in the end of subsection. Unlike the tonicization technique, this procedure does not include any intermediate tonic states; there is either no change of key area at all, or the passage has the aim to modulate. It seems like when a new key is going to be established the pedal is fading out before the new dominant chord (this is not the case in the K-section of Fugata though). When the key is maintained the pedal keeps on going, and it seems like it frequently has a role of a dominant. In its simplicity, it may be illustrated as follows:

    Additionally, Piazzolla also changes key without preparation by implementing the arrastre gesture74 (as described in Milonga del ángel). As pointed out in Soledad, two techniques are sometimes combined.
    There are three characteristics regarding melody that I want to point out. The first one I define as ‘ostinato gestures’, which are rhythmical patterns based on tresillo rhythm 4 and 7.

    Frequently subordinated the main melody though, they contribute to the melodic tension by exposing characteristic intervals (e.g chord notes like b9, #5 and 13).

    The second one, which describes the relation between the top voice and the bass line, I have chosen to define as ‘uniform ambitus’. It seems like when the bass line is pending, the top voice has a more active role; it moves in arpeggios and repeatedly presents an immanent chord progression. Consequently, when the bass line is more active the melody’s ambitus decreases.

    The third characteristic regarding melody is the melodic motion. Applicable in small dimensions, when descending, the melody tends to have a stepwise, often chromatic, motion.

    Furthermore, when ascending it tends to move in leaps or in arpeggios; consequently, there are also neighbor notes implicated.

    Two common large-scale structures that the analysed pieces share are the ABA-structure and the ABC-structure; ABA in the milongas, and ABC in the fugues.

    As pointed out earlier, Piazzolla freely uses the tresillo rhythm and its shifts. In addition to the original rhythm, which is the most common, it seems like the second, the fourth and the seventh shift are the most common rhythms that are based on the tresillo. Particularly clear in
    Fugata, the tresillo rhythm is also to be found in large-scale patterns. In this piece, the tresillo rhythm is carefully distributed which makes the ABC-structure mathematically equal to 3:3:2.

    Piazzolla’s sheet music available for download from our Library.

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    APPROACHING PIAZZOLLA’S MUSIC: an analysis of his music and composition styles (1)

    (Next Post: “Composition”)

    Libertango (Piano solo) – Astor Piazzolla con partitura (sheet music)

    Did you know? Musical Analysis

    APPROACHING PIAZZOLLA’S MUSIC: an analysis of his music and composition styles (1/2)

    Table of Contents

      APPROACHING PIAZZOLLA’S MUSIC: an analysis of his music and composition styles (1/2)

      1. Astor Piazzolla. Introduction.

      Astor Piazzolla was born 1921 in Mar del plata, a town south of Buenos Aires, where he lived his first two years. Due to various circumstances, his family moved to New York where Astor spent most of his childhood. His parents, who had emigrated from Italy, worked hard for their living in New York. Vicente, Astor’s father, loved the traditional tango music of Argentina and when Astor was eight years old, hoping that his son someday would be a tango musician, he gave him a bandoneon1 for his birthday. Astor did not fancy the traditional tango at all, but he enjoyed classical music though.

      One day he heard someone of the neighbours practicing the piano; a concert pianist had moved into an apartment and was now practising music that fascinated Astor:

      “At that age I didn’t know who Bach was, but I felt as if I had been hypnotized. It is one of the great mysteries of my life. I don’t know if it was Johann Sebastian Bach or one of his sons. I believe I have bought all Bach’s recorded works, but I could never find that music again. That pianist practiced nine hours a day: three hours of technique in the morning, three hours of Bach in the afternoon, and three at night, trying out repertoire for his concerts. He was Hungarian. His name was Béla Wilda, and soon he became my teacher.”

      As his teacher, Béla Wilda introduced classical music in Astor’s life and he helped out adapting Bach’s music to the bandoneon. Occasionally, Astor played bandoneon at school and soon he became popular; he had a great talent and playing the bandoneon was quite rare in New York back then. At this time he met the famous actor and tango singer Carlos Gardel, and because of his talent, he began to accompany Gardel at some presentations.

      Astor learned some tangos and he also participated in a Gardel movie. In 1936 the Piazzolla family moved back to Mar del plata and at this time Astor hade a new great musical discovery; it was a tango orchestra he heard on the radio. This inspired him deeply and in 1938 he moves, all by him self, to Buenos Aires to be a tango musician. After some years of playing in different tango orchestras he starts playing in one of the most coveted orchestra; the orchestra of Anibal Troilo. After a while Astor become the arranger of the orchestra and in the meantime he is studying composition for Alberto Ginastera.

      In the late 40’s Astor starts his own orchestra and by impulses from the classical music he develops his own style. All the while he continues to study composition and he also studies piano and orchestra conducting, and in 1953 he wins first prize in a composition contest that takes him to a one-year trip to Paris.

      With the famous pedagogue Nadia Boulangier as teacher he is studying counterpoint, harmony, and pastiche composition. She told him that everything he brought to her was well done but she couldn’t find the true Piazzolla in his works. Astor had not told her that he was a tango musician; knowing her poise in the world of classical music made him ashamed of his past:

      “Nadia looked into my eyes and asked me to play one of my tangos at the piano. So I confessed to her that I played the bandoneon; I told her she shouldn’t expect a good piano player because I wasn’t. She insisted, ”It doesn’t matter, Astor, play your tango.” And I started out with ”Triunfal”. When I finished, Nadia took my hands in hers and with that english of hers, so sweet, she said, ”Astor, this is beautiful. I like it a lot. Here is the true Piazzolla – do not ever leave him.” It was the great revelation of my musical life.”

      This was the great break point for him, and when returned from his study period with Nadia Boulangier in Paris he formed his Buenos Aires Octet, and it was at this time he started to develop his own composition style for real. By growing up in New York and Buenos Aires, he was influenced by the Blues and the Tango. As a result, combining this with inspiration from Bach (whose inventions he learned from Belá Wilda) and Stravinsky, he led the tango into a new era. With influences from classical music Piazzolla used techniques that were not traditional in tango music. He applied a contrapuntal way of thinking and expanded the formal structures of tango music by processing thematic material.

      From Bach’s legacy for example, he used the fugue technique, layered voices, sequences and pedal lines as compositional tools. Influenced by Bartok, Stravinsky and Ravel, he applied extended harmonies and orchestration techniques that were not in traditional tango music.7 Piazzolla collaborated with various ensembles where he explored the expression of his style, and the musicians he worked with often contributed their personal performance style. These contributions turn out to be significant components of Piazzolla’s style.

      2. Some characteristics of Piazzolla’s style

      According to Quin Link, an essential rhythmic pattern that became Piazzolla’s hallmark is the tresillo. The basic structure of this rhythm is 3+3+2 and it originates from the song tradition milonga canción where it has 3+1+2+2 as structure. The latter one is also known as the milonga rhythm, the habanera rhythm, or the rumba rhythm. The surface rhythm in Piazzolla’s music is often accentuated with the tresillo or its variants obtained by shifts. By shifting it in stages eight various rhythms is created where some of them are more common than others. Furthermore, these rhythmic cells can be paired together across two or more measures and form a 2:3 feeling, for instance 133333.

      As expected, several of the characteristics in this style are derived from the traditional tango. Some of them, like the tresillo, are more frequent than others. One that is applied repeatedly as well is the marcato technique. It is a melody line in steady crotchets, typically played by the piano and the double bass. The marcato technique provides a foundation in rhythmic terms.

      However, it also has an important harmonic function similar to the walking bass line in jazz. Additionally, an essential rhythmical pattern in the idiom is the arrastre, which is an upbeat gesture that originates from when the bandoneon opens its bellows before a downbeat. The arrastre is imitated by the piano as an ascending scale and by the strings as a slide.2 To resemble a percussive effect, the piano’s arrastre is performed as an indefinite series of notes.

      Astor Piazzolla sheet music partitura

      Piazzolla applied the percussive gestures that had been common in traditional tango in his compositions. Effects like: lija(sandpaper); golpe(knock); látigo(whip); perro(dog); and tambor(snare drum) were often performed by the violin and occur frequently in his style. One further percussive technique is the strappato that often is played by the double base, and the strongly accented rhythmical patterns that the piano often reproduces in a percussive way.

      In Instrumental Rubato and Phrase Structure in Astor Piazzolla’s Music, Kutnowski analyses the phrase structure in Piazzolla’s music, and detects a technique that he defines as instrumental rubato. It concerns the rhythmic transformations a melody endures when it rushes towards the end of a phrase faster than required or expected. He argues that this technique origins from the song tradition in tango, in particular from the singer Carlos Gardel.

      The rubato was usually improvised by the singer. Consequently, when played simultaneously by several instruments, it had to be notated in the score. Furthermore, Kutnowski describes the phrase structure in Piazzolla’s music as an overlapping technique , where the last measure of a phrase at the same time is the first measure of the next phrase. Additionally, he argues that it creates a feeling of continuity.

      3. Libertango. Analysis.

      Published in 1974, Libertango is probably one of the most well known compositions of Piazzolla’s voluminous music catalogue. Many artists have recorded it; Gracie Jones, for instance, had a successful hit with it in the eighties (with lyrics in English) and YoYo Ma played it on his Grammy Award winning album Soul of the tango.

      There are many versions of this piece, however, I have chosen to analyse the arrangement that I believe represent the most common one. Libertango is a piece in four beat with an ABA- structure. By being present in the bass line the entire piece though; the tresillo rhythm indeed saturates the piece. With the bass line as a foundation, the piece is characterised of an ostinato gesture and various melodies that are combined in a contrapuntal way.

      The primary sections have a chord progression based on a pedal bass line and a bass line in descending motion. As a contrast, the secondary section’s chord progression is based on a fifth motion with tonicization.

      Accordingly, the harmony is overall based on regular II-V-I progressions in minor mode, and besides the short ornamental modulations that the tonicizations represent, there is no change of key area whatsoever. The primary sections reminds actually of a jazz chorus; with some variations, it is repeated over and over.

      The first subsection starts with presenting the ostinato gesture and the bass line, which rhythmically complete each other due to their accentuated rhythms; the latter has the tresillo no 1 and the former has no 7. As for the introduction subsection in Milonga del ángel, this subsection establishes the environment and is waiting for the melody to arrive.

      Astor Piazzolla sheet music partitura

      By being present the entire piece and due to their rhythmical features, the ostinato and the bass line provide the backbone of Libertango. The melodies that are added one by one as a new subsection enters, consists mainly of long note values; consequently, they form a kind of complementary to the rhythmical backbone. Although not as clear as for the bass line, the melodies have a descending motion.

      Consequently, the tonicization sequences in S are the only passage where the overall descending motion is abandoned for a moment. The bass line in the primary subsections may be defined as either pending or descending. As a complement to the bass line’s motion, it seems like the melody has a more active role when the bass line is pending; and vice versa, the melody is pending when the bass line is descending.

      Astor Piazzolla sheet music partitura

      As the illustration shows, the melodies move as triads while the bass line is pending. This implies that the motivic chord progression (t DD D), characteristic for Piazzolla’s music, is clarified. When the bass line descends, it is more or less the same chord progression; however, it is now the bass notes that clarify the chords. While the chord progression in P is based on this motivic chord progression, the chord progression in S is instead a cycle of fifths that is prolonged by tonicization. Correspondingly, this technique may be characteristic for Piazzola’s music.

      Astor Piazzolla sheet music partitura

      As illustrated above, the sequence starts by transforming the subdominant (Dm) into a temporary tonic. It is then given the role as a supertonic (Dm7b5) in relation to the new temporary tonic (C).

      (Next Post: “Milonga del Angel” and “Fuga y Misterio” and Summary)

      Piazzolla’s sheet music available for download from our Library.

      Best songs of Astor Piazzolla.


      Astor Piazzolla – Adiós Nonino Astor Piazzolla – Tristeza De Un Doble ‘A’ ( 08:04 ) Astor Piazzolla — Ave Maria ( 15:18 ) Astor Piazzolla — Bíyuya ( 20:58 ) Astor Piazzolla — Buenos Aires Hora Cero ( 27:10 ) Astor Piazzolla — Chin Chin ( 32:43 ) Astor Piazzolla — El Penultimo ( 39:11 ) Astor Piazzolla — Escualo ( 44:44 ) Astor Piazzolla — Fuga Y Misterio ( 48:07 ) Astor Piazzolla — Oblivion ( 51:25 ) Astor Piazzolla — Jeanne Y Paul ( 54:58 ) Astor Piazzolla — Libertango ( 59:10 ) Nuevos Aires — Balada para un Loco ( 01:03:20 )

      Musical Analysis Jazz Music Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation

      What is Jazz Improvisation? Keith Jarrett – A musical analysis of “Stella by Starlight” (1/2)

      Table of Contents
      • What is Jazz Improvisation? by Keith Jarrett (1/2)
      • Keith Jarrett -The Art of Improvisation
        • Idiosyncrasies
        • Biography
        • Awards
      • Jazz Sheet Music download.
      • Musical Analysis: Stella by Starlight
        • Form and Melody
        • Rhythm
        • Harmony
        • Opening melody section
        • 3.3 Piano solo
        • Form
        • Rhythm
        • Harmony
        • Melody
        • The role of the left hand
        • Closing melody section
        • The cadenza
        • Overview and Summary

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      What is Jazz Improvisation? Keith Jarrett – A musical analysis of “Stella by Starlight” (1/2)

      Keith Jarrett (born May 8, 1945) is an American jazz and classical music pianist and composer.

      Jarrett started his career with Art Blakey, moving on to play with Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis. Since the early 1970s he has enjoyed a great deal of success as a group leader and a solo performer in jazz, jazz fusion, and classical music. His improvisations draw from the traditions of jazz and other genres, especially Western classical music, gospel, blues, and ethnic folk music.

      In 2003 Jarrett received the Polar Music Prize, the first recipient of both the contemporary and classical musician prizes,[2] and in 2004 he received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. His album The Köln Concert (1975) became the best-selling piano recording in history.

      Jarrett has also played harpsichord, clavichord, organ, soprano saxophone, and drums. He often played saxophone and various forms of percussion in the American quartet, though his recordings since the breakup of that group have rarely featured these instruments. On the majority of his recordings in the last 20 years, he has played acoustic piano only. He has spoken with some regret of his decision to give up playing the saxophone, in particular.

      On April 15, 1978, Jarrett was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. His music has also been used on many television shows, including The Sopranos on HBO. The 2001 German film Bella Martha (English title: Mostly Martha), whose music consultant was ECM founder and head Manfred Eicher, features Jarrett’s “Country”, from the European quartet album My Song and “U Dance” from the album Tribute.

      Keith Jarrett -The Art of Improvisation


      One of Jarrett’s trademarks is his frequent, loud vocalizations, similar to those of Glenn Gould, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, Ralph Sutton, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Paul Asaro, and Cecil Taylor. Jarrett is also physically active while playing. These behaviors occur in his jazz and improvised solo performances, but are for the most part absent whenever he plays classical repertory. Jarrett has noted his vocalizations are based on involvement, not content, and are more of an interaction than a reaction.


      Keith Jarrett was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. on the 8th of May 1945. He started piano lessons around the age of 3 after it had been discovered that he had perfect pitch, and an ability to improvise. He began performing publicly by age 5, by 7 was writing melodies and improvising on them, and shortly before his a'” birthday gave a concert which featured the usual classical pieces by composers such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Grieg, along with compositions of his own.

      From about the age of 11 he began playing dance music and jazz, and at 15 was playing around town in his own group. At 16, he left school, and before long was working and touring professionally, and in 1g62 made his first recording with a big band. In 1963, through a scholarship from DownBeat magazine, Jarrett moved to Boston and studied at the Berklee
      School of Music. A year later he moved to New York, and there he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, recording his first fully fledged jazz album with them in 1966.This album, called either Buttercorn Lady or Get the Message, shows Jarrett at the age of 20 to be a remarkably mature jazz performer, highly creative, with brilliant technique, and displaying advanced rhythmic concepts.

      Shortly after this, he joined saxophonist Charles Lloyd’s quartet for a stay of 3 years which would prove to be a pivotal career move. This group, though essentially a jazz band, embraced a wide range of styles and along with jazz standards and free improvisation, would play rock-oriented songs, and versions of Beatles tunes. Their eclecticism and Lloyd’s
      connections with eastern spirituality, meant that they appealed to a wider audience than is normally the case with a jazz group, and during the “Flower Power” era of the late 60s they gained wide exposure, often playing in the rock venues of the day. Apart from the exposure
      that Jarrett also gained, he was often given a solo spot where he would improvise freely, and this sowed the seeds for the solo piano improvisations he became renowned for later on.

      Following his departure from this band, he began working and recording with his own trio before being asked to join Miles Davis’s group around 1970, where he stayed for 18 months. Here he played electric keyboards in what was essentially a funk-rock band which, as was usually the case with Davis’s bands, allowed for great personal freedom and much experimentation.

      In 1972, his first solo piano album Facing You was released, and the following year he began playing solo concerts where he would simply improvise freely with no pre-determined songs or structures, sometimes for an hour at a time. The music would embrace the huge range of
      styles that Jarrett had absorbed, from long ruminations on a single chord using eastern scales, to driving gospel inspired sections, to complex and dissonant harmonic excursions influenced by 20th century classical composers, to plucking the strings on the piano or hitting the body of it as though it was a drum. This was quite revolutionary at the time, and through the eclectic nature of the music, he was able to draw a large audience which went way beyond the confines of hard-core jazz listeners. The most well known recording of this side of his output is The Koln Concert, recorded in 1975, and to this day, representative of the style
      that many people associate with him.

      During this period Jarrett also maintained 2 distinctly different quartets, one American and the other European, both of which featured mainly his compositions, the European group being particularly influential. Jarrett was also involved in many other projects during the mid to late 70’s which are too numerous to mention but included writing orchestral music, solo piano music and recording improvisations on a church organ.

      In the early 80s he began to perform classical music, playing concertos by more contemporary composers such as Bartok, Stravinsky and Barber, then in 1987 he recorded his first classical album, J.S. Bach’s The Well Tempered Clavier book 1, and has since that time recorded many more classical works, including Bach’s Goldberg Variations (on harpsichord}, Handel’s Keyboard Suites, Shostakovitch’s Preludes and Fugues, and a
      number of Mozart’s piano concertos.

      In 1983 he formed his “Standards Trio” with Gary Peacock on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, to concentrate largely on the standard jazz repertoire, and since that time they have continued to perform and have recorded 16 albums and 3 videos. In 1986, Jarrett also recorded an album of clavichord improvisations The Book of Ways, which demonstrates his
      incredible diversity and improvisational prowess, with many pieces sounding like compositions from the baroque and pre-baroque eras.

      In 1996 he became ill with chronic fatigue syndrome and was forced to retire from performing for a few years, but by 1999 he had recovered enough to record a solo album and was again actively performing with his trio, something which he continues to do to this day.

      To summarize, Keith Jarrett has embraced many of the forms of m_usic making from the 20th century, and some from before, in both improvised and composed contexts, has been highly influential in the jazz world and beyond, and at the age of 58 still remains a vital figure.


      He has received many awards during his career and these include:

      – The French Grand Prix du Disque 1972 (for the album Expectations);
      The Grand Prix du Festival Montreux 1973 (for the album Facing You);
      Record of the Year 1974 from Downbeat magazine (Critics poll) and Time magazine, (for the album Solo Concerts);
      The Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1975 and Record of the Year 1975/76 from Jazz Forum (for the album Belonging);
      Album of the Year 1977 from Melody Maker magazine and the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1978 (for the album The Survivors Suite);
      The Grosser Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1979 and the Silverdisk Award from Swing Journal 1979 (for the album Sun Bear Concerts);
      Record of the Year 1979 from Jazz Forum (for the album My Song);
      Album of the Decade from Stereo magazine Readers Poll (for the album The Koln Concert);
      Best Jazz Pianist 1982 from Keyboard magazine;
      Record of the Year 1983 from Audio (Germany) {for the album Standards Vo/.1);
      Record of the year 1985 from Jazz Life critics poll (Japan) (for the album Standards Vo/.2);
      Jazz musician of the year 1986 from HiFi Vision (Germany), and Album of the year 1986 from Swing Journal (for the album Standards Live);
      Prix du President de Ia Republique, Academia Charles Cros: Best recording of the year, all categories (1990) (for the album Tribute);
      Best Classical Keyboardist 1991 from Keyboard magazine editors poll;
      Classical CD of the year 1992 from CD Review (for the album Shostakovich Preludes & Fugues);
      Pianist of the year and album of the year 1996 from Downbeat (Critics poll) (for the album At The Blue Note);
      Best Acoustic Group (The Standards Trio) 1998 and 1999 from Downbeat (Readers poll);
      Pianist of the year 2000-2002 from Downbeat (Critics poll);
      The Polar Music Prize (Sweden) 2003.

      Jazz Sheet Music download.

      Musical Analysis: Stella by Starlight

      The overall character is probably best described as romantic and slow moving, with sophisticated harmonies that very much reflect the song and Jarrett’s classical sensibilities. It is played with a pronounced rubato, and though there are a number of pauses, it has a definite sense of flow. It begins reflectively, and after stating the melody, becomes more passionate in the development section which follows. Furthermore, it then returns to its former mood with the final melody statement.

      Form and Melody

      It is 104 bars long, runs for approximately three and a half minutes, and has a form which is comprised of:

      1. A brief introductory statement (5 bars);
      2. A melody statement (19 bars- some bars are condensed, and the last 8 bars become
        the first 8 of the first development section);
      3. Three improvised development sections (16, 16, and 29 bars);
      4. Another melody statement (10 bars – the first 12 bars of the song with some bars condensed);
      5. A coda (9 bars).
        In the melody sections the original melody is not strictly adhered to, but the harmony is retained, and except for one instance (at bars 50- 53 where the melody is in the alto part [see ex.1 ]), the melody throughout is in the soprano part.
        Ex. 1 The melody moves briefly form the soprano to the alto part
        (Bars 50-53- straight lines show the path of the melody).
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      Cohesion in the development sections is achieved by the use of harmonies derived from the song, and the utilization of rhythmic motifs, which form the basis of various melodic episodes that occur within each section. Each section concludes with a V – I cadence. The two episodes in the first section are both eight bars long, but from then on there is no discernible
      pattern in their lengths or groupings, and they vary in length from four to eleven bars. The episodes are as follows:
      1st development sections:

      Bars 25-32, 1″ episode: – This is based on motif “A”(see ex.2). After it is first stated5 (bars 25, 26 [includes crotchet pick up from previous bar]), it is then shortened by a crotchet (bars 27,28), then by 3 crotchets (bar 29), then by a crotchet (bars 30,31 ), then displaced (the crotchet pick up is on beat 2 rather than beat 4) and shortened by a crotchet (31,32);
      Bars 33-40, 2″” episode:- This is based on motif “B”(see ex.2), and also uses “A”.

      After it is first stated (bars 33,34 ), it’s second half is played (bar 35 [the last crotchet is tied over to the next bar), it is then shortened by 2 crotchets (bars 36,37), then “A” is played (bars 38-40 [it is lengthened by 2 crotchets]);

      2nd development section:
      Bars 41-45, 1″ episode:- This is based on motif “B”. After it is first stated (bar 41 [it actually starts in 40]), it is repeated twice (bars 42-45 [note how the first two statements again have the last crotchet tied over]);
      Bars 46-56, 2″” episode:- This is based on motif “C” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bar 46), it is repeated twice (bars 48,50 [bars in between contain pick up notes]), then played as part of change to 3/4 (bars 52,53 [which means that the pick up at 53 is lengthened by a crotchet]), then lengthened by 4 crotchets as part of the change to 5/4 (bars 54,55);

      3rd development section:
      Bars 57-60, 1″ episode:- This is based on motif “0” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bars 57,58 [incl. crotchet pick up from prev. bar]), it is repeated (bars 59,60);
      Bars 61-64, 2″” episode: -This is based on motif “01” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bar 61 [incl. crotchet pick up from prev. bar]), its pick up is lengthened by a crotchet as part of the change to 4/4 (bar 62) and it is lengthened by a crotchet (bars 63,64);
      Bars 65-69, 3″‘ episode: -This is based on motif “02” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bars 65-67 [incl. 2 crotchet pick up from prev. bar]), it is shortened by 2 crotchets (bars 68,69);

      Bars 70-74, 4′” episode:- This is based on motif “01”. After it is stated_ (bar 70 [incl. pick up from prev. bar]), its pick up is lengthened by a crotchet (bar 71) and it is repeated (bar 72).
      Bar 73 uses 2 crotchet pick up but phrase is truncated;
      Bars 75-82, 5′” episode: -This is based on motif “E” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bars 75,76 [incl. crotchet pick up from prev. bar]), it is lengthened by a crotchet (bars 77-79 [a part of the changed time sig.]), then its pick up is lengthened by 2 crotchets (bar 80) and it’s first half lengthened by 2 crotchets (bars 81 ,82). Bars 83-85, cadence.

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      The main aspects here are the use of varied time signatures, and (as can be seen from the above analysis), the manipulation of the motifs, mainly through the use of augmentation, diminution, and permutation via the changed meters. There is also substantial syncopation present, as a number of the figures feature anticipations of a full beat (bars 35, 41, 55, 61
      etc.[ see ex.3]). Perhaps the most obvious aspect of the varied time signatures is the frequent shifting from 4/4 to 3/4 (although this does not occur in the first and second development sections), and this simply tends to change the character of the passage (e.g. bars 6-16 etc.).

      The incorporation of other meters however (particularly 2/4 + 3/4, or 5/4), affects things more overtly, and of course gives the rhythm an asymmetrical quality (e.g. bars 52, 55 etc.[see ex.4 ). The manipulation of the motifs in general, creates rhythmic interest of course, but also lends a certain sophistication to the proceedings, and it is worth noting how the brief displacement in bars 31 and 32 (see ex.5), and the manipulation. In bars 61-64, are particularly noticeable for the way they make the time sound as though it was turned around.

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      The rubato aspect (although strictly to do with tempo) needs to be mentioned, as it features throughout, and generally, it tends to heighten the expressive qualities of the introduction by adding brief ebbs or surges to the overall flow. A good example of the amount of variation here can be found in the first melody section, where, after a number of drawn out phrases, the tempo accelerates in bars 1 0-12, slows again at bar 13, and then returns to the faster speed at bar 24.

      The overall effect that Jarrett achieves here is one of rhythmic freedom, flexibility, and a certain elasticity, qualities that have always been evident in his work. Describing Jarrett’s playing when he was with Art Blakey, Jack DeJohnette said, “It was totally free of the time … he would play around, outside the pulse … ” 6 Peter Stanley Elsdon in his analysis of Jarrett’s solo ballad style says “This kind of rhythmic flexibility is found fairly rarely in most jazz contexts”.


      The tonal center is that of the song itself, Bb major, but the chord changes from bars 11 and 12 of the tune (which are essentially in D minor) feature often throughout, and this, combined with the fact that the first two chords of the song are also the II V chords in D minor8, means that
      there is a recurring D minor flavour throughout. These changes (from bars 11 and 12) are used in the introductory statement, and of course in both melody sections, but are most prominent in the third development section from bars 59-68 where they are repeated (with slight variations) a number of times (see ex.6.) This reiteration of a harmonic fragment of the tune (or a fragment of some related harmonies) is a device that Jarrett has often employed in introductions of this kind (e.g. I Wish I Knew from 1985, or Days of Wine and Roses from 1994), and it creates the impression that the harmony has paused for a moment. There is one brief modulation to the
      relative minor (G) in bars 41-45.

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      As stated earlier, the harmony in general is derived from the song, but apart from the aforementioned D minor section, it draws largely upon the cycle of fifths progression that is found in the last eight bars. The first development section in fact is constructed from two of these, and in each case, the first chord is replaced with a substitute tonic, before the cycle
      begins on the second bar.

      The second development section utilizes the cycle of fifths, but in a slightly different way. The first five bars contain the previously mentioned modulation to G minor, and mainly use a progression of fifths, however, the dominant chord D7 (bar 45) moves down a semitone to a C# minor chord (a tri-tone substitute for G) at bar 46, rather than resolving to a tonic G minor chord. The C# minor then becomes the first chord in a cycle of fifths progression which concludes at bar 56 when it resolves to the Bb major chord.

      The third development section begins with a modulation to D minor, and then moves into the aforementioned repetition of the chord changes from bars 11 and 12 of the song, but like the passage at bars 45 and 46, the dominant chord (at bar 69) moves down a semitone rather than resolving to the tonic, D minor. The Ab chord at bar 70 then becomes the first chord in a descending chromatic progression, which lasts until bar 79 where it shifts to another cycle of fifths pattern, and this, like the others, resolves to Bb major (see ex.7).

      It should be obvious that the various similarities that are apparent here contribute to overall cohesion. The coda consists of a 4 bar C pedal section (most of which centers around the tonality of the dominant F (see ex.7]), a deceptive cadence which involves another brief move to a D minor chord (begins at bar 100, and utilizes a fragment of the melody on the dominant chord, and a descending chromatic progression to the secondary dominant. The phrase at bars 103 and 104 which leads to the melody, functions as a dominant statement, but of course moves to the first harmony of the song, E minor 7 b 5 (see exs.7) and 8).

      There are a few remaining points of interest, and the first of these is the use of a number of fairly dissonant chords which add a contemporary flavour. They can be found at bars 30-32 (note how a D major triad is utilized here (see ex.9]), 49 and 50, 77, and 79. The second is the recurring use of a suspended Bb note above a number of 07 sus. chords (or minor 7 b 5, or minor 9), this creating a certain ambiguity until it resolves either up or down. These chords are found at bars 36, 76, and 101(see ex.S). The last is the very first chord of the introduction which though labeled Ab major, but could easily be interpreted as Bb7sus.or F minor 7.

      keith jarrett sheet music
      keith jarrett sheet music

      Opening melody section

      The song is played as a medium swing, with Jarrett establishing this by playing a simple right hand line at the conclusion of the introduction, and once the first two notes of the melody have been stated, the band immediately joins in playing a two feel. The melody at first is played much as written, though of course with the expected syncopations, and there is a
      playful quality to the musical dialogue between the instruments. The highly syncopated piano left hand and the bass’ roaming, melodic approach contribute in particular to this, and one is very much reminded of the classic Bill Evans trio with Scott La Faro. (e.g. tracks like Witchcraft 11 or Sweet and Lovely 12 )

      At bars 13-15, Jarrett pulls around the rhythm of the melody in what could be called his typical style, 13 and once he reaches bar 19, the original melody is pretty much discarded in favour of an improvised version. Bars 25-28 feature more of the aforementioned pulling around, and this, combined with the syncopations in both the piano left hand and the bass figures, as well as the conversational style of the drums, creates much rhythmic colour, a characteristic trait of this trio. From bar 29 onwards, the rhythmic tension is essentially released as the players come together iQ anticipation of the improvisation section.

      The usual harmonic changes tend to be used throughout (see the chord chart which accompanies the transcriptions), except at bars 13 and 14 the progression is changed from F major, E minor 7b 5, A7 to A7, D minor, G minor, C7. The bridge section (bars 17-24), and the last eight bars (25-32) feature a few common variations- a G pedal for bars 17-20, a C
      dim.add 9 chord substituting for the first C minor at bar 19, an Eb min.maj. 7, Ab7 sus. progression at bars 21-22 ratherthan just Ab 7#11, and a Gb aug. chord in place of C minor 7 b 5 at bar 29. These changes (from the bridge onwards) tend to create harmonic tension,
      particularly the C dim.add 9, Eb min.maj. 7, and Gb aug. chords, all of which have a dark quality.

      3.3 Piano solo

      General description

      It is five choruses in length (160 bars), and runs for approximately four and a half minutes. The overall shape is probably best described this way :-
      First chorus- two feel, melody notes occasionally referred to, mainly quaver based; Second chorus- four feel (continues for the rest of the solo), no obvious reference to melody, intensifies and becomes busier (many semi quavers) then becomes less busy near the end; Third chorus – less busy but intensity maintained, then quickly becomes busy again and
      builds toward more intensity around the middle which is maintained until the end; Fourth chorus – less busy, but intensity maintained, further intensifies briefly before leveling out in the middle then re-intensifies, becomes busier and builds towards the final chorus; Fifth chorus – starts busily with a climax of intensity and maintains it, then starts to wind down
      approaching the last eight bars before winding right down and referring to the melody in the last eight.

      It is worth noting the use of many quaver triplets throughout.


      Form is achieved mainly by the combination of broad shapes that have been described above. (Note that at the beginning of the climax [bars 128 and 129] the very high register is used.) There is not any sustained use of a particular theme or motif, rather a sense of the solo being through composed. There are, however, many thematic episodes throughout, and in general, they contribute to the development of the solo. The longest of these also tend to assist in the aforementioned changes in intensity. The most substantial of these is probably the one that starts at the end of bar 83, and runs until the end of 90 (see ex.10).

      The theme here is obviously the quaver triplets, which for the most part follow a descending pattern that also incorporates ascending figures. There are two other relatively long thematic passages that are worth noting, and the first of these can be seen at bars 104-113. Here, a B flat blues figure is utilized from bars 104-108, and is then followed by a phrase which develops from it. The second is similar, and can be found at the very end of bar 114, and runs until the beginning of This passage uses one theme (bars 115-119) which at bar 120 develops into another (bars 120-125). Another long episode can be found at bars 134-140, and some briefer
      examples can be seen at bars 38-40, 43-45, bars 50-54 etc.

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      The overall rhythmic character is a swinging one (the aforementioned quaver triplets contribute to this), but with a certain sense of freeness and (again) flexibility. This flexibility, apart from providing much variety in general, often manifests itself in the utilization of various approaches which create tension by playing around with the beat. Ian Carr whilst describing an early solo of Jarrett’s says this about his rhythmic approach. “His sense of time is so finely poised that he can play within the pulse, enhancing the rhythmic drive, or in some other time he himself chooses… The alternation of these two approaches is one vital way of creating and releasing tension.

      Probably the most prevalent of these approaches is Jarrett’s aforementioned playing behind the beat, and it is perhaps most obvious in quaver passages such as the ones found at bars 46-49,65-68, (and particularly) 108-113 etc. (see ex.11). The same approach to semi quaver
      passages can be seen in bars 7-8, 71-72, 131-132 etc., and a couple of examples of pushing ahead of the beat can be found in bars 21 and 106 (see ex.12).

      keith jarrett sheet music

      The other approaches in evidence are the use of :
      Displaced figures, the first being in the opening phrase at bars 1-2 (the motif on beat 3 of bar 1 [which happens to be the opening theme of the song) is played on beat 2 of bar 2, [both Jarrett and Peacock also happen to play the Emin.7 b5 chord on beat 2] see ex.13), the other being in the passage at bars 120-125 (here, the motif on beat 2 of 120 is played on beat
      1 of 122, and beat 3 of 124); Irregular groupings of notes, as in bars 56, 70, 75, 77 etc.( see ex.14); Crotchet triplets, as in bars 27, 64,114 etc.(see ex.15); A highly syncopated phrase at bar 25 (see ex.16).

      keith jarrett

      The most important aspects of the general variety mentioned above are:- the number of different rhythms present and the way they are combined; the length of the phrases; where the phrases begin and end in relation to the bar lines; aspects of the phrases’ relationship to the beat which have not already been discussed.

      A good example of the variety of rhythms and their combinations can be seen in the first eight bars, these alone containing a minim, dotted crotchets, crotchets, quavers, quaver triplets, and semi quavers (see ex.17). Other examples can be found at bars 21-30, 40-45, 55-57, 62- 68 etc. The phrases vary in length from half a bar (bars 12, 18, 39 etc.) to seven bars (bars 84-90), but in general tend to be one or two bars long. Where they begin and end in relation to the bar lines further demonstrates Jarrett’s flexibility, and his awareness of this is reflected in the following statement – “As a pianist, you really have to phrase impossibly. I think I do that … ” 15 An examination of the first seventeen bars will illustrate this aspect (also see ex.17).

      First phrase:- starts on 4+, ends on 2+; Second phrase:- starts on 4, ends on 2; Third phrase:starts on 3, ends on 3; Fourth phrase:- starts on 2, ends on 4; Fifth phrase:- starts on 1, ends on 1; Sixth phrase:- starts on 2, ends on 16., note after 4; Seventh phrase:- starts on 4+, ends on 1; Eighth phrase:- starts on 2, ends on 3+; Ninth phrase:- starts on 1+, ends on 1+.

      The above example also shows partially, of course, one of the main aspects of the phrases’ relationship to the beat, and that is their level of syncopation. As can be seen, numerous of them begin and end on the beat, and though there are a number of syncopations within those same phrases (bars 4,9,10 [beat 4],11,12,16 [2+,4+]) there is _still an “on the beat” quality here (see ex.17). This is offset to a degree, by the placement of the left-hand chords (which are almost all off the beat [see ex.18]), but is best seen as an example of Jarrett’s directness, and his comfort with playing simply when he wants to. Talking about the trio, Jarrett once remarked, “All three of us love melody and don’t like playing clever.”

      This aspect becomes less noticeable as the solo moves into the second chorus (where the band plays a four feel and Jarrett’s left-hand chords are minimal), and it tends to become more regularly syncopated from the third chorus onwards. However, although the use of the aforementioned approaches which play around with the beat make things less regular, the
      accents in the lines often favor the main beats (see ex.19). The resulting approach is therefore one which combines sophistication with directness.

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      keith jarrett jazz improvisation


      The chord changes in the piano solo are essentially the same as those used in the melody section, but as you would expect, there are a few variations. The role of the bass, is of course important here, and in general it combines functional root note playing with more melodically based lines.

      Often these lines utilize the thirds or fifths of the chords (along with scalar melodies), and as a result, create a certain amount of harmonic tension, but they always resolve to a root note after a bar or two.

      Occasionally, Peacock also plays his own brief substitutions (e.g. at bar 44he plays Eb, B, Bb, B, rather than Bb, Eb, (see ex.20) and at bars 119 and 120 he plays a line over a Bb tonality which is F, B, A, G IF, A, Bb, F.

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      Jarrett, as is often the case with this song, favors the use of the natural ninth (F#) on the Emin7 b5 chord (the sound of this chord is of course is one of the defining characteristics of the piece), and tends to exploit it’s interchangeability with a tonic Bbmaj. 7 # 5 chord (bars 56 and 65, 89 and 95 etc.[see ex.21]), although he also often uses a flattened third (C#) in Bb
      lines (bars 31, 55, 87 etc.[see ex.22]). (Note the substitution of an E min. 11th with a natural fifth for the E min. 7 b 5 in bars 25 and 89. This creates a brighter sound.) The most noteworthy variations are probably those found in the two bar section at bars 13 and 14, 45 and 46, 77 and 78 etc. As can be seen from the earlier reference to \lle chord changes here
      (see Opening melody section), this is a Ill, VI, II, V progression in F major, and in general Peacock outlines those changes.

      Jarrett, however, treats them more freely and observes them some of the time (bars 13 and 14, 109 and 110 [see ex.23- note how the melody in 110 utilizes an Abdim. chord in place of C 7), replaces them with allusions to D minor at other times (bars 45 and 46 [see ex.24 – note the faint A 7 chord in 46, and bars 77 and 78 [the chords here seem to be F maj./ E 7 b 9, A 7 I D min.) or elaborates on them (bars 141 and 142 [see ex.25 -the pattern here is based on a descending chromatic idea, and is probably
      best interpreted as Ab dim., G min., D I F#, F dim., C I E). These variations, and slight discrepancies between the bass and piano, tend to add both harmonic color, and a certain ambiguity.

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      keith jarrett

      Other variations worth noting are the use of :

      Harmonic suspension (at bar 92 the chords are D 7, D min., G 7, rather than just G 7 (see ex.26]; at bar 103 the Bb 7 alt. chord is held over for two beats.); Harmonic anticipation (on beat 4 of bar 89 the A 7 chord of the next bar is outlined; on beat 4 of bar 143 the D 7 chord of the next bar is outlined [see ex.27].); Changes of chord quality within the bar (at bar 59 the chords are D min., 07 rather than just D min 7 b 5 [see ex.28]; at bar 75 aD 7 b 9 chord is played on beat one rather than D min.);

      The superimposition of different chords over one harmony (at bar 144 beat 2 an Eb maj. 7 chord is played over a D 7 harmony [see ex.27]; at bar 131 Eb, Bb, and F triads are played over a C minor hanmony; at bar 134 [beat 2] a D triad is played over a Bb 7 hanmony. ).

      These variations obviously contribute to general harmonic variety and tension, and combined with the ones above, create an overall impression of harmonic freedom.

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      Jarrett’s lyrical, flowing, melodic style is very much in evidence here, and as you would expect, there is much variety. The lyrical aspect is particularly noticeable in passages like the ones at bars 13-16 (see ex.29), 19 and 20, 65-68, and this is enhanced by his characteristic use of melodic embellishments and grace notes (bars 81 [beat 3], 100, 101 etc. [see ex.30]).

      On an organizational level, the overall approach is based on a combination of scalar shapes and arpeggiated figures, with extensive use of chromaticism. As stated earlier, there are occasional references to the original melody notes in the first chorus, and these can be found in bars 1, 2, (see ex.31) and 13. The general diatonic shapes range from scale passages (bars 13,and 14 [see ex.32], and 147), to scalar-type figures (bars 6 [see ex.33], 52, 83, 84), to more purely melodic shapes (20, 27, 33 [see ex.34], 45, 47 etc.), to melodic shapes which feature large intervals (bar 94 [beat 4], bar 95 [beat 1- see ex.35], bar 128 [beat 4] etc.).

      There are many kinds of arpeggiated figures, and these range from triadic formations (bars 41 [see ex.36], 46, 57 etc.), to seventh chord outlines (bars 11 [see ex.37], 56, 64 etc.), to superimposed triads or sevenths (bar 19 [see ex.38], bar 80 [beat 4- Bb I D 7 = D 7 alt.], bar 92 [beat 3- F I A 7 = A 7 alt.]), to broken or composite formations (bars 7, 53 and 54 [see
      ex.39], 75 [beats 2 and 3] etc.).

      The variety found here is a good example of Jarrett’s melodic depth, and this has been described by Laurence Hobgood in the following terms – “Combining an uncanny sense of simplicity and lyricism with a seemingly boundless instinct for connecting, extending and overlapping densely figured phrases, Jarrett embodies the current extent of supreme melodic

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      The use of chromaticism falls into a number of categories, and they are probably best described this way:
      The use of chromatic notes as,

      1) Components of a chromatic scale passage (bar 31[see Ex.40]).
      2) Passing tones between scale or chord tones (bars 5 [see
      ex.41], 21, 35, 36, 55 [second semi quaver] etc.).
      3) “Approach” tones- i.e. tones which lead to a chord tone, and
      that do not fall on the main beats of the bar ([in semi quaver
      passages of the quaver subdivisions will also be considered the
      main beats] bars 14 [see ex.42], 35 [last semi quaver], 109
      [2nd, 4th, and 6th quavers] etc.).
      4) Dissonant tones which fall on the main beats and then
      resolve ([these are similar to an appoggiatura] bars 14 and
      15 [see ex.42], 23 [beat 1], 73 [beat 4], 76 [beat 2, 3rd semi
      quaver], 138 [beat 3] etc.).
      5) Upper and or lower “neighbour” tones – i.e. tones that
      embellish a chord tone from above and or below, and maybe
      on or off the main beats (bars 18, 48 [beat 3, 2nd quaver], 50
      [see ex.43], 55 [beat 4] etc.).
      6) Components of what could be called “general” or “universal”
      melodic shapes – i.e. melodic shapes which feature some
      chromatic movement, and that can be utilized in many
      different harmonic situations. (What will hereafter be called
      “1” – bars 59 [there are 2 uses here, one on beat 3 and
      another on beat 4], 74 [beat1], 130 [beat 3]; “1a”- bar 92;
      “2” – bar 60; “3” – bars 77, 145 [beat 3]; “3a” – bar 92; “4”bars 129, 130 [beat 1 – slightly modified]. – For examples of these see ex.44 ).

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      Apart from adding interest to the melodic lines, Jarrett’s use of chromaticism here functions in a number of ways. It either serves or embellishes the basic harmony, (as in 2, 3, 5), or briefly obscures it, ( 4) or does both ( 1, 6). (This essentially holds true for the remaining pieces.)
      The passage at bar 87, which contains many chromatic notes, is probably best seen as a utilization of the blues scale.

      The role of the left hand

      In this case, large sections of the solo contain no left hand at all. The only real sustained use is found in the first chorus, an eight bar passage towards the end of the fourth chorus, and the wind down section at the end of the solo which is approximately twelve bars long. This, of course is not unusual, and is a reflection of a common desire amongst jazz pianists to create unencumbered, horn like melodic lines.

      The first chorus, in general features short, stabbing chords that are almost all off the beat (this has been touched on in the Rhythm analysis), and which contribute to the playful two feel.

      The last chord (bars 30-32) is a long one, and serves to delineate the first chorus from the second (see ex.45) which of course, changes to a four feel. From tben on, it either fills or punctuates (bars 37-40 [see ex.46]), again delineates (bars 64-68,148, 149), or supports changes in intensity (83-90 [see ex.47], 116-118, 150-160).

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      Closing melody section

      This section emerges from the brief one chorus bass solo which becomes more of an ensemble statement as it progresses, and thus provides a smooth transition between the two.

      The fact that (like the opening melody section) it is played with a two feel, much interaction between the instruments, a similar approach to the melody, and essentially the same harmonic changes, means that a certain thematic continuity is present. However, the different rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic colours that the players use, give it a different character, and
      make it apparent that a musical journey has occurred. This, of course, contributes to a sense of development. From the beginning of the C section, things become more spacious, and there is a gradual winding down in anticipation of Jarrett’s cadenza, which begins at the resolution point (bar 31 ).

      The cadenza

      It contains 18 bars, runs for approximately 45 seconds, and is made up of three main sections which are grouped as follows :
      1st section: 4 bars;
      2nd section: 6 bars;
      3rd section: 8 bars;
      It’s overall approach is similar to the introduction, as it is played rubato, uses rhythmic motifs, utilizes varied time signatures, and incorporates similar harmonies. The structure will be described as follows:
      1st section: (see ex.48)
      Bars 1-3 :- Bypasses tonic chord (it would normally occur on bar 31) and begins a cycle of fifths progression that is based on the last eight bars and utilizes motif “A” (see ex.48). After “A” is stated (bar 1 [includes quaver pick up from previous bar]), it is repeated (bar 2), then repeated in slightly altered form (bar 3).
      Bar 4 :- Pauses on an Eb chord.
      2nd section: (see ex.48)
      Bars 5-10 :- Modulates briefly to A minor, becomes faster and changes from 4/4 to 3/4 (bars 5,6), then returns to tonic key area and 4/4 (bar 7) and begins another cycle of fifths progression (uses some of the dissonant chords noted in Harmony in the analysis of the introduction), then moves to a sequence of open fifths and pauses on a Db chord (bar 10).
      This all utilizes motif “B” (see ex.49). After it is stated (bars 5,6), it is repeated twice but permutated through the change to 4/4, and slightly lengthened at bar 9.
      3rd section: (see ex.48)
      Bars 11-15 :- Starts on an Eb/Bb chord and then mainly uses the aforementioned dissonant chords as well as incorporating varied time signatures within 4/4 (bars 13, 15). This all utilizes motif “C” (see ex.49 [note that it is similar to the “B” motif in the introduction]). After it is first
      stated (bars 11,12), it is repeated twice but permutated through the changed meters and shortened at bar 15.
      Bars 16-18 :- Cadential phrase which uses an ascending chromatic progression. Pauses on an Ab diminished chord, resolves to tonic.

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      It is worth noting that even though there are many foreign hanmonies here, the tonal center of Bb major is preserved by the use of the subdominant chord (Eb) at crucial points in the structure. Again, it should be obvious that the similarities between the cadenza and the introduction contribute to thematic unity.

      Overview and Summary

      The overall shape of this performance is, of course, governed in broad terms by the structure that is particular to this approach, so it is the actual components within each section that contribute to the specific shape which is found here. The introduction functions as a prelude, which apart from presenting the melody has its own definite profile, this being most apparent when it moves from the melody statement into the development sections, and then back again.

      The opening melody section not only serves to amplify the melody and develop it (through ensemble interaction and Jarrett’s melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic variations), but also has its own identity and functions as the introductory part of the ensemble section in the musical discourse.

      The piano solo functions as a development section, building on what has preceded it, and part of this is a definite change of character between the first chorus (which maintains the playful two feel from the melody section) and the second (which moves into “four”). The second and remaining choruses continue the development, and are responsible for the gradual rise in intensity and eventual climax, which is achieved by building intensity in stages with plateaus in between.

      The final part of the solo involves another change in mood when, at the end of the bridge in the last chorus, it begins to wind down. The closing melody section functions as the last part of the development by the ensemble, and (as mentioned earlier) makes it obvious through another
      change of character that a musical journey has taken place. The mood then changes once more as the band winds down before the cadenza, which subsequently acts as a final statement that not only has structural connections with the introduction, but of course is once again solo piano.
      The general impression that comes across in this performance is one of a very passionate, spontaneous and flowing musical journey. This is made up of many definite musical episodes which are brought together by a strong underlying sense of form and structure. Jarrett’s awareness of this aspect is confirmed in a statement that he made in 2001. “I have instincts about form over long periods of time.”

      Jazz Music Musical Analysis

      The Piano Improvisations of Chick Corea: A musical analysis (2/2)

      The Piano Improvisations of Chick Corea: A musical analysis (2/2)

      An analysis of the Chick Corea Piano Improvisations leads to the consideration of several other issues. One of the most pressing of these is the question of whether analytical methods usually associated with composed classical music are useful in the examination of improvisations employing the jazz style. This, in turn, raises more fundamental questions as to the differences between improvisation and composition, and between jazz and classical music.

      The methods used in this study— traditional harmonic, formal, and motivic analysis combined with melodic and harmonic reduction— do indeed prove to be valuable means of examining the music. As to the question of boundaries between improvisation and composition; jazz and classical music however, inquiry into the Piano Improvisations serves only call the validity of making such distinctions at all into question. On the subject of placing music into jazz or classical categories, Corea has the following comments :

      One can get into a great deal of controversy
      trying to label things. As a matter of fact,
      one of the artist’s functions is to create, and
      not to be worried with what already established
      mold one may fit into. . . . in that sense,
      there should not even be a question. If there
      is, then that raises the point of the purpose of
      the question. Is it so that we will know where
      to place this music in the curriculum?

      Or is t so so that we may know how to review it,
      in what section of the magazine, the classical or the
      jazz section? Or is it so that we will know
      what record label it should be sold under?

      Steven Larson makes a similar point regarding the supposed differences between composed and improvised music. In answering the question of whether it is possible to apply analytic methods developed for the study of composed music (Schenkerian analysis) to improvisation, Larson writes,
      “This question suggests misconceptions about the content and origin of Schenker theories. . . . Compositions he [Schenker] analyzed may be considered records of successful improvisations.”

      Larson goes on to demonstrate that many of the relationships found in composed music are also possible in improvisation.

      The nature of Chick Corea’s Piano Improvisations demonstrates that the jazz and classical styles have much in common and can be blended to the point that the resulting music cannot be placed into either category. The present study also adds to evidence given in Larson’s dissertation, that improvisation and composition are closely related, and that many qualities associated with composition can be produced in improvised music.

      The harmonic language in the Piano Improvisations is a combination of common practice harmony, jazz harmony, and more modern effects such as quartal/quintal sonorities and polychords. Traditional dominant-tonic relationships are common, but the chords are often altered, in a sense creating a highly contextualized treatment of consonance and dissonance. The clearest manifestation of this is the addition of extended notes, such as sevenths and ninths, even to the final tonic harmonies. Consider, for example, the final harmony of Noon Song, which reduces to the
      following (m. 75):

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      The presence of a major seventh (C-sharp) and ninth (E) in no way diminishes the stability and finality of this sonority. This is due to the context that has been established throughout the piece: chords, tonic or
      otherwise, featuring only the root, third, and fifth of the triad are exceedingly rare.

      In Ballad for Anna, a piece with a strong tonic of Eflat minor, the most common voicing of the tonic chord is as follows (e.g. m. 1):

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      Though this sonority is essentially a polychord (D-flat major triad over E-flat), the piece establishes a context whereby it serves as the tonic harmony. The nonfunctional harmonies that do occur are often circumscribed by traditional functionality. Consider the following passage from Noon Song (m. 22):

      The series of quartal harmonies serve to prolong a functional harmony, in this case a rootless F-sharp dominant harmony, serving a clear role as V/vi. The quartal harmonies are a logical choice for moving between two versions of the F-sharp sonority that are themselves voiced mainly in fourths.

      Harmonic motion in the Piano Improvisations, and indeed in much of jazz, often uses the same basic progressions driven by the same sort of voice leading as in common practice classical music. It is in the voicing
      of the individual chords, specifically in the notes added or omitted, that the main differences are found.

      In terms of harmony and tonality jazz and classical styles particularly as embodied in the Piano Improvisations, do not represent different languages so much as two dialects of the same language.

      One of Corea’s most impressive accomplishments in the Piano Improvisations is the improvised creation of convincing forms. The common process from which the forms are generated is the use of variation technique. All the pieces use variation in some way, based on either harmonic or motivic material. This provides for a combination of variety and stability.

      In his article on improvisation in the N e w Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Barry Kernfeld writes:

      The essence of improvisation in jazz is the
      delicate balance between spontaneous invention,
      carrying with it both the danger of loss of
      control and the opportunity for creativity of a
      high order, and reference to the familiar,
      without which, paradoxically, creativity cannot
      be truly valued.

      This balance of invention and reference to the familiar is a central feature of the Piano Improvisations. This is especially evident in the treatment of
      melodic and motivic materials. Most of the pieces have one or two motives from which a wide variety of melodic material is derived. This is an important factor in lending coherence to a potentially unwieldy genre. As
      Barry Kernfeld observes, “The fertility of invention of the greatest improvisers may be gauged by the variety of possibilities they find in a single theme.

      In addition to motivic unity within the individual pieces, there are connections between the Piano Improvisations as a group. All of the main motives involve stepwise descent through a third. Compare the
      main motives from each of the pieces: Noon Song, (x2)

      Song for Sally

      Ballad for Anna (a common version)

      Song of the Wind (one of the most recognizable melodies)

      Sometime Ago (y motive)

      In the case of Ballad for Anna and Sometime Ago the motives not only have the same intervallic content, but similar contour and rhythm as well. In addition to the main motives, much of the less structured melodic material throughout the Piano Improvisations also uses descent by step.

      The motivic material often has an effect on other aspects of the music as well. In Noon Song, for example, the different versions of the main motive help to define the form. In Ballad for Anna the harmonies often move by
      third, the interval spanned by the main motive. The melodic motion by second in Song of the Wind is reflected in the predominant bass notes of the major sections.

      The high degree of motivic unity in the Piano Improvisations is difficult to explain without a truer understanding of the nature of improvisation. In Thinking in Jazz, an in-depth investigation into jazz improvisation using an ethnomusicological approach, Paul Berliner writes :

      The popular definitions of improvisation that
      emphasize only its spontaneous, intuitive
      nature— characterizing it as the ‘making of
      something out of nothing’–are astonishingly
      incomplete. This simplistic understanding of
      improvisation belies the discipline and
      experience on which improvisers depend, and it
      obscures the actual practices and processes that
      engage them. Improvisation depends, in fact, on
      thinkers having absorbed a broad base of musical
      knowledge, including myriad conventions that
      contribute to formulating ideas logically,
      cogently and expressively.

      Improvisation as understood in this light has produced, in the Piano Improvisations, music that embodies blending of styles, a high degree of formal integrity, and, an artful combination of economy and invention.

      Heinrich Schenker, yearning for a composer of new music who would carry on the traditions he revered, wrote, “this coming genius will . . . b e similar to the great masters of the past, but certainly just as different from them as all of them are different from each other.”Hyperbole aside, the Chick Corea Piano Improvisations show that this is possible in ways that Schenker never would have imagined.”

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      Did you know? Musical Analysis

      The Beatles – Songwriting Secrets of the The Beatles

      Table of Contents

        The Beatles – The Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles (2010)

        This work examines the actual songwriting techniques of John, Paul, George and, occasionally, Ringo. Packed with examples of The Beatles’ music, it explains the chord sequences, structures and harmonies that created one of the most influential sounds of the 20th century.

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        More than thirty years after The Beatles split up, the music of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison lives on. What exactly were the magical ingredients of those legendary songs? why are they still so influential for today’s bands? This groundbreaking book sets out to exlore The Beatles’ songwriting techniques in a clear and readable style. It is aimed not only at musicians but anyone who has ever enjoyed the work of one of the most productive and successful songwriting partnerships of the 20th century.

        Author Dominic Pedler explains the chord sequences, melodies and harmonies that made up The Beatles’ self penned songs and how they uncannily complemented the lyrical themes. He also assesses the contributions that rhythm, form and arrangement made to the Beatles unique sound. Throughout the book the printed music of the Beatles’ songs appears alongside the text, illustrating the authors explanations. The Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles is an essential addition to Beatles literature – a new and perceptive analysis of the music itself itself as performed by what Paul McCartney still calls ‘a really good, tight little band’.

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        From humble beginnings in murky, Liverpool clubs in the early sixties, four songwriters emerged who would change the course of popular music forever: The Beatles. Within only a decade they created an arsenal of songs which set the template for all popular music that followed, and, over half a century later, their music still beats with the same vitality, pangs with the same melancholy and grips with the same fervour.

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        How is this possible? What mystical components were fused to create these extraordinary emotions? Why are they still so influential today?

        The Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles sets out to answer these questions. Chord sequences, melodies, harmonies, rhythms and structures are all examined in a clear and readable style, unlocking the musical secrets within – not just for advanced musicians, but anyone who has ever felt the power of these songs for themselves.

        Printed music and lyrics feature within the text and in this Omnibus Enhanced digital edition, audio tracks accompany many of these examples, allowing rhythms, melodies and instrumentations to jump directly out from the pages.

        The Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles is essential for any musician who has marvelled at The Beatles creative intelligence; a new and perceptive analysis of both the most enduring and captivating songs of our age.

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