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Bill Evans “I Loves You, Porgy” (Complete Transcription)

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Bill Evans “I Loves You, Porgy” (Complete Transcription) with sheet music download.

I Loves You, Porgy” is a duet from the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was performed in the opera’s premiere in 1935 and on Broadway the same year by Anne Brown and Todd Duncan. They recorded the song on volume 2 of the album Selections from George Gershwin’s Folk Opera Porgy and Bess in 1942.

The duet occurs in act 2, scene 3, Catfish Row, where Porgy promises Bess that he will protect her. Bess has a lover, Crown, who is abusive and continually seduces her.

It has been popularized by Nina Simone‘s adaptation from her first album, Little Girl Blue.

Edward D. Latham contends that Gershwin’s experimental use of simple rondo form with the main theme as the refrain echoes the tension between Porgy and Bess in the duet, “It is as if Bess is clinging to the refrain for dear life, afraid that if she wanders too far from it, she will lose Porgy’s love for good.

Once again, it is Porgy who guides Bess back to the home key, re-establishing F major with a half cadence at the end of the B and C sections.” Gershwin thereby subverts the rondo forms as a guaranteed sign of confidence and stability into an indication of the situation’s volatility. Gershwin had originally changed the title from Porgy to Porgy and Bess to emphasise the romance between the two title characters and accommodate operatic conventions.

On the technicality of Bess’s role in the duet, Helen M. Greenwald, chair of the department of music history at New England Conservatory and editor of the Oxford Handbook of Opera, wrote that Bess’s solo “requires the legato power of a Puccini heroine”.

I Loves You Porgy (1935) from the opera “Porgy and Bess”

“It takes years and years of experience to know that such a note cannot take such a syllable, that many a poetic line can be unsingable, that many an ordinary line fitted into the proper musical phrase can sound like a million.”
– Ira Gershwin

The folk opera Porgy and Bess was based on a 1926 novel Porgy written by a white poet from South Carolina, DuBose Heyward, who, with his wife Dorothy, adapted the novel for a play which had a successful run in 1927. The story centers on a disabled black man (Porgy), the woman he loves (Bess), her lover (Crown), and a drug dealer (Sportin’ Life). In the Broadway show which featured a mostly black cast these roles were played respectively by Todd Duncan, Anne Brown (who introduced “I Loves You Porgy”), Warren Coleman, and John W. Bubbles.

The Heywards and the Gershwins spent part of the summer of 1934 near Charleston observing a group called the Gullahs who became the prototypes for the residents of the show’s Catfish Row.

Although George Gershwin had proposed in 1926 that Heyward write the libretto for an opera, nothing happened for several reasons until 1933, and then their lack of proximity to each other made the collaboration difficult. It was then that Ira Gershwin became involved in the project. Some of the lyrics for songs from Porgy and Bess are credited to Ira alone, but the ever self-effacing lyricist is quoted in Philip Furia’s book Ira Gershwin: The Art of the Lyricist as saying, “Even with these, however, Ira maintained ‘I’m pretty sure I was indebted, theme-wise, to a word or phrase borrowed from the text.’” Several songs, including “I Loves You Porgy,” are credited to both Ira and Heyward.

As Furia points out, “In their collaborations, it was apparent to Ira that Heyward, fine poet that he was, simply was not skilled in the lyricist’s craft of writing singable and memorable words.” As Ira says in his book Lyrics on Several Occasions, “This is no reflection on DuBose’s ability. It takes years and years of experience to know that such a note cannot take such a syllable, that many a poetic line can be unsingable, that many an ordinary line fitted into the proper musical phrase can sound like a million.”

Many jazz artists have mined the now popular score, including Billie Holiday (1948), Oscar Peterson (1959), and the MJQ (1964). A 1956 studio recording (reissued on CD in 1999) included the complete score with Al “Jazzbo” Collins providing the narration, Mel Torme singing the role of Porgy and Frances Faye as Bess; Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded the songs in 1957; Miles Davis and arranger Gil Evans recorded their highly praised album in 1958. Nina Simone’s rendition of “I Loves You Porgy,” featured on her 1959 debut album, became one of the top 20 songs on the Billboard charts. In 2004 trumpeter/flugelhornist Clark Terry recorded songs from Porgy and Bess (including “I Loves You Porgy”) with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Jeff Lindberg.

There was great enthusiasm for the production which opened at the Alvin Theatre in New York on October 10, 1935. An elaborate opening-night party was planned, but there was little to celebrate after the reviews came out, most of which, at best, were mixed. The show ran for only 124 performances, most of them at a loss. George, who considered Porgy and Bess his best work, would not live to see the acclaim that it eventually received.

According the Edward Jablonski in Gershwin: A Biography, “[Ira] was thrilled in 1976 when the Houston Grand Opera presented a stunning production of Porgy and Bess with the original score and orchestration intact. The production was a triumph which brought the shock of recognition: Porgy and Bess was a real opera. Ira rejoiced in this, his brother’s vindication. (Ira did not live for that ultimate endorsement, a production at the Metropolitan Opera House, during the spring of 1985, nor the greater triumph at Glyndebourne, England, in the summer of 1986.)” Although bedridden, Ira was pleased that the show also was revived at Radio City Music Hall before his death in 1983.

The 1959 film of Porgy and Bess featured Sidney Poitier as Porgy (voice dubbed by Robert McFerrin), Dorothy Dandridge as Bess (voice dubbed by Adele Addison), Sammy Davis, Jr. as Sportin’ Life, and Brock Peters as Crown.

Other notable songs from the opera include the ever popular jazz standard “Summertime,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “Bess You Is My Woman Now,” and “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’.” Selections from Porgy and Bess were recorded in 1935 by white opera singers. Several other versions were recorded between 1940 and 2006 when the first recording of Gershwin’s original production was released featuring a cast backed by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

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Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

A Deep Dive into Bill Evans’ early style – The Solo Sessions (rec. 1963)

A Deep Dive into Bill Evans’ early style – The Solo Sessions (rec. 1963)

Bill Evans’ sheet music available from our Library

The Solo Sessions, Vol. 1 is an album by jazz pianist Bill Evans, released in 1989.

Evans recorded The Solo Sessions, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 at the same session, on January 10, 1963, and the tracks were originally released as part of Bill Evans: The Complete Riverside Recordings in 1984.

bill evans sheet music
Bill Evans – a musical biography by Keith Shadwick

On January 10, 1963, for his final contracted studio date for Riverside Records, Bill Evans made an abortive attempt at recording a purely solo album. The resulting material was ultimately not sanctioned for release, becoming commercially available only after Evans’ death in 1980. Leaving aside any analysis of the reasons behind the decision to shelve the session, the recorded material itself is an extended document of Evans’ solo pianistic facture during what was at the time a transitional point in his career.

Although Evans had included a number of solo tracks on his earlier trio albums New Jazz Conceptions (1956) and Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958), and four tracks exist from another earlier abortive attempt to record a solo album in April 1962, the 85 minutes of music from The Solo Sessions provide the most comprehensive opportunity both to examine his approach at that time to solo realization (in general, and across a single recording date), and to define the various factural characteristics of his early solo style.

Additionally, as much of Evans’ selection of material for these sessions comprises the mix of standards and contemporary popular songs typical of his repertoire base, with several of these numbers subsequently re-recorded in trio or solo contexts over the following decade, these recordings also form a benchmark in charting the progress of his solo style, before its consolidation with the Alone album at the end of the 1960s.

Evans’ biographers have also recognized the significance of this session within his discography. In Pettinger’s interpretation, it is an opportunity to view the ‘artist’s workshop, to survey the tools of his trade, piles of sketches, scattered maquettes. Everything has a raw, unfinished aspect and there is much craziness besides’. Although more dismissive of the session from both a technical and aesthetic standpoint, Shadwick declares that ‘this set of recordings is fascinating to fellow pianists or students anxious to penetrate the Evans process of creation’.

The Solo Sessions, Vol. 2 – Bill Evans (Full Album)

In order to contextualize the process, from which Evans’ pianistic facture is created, it is necessary to examine a number of salient stylistic features prevalent throughout the recordings that comprise The Solo Sessions, in which various physical considerations in performance often play a generative or influential role.  

There are two elements, which perhaps exert the most fundamental influence upon Evans’ pianistic facture – a theoretical one, arising from the principles of voice-leading in fifth-based harmonic movement, and a physical one, stemming directly from the flexibility Evans was able to demonstrate by possessing a very wide handspan. This physical capacity is particularly exploited to the full in his solo work, enabling him to utilize an open-voiced and resonant style of harmonic scoring, incorporating stretches in the left hand up to an eleventh and regularly inclusive of an inner note, usually the seventh.

Connecting these two elements together is Evans’ decision to consistently maintain the root of a given harmony as an anchoring presence, creating a characteristic harmonic texture present throughout all of his solo recordings during this period.

For these left-hand chord shapes, Evans overwhelmingly utilizes a standard triadic structure of tonic, third (or tenth) and seventh, featuring fifth-based root movement in the lowest voice, coupled with stepwise movement (inclusive of suspensions) in the upper two voices. Indebted to the physical stretch obtainable from his hands, this can be considered as Evans’ standard realization of movement through the cycle of fifths, and is also approached with a standard pattern of fingering. Ex.1 presents a short ii-V-I turnaround from ‘All The Things You Are’, as one example amongst many, to illustrate this characteristic texture:

Ex.1. ‘All The Things You Are’, bars 75 – 78 (2:24 – 2:29).

bill evans sheet music
bill evans sheet music

  In progressions not based around the cycle, these left-hand triadic structures are often simply transposed as required, maintaining a harmonic foundation built around the parallel motion of root position sevenths. When moving by step, especially within the context of a harmonized (and especially chromatically) ascending or descending bassline, they may also appear as an inverted passing chord within a progression, a role explaining many appearances of localized inverted harmony within Evans’ solo style.

Regardless of harmonic functionality, this kind of rigid shifting of a chord shape emphasizes in turn the physical parameter behind Evans’ progressions, where the automatic physical placement of the hand and harmonic voicings arising from the hand position itself exercise an influential (or even determinant) effect on the resulting facture. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the level of physical ‘automaticism’ in respect to facture, a theoretical framework behind the progressions is often strictly maintained, demonstrating Evans’ intellectual discipline in respect to the consistency of voice leading and harmonic structures at points where material is transposed en bloc.

This can be shown in a segment of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, in which the same left-hand voicings from the first four bars (bars 117 – 120) are retained for the sequential transposition a tone higher, commencing in the fifth bar (bar 121), working to consolidate the phrase structure here during the harmonic modulation concurrently in progress.

Ex.2. ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, bars 117 – 125 (2:57 – 3:09).

bill evans sheet music

  These theoretical foundations to the harmony are at their most exposed within left-hand accompaniments to a solo line, where often sparser textures and varying distances in tessitura between line and accompaniment tend to highlight the motion of the underlying chords.

However, the extent of Evans’ absorption of these chord shapes as a basis for constructing much of the overall texture found in The Solo Sessions is also demonstrated in instances where texture is influenced by the stylistic considerations of particular songs, or where the harmonic scoring is more fragmented or divided in various ways between the hands.  For ballads in slow tempo and in other more lyrical settings, Evans often utilises a standard pianistic texture involving simple arpeggiations of the left-hand chord structures, which is then balanced by a harmonisation of the melodic line within the right hand. An archetypal example is offered in the second section of the head from ‘What Kind of Fool Am I (Take 2)’.

Although the desire to unambiguously establish the background harmony usually results in directing the motion of the arpeggio upwards from the root note, the presence of arpeggiated left-hand chord shapes within the texture is made less apparent by regularly shifting the root note onto and off the beat, an effect supported in conjunction with the rhythmic profile and particular doublings of harmonic pitches found in the right hand. Within the right hand itself, the thumb reveals its standard role in Evans’ facture as an anchor for sustaining or emphasising selected pitches beneath the melodic line, as well as (in this case) for also providing localised octave reinforcement.

Ex.3. ‘What Kind Of Fool Am I? (Take 2)’, bars 20 – 30 (0:54 – 1:23).

bill evans sheet music

  A second context demonstrating the way in which these standard left-hand chord shapes are integrated concerns Evans’ perhaps most commonly used texture during statements of the head, or within other sections where the elaboration of the melodic line requires more extended harmonic support. Excepting instances of doubling, Evans habitually situates the melody exclusively in the highest voice; the harmonisation meanwhile is often divided between both hands working in close proximity, usually homophonically, with the lower fingers of the right hand allocated to voicing extended harmonic pitches (focused particularly around the ninth) and at times also the upper note from the standard left-hand triadic progressions outlined above.

The head of the Gershwin song ‘Love Is Here To Stay’ shows one effective realisation of this kind of texture. Its extensive fifth-based root movement fits neatly within the corresponding natural framework of Evans’ harmonic preferences, while short phrase lengths finished with sustained notes in the melody allow for the motion of inner parts at these points to be brought to the foreground. In the right hand, the second and third fingers have a dynamic function through voicing chromatic passing figurations, in which suspensions are stated and resolved, while the thumb is regularly anchored in its complementary sustaining role. This method of dividing up the fingers according to a specific pre-determined functionality can again be described as typical of Evans’ approach to facture in its combination of theoretical and physical considerations.

Ex.4. ‘Love Is Here To Stay’, bars 1 – 16 (0:00 – 0:29).

bill evans sheet music

  Evans’ realisation of this Gershwin song is notable for the way in which variations in texture are used structurally to clearly delineate the form as it unfolds. A further example (see Ex.5 below) from the second solo section of the song, corresponding to the recommencement of the 32-bar form, again utilises simple arpeggiations to help disguise the standard harmonic scoring, but is now presented as a texture homophonically unified with the right hand. The employment of fixed hand positions is again pivotal in this texture, with the motion of the right hand dyads in particular almost ‘resolving’ ultimately onto a natural hand shape anchored on each occasion by the thumb.

This example also contains a number of Evans’ almost routine textural signatures, already well-established in his earlier solo work, and encountered often throughout The Solo Sessions. These include a three or four-part texture of close position inverted chords, progressing in common similar motion or in oblique motion with the inner parts and often prolonging a central harmony using neighbour chord figurations (see bar 76 in Ex.5), and the arpeggiation of a more extended harmony, usually centred on a ninth chord, within the span of one hand position and scored as two 7th chords at the distance of a tenth between the hands, as found here stating a Gm9 across bars 70-71 (2:05 – 2:07). This last textural signature is a device that by this point in Evans’ improvisatory style had become almost ‘automicized’ as a standard (if not clichéd) prolongation technique.

Ex.5. ‘Love Is Here To Stay’, bars 64 – 77 (1:54 – 2:18).

bill evans sheet music

  A similar mix of theoretical and physical principles guides the construction of Evans’ solo lines. As a general rule, elaborations within the line at a given point can often be reduced back to identify one particular harmonic note as a localized focus. The background voice-leading that connects these ‘focus notes’ together is often readily apparent and creates an implied four-part texture in combination with the triadic harmony in the left hand. Although by no means quantifiable as a list of mannerisms, there are certain tendencies within Evans’ method of solo elaboration around these focus notes, in which particular melodic shapes (and by extension hand shapes) play an integral role.

In Ex.6 below, from ‘Ornithology’, a number of standard characteristics within Evans’ solo elaborations are stated in succession. Over the first two bars, the focus note ‘D’ in the right hand is emphasized through repetition within a number of chromatic and ornamental neighbor figures. The fleeting broken chord in the third beat of the second bar (right hand) works to re-anchor the hand position after this material by engaging the thumb at a point (F4) beneath the solo line. This is a standard and fundamental technique within Evans’ right-hand linear elaborations, where an exterior note, usually taken by the thumb (and thus operating below the tessitura of the main line, creating at times the effect of an otherwise implied additional harmonic voice), is used to interrupt the momentum of scalic (especially chromatic) motion, and has a tendency to steer the overall direction of a line downwards.

This same procedure can be seen at the end of bar 131 in Ex.6, with the same figure again stated in transposition a tone lower during the penultimate bar.   Octave transference of a pitch is also common and is often connected in conjunction with an arpeggiation of the current harmony (or its extension), observable in this case within the third (C5 down to C4) and fourth (A4 up to A5) bars of Ex.6. In the third bar, downwards transference of the focus note C leads the solo line to interact with both the harmonic schemata and textural layer of the left hand.

This manner of interaction between the hands is a feature often exploited within Evans’ solo sections, reinforcing the cohesion between solo and accompanimental layers while providing points of structural punctuation both within the flow of the solo line and through variation of the overall textural width.

The figuration of the fourth and fifth bars in the example display other standard improvisatory figures from Evans’ catalog, especially well-suited for improvisation within a rapid tempo – groups of four-note arpeggios spanning a seventh chord within one hand position, often preceded by an ornamental chromatic inflection, followed in this example by ornamental crushed notes (bars 130 – 131), a colorist gesture again dominated by the physical process of shifting hand position and movement down through the fingers towards the thumb (and as a common gesture of Evans’ style, overwhelmingly in descending motion to the given goal note, further emphasizing the thumb’s dominant role). Bars 133 – 134 again demonstrate octave transference via the automatized use of an ascending embellished four-note arpeggio, in effect a transposition of bar 129 a tone lower.

Ex.6. ‘Ornithology’, bars 126 – 136 (2:35 – 2:48).

bill evans sheet music

  Many of these characteristic solo elaborations can also be observed in a second example, a segment from ‘What Kind of Fool Am I (Take 2)’. The above-mentioned technique of re-anchoring the hand position by allocating a lower exterior note to the thumb is easily identifiable at the end of the third bar of Ex.7, as is its function to disrupt the movement of the chromatic line (from Eb5 down to C5) in bar 130. The example again illustrates the various methods employed for the prolongation of particular structural pitches in the right hand through use of octave transference and neighbor-note ornamentation, in this instance for the focus note ‘F’, which is structurally central throughout the example and functions as a pivot note for the modulation occurring roughly halfway through, as the initial note of both bar 129 and bar 130.

The directed gradual descent of the solo line leads into another instance of textural interaction between the hands, where the final punctuating Ab of the right hand (bar 133) links directly into the following left-hand harmony, which is then further stated an octave higher within the right hand as a means of resuming the solo line (end of bar 134).

Ex.7. ‘What Kind Of Fool Am I? (Take 2)’, bars 122 – 134 (4:25 – 4:47).

bill evans sheet music

  The allocation of particular functions to particular fingers is a concept also transferable to the various roles fulfilled by the left hand. Within its harmonic role, in which the outer notes (particularly the root note usually given to the fifth finger) have limited possibilities for manipulation, the second and third fingers are again able to carry localized figuration, granting some degree of flexibility to the inner voice.

Often, these figuration have a purely ornamental or colorist function, and are usually restricted to stepwise movement towards or alternation between the seventh, sixth and dominant degrees, as can be seen in the first two examples of Ex.8 (in bar 41):

Ex.8a. ‘Autumn in New York’, bars 39 – 44 (0:59 – 1:07).

bill evans sheet music

‘Ornithology’, bars 162 – 164 (3:22 – 3:26).

bill evans sheet music

  At instances in which the outer voices of the left hand are sustained over longer periods, the reduction in harmonic rhythm may enable the inner voice to operate more structurally in counterpoint with another voice (usually the solo line), in this case expanding the fifth/seventh transference into an inner chromatic line:

Ex.8b ‘I Loves You, Porgy’, bars 113 – 119 (4:21 – 4:32).

bill evans sheet music

  Within its context of supplying the harmonic foundation, the left hand may also utilise individual fingers to highlight various pitches through restatement within a sustained chord, usually as a means to interact rhythmically with the material in the right hand. In an extract from ‘Ornithology’, under a chromatically oscillating pattern of broken thirds in the right hand, various combinations of individual pitches from a sustained chord or of a full chord itself within the underlying triadic harmony are re-stated with a slight rhythmic delay against the dominant triplet rhythm.

Ex.9. ‘Ornithology’, bars 140 – 150 (2:56 – 3:09).

bill evans sheet music

  This rhythmic delay between one hand in relation to the other is a particularly common and idiosyncratic feature of Evans’ performing style throughout The Solo Sessions, and indeed, his solo style in general. At times when the texture is reduced to a single line (or in the context that Evans presents it, doubled at the octave between the hands), rhythmic discrepancies between the hands are particularly telling in this respect. Appearing more often in the left hand, rhythmic delay is especially prominent during accompaniment passages in which the degree of (rhythmic) interplay between the hands is accentuated.

While naturally affecting the overall feel of Evans’ playing, it also works in a subtle way to vary and to augment the apparent textural density. Within a solo performance context, away from the opportunities for rhythmic interaction with an ensemble and the ongoing additional dimension that other instruments provide, perhaps Evans felt the need to construct a role for the left hand, in which its special rhythmic profile and the ghosting of individual notes function as a substitute for these missing instrumental roles. Its prominence in solo sections may then function also as a means to compensate for the reduction of texture in the right hand to a single line. As such, it would represent another important element of the specific facture, characterizing Evans’ solo style from the period of The Solo Sessions.

Written by Professor W. Hughes

The Solo Sessions, Vol. 2 – Bill Evans (Full Album) Track List

1. All the Things You Are [0:00] 2. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town [9:10] 3. I Loves You Porgy [13:41] 4. What Kind of Fool Am I? [Take 2] [19:34] 5. Love is Here to Stay [26:23] 6. Ornithology [30:25] 7. Medley: Autumn in New York/How About You? [36:00]

Categories
Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

Bill Evans solo piano style: “The Solo Sessions” (recorded 1963)

Table of Contents

    The Bill Evans (early) solo piano style and fingers’ dexterity: “The Solo Sessions” (sheet music available)

    On January 10, 1963, for his final contracted studio date for Riverside Records, Bill Evans made an abortive attempt at recording a purely solo album. The resulting material was ultimately not sanctioned for release, becoming commercially available only after Evans’ death in 1980.

     Leaving aside any analysis of the reasons behind the decision to shelve the session, the recorded material itself is an extended document of Evans’ solo pianistic facture during what was at the time a transitional point in his career. Although Evans had included a number of solo tracks on his earlier trio albums New Jazz Conceptions (1956) and Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958), and four tracks exist from another earlier abortive attempt to record a solo album in April, 1962, the 85 minutes of music from The Solo Sessions provide the most comprehensive opportunity both to examine his approach at that time to solo realisation (in general, as well as across a single recording date), and to define the various factural characteristics of his early solo style.

    Additionally, as much of Evans’ selection of material for these sessions comprises the mix of standards and contemporary popular songs typical of his repertoire base, with several of these numbers subsequently re-recorded in trio or solo contexts over the following decade, these recordings also form a benchmark in charting the progress of his solo style, before its consolidation with the Alone album at the end of the 1960s.

    Evans’ biographers have also recognised the significance of this session within his discography. In Pettinger’s interpretation, it is an opportunity to view the ‘artist’s workshop, to survey the tools of his trade, piles of sketches, scattered maquettes. Everything has a raw, unfinished aspect and there is much craziness besides’. Although more dismissive of the session from both a technical and aesthetic standpoint, Shadwick declares that ‘this set of recordings is fascinating to fellow pianists or students anxious to penetrate the Evans process of creation’.

    Bill Evans “The Solo Sessions” music

    In order to contextualise the process, from which Evans’ pianistic facture is created, it is necessary to examine a number of salient stylistic features prevalent throughout the recordings that comprise The Solo Sessions, in which various physical considerations in performance often play a generative or influential role.   There are two elements, which perhaps exert the most fundamental influence upon Evans’ pianistic facture – a theoretical one, arising from the principles of voice-leading in fifth-based harmonic movement, and a physical one, stemming directly from the flexibility Evans was able to demonstrate by possessing a very wide handspan.

    This physical capacity is particularly exploited to the full in his solo work, enabling him to utilise an open-voiced and resonant style of harmonic scoring, incorporating stretches in the left hand up to an eleventh and regularly inclusive of an inner note, usually the seventh. Connecting these two elements together is Evans’ decision to consistently maintain the root of a given harmony as an anchoring presence, creating a characteristic harmonic texture present throughout all of his solo recordings during this period.

    For these left-hand chord shapes, Evans overwhelmingly utilises a standard triadic structure of tonic, third (or tenth) and seventh, featuring fifth-based root movement in the lowest voice, coupled with stepwise movement (inclusive of suspensions) in the upper two voices. Indebted to the physical stretch obtainable from his hands, this can be considered as Evans’ standard realisation of movement through the cycle of fifths, and is also approached with a standard pattern of fingering. Ex.1 presents a short ii-V-I turnaround from ‘All The Things You Are’, as one example amongst many, to illustrate this characteristic texture:
    Ex.1
    . ‘All The Things You Are’, bars 75 – 78 (2:24 – 2:29).

    In progressions not based around the cycle, these left-hand triadic structures are often simply transposed as required, maintaining a harmonic foundation built around the parallel motion of root position sevenths. When moving by step, especially within the context of a harmonised (and especially chromatically) ascending or descending bassline, they may also appear as an inverted passing chord within a progression, a role explaining many appearances of localised inverted harmony within Evans’ solo style.

    Regardless of harmonic functionality, this kind of rigid shifting of a chord shape emphasises in turn the physical parameter behind Evans’ progressions, where the automatic physical placement of the hand and harmonic voicings arising from the hand position itself exercise an influential (or even determinant) effect on the resulting facture.

    Nevertheless, notwithstanding the level of physical ‘automaticism’ in respect to facture, a theoretical framework behind the progressions is often strictly maintained, demonstrating Evans’ intellectual discipline in respect to the consistency of voice leading and harmonic structures at points where material is transposed en bloc. This can be shown in a segment of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, in which the same left-hand voicings from the first four bars (bars 117 – 120) are retained for the sequential transposition a tone higher, commencing in the fifth bar (bar 121), working to consolidate the phrase structure here during the harmonic modulation concurrently in progress.

    Ex.2. ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, bars 117 – 125 (2:57 – 3:09).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 1 sheet music

      These theoretical foundations to the harmony are at their most exposed within left-hand accompaniments to a solo line, where often sparser textures and varying distances in tessitura between line and accompaniment tend to highlight the motion of the underlying chords. However, the extent of Evans’ absorption of these chord shapes as a basis for constructing much of the overall texture found in The Solo Sessions is also demonstrated in instances where texture is influenced by the stylistic considerations of particular songs, or where the harmonic scoring is more fragmented or divided in various ways between the hands.  

    For ballads in slow tempo and in other more lyrical settings, Evans often utilises a standard pianistic texture involving simple arpeggiations of the left-hand chord structures, which is then balanced by a harmonisation of the melodic line within the right hand. An archetypal example is offered in the second section of the head from ‘What Kind of Fool Am I (Take 2)’.

    Although the desire to unambiguously establish the background harmony usually results in directing the motion of the arpeggio upwards from the root note, the presence of arpeggiated left-hand chord shapes within the texture is made less apparent by regularly shifting the root note onto and off the beat, an effect supported in conjunction with the rhythmic profile and particular doublings of harmonic pitches found in the right hand.

    Within the right hand itself, the thumb reveals its standard role in Evans’ facture as an anchor for sustaining or emphasising selected pitches beneath the melodic line, as well as (in this case) for also providing localised octave reinforcement.

    Ex.3. ‘What Kind Of Fool Am I? (Take 2)’, bars 20 – 30 (0:54 – 1:23).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 2 sheet music

    A second context demonstrating the way in which these standard left-hand chord shapes are integrated concerns Evans’ perhaps most commonly used texture during statements of the head, or within other sections where the elaboration of the melodic line requires more extended harmonic support.

    Excepting instances of doubling, Evans habitually situates the melody exclusively in the highest voice; the harmonisation meanwhile is often divided between both hands working in close proximity, usually homophonically, with the lower fingers of the right hand allocated to voicing extended harmonic pitches (focused particularly around the ninth) and at times also the upper note from the standard left-hand triadic progressions outlined above.

    The head of the Gershwin song ‘Love Is Here To Stay’ shows one effective realisation of this kind of texture. Its extensive fifth-based root movement fits neatly within the corresponding natural framework of Evans’ harmonic preferences, while short phrase lengths finished with sustained notes in the melody allow for the motion of inner parts at these points to be brought to the foreground. In the right hand, the second and third fingers have a dynamic function through voicing chromatic passing figurations, in which suspensions are stated and resolved, while the thumb is regularly anchored in its complementary sustaining role.

    This method of dividing up the fingers according to a specific pre-determined functionality can again be described as typical of Evans’ approach to facture in its combination of theoretical and physical considerations.

    Ex.4. ‘Love Is Here To Stay’, bars 1 – 16 (0:00 – 0:29).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 3 sheet music

      Evans’ realisation of this Gershwin song is notable for the way in which variations in texture are used structurally to clearly delineate the form as it unfolds. A further example (see Ex.5 below) from the second solo section of the song, corresponding to the recommencement of the 32-bar form, again utilises simple arpeggiations to help disguise the standard harmonic scoring, but is now presented as a texture homophonically unified with the right hand.

    The employment of fixed hand positions is again pivotal in this texture, with the motion of the right hand dyads in particular almost ‘resolving’ ultimately onto a natural hand shape anchored on each occasion by the thumb. This example also contains a number of Evans’ almost routine textural signatures, already well-established in his earlier solo work, and encountered often throughout The Solo Sessions.

    These include a three or four-part texture of close position inverted chords, progressing in common similar motion or in oblique motion with the inner parts and often prolonging a central harmony using neighbour chord figurations (see bar 76 in Ex.5), and the arpeggiation of a more extended harmony, usually centred on a ninth chord, within the span of one hand position and scored as two 7th chords at the distance of a tenth between the hands, as found here stating a Gm9 across bars 70-71 (2:05 – 2:07). This last textural signature is a device that by this point in Evans’ improvisatory style had become almost ‘automicised’ as a standard (if not clichéd) prolongation technique.

    Ex.5. ‘Love Is Here To Stay’, bars 64 – 77 (1:54 – 2:18).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 4 sheet music

    A similar mix of theoretical and physical principles guides the construction of Evans’ solo lines. As a general rule, elaborations within the line at a given point can often be reduced back to identify one particular harmonic note as a localised focus. The background voice-leading that connects these ‘focus notes’ together is often readily apparent and creates an implied four-part texture in combination with the triadic harmony in the left hand. Although by no means quantifiable as a list of mannerisms, there are certain tendencies within Evans’ method of solo elaboration around these focus notes, in which particular melodic shapes (and by extension hand shapes) play an integral role.

    In Ex.6 below, from ‘Ornithology’, a number of standard characteristics within Evans’ solo elaborations are stated in succession. Over the first two bars, the focus note ‘D’ in the right hand is emphasised through repetition within a number of chromatic and ornamental neighbour figures. The fleeting broken chord in the third beat of the second bar (right hand) works to re-anchor the hand position after this material by engaging the thumb at a point (F4) beneath the solo line.

    This is a standard and fundamental technique within Evans’ right-hand linear elaborations, where an exterior note, usually taken by the thumb (and thus operating below the tessitura of the main line, creating at times the effect of an otherwise implied additional harmonic voice), is used to interrupt the momentum of scalic (especially chromatic) motion, and has a tendency to steer the overall direction of a line downwards.

    This same procedure can be seen at the end of bar 131 in Ex.6, with the same figure again stated in transposition a tone lower during the penultimate bar.  

    Octave transference of a pitch is also common and is often connected in conjunction with an arpeggiation of the current harmony (or its extension), observable in this case within the third (C5 down to C4) and fourth (A4 up to A5) bars of Ex.6. In the third bar, downwards transference of the focus note C leads the solo line to interact with both the harmonic schemata and textural layer of the left hand. This manner of interaction between the hands is a feature often exploited within Evans’ solo sections, reinforcing the cohesion between solo and accompanimental layers while providing points of structural punctuation both within the flow of the solo line and through variation of the overall textural width.

    The figurations of the fourth and fifth bars in the example display other standard improvisatory figures from Evans’ catalogue, especially well-suited for improvisation within a rapid tempo – groups of four-note arpeggios spanning a seventh chord within one hand position, often preceded by an ornamental chromatic inflection, followed in this example by ornamental crushed notes (bars 130 – 131), a colouristic gesture again dominated by the physical process of shifting hand position and movement down through the fingers towards the thumb (and as a common gesture of Evans’ style, overwhelmingly in descending motion to the given goal note, further emphasising the thumb’s dominant role). Bars 133 – 134 again demonstrate octave transference via the automicised use of an ascending embellished four-note arpeggio, in effect a transposition of bar 129 a tone lower.

    Ex.6. ‘Ornithology’, bars 126 – 136 (2:35 – 2:48).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 5 sheet music

    Many of these characteristic solo elaborations can also be observed in a second example, a segment from ‘What Kind of Fool Am I (Take 2)’. The above-mentioned technique of re-anchoring the hand position by allocating a lower exterior note to the thumb is easily identifiable at the end of the third bar of Ex.7, as is its function to disrupt the movement of the chromatic line (from Eb5 down to C5) in bar 130.

    The example again illustrates the various methods employed for the prolongation of particular structural pitches in the right hand through use of octave transference and neighbour-note ornamentations, in this instance for the focus note ‘F’, which is structurally central throughout the example and functions as a pivot note for the modulation occurring roughly halfway through, as the initial note of both bar 129 and bar 130.

    The directed gradual descent of the solo line leads into another instance of textural interaction between the hands, where the final punctuating Ab of the right hand (bar 133) links directly into the following left-hand harmony, which is then further stated an octave higher within the right hand as a means of resuming the solo line (end of bar 134).

    Ex.7. ‘What Kind Of Fool Am I? (Take 2)’, bars 122 – 134 (4:25 – 4:47).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 6 sheet music

      The allocation of particular functions to particular fingers is a concept also transferable to the various roles fulfilled by the left hand. Within its harmonic role, in which the outer notes (particularly the root note usually given to the fifth finger) have limited possibilities for manipulation, the second and third fingers are again able to carry localised figurations, granting some degree of flexibility to the inner voice.

    Often, these figurations have a purely ornamental or colouristic function, and are usually restricted to stepwise movement towards or alternation between the seventh, sixth and dominant degrees, as can be seen in the first two examples of Ex.8 (in bar 41):

    Ex.8a. ‘Autumn in New York’, bars 39 – 44 (0:59 – 1:07).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 7 sheet music

    ‘Ornithology’, bars 162 – 164 (3:22 – 3:26).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 8 sheet music

    At instances in which the outer voices of the left hand are sustained over longer periods, the reduction in harmonic rhythm may enable the inner voice to operate more structurally in counterpoint with another voice (usually the solo line), in this case expanding the fifth/seventh transference into an inner chromatic line:

    Ex.8b ‘I Loves You, Porgy’, bars 113 – 119 (4:21 – 4:32).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 9 sheet music

      Within its context of supplying the harmonic foundation, the left hand may also utilise individual fingers to highlight various pitches through restatement within a sustained chord, usually as a means to interact rhythmically with the material in the right hand. In an extract from ‘Ornithology’, under a chromatically oscillating pattern of broken thirds in the right hand, various combinations of individual pitches from a sustained chord or of a full chord itself within the underlying triadic harmony are re-stated with a slight rhythmic delay against the dominant triplet rhythm.

    Ex.9. ‘Ornithology’, bars 140 – 150 (2:56 – 3:09).

    Bill Evans The Solo Sessions 10 sheet music

      This rhythmic delay between one hand in relation to the other is a particularly common and idiosyncratic feature of Evans’ performing style throughout The Solo Sessions, and indeed, his solo style in general. At times when the texture is reduced to a single line (or in the context that Evans presents it, doubled at the octave between the hands), rhythmic discrepancies between the hands are particularly telling in this respect. Appearing more often in the left hand, rhythmic delay is especially prominent during accompanimental passages in which the degree of (rhythmic) interplay between the hands is accentuated.

    While naturally affecting the overall feel of Evans’ playing, it also works in a subtle way to vary and to augment the apparent textural density. Within a solo performance context, away from the opportunities for rhythmic interaction with an ensemble and the ongoing additional dimension that other instruments provide, perhaps Evans felt the need to construct a role for the left hand, in which its special rhythmic profile and the ghosting of individual notes function as a substitute for these missing instrumental roles. Its prominence in solo sections may then function also as a means to compensate for the reduction of texture in the right hand to a single line.

    As such, it would represent another important element of the specific facture, characterising Evans’ solo style from the period of The Solo Sessions.

    Bill Evans – How My Heart Sings (1962 Album)

    Personnel: Bill Evans (p) Chuck Israels (b) Paul Motian (dr)
    Released: January 1964
    Recorded: May 17, 1962 (#1, 6) May 29, 1962 (#5, 7, 9) June 5, 1962 (#2-4, 8) Sound Makers Studio
    Label: Riverside RLP 473
    Producer: Orrin Keepnews

    “How My Heart Sings” (Earl Zindars)
    “I Should Care” (Sammy Cahn, Axel Stordahl, Paul Weston)
    “In Your Own Sweet Way” (Dave Brubeck)
    “In Your Own Sweet Way” [alternate take – bonus track]
    “Walkin’ Up” (Bill Evans)
    “Summertime” (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward)
    “34 Skidoo” (Evans)
    “Ev’rything I Love” (Cole Porter)
    “Show-Type Tune” (Evans)

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    Bill Evans Harmony Music Concerts

    Bill Evans Solo Sessions I-II (1963 Albums)

    Bill Evans Solo Sessions I-II (1963 Albums) Sheet Music available for download from our Library.

    The Solo Sessions, Vol. 1 is an album by jazz pianist Bill Evans, released in 1989.

    Evans recorded The Solo Sessions, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 at the same session, on January 10, 1963 and the tracks were originally released as part of Bill Evans: The Complete Riverside Recordings in 1984.

    Personnel:

    Bill Evans (p) Released: 1989, 1992 Recorded: January 24, 1963 Producer: Orrin Keepnews

    Tracklist:

    Vol I:

    0:00 “What Kind of Fool Am I?” [Take 1] (Bricusse, Newley) 6:17 “Medley: My Favorite Things/Easy to Love/Baubles, Bangles, & Beads” (Borodin, Wright, Forrest) 18:51 “When I Fall in Love” (Heyman, Young) 21:52 “Medley: Spartacus Love Theme/Nardis” (Alex North) 30:27 “Everything Happens to Me” (Adair, Dennis) 36:15 “April in Paris” (Duke, E. Y. Harburg)

    Vol II:

    42:06 “All the Things You Are” (Hammerstein II, Kern) 51:14 “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (Coots, Gillespie) 55:53 “I Loves You Porgy” (Gershwin, Gershwin, Heyward) 1:01:44 “What Kind of Fool Am I?” [Take 2] (Bricusse, Newley) 1:08:31 “Love Is Here to Stay” (Gershwin, Gershwin) 1:12:33 “Ornithology” (Harris, Parker) 1:18:08 “Medley: Autumn in New York/How About You?” (Duke, Freed, Lane)

    In need of money and wanting to quickly fulfill his contractual obligations to Riverside, Bill Evans recorded two albums worth of solos in one day. The emotional and rather stark music was not initially released until the late ’80s although it is now available on a pair of CDs. Due to the lack of much mood or tempo variation, this particular set is recommended mostly for Evans completists and longtime fans. There are two medleys (the pianist was playing one tune after another and a few songs overlapped) and every number would be recorded by Evans (generally in trio formats) at other times. Interesting but not essential music. AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow

    This CD’s booklet liner notes written by Gene Lees tell as much — if not more — of the story about the circumstances surrounding this session as the music itself. Though in retrospect Lees hears added value in these solo piano works from Bill Evans, there is a palpable and recognizable deterioration in the great pianist’s ability to perform at his optimal genius level. In trouble with heroin addiction during 1963 when these tracks were documented, Evans both struggles and prevails through his drug-induced haze to produce an effort that is at many times expectedly brilliant — the prerequisite and operative word being effort.

    Where Evans was normally fluid and cool to the point of nonchalance, here he is as much poignant and inventive as he is distracted and removed at times from the melodies. Since this endeavor is his first as a solo pianist, and the second issued volume of these sessions minus outtakes, perhaps Evans was more uncomfortable without rhythm mates and not as confident. The story told by Lees, with his undeniable support for Evans and frank honestly about his plight, needs to be read and understood.

    It is Evans as an incredible player — albeit diminished on any minimal or distinguishable level — that deserves close attention to appreciate both his beauty and pain. During “Love Is Here to Stay,” Evans is clearly having difficulty, yet he rallies out of an unsure thought to carry this theme onward. On “What Kind of Fool Am I?” (misidentified by Lees in the liner notes as “Who Can I Turn To?”), the pianist recalls a pensive and introspective, almost gut-wrenching mood, perhaps a self-examination of his condition.

    The better reinterpretations include a wonderfully spacious version of “All the Things You Are,” a playful medley of “Autumn in New York” and “How About You?,” and the lively jazzed-up “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” The tricky Charlie Parker bop anthem “Ornithology” has the pianist rambling off the beaten path in a carefree but a rough dissertation. Apparently Evans did not care for these recordings, but listeners have two CD editions to enjoy, and despite his lessened capacity, they are still enjoyable in their flawed but brilliant way. After all, this is the great Bill Evans, and he remains so for all time.

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    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (3b) “Time remembered”

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (3b) “TIME REMEMBERED” – MODAL ANALYSIS (with sheet music)

    This analysis totally ignores the harmonic progression composed by Bill, in order to observe the theme as a complete entity; one that doesn’t need harmony to prove its existence.

    In the Modal period (pre-Bach), polyphony reigned supreme; harmony was accidental and therefore not a factor in determining the form or length of a composition. The theoretical basis derived from this period was the MODES or scales: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, MixoLydian, Aeolian, and Locrian, all beginning on the pitch “c.”

    After Bach, the modes disappeared, or rather, were swallowed up, allowing for a synthesis which gave birth to the major/ minor system and a theory of harmony based on 12 major and 12 minor scales ( called scales to differentiate between the pre-Bach Modal period and the Tonal post-Bach era). This tonal period lasted roughly 300 years before a new and higher synthesis-Atonality-came into being.

    When a synthesis is reached, it always inherits the previous period. Inherent in the Tonal system is the Modal system; inherent in the Atonal system are both the Modal and the Tonal systems. Bill Evans was born with this awareness, and through his study of the Schoenberg harmony, counterpoint, and compositional books, he created his wonderfully rich composi­tions, full of the past and present and achieving a new synthesis: the conscious merging of classical music with jazz.

    There is a term coined by Gunther Schuller: “Third Stream Music.” It means the synthesis of two streams, classical and ja,zz, to produce a third stream. Bill Evans’ compositions are Third Stream, and the following analysis of “Time Remembered” is an attempt to prove that statement true.
    Here are eight examples that break down the theme into eight phrases (the measure lengths are altered slightly for Part 1 ).

    Each example show how the theme expresses a mode based on the gravity caused by the succession of tones in each phrase. The clue lies in the Directional Tones in each phrase. In EX. lA, our ear retains (remembers) the opening “f#” at the arrival of the last note “b,” and identifies these pitches as the dominant or 5th note (f#) and tonic (1st note) of the B Aeolian mode.

    Bill Evans sheet music harmony

    The rest of the pitches in this phrase support this conclusion. “C#” is the super-tonic note, “a” is the leading tone, “e” the sub-dominant, etc. The high point on the pitch “d” links up with the” f#” and “b” to form a tonic B minor triad, but I must not use that to support my conclusion, since I stated above that this analysis is linear (horizontal) and not chordal (vertical)!

    Our ear does, however, group (link) tones to form chords because it’s almost impossible to forget our 20th century inheritance: harmony! I have therefore included an analysis of what our 20th century ear picks up chord-wise in each example.

    Looking at EX. lA again, you’ll see that my ear groups these pitches vertically to form a V7, 1 V7 & I chord (F#m7, Em7 & Bm triad respectively). The modes are very slippery and our ear could very easily shift the tonic to the pitch” e,” giving us an E Dorian mode. This is obvious because both the B Aeolian and E Dorian contain the same pitches. In the latter instance, my ear picked up the Directional Tone” e” (low point, and linked it with the “b” in measure 4, plus the opening “f#,” pulling me gravitationally to the “e” as a tonic note).

    In each of the following examples, you must sing (and/ or play) the phrase as written; then sing the analytical sections above and below; then sing the modes; then repeat and repeat until your ear gravitates toward the tonic of each mode. It is entirely with_ill !he realm of probability that you will arrive at other modal conclusions, but rememoer, it is the Directional Tones-the high and low point in each phrase-that will support my conclusion. I’ll stand firmly on all of them! Ultimately, it should be child’s play when you finally sit down with thiswonderful composi­tion, “Time Remembered.”

    bill evans sheet music imatge-69

    Bill Evans – Time Remembered – Full Album

    Tracklist:

    1) “Danny Boy” (Frederick Weatherly) – 00:00 2) Like Someone in Love” (Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen) – 10:40 3) “In Your Own Sweet Way” (Dave Brubeck) – 17:08 4) “Easy to Love” (Cole Porter) – 20:07 5) “Some Other Time” (Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green) – 24:49 6) “Lover Man” (Jimmy Davis, Ram Ramirez, James Sherman) – 31:01 7) “Who Cares?” (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) – 36:07 8) “What Is This Thing Called Love?” (Cole Porter) – 41:32 9) “How About You?” (Ralph Freed, Burton Lane) – 47:21 10) “Everything Happens to Me” (Tom Adair, Matt Dennis) – 51:27 11) “In a Sentimental Mood” (Duke Ellington, Manny Kurtz, Irving Mills) – 56:15 12) “My Heart Stood Still” (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers) – 01:00:41 13) “Time Remembered” (Bill Evans) – 01:05:16

    Categories
    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (3a) “Time remembered”

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (3a) “TIME REMEMBEREDHARMONIC ANALYSIS (with sheet music)


    “Time Remembered” must have emerged from very deep within the musical mind of Bill Evans or, as he might have put it, from the “universal mind.” It is a composition that harmonically pays homage to the Modal period in music history, the sixteenth century that gave birth to Palestrina, Byrd, Caccini, Morley, Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, and Schutz.

    The harmonies and progressions of “Time Remembered” suggest four modes or scales that formed the basis of many of the works of that period: the Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and Aeolian. The Bach chorales of the sevente_enth century mark the transition from Modality to Tonality (major/minor system). We then had to wait three hundred years for a reincarnation of the modes in the compositions of Debussy and Ravel.

    Bill knew these two Impressionistic masters inside and out, and in “Time Remembered,” he has compressed within 26 measures four hundred years of musical evolution from Modality to Tonality to Impressionism.


    The unique thing about “Time Remembered” is the inconspicuous absence of the dominant 7th chord and its derivatives, the half-diminished and the full-diminished. When Bill had eliminated these, he was left with only major and minor chords. For this reason, the piece sounds impressionistic and modal.

    He has met the challenge of writing a tune with only two harmonic qualities by introducing unusual root movements and by exploiting the use of the upper partials (9, 11, 13) in the melody. Let’s look at EX. 1 in which I have reduced the original to four parts. The root is always in the bass” The 3rd, 5th, and 7th, however, are voiced in a variety of ways, according to the new voicing categories that I will explain shortly.

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    The original Bill Evans score of “Time Remembered” (EX. 2) is one of Bill’s most complex contrapuntal scores-. It’s equal in difficulfyto Bach’s Five-Part Fugue in C-sharp from Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier. To help you to achieve a better legato, I have written a set of fingerings. Also, you might have a look at the Fugue. It’s a good preparator.y piece for “Time Remembered.”.

    bill evans harmony sheet music jazz transcription

    Now look at EX. 1 and listen for the harmonic qualities of Ma7 or m7; observe the voicings; feel them in your hands. Now visualize the 5th omitted. What’s left? The root, 3rd, and 7th, of course: the three-note concept. By adding the 5th to all the chords in “Time Remembered,” Bill has quadrupled the voicing possibilities.

    He has also created five new voicing categories. The voicings in measures 1, 2, 6, 9, 15, 25, 26, and 29, I call category” A”: the root, 7th, 3rd, and 5th. In measures 5 (third beat only), 10 and 18, the voicing is root, 5th, 7th, and 3rd. Let’s call this category “B.” In measures 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, and 21, Bill voices the chords root, 5th, 3rd, and 7th. We’ll name these the “C” voicings. Next we read root, 3rd, 7th, and 5th in measures 11 and 24. This will be the “D” voicing category. Lastly, in measures 3, 4, 5 (first beat only), 22, and 23, Bill uses block voicings. This makes up our fifth category, the “E” voicings.

    To make it easier to follow this analysis, I have rewritten and organized EX. 1 by voicing categories. Refer now to EX. 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, and 3E (bar numbers under EX. 3A-3E indicate which measure(s) contains the voicing category. For example, bars 1 & 15 are examples of” A” voicings, etc.).

    I have also written out all inversions appropriate to each voicing category. Exhaust all possibilities! That’s my motto. Bill did. He spent hours and hours practicing these fundamental four-part voicings, in every category, in root position and all inversions, and in all keys, until they were “second nature.” Nobody else since Art Tatum has had such an enormous voicing vocabulary “in the fingers.” And Bill has surpassed Tatum in this department owing to his broader knowledge of classical music, especially the music of Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky.


    Now I will analyze in detail measures 7 and 8 from the original score. See EX. 4. Bill has written an Eb Ma13th resolving up a fourth to Ab Ma13th. Can you see the basic four-part seventh chord voicings and categories hidden in these seven-part chords? Not yet? Then look at EX. 4A.

    Here I have isolated the basic four parts from the upper partials. (This is what the harmonic reduction in EX. 1 is all about). It is now clear that both chords belong to the “C” voicing category (See EX. 3C). Separated in EX. 4A, the upper partials now look like major triads. But they also-belong to the Eb and Ab Ma7 chords as the 9th,+ 11th, and 13th. H€re’s a simple rule to follow: by visualizing major triads superimposed one whole step above Ma7ths, you will learn to play seven-part Ma13th chords quickly. Such practice is also the first step toward thinking in polytonal relationships.

    Now look at EX. 5, SA, and SB. In these examples, I have placed the upper partials of the EbMa13th with the inversions. Further experimentation will reveal other possipilities. Then you can do what Bill did: at the piano transpose your experiments to all keys until they are “in the fingers.”

    In EX. 6 and 6A, my analysis of measure 6 from Bill’s original score (see EX. 2) follows the same procedure as in EX. 4 through SB. Only this time I have chosen the minor chord quality, which in this measure is a Gm13th.

    Analyze each measure of Bill’s score in a similar manner and you’ll complete the harmonic picture of “Time RememberecL” By a careful study of all tl:!e chorg categories in this article, you will now have a method by which to work out the analysis of all Bill’s original scores on your own. Continue to experiment with all the chord categories from EX. 3A through 3E by placing the 9th,+ 11th, and 13th within the voicing of the basic four-part 7th chords that I have written out for you in these examples.


    In the final example (EX. 8), I have written a seven-part voicing arrangement of “Time Remembered” based on all the principles discussed above and in the “Peri’s Scope” articles. Examine each measure and try to separate the basic four-part voicing by writing it next to my seven-part realization. Analyze the chord voicing category. I have worked out the first three measures for you (EX. 8, measures 1- 3).

    bill evans harmonyfree sheet music & scores pdf
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    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (2b)

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (2b) PERI’S SCOPETHEMATIC ANALYSIS

    In this article, I will analyze the thematic material of Bill’s tune, “Peri’s Scope.” My purpose will be to gain insight into the principles of good melody writing and, in Bill’s case, to get inside the creative mind of a genius as that mind organized, developed and evolved his compositions by following the dictates of what Schoenberg calls the “BASIC SHAPE,” the seed thought, the germ or idea that generates the entire piece. Because I use in these articles a specific vocabulary when I discuss Bill’s thematic material, I think it best to define these terms before I begin the analysis.
    MOTIF-an interval, harmony, and/or rhythm combining to produce memorable shapes or patterns; a motif appears continually throughout a piece; it is repeated. Repetition alone often gives rise to monotony, and monotony can only be overcome by variation.


    VARIATION-a change in some of the less important features of the motif and the preserva­tions of some of the more important ones.
    FIGURE-a smaller rhythmic and/ or melodic feature of the motif that is repeated throughout the piece. A dotted quarter followed by an eighth note is a rhythmic figure Bill uses continually in “Peri’s Scope.”
    DIRECTIONAL TONES-the range and contour (high and low points) of the theme; the main pitches that outline the theme.
    INVERSION-an ascending pattern that later descends, and vice versa.
    AUGMENTATION-an increased time value according to a ratio (three eighth notes become triplets, etc.).

    DIMINUTION-a decreased time value according to a ratio (eighth notes become sixteenth notes).
    RETROGRADE-the theme or motif played, or repeated backwards.
    BASIC SHAPE-usually the first idea which generates the whole piece.
    PHRASE-a complete musical thought, like a sentence in English (in this piece, 8 meaSures).


    Let’s look at EX. lA to lC (measures 1-2). This is the BASIC SHAPE. The melodic figures are one lonely eighth note, a “g” on the first beat, rhythmic space or silence for one and one-half beats, a descending four note scale pattern, 11 g” to II d,” and an ascending interval leap of a perfect fourth, 11 d” to II g.” The DIRECTIONAL TONES and range are easy to calculate, 11 g” down to “d,” back up to “g.” The range is a perfect fourth. These are the memorable melodic features of Motif 1. But it’s the rhythmic, syncopated figures (EX. lE) which give Motif 1 its uniqueness and announce that “Peri’s Scope” is a jazz composition! I have found six different ways to break down Motif 1 into FIGURES. Can you find more?

    BILL EVANS HARMONY SHEET MUSIC

    Motif 2 is a development and repetition of the melodic and rhythmic figures of Motif 1. Compare EX. 2A with my analysis in EX. 2C. Bill’s V ARIA TI ON of the four note scale pattern results in a broken scale pattern in thirds. The interval leap of a perfect fourth he expands to a perfect fifth; that is, he leaped from “d” to “a.” The syncopation he shifts to the “and-of” 4, measure 3, and again on the” and-of” 3, measure 4. This last syncopated note of motif 2 is” g,” the same pitch that begins “Peri’s Scope”! And it’s also an eighth note! The rhythmic silence or space in measure 4 lasts for two beats, the same amount of rhythmic space that separates Motif 1 from Motif 2. Are these relationships accidental? I don’t think so. There is an inner “logician” at work here, the mind of the composer. Oh, yes, the range of Motif 2 is one octave.

    Then in measure 5, Bill offers another VARIATION in the rhythmic pattern of measure three by introducing sixteenth notes and·a quarter-note triplet for the first time (EX. 3A). His ear immediately picks up on the sixteenth notes, so we get more of them in the very next measure! (EX. 3B).

    With all of this incredible melodic and rhythmic variation.so far (measures 1-6), the DIREC­TIONAL TONES hint at monotony. Why? They all hover around the pitcli “g”! What does Mr. Evans do? He lets the” composer” step in, and in measure 7 he writes not one, but two” g­sharps,” the first chromatic note of the piece (EX. 4). How does he rhythmically treat these “g-sharps”? By holding the first one for one and one-half beats and syncopating the second one. This is breathtaking. It is in this measure that Bill reveals to us that he is inwardly singing. How does he reveal this? By following the” g#s” with six beats of rhythmic space: silence! Now he is able to make a new breath. And that is precisely how we can identify the end of one phrase and the beginning of another. Measures 1-8 comprise phrase one; measures 9-16, phrase two; measures 17-24, phrase three.


    The syncopated FIGURE in measure 7 is not unique. It reappears in measures 13-16, the second part of phrase two, where Bill the composer fully exploit it (EX. SA), as the climax or high point of “Peri’s Scope.” It is the dotted quarter note, however, that is secretly exploited by alternate syncopation, i.e. every other quarter note is placed on the” and” of the beat. To make this clear in my analysis, I have rewritten these FIGURES in 6 / 8 meter (EX. SB). Because of this rhythmic complexity, the inner “logician” tells Bill to narrow the range. Now he has the opportunity to create melodic FIGURES on the intei:vals of a Major 2nd, minor 2nd, minor 3rd, and Major 3rd (EX. SC).

    See Ex. 6 and 7 for further analyses of Motifs 1 and 2.

    bill evans jazz sheet music
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    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (2a)

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (2a) PERI’S SCOPEHARMONIC ANALYSIS

    “Peri’s Scope” is a perfect model to initiate a discussion of two-handed piano voicing principles that are root oriented. There are three rules or directions to follow:

    1. Use the root, third and seventh under the melody;
    2. Omit the fifth of the chord;
    3. For added, optional color, add a ninth, eleventh, or thirteenth

    Observe in all of the examples that the root is always the bass note and above the root you place the third, seventh, and melody. The voice leading alternates-EX. 1: R (root), 3rd, 7th leading to R, 7th, 10th in measures 1 and 2; or R, 10th, 7th leading to R, 7th, 10th in measure 3- depending upon the root movement. In this tune the root movement is mostly down a fifth ( or up a fourth, i.e. II-V, III-VI of measures 1 & 2). I call this the diatonic cycle of fifths, and since “Peri’s Scope” does not modulate to another key, I rate it as a very imaginative diatonic composition for that reason. Bill had a composer’s ear for variety and learned how to effectively use secondary dominants (see measures 7, 8, 14, 15, 16 & 20). This makes Peri’s Scope a challenge to the improviser. The challenge is unique because you meet the secondary dominants in different ways and in different parts of the phrase.

    For example, in EX. 2 below, the IIIx (E secondary dominant seventh) lasts for two bars (7 & 8) and it’s the climax of the first phrase of the tune. It’s very sudden. It jumps out at us.

    Bill Evans Harmony sheet music

    E7 (Sec. Dom.) E7 FMa7

    From Bar 1 to 6 all we heard were diatonic chords in C Major, then “boom!”, we’re hit with an E713 for two bars. A real surprise. Look at EX. 2 and see and hear the colors:1 .E713, then E7b13, then E7 and finally E7+ 11 !!


    At the end of the second phrase ( also eight measures), EX. 3 measures 14, 15 & 16, we meet three secondary dominants in a row, B713 to E9+11 to A713!!! The alterations on the Illx at measure 15 begin to look and sound like its tritone substitute, a B flat dominant seventh +5. It is at this point the improviser has a choice to use one or the other: an E913 or Bb9+5. Here the progression becomes chromatic if you use the Bb9 and remains diatonic if you use the E911.


    In this second phrase, measures 14-16, the improviser has a choice to think diatonically by using B7 to E7 to A7, or chromatically B7 to Bb7 to A7. A chromatic progression is one in which the root of the chord lies outside the key signature of the tune. All others are diatonic progressions.

    Bill Evans Harmony sheet music

    In phrase three, at bar 20 of the final e1ght measures (EX. 4), we meet a secondary dominant for one-half of the measure only. It is the Vlx (A7b13) again on the 3rd and 4th beats. In Bill’s improvisation in this measure he plays B-flats, revealing to us that the chord on the downbeat of measure 20 is an E minor 7bs, a III half-diminished. It is only implied in this arrangement. The symbol for half-diminished is 0. The symbol x stands for secondary dominant.

    In EX. 5, we can see at a glance how imaginatively Bill used the secondary dominants in different parts of each phrase. Here’s a look at the phrases by measure -number. – It will give you a quick overview of whererhe secondary dominants occur.

    EX. 5 Peri’s Scope

    Phrase One (measure s 1-8)

    When I teach tunes, especially Bill’s, I always analyze the phrase structure first, then the key changes, if any (modulation principles), and then the use of secondary dominants, how they resolve and their duration. For example, the A7′ sat measures 16 and 20 resolve to the D minor chord, and we can infer that it is borrowed from the region or scale of D minor, which is only one flat removed from C Major, the scale or key of “Peri’s Scope.” In other words, the A7 suggests the key, the scale or “the region of” D minor, which is very closely related to the tonic key of C Major. I include in my thinking the relative major keys when discussing minor key relationships and relative minor keys when discussing major keys.

    This sounds confusing, I know, but as I analyze other compositions by Bill, you’ll begin to grasp the principles I’m trying to explain. In fact, if you pick up the Theory of Harmony by Arnold Schoenberg, you will find out where Bill learned these principles and you’ll be able to follow my explanations more intelligently.

    Now go back and look at EX. 2, measures 8 & 9. The E7 at measure 8 resolves to an F Ma7 at measure 9. This E7 is borrowed from the scale of A minor, the relative minor of C Major, and it resolves deceptively, i.e. V to VI, or up a half step” as if” it were in the key of A minor. These are important considerations when studying this tune in terms of its horizontal or linear implications. We know that E7 is the dominant of A Major and A minor. But we probably wouldn’t improvise on an A major scale at this point for two reasons: 1) the chords surrounding the E7 do not suggest a progression in A major, and 2) the resolution at measure 9 would have to be to an F# m7, the VI of A major, a deceptive resolution in the key of A major!


    Let’s get back to the voicing concepts. In EX. 2, measures 7 & 8, the voicing of the E7 is root, 7th, 10th (or 3rd), and in measure 9, the F Ma7 and G7 voicings are the same (R, 7th, 10th) because the root movement is stepwise, lllx to IV to V. When progressions move by steps (IV-V or 11-111, etc.), you can often move or lead the voices parallel. This makes for smoothness and clarity in the rendition of the tune. Any song will lend itself to this treatment. I call this the 3-note voicing concept and I learned it from Bill’s model, “Peri’s Scope.”


    In EX. 3, measure 14, the B7 is voiced root, 7th, 10th resolving to E7. The E7 here is the only voicing in our model that has no root. Or does it? I think Bill meant Bb7+5 at this point (last beat of measure 14). The B-natural in the bass was supposed to be a B-flat but was delayed to the next bar, measure 15, second beat. What do you think? If you accept my analysis, then the voicing to the Bb7 is parallel -R, 7th, 10th-and the resolution from Bb7 to the A7 in measure 16 is also parallel-R, 7th, 10th. Here’s a look at these three chords in isolation (EX. 6). Play them!

    In EX. 7, measure 11, we see another variation in Bill’s voicings, and a very simple one at that. He reduces the left hand voicing to two notes: Rand 7th on the downbeat (D m7) and then R, 3rd on the third beat (G 7), while the melody in the right hand is harmonized in thirds. This gives us relief from the five part voicings in phrase one. 11} later performam:es of this piece, Bill changed measure 12 to Gm 7, C7, suggesting that the middle phrase (phrase two, measures 9-16) can be heard as a modulation to the key of F Major, a very closely related key to C Major, one fifth down and one flat away from C Major.

    These root-oriented 3-note voicing concepts formed the foundation of Bill’s early style and permeated his later playing as you will see in my analysis of tunes like “B Minor Waltz.”
    In EX.8, measures 20 & 21, we observe more variety, the block chord voicing with melody on top and bottom. Bill knew his jazz piano history. I heard him play Boogie Woogie and Teddy Wilson styles in 1951. The block chord influences are from Milt Buckner and George Shearing.

    And Bill even knew how to “sit” on the quarter note a la Lester Young at measure 19 to make it swing in the old style ( EX. 9). Listen to Lester Young’s solos on “Taxi War Dance” or “Blue Lester” with the Count Basie Orchestra for the quarter note swing “feel.”

    Notice the Boogie Woogie influence in the left hand of measure 19, the ultimate in sophistica­tion. Bill truly “ingested” all the jazz styles of the past and they appear spontaneously in his writing and playing in extremely subtle ways. As a student of composition in the 50s, he “ingested” all the classical music of the past. In 1951 I heard him sightread, at the piano, the orchestral score to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Of course, Bill’s intuition is at play here; this is a welcome relief from all that rhythmic displacement, tension and syncopation in the previous phrase (EX. 10, measures 13-16.)

    I have made EX. 10 easier to learn: Lets look at my voicing-arrangement (EX. 11) to explain what I mean. What I did was to notate in 6/8 what Bill notated as rhythmic displacement. I have subdivided the beat and createdrour measures in 6/8outofBill’s three measures in4/4.

    Bill may have conceived of this tune diatonically but his use of rhythmic displacement in phrase two makes the tune unmanageable for a beginner in improvisation unless_he “evens out” those measures (see EX. 5, measures 13-16). Each phrase has wonderful variety of harmonic color (the addition of 9ths, 11 ths, and 13ths ), and unusual phrasing ‘· in the melody and in the piano voicings.


    To conclude the article and at the same time offer you a recapitulation of the 3-note concept, here are two examples I use in teaching the Blues in F. In EX. 12, which you can analyze for yourself, you will see that I connect the chords by observing the voice leading rules explained earlier in this article. Analyze also EX. 13 and observe the addition of one color tone (9,11,13) above each of the 3-note voicings. (I make students write as many variations as possible using the color tones). Try singing “Billie’s Bounce” melody while playing examples 12 & 13; or “Blue Monk,” or have a friend play and improvise with you.

    EX. 14 is the opening theme from the “Concertina for Strings and Piano,” third movement, titled “Resurrection,”orchestrated brilliantly by Jack Six and premiered in December 1980, in Plainfield, New Jersey, Bill’s hometown. The Concertina is dedicated to Bill’s memory. In “Resurrection” you have a 3-note voicing arrangement of this very simple theme and yet it still sounds complete and satisfying. Incidentally, in this third movement, the piano soloist is called upon to invent variations on this theme, therefore the 3-note setting in the exposition of the movement creates a clear and solid statement of the theme. Bill was a master at arranging the opening chorus so as to set the mood for the listener in a positive and clear manner.

    The final example (EX. 15) is an illustration of a more elaborate method of study for “Peri’s Scope” and all of Bill’s tunes, and in fact any tune, and that is to arrange the progression in 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 parts in half-note chorale style. Bill would write out three or four examples like this and then practice them in all keys. For “Peri’s Scope,” I used the 3-note concept, adding a fourth part chosen by” ear,” but notice that the soprano or top note I have chosen suggests or outlines the melody shown in the top staff. This is a good first step to get “inside” the tune. In the articles that follow, I will show many other procedures.

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    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (Part 1 – Introduction)

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (Part 1)

    Introduction

    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.

    bill evans sheet music

    THE EDUCATION OF THE JAZZ MUSICIAN
    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:

    1. THE BLUES FORM
    2. THE SONG FORM
    3. THE FREE FORM

    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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