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Herbie Hancock: An Analysis of His Improvisional Style (3/3)

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    Herbie Hancock: An Analysis of His Improvisional Style (2/3)

    Outside Triplet Sequences on “All of You”

    The following examples are from one of Hancock’s greatest recorded solos61 on Cole Porter’s “All of You”. On this particular recording, Hancock plays two complete choruses and then solos over a long “tag” section of iii-VI-ii-V changes in Eb (Gm7, C7, Fm7, Bb7). A few bars into this tag section, Hancock starts to spin triplet sequence after triplet sequence, creating long flowing lines of increasing and decreasing tension. Most of these sequences are based on simple two to four note scalar patterns which weave craftily through (and occasionally outside) the changes.

    Herbie Hancock sheet music

    In Figure 2.29, Hancock starts with a simple three note motif and sequences it upwards. He strays “outside” in beat 3 of bar 4 of this extract, playing an E major triad over the C7 (E major contains a Bnatural – the major seventh of C instead of the flattened or dominant seventh implied by the chord symbol). The clash is not overly offensive or dissonant to the ear due to the strength of the sequenced line in the previous bars.

    Herbie Hancock sheet music

    Later in the same solo, Hancock plays Figure 2.30 above. This extract contains multiple examples of sequences – this time Hancock starts with a simple two-note triplet pattern which he develops and uses to get outside the changes from beat 4 of bar 2. This ascends into the same type of four-note triplet pattern seen in previous examples, which gradually sequences its way down again.

    Once again, Hancock strays outside in the final bar of the extract. Shortly afterwards, Hancock plays Figure 2.31, again making use of a four-note pattern and again using it to get outside the changes in bar 3.

    herbie hancocok sheet music

    Hancock then plays:

    herbie hancocok sheet music

    Here, he starts with a three-note triplet pattern and again uses this concept to get outside the changes in bar 3. The example ends with simple melodic sequence of the type discussed in the previous section – the initial phrase is exactly transposed down a semitone. The type of block chords seen at the end of this example is strongly reminiscent of the technique popularized by pianist Red Garland – Miles Davis’ pianist from the previous decade.

    Extended Outside Triplet Sequences

    Most of the previous examples demonstrate Hancock playing “outside” for only short periods of time, before bringing a melody back in line with the chord changes. However, Hancock will also often spin long, often highly chromatic triplet sequences in which he seemingly disregards the underlying chord changes for an extended length of time.

    At the start of his second chorus on Wayne Shorter’s “Witch Hunt”, Hancock begins to spin a lengthy triplet sequence, using the intervals of a minor second and a fourth to dance in and out of the stagnant harmony of Cm7. This is particularly obvious in the final three bars of the figure, which contains one consistently descending line based on falling and rising fourths and semitones.

    herbie hancocok sheet music

    Hancock uses this same technique again as a sideman in Miles Davis’ quintet – this time he picks up on a triplet figure played by Tony Williams in the last few bars of Hancock’s first chorus, and uses this as a springboard into another long and highly chromatic phrase (see Figure 2.33).

    While not strictly exact melodic sequences, both of the previous examples are long rhythmic sequences and contain several distinct examples of sequenced melodic material – for example bars 3&4 and 7&8 of Figure 2.33 and bars 4 and 8&9 of Figure 2.34.

    Motif Development

    One of the qualities of a great improviser is the ability to develop and extend their melodic ideas. Similar to sequences, motivic development often involves repetition of an initial phrase which is subsequently built on in the following bars – a technique which adds a sense of logical structure to the solo. Hancock is a master at developing his motifs, which often stem from fairly simple starting phrases.

    Figure 2.35 is an example of this. Hancock starts out with a simple one note rhythmic idea and gradually adds further notes to develop the phrase, while still maintaining the original F as a tonal center.

    In the above example, Hancock takes a simple Gm7 arpeggio and repeats it over the course of 4 bars, creating beautiful melodic continuity through the harmony.

    Figure 2.37 on the following page is another example of motivic development – Hancock picks up on a melodic idea played by Miles Davis at the end of his solo and repeats it, maintaining the rhythm and contour but initially sequencing it up minor third.

    Similarly, in Figure 2.38, Hancock picks up on a three note phrase played by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, sequences it upwards for 6 bars before using it to springboard into the start of his second solo on the alternate take of “One Finger Snap”. An interesting point of focus in the first line is that the semibreves at the end of each phrase in bar 4, 6 and 8 are an exact retrograde of the initial phrase Hancock plays in bar 3. The final two bars of this extract also demonstrate another sequence, a pattern of an ascending semitone and a fourth which climbs up chromatically.

    In Figure 2.39, Hancock begins with a simple melodic motif, which he develops through the subsequent 11 bars.

    In Figure 2.40, Hancock starts with a triplet motif of notes grouped in threes, which is then sequenced down a third. He then continues to develop this idea in the subsequent measures by continuing the same three note-triplet theme while ascending through the associated scales of each chord (F melodic minor and Db Lydian dominant). This sort of development is an extremely effective way of building tension in a melodic line.

    Again in Figure 2.41, Hancock starts with a simple three note motif which gradually sequences upwards, before descending, again through the use of sequence. He then continues the motif into the third line of the example, and begins to imply a 3 over 4 cross rhythm in the last four bars – the final
    phrase starting in bar 3 of the third line repeats every 3 beats.

    Here, Hancock starts with a six note motif which he sequences down twice in the subsequent bars, before using the idea as a springboard into the next chorus of his solo. Of particular note here is Hancock’s extended use of chromaticism over the Ebmaj7 chord – he avoids landing on guide tones on the strong beats of the bar, which helps to propel the melodic line forward to its resolution at the start of the next chorus.

    Rhythmic Elements/Technical Virtuosity

    The title of this section refers more specifically to rhythmic devices used by Hancock – with a focus on phrases that display his remarkable technical facility.

    This extract from Hancock’s solo on “All of You” demonstrates his facility with double time.

    Here Hancock dances around the changes in scalar patterns, making extensive use of diminished and altered scales to modify the standard harmony while utilizing both semiquavers and semiquaver-triplets.
    Figure 2.44 is an extract from Hancock’s solo on “Circle”, a tune from Miles Davis’ album Miles Smiles (1966). In this example, Hancock executes another long passage of triplets and uses a triadic motif to quickly extend the phrase through 4 octaves.

    There a few areas of particular interest here: the first is Hancock begins the D major triadic motif in bar 5 of the figure and continues it through the Bbmaj7 in bar 7, reharmonizing the chord to Bbmaj7(#5). The second is the beat that is dropped at the start of the third line of the figure – the rhythm section adjusts immediately to the 2/4 bar, showing the group’s uncanny rapport and adaptation in support of the soloist. Hancock also finishes the long passage of triplets with another simple, scalar melodic sequence.

    Hancock also makes use of complicated rhythmic denominations, as seen in Figure 2.45 below. This example is taken from Hancock’s solo on “The Egg”, a compositional sketch in which the only stipulations are an initial piano ostinato and a melodic line played by the trumpet, before the piece descends into open, free improvisation.

    Miscellaneous Signature Characteristics

    Hancock also has several idiosyncratic phrases which he uses in a variety of different settings. The first of these is Hancock’s signature blues lick:

    This phrase, unique to Hancock, makes an appearance early his recorded output and continues to show up in various manifestations and situations into the late 60s – despite the juxtaposition between the phrase’s fairly blues orientated nature and the more contemporary vein of the music during that period (see Figure 2.47).

    Another signature characteristic of Hancock’s is his tendency to play his melodic lines in octaves. This either occurs in the middle of a phrase:

    Or at the start of a phrase and continuing for an extended period:

    In summary, Hancock’s melodic lines contain a range of signature characteristics, which contain devices that reflect both the wider jazz language and also Hancock’s unique approach to melodic line construction. While all the previous examples were examined taxonomically, Chapter 3 examines them within the context of a single solo.

    This analysis argues is that through the use of a range of signature characteristics, Herbie Hancock emerged in the early 1960s as a truly original artist. Drawing upon and the building on the developments made by his predecessors, Hancock was ones of small group of artists who brought jazz into the modern era, by demonstrating both strong command of the traditional jazz language and a powerfully explorative, individual voice.

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    Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage (Full Album)

    Personnel:

    Herbie Hancock — piano

    Freddie Hubbard — trumpet

    George Coleman.

    Track List:

    1: maiden voyage 2: The Eye of the Hurricane 3: Little One 4: Survival of the Fittest 5: Dolphin Dance

    References

    Berliner, P. F. (1994). Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, Ltd.
    Blumenthal, B. (2000). Pianists of the 1960s and 1970s. The Oxford Companion to Jazz, 466-467.
    Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Taxonomy. Retrieved 31 May, 2011
    Coker, J. (1991). Elements of the Jazz Language for the Developing Improvisor. Miami: Belwin, Inc.
    Coolman, T. F. (1997). The Miles Davis Quintet of the mid-1960’s: Synthesis of Improvisational and Compositional
    Elements. New York University.


    Coolman, T. F. (2006). Herbie Hancock & the Miles Davis Rhythm Section. Piano Today(26.1), 30-31.
    Davis, M., & Troupe, Q. (1989). Miles – The Autobiography. New York: Simon & Schuster.
    DiMartino, D. (1999). Herbie Hancock : He Continues to Lead Where Most Other Artists Are Content to Follow. Billboard – The International Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment, 111, 2-12.
    Dobbins, B. (1992). Herbie Hancock Classic Jazz Compositions and Piano Solos. Rottenberg: Advance Music.
    Gelfand, A. (2005). Almost Anything Goes: For Herbie Hancock, Jazz is All About Freedom and Personal Expression. JAZZIZ, 22, 36-38.
    Heinrich, D. (2006). Jimmy Smith and Larry Young – Blue Note Records’ Jazz Organ Masters: A Comparison of Style. Unpublished honours thesis, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.


    Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2002). How Jazz Musicians Improvise. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19(3).
    Kart, L. (2000). The Avant-Garde, 1949-1967. The Oxford Companion to Jazz, 446-458.
    Levin, E. (1987, January 19). Herbie Hancock. People, 27, 64.
    Levine, M. (1989). The Jazz Piano Book. Petaluma, CA.: Sher Music Co.
    Levine, M. (1995). The Jazz Theory Book. Petaluma, CA.: Sher Music Co.
    Opstad, J. (2009). The Harmonic and Rhythmic Language of Herbie Hancock’s 1970s Fender Rhodes
    Solos. Jazz Perspectives, 3(1), 57-79.


    Perry, J. C. (2006). A comparative analysis of selected piano solos by Red Garland, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly and Herbie Hancock from their recordings with the Miles Davis groups, 1955–1968. University of Miami.
    Pond, S. F. (2005). Head Hunters: The Making of Jazz’s First Platinum Album: University of Michigan Press.
    Rose, J. (2006). White Light, Black Vibrations: The Music of John Coltrane and his Spiritual Quest. Unpublished honours thesis, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
    Sawyer, R. K. (2000). Improvisation and the Creative Process: Dewey, Collingwood, and the Aesthetics of Spontaneity. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 58(2), 149-161.
    Seymour, G. (2000). Hard Bop. The Oxford Companion to Jazz, 373-388.
    Silvert, C. (September 8, 1977). Herbie Hancock: Revamping the Past, Creating the Future. Down Beat, 16.
    Szwed, J. (2002). So What: The Life of Miles Davis. New York: Simon & Schuster.


    Thompson, S., & Lehmann, A. C. (2004). Strategies for Sight Reading and Improvising Music. New York: Oxford University Press.
    Wallmann, J. P. (2010). The Music of Herbie Hancock: Composition and Improvisation in the Blue Note years. New York University.
    Waters, K. (2005). Modes, Scales, Functional Harmony, and Nonfunctional Harmony in the Compositions of Herbie Hancock. Journal of Music Theory, 49(No. 2), 333-357.


    Waters, K. (2011). The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-1968. New York: Oxford University Press.
    Widenhofer, S. B. (1988). Bill Evans: An Analytical Study of His Improvisational Style Through Selected Transcriptions. University of Northern Colorado.
    Woodard, J. (1997). Hancock and Shorter: Two Divided By One. JazzTimes – America’s Jazz Magazine, 27, 44-47, 57, 144-145.

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    Did you know? Musical Analysis

    Jazz as individual expression: An analysis of The Fabulous Baker Boys soundtrack

    Jazz as individual expression: An analysis of The Fabulous Baker Boys soundtrack

    Table of Contents

      Adam Biggs, Bath Spa University

      Link to the original document.


      The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) by Kloves is a fictional account of a frustrated sibling piano duo who, in order to liven up their act, hire a singer. As well as a portrayal of sibling rivalry, the film is a study of the working jazz musician and the suppression and expression of individual identity. The film’s soundtrack, arranged, composed and performed by jazz pianist Dave Grusin, uses jazz standards and original thematic compositions that work as ‘ambi-diegetic cinemusical moments’ (Holbrook), which provide improvisatory contexts for the main character’s emerging individuality and his relationships with the other characters.

      This article identifies those compositions and using transcriptions, analyses the score in detail, revealing the melodic, harmonic, structural and improvisatory devices Grusin uses to convey the authority of a jazz ‘standard’, particularly by drawing on the work of Bill Evans and Miles Davis; and shows that these improvisational structures enable and act as a form of expression for the main character and his emerging individuality.

      The film takes its premise from The Fabulous Dorseys (1947) by Green, the biopic of the swing-era bandleaders the Dorsey Brothers, allowing this article to also consider the historical context of the film and the question of authenticity in both films, particularly through the parallel use of Art Tatum/Bill Evans as signifiers of ‘real jazz’ and Duke Ellington as a site of articulacy.

      Keywords

      jazz
      individual
      improvisation
      character
      piano
      Fabulous Baker Boys
      Dave Grusin

      Although an entirely fictional account of sibling rivalry, The Fabulous Baker Boys (Kloves, 1989) is loosely based on The Fabulous Dorseys (Green, 1947), the first Hollywood biopic of the swing era, and there are a number of parallels between the two films. Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey led a successful orchestra in the late 1920s and through the early to mid-1930s, and had a number of hit records.

      Their band included some of the top musicians of the day including Jack Teagarden (trombone), Eddie Lang (guitar), Glenn Miller (trombone) and Johnny Mercer (vocals). However, the Dorseys were famously argumentative. An article appearing in the Saturday Evening Post in 1946, entitled ‘The Battling Brothers Dorsey’ (English 1946), described the brothers as ‘violently different in their temperaments’, and that ‘the fabulous Dorseys have fought like Kilkenny cats’.

      The article goes on to describe Jimmy, the elder of the two brothers, as a shy individual, yet ‘vastly determined’ and as ‘a quiet perfectionist’, while the younger, Tommy Dorsey, was more aspirational and described by his mother as having the ‘gift o’ the gab’ and ‘always hustling’ (English 1946: 18). Eventually the squabbling and fighting became too much, and the Dorsey brothers famously went their separate ways on 30 May 1935 at the Glen Island Casino, New York.

      While leading the band, Tommy flew into a rage and stormed offstage after a comment from the elder Jimmy about the tempo of the tune ‘I’ll Never Say Never Again’ (English 1946: 18).1 Subsequently, they successfully led their own separate bands and each had a number of hit records. In July 1942, the Dorsey brothers’ father Thomas Dorsey died, and at the funeral the brothers reconciled their differences, according to the article, because their mother, Tess, told them to. Then in 1945, having reunited, they recorded a version of ‘More Than You Know’ for the V-Disc series2 (Sears 1980: 239). And in 1947, with producer Charles R. Rogers (English 1946: 82), they made The Fabulous Dorseys, in which the brothers played themselves.

      The Fabulous Dorseys depicts a Hollywood version of the Dorseys’ lives and careers. The film is a publicity vehicle for the brothers, two of the most highly paid musicians of the late 1940s. The film adheres to all the conventions and prejudices of its time, but today is mostly overlooked because of the successful biopics that followed it, such as The Glenn Miller Story (Mann,1954) and The Benny Goodman Story (Davies,1956).

      The Fabulous Baker Boys, although containing strong performances by the lead actors as lounge/jazz pianists (Vineberg 2004: 25), is even more neglected in jazz scholarship. For example, Gabbard, in his Jammin’ At The Margins: Jazz And The American Cinema, all but ignores the film, stating only that ‘in The Fabulous Baker Boys we know that Jeff Bridges is the more sensitive brother, at least in part because he has a picture of John Coltrane on his wall and because he plays jazz in a cellar with black musicians’ (Gabbard 1996: 228).

      The use of the film here, by Gabbard, to simply illustrate that the use of jazz in film ‘indicates that’ the ‘white protagonist ha[s] character’ (Gabbard 1996: 228), completely overlooks the many parallels between the two films and the ways in which first-time writer/director Steve Kloves and composer Dave Grusin manage to create a modern telling of this traditional jazz narrative. Which is achieved by Grusins’ use of specific melodic, harmonic, structural and improvisatory devices that convey the authority of the jazz tradition. These devices create the improvisational structures that then enable and act as a form of expression for the main character and his emerging individuality.

      The Fabulous Baker Boys are Frank and Jack Baker, a small-time professional piano duo who play mostly background music in venues around Seattle. In fact, the original screenplay states: ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys are a poor man’s version of Ferrante and Teicher’, who were a popular piano duo in the United States that specialized in easy listening music. They were active from the 1950s through until the late 1980s (Ferrante and Teicher 2012). Elder brother Frank (Beau Bridges) runs the business and, like the younger Tommy Dorsey, is the hustler. While younger brother Jack (Jeff Bridges), similar to the elder Jimmy Dorsey, is the quiet one, a talented and brooding musician.

      After the opening shot of two cars at a junction pulling away in opposite directions, suggesting a context of impermanence, the viewer is introduced to Jack Baker through a rather strained conversation with a woman (Terri Treas), still naked in bed, and we learn, as Jack finishes dressing, that even in this intimate situation he is withdrawn. His responses to the woman are monosyllabic, and he is clearly unable to ‘commit to anything, not even a conversation’. The solo piano introduction of the opening theme begins as the conversation draws to a close and Jack leaves the room. As the downbeat of the first chorus of ‘Main Title – Jack’s Theme’ is played, the scene changes to an outside view of the first floor room, which we discover is above a restaurant with a flickering neon sign.

      The familiar stereotypes of jazz are immediately present – odd hours, promiscuity, the juxtaposition of a tuxedo in slightly tarnished surroundings. And these stereotypical associations continue throughout the opening credits – signs for ‘Live Girls’, ‘Freedman’s Loans’, and as Jack passes the ‘Seattle Music’ store, he glances in – but as Sal Marquez on Harmon-muted trumpet begins the melody, it reinforces the modern setting of the opening scenes: this is not the swing era, we are post-1959. The influence of bebop, cool, modal, hard-bop and the dominance of Miles Davis are obvious. In fact, though never stated, the film was set in the present day.

      There are four versions of ‘Jack’s Theme’ throughout The Fabulous Baker Boys, each one providing an improvisatory context for the emerging individuality of the main character of Jack Baker; and in referencing the Miles Davis recording of Kind of Blue (1959), using various melodic, harmonic, structural, textural and improvisatory devices, composer Dave Grusin places the composition within the cool and hard-bop traditions. ‘Jack’s Theme’ has a 34 bar AB form, where A is 16 bars, and B is 18 bars.

      The key signature is D minor/F Major and the time signature is 6/4. And as well as the introduction, there is an interlude section, which is also used after the brief statement of the head out as a vamp for the coda and final fade. There is a fuller and different take on the original soundtrack recording, but the form is essentially the same – the trumpet plays the A section of the head and Ernie Watts on tenor saxophone plays the B section.

      Throughout the opening credits, Jack is alone. He makes his way through various streets capes, initially walking against the flow of traffic. He is an individual going his own way, and the association with the non-diegetic full quintet version of ‘Jack’s Theme’, including improvised solo sections, suggests to the viewer that this is the character of Jack Baker, in control, confident and cool. Of course, we soon discover this is not the case.
      We have already noted the instrumentation of Sal Marquez’s muted trumpet and Ernie Watts’ tenor saxophone. Both take turns playing the melody and swapping solos.

      They are backed by a rhythm section consisting of Dave Grusin on piano, Brian Bromberg on bass and Harvey Mason on drums. These are all stellar jazz musicians, given free rein to improvise, so in that sense the opening track suggests a genuine jazz score. But analysing ‘Jack’s Theme’ in detail reveals the various devices Grusin uses to convey the authority of a jazz ‘standard’ and a sense of the jazz tradition.

      For example, the piano introduction of ‘Jack’s Theme’ in Figure 1 is built on a phrase taken from bars 5 and 6 of the second chorus of the Bill Evans and Miles Davis composition ‘Blue In Green’ from the album Kind of Blue, and uses the opening three chords of ‘Blue in Green’– Gmi7, A7alt, Dmi – as the cadential progression into the top of the first chorus of ‘Jack’s Theme’.

      jazz sheet music
      Figure 1: ‘Main Title (Jack’s Theme)’ – Written by Dave Grusin, taken from Biggs’ The Fabulous Baker Boys Songbook (2007: 3).

      Second, the first four bars of the melody of ‘Jack’s Theme’ are a melodic development of the first four notes of ‘So What’ (Figure 2), and harmonically the opening eight bars of ‘Jack’s Theme’ are on a D minor pedal, following a modal structure also similar to ‘So What’.

      jazz sheet music
      Figure 2: Opening phrase of ‘So What’– by Miles Davis and opening four bars of ‘Jack’s Theme’ – by Dave Grusin.

      Third, the B section of ‘Jack’s Theme’ utilizes a chord progression where the chords function as I – V7sus4, moving through several transpositions – Abmi11 – Eb7sus4 to F#mi11 – C#7sus4, and on through Bmi9 – F#7sus4. This is similar to ‘Flamenco Sketches’, another Evans/Davis composition from Kind of Blue, which was developed from an earlier Bill Evans composition/improvisation ‘Peace Piece’ (1958). Evans took the progression from ‘Some Other Time’ by Leonard Bernstein (Pettinger 1998: 68). The influence of Bill Evans on Miles Davis around the time of the Kind of Blue recording sessions is well documented (Pettinger 1998:71). But Evans is also a major influence on the sound and character of Jack Baker, and Kloves directly references ‘Peace Piece’ in relation to Jack in the screenplay (Kloves 1985). This influence is discussed in more detail later in the article.

      Melodically, harmonically and structurally, it is clear that ‘Jack’s Theme’ is reminiscent of certain aspects of Kind of Blue, but more than that the improvisatory language is very much within the same tradition. Ernie Watts on tenor saxophone takes the first solo and his rhythmic and melodic language includes semi-quavers, triplets, odd groupings, altered notes and unusual interval leaps as well as scalic runs; in contrast, Sal Marquez’s trumpet solo uses more space, blues notes and very strong melodic development, with both soloists stylistically in the tradition of John Coltrane and Miles Davis’ playing on Kind of Blue.


      By using these melodic, harmonic and structural elements, as well as the instrumentation, textures and improvisatory language of Kind of Blue, Grusin is able to contrast ‘Jack’s Theme’ with the music of the Dorsey Brothers and the swing era of the 1940s, and position ‘Jack’s Theme’ clearly within the cool and hard bop tradition. In short, Jack Baker is a jazz musician. But, while the visuals suggest a stereotypical jazz musician and context, Kloves and Grusin challenge those dated Hollywood associations with the non-diegetic music of ‘Main Title – Jack’s Theme’, suggesting a more modern musician and therefore a more modern telling of what Bourjaily calls ‘The Story’ (Gabbard 1996: 67).

      As the ‘Main Title – Jack’s Theme’ fades, we meet older brother Frank Baker. Immediately the tension between the brothers is obvious, and we get our first taste of their musical lives together. Throughout the film, Jack’s piano playing was recorded by composer Dave Grusin, and Frank’s by John F. Hammond, and after a sentimental preamble the brothers begin to play a two-piano version of ‘People’. As Jack/Grusin begins to play the opening chords, the camera focuses in on Jack’s hands, slowly panning out to a wider shot of him and then cutting to Frank’s hands when he begins to play, and again panning out to reveal Frank. This is followed by a wide shot of the two brothers performing. This is one of the particular strengths of The Fabulous Baker Boys that allows it to work as a film about musicians, where so many other films have failed. The Bridges brothers learned the pieces and ‘were filmed playing dummy instruments (which look real but make no sound) – a practice called “sidelining”’ (Stewart 1989). So what the viewer sees and hears is synonymous. Jack, though, is clearly tired of the routine and, we sense, frustrated, perhaps by a lack of creative opportunity.

      The next gig we see is the only time that the brothers perform as a duo with any energy in their playing. They play an up-tempo version of ‘The Girl From Ipanema’, the closest the brothers get to playing a jazz standard together. It is the end of a quiet night in a Hawaiian-themed bar and we hear their outro chorus. Any genuine enthusiasm that there was in the music soon disappears as the bar owner, speaking alone to Frank, pays them off and suggests it is time that they have a break from this long-standing gig.

      Later as Frank drives them home he suggests they hire a singer. The ensuing auditions are painful and hilarious, but, arriving late, Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) performs ‘More Than You Know’ (an obvious reference to the Dorsey brothers and their 1945 V-Disc release, and in a further reference to the Dorseys she tells Jack to play it ‘real slow’.) Susie can sing, an obvious ‘torch singer’ (Jones 2007: 24) in the mold of so many that have gone before. Not simply because of the song choices – ‘More Than You Know’, ‘My Funny Valentine’ – and their themes of ‘unrequited love’ (Jones 2007: 16), but also because of her physicality. Susie doesn’t dance so much as channel the music through her body, a complete contrast to the static, rather hidden performance style of the two pianos. Susie joins the act and, after an initial gig, the new act looks promising. But after this glimpse of something better, we find Jack at ‘Henry’s’, a basement jazz club, which features a trio with a young pianist who bears a striking resemblance to Art Tatum, playing an up-tempo improvised chorus on ‘Lullaby Of Birdland’.

      Henry’s is used as a site of authenticity, by referencing the ‘basement-like club’ scene in The Fabulous Dorseys where ‘the revered black pianist’ Art Tatum improvises (his only appearance in a feature film). Though Gabbard discusses the Tatum scene in terms of its inherent racism, Jack’s race at Henry’s is not an issue. Rather, the relevance of the Tatum scene is in its use of a ‘real musician’ improvising, and as such its representation of the jazz tradition.

      The conversation between Jack and the bar owner Henry (Albert Hall) during the first scene at Henry’s suggests that Jack is indeed frustrated working with Frank, and is not being true to himself or honest with those around him. There is an interesting resonance here to what Williams wrote about in The Jazz Tradition (1993: 254–55).

      He said, The music represents important aspects of our lives, … aspects that are associated with all our unresolved problems, with our unrecognized lack of self-knowledge, with all the truths about ourselves which we refuse to admit to or face up to… Those things, however, are positive as well as negative in that they involve a fundamental redemption if we could acknowledge them. (Williams 1993)

      Throughout the film there are tacit acknowledgements from others that Jack Baker is an exceptional musician, – ‘you’re brilliant’, says Frank Baker in a late night drunken moment of candour; and, ‘you’re good, aren’t you?’ Susie asks. The screenplay describes Jack’s reverie when playing: ‘his face is suddenly calm. Peaceful’ (Kloves 1985). Often jazz histories and books focus on the negative aspects of musicians’ lives (Foster 2013: 1). The music’s revelatory and contradictory qualities of the individual are less emphasized. Here though, through the development of the character of Jack Baker, we see this ‘redemptive’ perspective explored. And the use of improvisation within the character’s development is crucial.

      Later in the film, Susie finds Jack playing alone in the hotel ballroom where the three are staying while playing a series of dates at a resort. This is the first time we have seen Jack playing solo and Susie is uncomfortable to begin with. Glancing around, she is aware that she is glimpsing something private as Jack works through a solo piano version of ‘Jack’s Theme’. But she moves towards the piano – in fact, she is almost drawn to it – and taking a drag on Jack’s cigarette says, referring to his playing, ‘It’s nice’, which of course is an understatement, as she is clearly absorbed in the music almost as much as Jack is.

      Later Frank comes to the door, yet he remains outside the ballroom, in a sense excluded from the musical exchange between Jack and Susie. As such, this seemingly private practice session becomes a public declaration of Jack’s individuality.

      The diegetic solo version of ‘Jack’s Theme’ (Figure 3) is a slower, stripped-down version. Essentially, it has a thoughtful half-time feel in a 3/4 time signature. But Grusin cleverly suggests the possibility of double time by using a dotted crotchet pattern in the left hand, allowing the melody to float in three over the top of the implied two feel,4, but the playing never feels rushed. Neither is it tentative; there is an assurance to the playing. The key signature has been dropped down a tone from the ‘Main Title’ version in D minor to C minor, which has a more mellow quality than D minor. There is no introduction, interludes or coda on this version and the whole performance is only one chorus with no improvisation. It is as though Jack is thinking carefully about what he wants to say, with the statement of the melody being predominantly a single note line and with little in the way of pianistic flourishes. Harmonically this solo version is exactly the same as the ‘Main Title’ version, and the chord voicings are standard Bill Evans rootless voicings, placing this version of the tune also firmly in the cool or hard bop styles.

      Figure 3: Opening four bars of ‘Jack’s Theme’ – by Dave Grusin, taken from Biggs’ The Fabulous Baker Boys Songbook (2007: 60).

      What makes this performance such a powerful statement of intent is, first, that throughout the film Jack says very little, rarely does he initiate a conversation, particularly with Frank; and second, that the diegetic music which Jack/Grusin are playing is integral to the main character’s development and expression. As such, the restatement here of ‘Jack’s Theme’ suggests to the viewer that Jack is being honest with himself and acknowledging the possibility of a different life for himself and, by extension, a better relationship with those around him. Perhaps this is the real power and resonance of ‘Jack’s Theme’ in particular and of jazz more generally, that ‘the music reaches beyond its immediate circumstances… and tells all men something about themselves which they do not know and have never heard before’ (Williams 1993: 255).

      The fact that Jack does not improvise on this solo version provides a stark contrast to the opening ‘Main Title’ version. In the audience’s mind, the true character of Jack Baker improvises. His frustration at the piano during the duo scenes with Frank has been palpable, and this hotel scene has provided the first glimpse of him playing in a relaxed and attentive manner. That he does not improvise here is telling – perhaps this is a new composition that he is working through, or he is not able to express himself, or both.

      The use of improvisation in this film is key to the development of the characters and their relationships to one another. The song choices for the film help to illustrate this point. Throughout, the Baker Boys’ repertoire (like that of Ferrante and Teicher) consists almost entirely of easy listening classics, for example ‘Feelings’, ‘The Look of Love’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’. These songs contain no improvisation, either during the film, or more generally in performative contexts. Whereas the songs played by Jack and Susie – ‘More Than You Know’, ‘Makin’ Whoopee’; other musicians – ‘Lullaby of Birdland’; other diegetic music – ‘Perdido’, ‘Moonglow’; and non-diegetic songs – ‘Do Nothin’ ‘Til You Hear From Me’, ‘My Funny Valentine’ are all jazz standards.

      These jazz standards provide improvisatory contexts for the respective soloists and the emerging individuality of the main characters. There is then a sense in which Jack feels as though he is on the outside of the jazz tradition, because when he is performing with Frank they ‘play the same… songs the same… way every night’. So the choice of repertoire that the brothers play puts a barrier between them, with Frank on the one hand playing it safe with set arrangements of easy listening classics, and Jack on the other, for the most part, surrounded by other people listening, playing and improvising on standards.

      Interestingly, as if to emphasize the point that the improvisatory contexts of the soundtrack songs are acting as a narrative tool to the development of the main character’s individuality, several of the song choices are of Duke Ellington compositions – ‘Perdido’, ‘Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me’, ‘Prelude to a Kiss’, ‘Solitude’ – Ellington’s music is used, like Tatum and Evans/Davis, as representative of authenticity and articulacy.

      Ellington placed a lot of importance on the soloists in his bands and he would often compose with a specific individual in mind, because of their unique sound (Hodeir 1956: 88; Williams 1993: 108). For example, the opening melodic phrase of ‘Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me’ references Ellington’s earlier orchestral work ‘Concerto For Cootie’ written for the trumpeter Charles ‘Cootie’ Williams. Jack reinforces Ellington’s authority when, during an argument, Frank asserts ‘She’s got the Harry James orchestra in there!’ To which Jack mutters ‘Ellington’.

      As a result of Frank being called away, Susie and Jack are left alone at the hotel over New Year’s Eve to complete their run of gigs. During the evening they attempt to avoid acknowledging the obvious attraction both feel towards one another. The ambi-diegetic version of ‘Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me’ performed by the Mercer Ellington Orchestra plays out, and there is no dialogue (Holbrook considers it is played ‘on the same portable boom-box’ as ‘Perdido’ was (Holbrook 2012: 132) and there are other instances throughout the film where the source of the music is uncertain – for example ‘Moonglow’).

      As the solo builds the tension, the two characters, sharing adjoining rooms, indulge their mutual attraction by secretly taking it in turns to go through the others’ personal belongings. The narrative of the solo is the narrative of the characters’ flirtations. However, the song is ended abruptly when the phone rings, leaving this dance between Susie and Jack unresolved. And so, then, in the famous ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ scene that follows, when Susie and Jack improvise (both musically and physically) we recognize the whole performance as the inevitable consummation that it is. Allowing the two central characters, paraphrasing Williams, to face up to the truths about themselves and in so doing, glimpse redemption.

      Over the course of the film, composer Dave Grusin also uses a recurring ascending theme to underscore the tender moments between Susie and Jack. A non-diegetic ballad, called variously ‘Soft on Me’ or ‘Susie and Jack’, it is played by the same quintet that plays the ‘Main Title’ version of ‘Jack’s Theme’. The ‘Susie and Jack’ version has an ABCA structure where each section is ten bars. Throughout the harmonies are rich, extended chords. Each time it occurs, the melodic embellishment is increased, and the improvisatory nature of the piece grows as the relationship between the two develops. At the end of the ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ scene, when Susie kisses Jack, we hear the improvised C section of ‘Susie and Jack’. A harmon-muted trumpet (referencing Miles Davis) conveys the tenderness of the moment.

      The scene cuts to the deserted ballroom, while the solo continues. Susie walks through the remnants of New Year’s Eve towards Jack and, as the music fades, Susie and Jack are alone and Susie begins to talk. Susie is open and honest, while Jack listens, but says very little. A ‘sad, plaintive’ improvised solo piano version of ‘Susie and Jack’ begins to play (Kloves 1985), and the inevitable seduction occurs. For the viewer, the consistency of Grusin’s playing, his phrasing and unique sound on Jack’s performances means we associate this non-diegetic solo piano performance directly with Jack, and realize this improvisation on ‘Susie and Jack’ is an expression of his tenderness.

      After returning from the run of nights at the resort, Susie goes to look for Jack. Trying Jack’s apartment first, she comes face to face with Nina, the child of an upstairs neighbour from Jack’s apartment, whom he takes care of, and there is no dialogue between Susie and Nina (in The Fabulous Dorseys, Jane – the girl next door – and Jane – the adult singer – are the same person!); Susie then visits Henry’s. The ensuing diegetic version of Jack playing with the house band on ‘Jack’s Theme’ is longer than the solo version because, crucially, Jack improvises and he does so in public.

      This is the first time that Jack Baker has played something of his own volition in a public setting, and it is not just another standard; he is playing his own composition and as such this performance is a statement of the character’s identity. The trio provides the stability, supporting the rhythmic ambiguity of the two against three comping patterns, leaving Jack space to develop and build the melody. Susie is uncomfortable when she arrives at the club, but as she orders a drink at the bar, she recognizes the music. Slowly she peers around the pillar at the band, the camera takes her point of view and reveals to Susie (and the audience) that it is indeed Jack playing.

      His solo (Figure 4) is only half a chorus, but it is full of rhythmic and melodic invention, using the same improvisatory language of the ‘Main Title’ version.

      Figure 4: Opening four bars of improvisation on ‘Jack’s Theme’ – Trio Version – by Dave Grusin, taken from Biggs’ The Fabulous Baker Boys Songbook (2007: 72). The
      18
      original screenplay is also revealing – ‘Turning slowly, Susie discovers Jack, hunched over the piano onstage, playing with the trio’ (Kloves 1989a).

      The importance in this direction is in the description of Jack’s posture – ‘hunched over the piano’. If Art Tatum was a ‘revered’ pianist of the swing era and throughout the career of the Dorsey Brothers, then Bill Evans is similarly revered in the modern era, and his is the hunched posture that Kloves alludes to, and Jack emulates.

      Bill Evans was a profoundly introspective musician. It has already been mentioned above the influence Evans had on Miles Davis, and the connection of his composition ‘Peace Piece’ to The Fabulous Baker Boys, and particularly ‘Jack’s Theme’. But there are further references to Bill Evans in the different versions of the original screenplay, and, despite what Gabbard claims, there is actually a picture of Bill Evans on the wall in Jack’s apartment. And Holbrook has also noted the ‘Bill Evans-inspired’ solos on ‘Jack’s Theme’ (Holbrook, 2012: 133). Therefore, just as Art Tatum lent an authority to The Fabulous Dorseys, so too, the influence of Bill Evans, though never explicitly stated, provides an authenticity to The Fabulous Baker Boys.

      As the solo fades on the last two bars of the A section of ‘Jack’s Theme’ at Henry’s bar, an unresolved altered dominant chord is left hanging, questioning the potential of this moment when Jack Baker publicly improvises. The tension, implied by the hanging Eb7b9#11 at the end of the trio version, is played out in the following scenes as Jack argues with and shuts out those around him, eventually admitting to Frank, after a vicious argument, that he ‘can’t do it anymore’, that he is ‘through’ playing with Frank.

      The culmination of this section of the film (the antithesis of the large-stage endings of the swing era biopics) is played out in a short scene where Jack is alone, again at Henry’s bar. He plays a fully improvised piece in C minor of Imi7 – V7sus4. ‘Jack’s Theme – Reprise’ (Figure 5), abandoning the structure of ‘Jack’s Theme’ and playing with the ‘Peace Piece’ progression on which the B section of ‘Jack’s Theme’ is based. Demonstrating all the technical fluency and versatility of the opening ‘Main Title’ version, Jack plays syncopated semi quaver runs with articulations that wrong-foot the listener and include odd groupings that effortlessly cross the beat.

      The improvisation confirms that Jack ‘can’t play the same songs the same way’ anymore. His life performing with Frank is over. On finishing the piece, Henry appears and says to Jack ‘I’ve got Tuesdays and Thursdays open, they are yours if you want them?’

      Figure 5: Opening five bars of improvisation on ‘Jack’s Theme – Reprise’ – by Dave Grusin, taken from Biggs’ The Fabulous Baker Boys Songbook (2007: 80).

      The resolution of the film takes place in the street, outside Susie’s apartment, during the day. It is played out with the same non-diegetic solo piano version of the theme ‘Susie and Jack’ that was used for the New Year’s Eve seduction scene. Jack is visibly emotional in this scene as he reaches out to Susie. The improvised piano of the soundtrack reinforces the vulnerability of Jack in that moment. The two never touch, and their future is left uncertain. The final dialogue is followed by a solo piano introduction to ‘My Funny Valentine’ (Figure 6), Susie’s voice humming in unison with the piano’s melodic line. The camera cuts to a long shot as Susie walks away, and the final credits begin.

      This performance is similar to ‘Makin Whoopee’ in that Jack’s piano supports Susie’s vocal throughout. Musically, there is lots of interaction, and the piano responds after every vocal phrase. All of Grusin’s melodic invention and phrasing, as well as the rhythmic variety that we have associated with Jack throughout the film, is apparent. This version is in the key of G minor/Bb Major, rather than the traditional C minor/Eb Major it is usually performed in, and has a 12/8 time signature instead of the written 4/4. The form, though, is the standard 32 bar AABA, with the four bar introduction and a rallentando on the last phrase and a 4 bar ending.

      The lyrics of the classic ‘torch song’, ‘My Funny Valentine’, which refer to the imperfect nature of the singer’s lover and yet the fact that she loves him anyway, are, of course, entirely appropriate. More than that though, this song is a further reference to the jazz tradition because it has a strong association with some venerable jazz musicians, particularly Chet Baker (1956). And it was a standard that Miles Davis (1964) played regularly.

      Figure 6: Introduction to ‘My Funny Valentine’ – by Dave Grusin, taken from Biggs’ The Fabulous Baker Boys Songbook (2007: 91).

      Except for Holbrook (2012), The Fabulous Baker Boys is a largely overlooked film in scholarship, and this article argues that it is an important film in the cannon, worthy of consideration. Indeed, it is argued that through a close analysis of the film’s soundtrack, the improvisatory structures, and the nature of those improvisations, are integral to the development of the main character Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges) and to his relationships with the other characters.

      The ‘Main Title – Jack’s Theme’ has been examined and is seen to contain a number of elements that allow it to work as a narrative tool, including melodic, harmonic and structural elements, as well as instrumentation, textures and improvisatory language that imply the cool/modal and hard bop styles of jazz and aspects of the album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, and the influence of Bill Evans in particular. More than that, ‘Jack’s Theme’ provides an important site of authenticity, as does the music of Ellington, within the film’s narrative, just as Art Tatum was a site of authenticity for The Fabulous Dorseys approximately 40 years earlier.

      The development of ‘Jack’s Theme’, through four different versions, in relation to the character development of Jack has been considered in detail, and close analysis has shown that the use of ‘Jack’s Theme’ as an improvisatory context has allowed for Jack’s individuality to emerge. Similarly, other compositions as improvisatory contexts are also identified – ‘Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me’, ‘Makin Whoopee’, ‘Susie and Jack’ and ‘My Funny Valentine’ – each of which is used to articulate the developing relationship between the characters of Susie and Jack.

      Ultimately, then, The Fabulous Baker Boys explores and articulates thepositive redemptive nature of the music.

      References

      Biggs, Adam (2007), The Fabulous Baker Boys Songbook, United Kingdom: Biggsound.
      Davies, Valentine (1956), The Benny Goodman Story, Los Angeles: Universal International Pictures
      Emmenegger, Claudia and Olivier, Senn (2011), Five Perspectives on ‘Body and Soul’: And Other Contributions to Music Performance Studies, Zurich: Chronos Publications.
      English, Richard (1946), ‘The Battling Brothers Dorsey’, The Saturday Evening Post, 218:31, 2 February, pp. 18–19, 81–82.


      Evans, Bill (1958), ‘Peace Piece’, Everybody Digs Bill Evans, New York City: Riverside, CD.
      Ferrante and Teicher (2012), ‘Home Page’, The official site, http://www.ferranteandteicher.com/. Accessed 1 April 2014.
      Foster, Rob (2013), Accentuate the Negative? On Teaching Biographical Details in Jazz History, http://symposium.music.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=10294:accentuate-the-negative?-on-teaching-biographical-details-in-jazz-history&Itemid=124 Accessed 1 April 2014.

      Gabbard, Krin (1996), Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
      Green, Alfred E. (1947), The Fabulous Dorseys, USA: United Artists.
      Grusin, Dave (1999), The Fabulous Baker Boys: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, New York: Decca (UMO).
      Hodeir, André (1956), Jazz, It’s Evolution and Essence, New York: Grove Press.

      Holbrook, Morris (2012), Music, Movies, Meanings, and Markets: Cinemajazzamatazz, London :Routledge
      Jones, Stacy Holman (2007), Torch Singing: Performing Resistance and Desire from Billie Holiday To Edith Piaf, Plymouth: AltaMira Press.
      Kernfeld, Barry (1994), The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, London: Macmillan Publishers Limited.

      Kloves, Steve (1985), ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys script’, http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/fabulous_baker_boys_april_1985.html . Accessed 24 May 2013.
      _ (1989a), ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys script’, http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/Fabulous_Baker_boys_final.html. Accessed 1 April 2013. _ (1989b), The Fabulous Baker Boys, USA: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
      Mann, Anthony (1954), The Glenn Miller Story, Los Angeles:Universal Studios

      Pettinger, Peter (1998), Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings, New Haven: Yale University Press.
      Sears, Richard (1980), V-Discs A History and Discography, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

      Stewart, Zan (1989), ‘The pianist who taught The Bridges Boys’, 08 November, http://articles.latimes.com/1989-11-08/entertainment/ca-826_1_jeff-bridges. Los Angeles Times. Accessed 2 August 2014.
      Vineberg, Steve (2004), ‘The natural’, The Threepenny Review, no. 99, Fall 2004, pp. 23–25.
      Williams, Martin (1993), The Jazz Tradition, New York: Oxford University Press.

      Author details

      Australian-born Adam Biggs is a pianist and music educator. He is head of jazz studies at Bath Spa University, and holds a Masters degree in jazz piano performance (2011). Adam trained at Elder Conservatorium at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, graduating in 1994 with a B.Mus.

      After many years working internationally, he released his first solo recording When Lights Are Low in 2003. He has played and worked with many musicians including Iain Ballamy, Derek Nash, Andy Sheppard, Clare Teal, Jamie Cullum and Geoff Simkins. He leads the jazz trio Adam’s Apple and they released their first CD Love Unknown, a collection of hymn tunes arranged for jazz trio, in 2007.

      Also in 2007 he published the Circle of Fifths, a unique learning tool for students, and The Fabulous Baker Boys Songbook, a collection of transcriptions of the music from the film The Fabulous Baker Boys written by Dave Grusin. In 2009 Adam’s Apple released their second CD, Be Still. In 2010 Adam became a Roland endorsed artist. Adam completed his Master’s degree in 2011. His research focused on new repertoire and contemporary performative practice techniques. He is currently preparing his Ph.D. project.

      Jazz transcriptions and sheet music download.

      Categories
      Did you know? Musical Analysis

      Herbie Hancock: An Analysis of His Improvisional Style (2/3)

      Analysis Hancock’s Melodic Line

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      Herbie has a great linear harmonic sense, in that his phrases are elongated in a very beautiful way – they not only come out of something, they automatically lead back into something else.

      Oscar Peterson

      Following on from the material discussed in the previous chapter (1/3), this part examines the other side of Herbie Hancock’s musical coin – it focuses on the characteristics unique to Hancock’s style.

      One of the most notable ways Hancock achieves the manner of phrase described by Oscar Peterson above is through his use of musical sequence, and as such a large proportion of this chapter is dedicated to examining the variety of methods in which Hancock employs this device.

      While the previous chapter discussed the fundamental technical elements of the jazz language, the following analysis does not delve into the core melodic or harmonic construction of each sequence; it instead provides a contextual overview of the device. To continue the jazz language metaphor, Coker states “items such as digital patterns, 7-3 resolutions, 3-b9, enclosures, etc., are like the letters and words of the language, whereas sequences are more like complete thoughts, sentences and chains of thought”.

      herbie hancock free sheet music & scores pdf

      Sequences

      A sequence occurs when a melodic fragment is immediately followed by one or more variations on that same fragment. It is a device used extensively across most genres of music, as the repetition of musical idea gives a strong sense of structure to a piece – thus providing much needed communication with the listener, who perceives, even anticipates, such occurrences.

      Jazz music is no different – improvising musicians will frequently utilize sequences to give their solos structure, and to reinforce a musical idea. One of the most prominent signature characteristics of Hancock’s style is his mastery of the sequence, and he uses the device through a variety of contexts in a variety of different ways.

      The first of these involves straight melodic repetition – Hancock will often develop his ideas through direct transposition or thematic development as seen in Figure 2.1 below.

      herbie hancock sheet music

      Cliché blues phrases like core, the motif in this example, are used extensively in Hancock’s vocabulary in the early 1960s – a reflection of the influence of hard-bop pianists such as Horace Silver, Bobby Timmons and Wynton Kelly. In this example, the phrase in bar 2 is then sequenced down a tone, following the shift in harmony.

      Similarly, in Figure 2.2, Hancock transposes the initial two-beat motif in bar 2 down four consecutive semitones before resolving the phrase.

      Hancock has an impeccable taste for melody, and will often build his melodic ideas from very simple initial motifs. Figure 2.3 is an example of a basic melodic sequence – the following extract shows him playing a down-a-fourth-up-a-third pattern which is repeated three times.

      This use of simple motifs is a major part of Hancock’s style and can be found frequently in a variety of settings throughout the 1960s – in Figure 2.4 below, Hancock sequences the original motif in bar 1 through the following 7 bars, slightly altering the line’s rhythmic shape each time.

      Similarly, Figure 2.5 below shows another simple melodic sequence played by Hancock – the initial phrase is transposed roughly three times over the shifting harmony.

      Hancock frequently draws out his short initial melodic ideas into long sequenced patterns. In Figure 2.6, Hancock begins with a three-note scalar pattern which ascends the chord scale of F7sus (F mixolydian) before falling off to a B natural to compensate for the change of chord to D7sus (D mixolydian) in bar 4.

      Similarly, Figure 2.7 shows Hancock developing another three-note scalar pattern. Here, Hancock plays a continuous ascending scale through the underlying shifts in harmony.

      Figure 2.7 “The Sorcerer”

      Figure 2.8 shows two consecutive motifs from Hancock’s solo on “The Sorcerer”. The first involves simple melodic development, the top note of each 1 bar phrase remaining the same while the second note changes underneath. The second (beginning in bar 5) shows Hancock sequencing a four note shape down in 3rds – first a direct transposition at a major 3rd, then an slightly altered major 3rd (a C# in bar 3 instead of a Cnatural) and a further sequence down a minor third to finish the line.

      Later in the same solo, Hancock plays the line in Figure 2.9 below. In this extract, he develops another initial four-note melodic idea over the course of 5 bars, nearly exactly transposing it to accommodate for the underlying shifts in harmony.

      Similarly, in Figure 2.10, Hancock takes an initial up/down triadic pattern and then sequences it through the subsequent four bars. The phrase starts on an Ab triad and passes through G, Fm, Em, and Eb, before finishing on the conclusive tonic triad of Dm.

      Hancock uses this concept of triads in a variety of situations; Figure 2.11 shows a simple triadic pattern played by Hancock to beautifully navigate the changes to Donald Byrd’s “Night Flower”.

      Similarly, Hancock uses triads to reharmonise to an altered sound in bars 2 and 3 of Figure 2.12 below. Note Hancock’s use of a 9-7-6-5 (or 5-3-2-1 in Fm) digital pattern in bar 1 and the enclosure leading into beat 1 of bar 2.

      Many of Hancock’s sequences are also constructed through the use of rising or falling fourths, which can be either diatonic or chromatic. Figure 2.13 is another example of a simple melodic sequence – this time, Hancock uses the intervals of a perfect fourth and fifth to develop the original motif.

      Hancock uses a similar device with shorter note values in 2.14 below.

      Again, Hancock uses an up-a-third, down-a-fourth pattern to start the long sequence in Figure 2.15 above.

      Herbie Hancock will also often execute complex sequences in the middle of a melodic line with no prior development. In Figure 2.16, Hancock sequences the arpeggio shape on beats 1&2 of bar 1 through the subsequent iii-bIII- ii-V-I progression. In doing so, he reharmonizes each chord symbol to an altered sound (where every non-harmonically-essential degree of the conventional scale is raised or flattened by a semitone).

      Similarly, in Figure 2.17, the motif on beats 1&2 of the first bar is sequenced on beats 3&4, and then beats 1&2 of the following bar, before the line is resolved.

      All the above examples identify Hancock’s use of sequence using simple rhythmic denominations of the beat, such as crotchets, quavers and semiquavers (1/4, 1/8 and 1/16 notes). The following examples examine Hancock’s extensive use of triplets in his melodic lines.

      Triplet Sequences

      Hancock makes extensive use of triplets in his improvisations – often in long, flowing, sequenced passages – and his recorded output from the 1960s contains countless examples of this.

      Similarly to the examples discussed previously, Hancock will also use triplets to play simple melodic sequences, as seen in Figure 2.18. Of particular note in this example is Hancock’s use of contrary motion – he plays an ascending phrase in the treble stave while chromatically descending the chords in the bass stave.

      Hancock plays another simple melodic sequence in Figure 2.19 below.

      However, immediately after this, Hancock plays the complicated melody in Figure 2.20:

      Here, Hancock starts with a fairly generic four-note shape and sequences it down in thirds through the associated chord scale of each chord. The combination of the triplets, the four-note pattern (which crosses the natural fall of the beat in each bar) and the strength of the melodic line in its harmonic relationship makes this a very effective passage.

      Figure 2.21 below shows another example of this type of pattern – this time a similar four-note shape is sequenced up in semitones and ventures outside the chord changes. Hancock starts with a Gm7 arpeggio played in reverse which then ascends through G#m7, Am7, Bbm7, Bm7 and Cm7 – it is the constant structure of this line that makes it acceptable to the ear even though it is largely outside the changes.

      Hancock uses a different kind of four-note pattern in Figure 2.22.

      Figure 2.23 shows Hancock playing another four-note triplet pattern. This time he starts with basic triadic motif and ascends the chord scales of each chord (F melodic minor and Db half/whole diminished respectively), before releasing tension by descending the line.

      In Figure 2.24, Hancock again starts with a four note triadic pattern, which he sequences down through five bars.

      In Figure 2.25, Hancock plays another rapid sequence based on falling diatonic fourths. He also uses a bar-line shift, anticipating the chord change to Db7(#11) by playing the chord scale for this chord (Db lydian dominant) a bar early.

      Hancock uses this idea often, and in a variety of manifestations, such as in Figure 2.26;

      And also Figure 2.27:

      Hancock will also often use triplets to get “outside” the written changes of a tune – a jazz musician is said to be playing “outside” when their melodic line strays from the conventional chord scale associated with a given chord.

      Figure 2.28 is a perfect example of this. Hancock picks up where Freddie Hubbard finishes his solo and introduces the same type of simple melodic sequence discussed previously – this time a three note pattern seen in bar 3. He sequences this three times before returning to the original motif and
      repeating it up five consecutive minor 3rds – a line which weaves outside then back inside the changes – before releasing the tension in the final few bars.

      Jazz Sheet Music download here.

      Head Hunters | Herbie Hancock | 1973 | Full Album

      Track List:

      1. Chameleon 0:00 2. Watermelon Man 15:40 3. Sly 22:14 4. Vein Melter 32:35

      Personnel

      Herbie Hancock – Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hohner D-6 Clavinet, ARP Odyssey, ARP Soloist, ARP 2600, ARP String Ensemble Bennie Maupin – soprano and tenor saxophone, saxello, bass clarinet, alto flute Paul Jackson – electric bass Harvey Mason – drums Bill Summers – percussion

      References


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      Blumenthal, B. (2000). Pianists of the 1960s and 1970s. The Oxford Companion to Jazz, 466-467.
      Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Taxonomy. Retrieved 31 May, 2011
      Coker, J. (1991). Elements of the Jazz Language for the Developing Improvisor. Miami: Belwin, Inc.
      Coolman, T. F. (1997). The Miles Davis Quintet of the mid-1960’s: Synthesis of Improvisational and Compositional Elements. New York University.


      Coolman, T. F. (2006). Herbie Hancock & the Miles Davis Rhythm Section. Piano Today(26.1), 30-31.
      Davis, M., & Troupe, Q. (1989). Miles – The Autobiography. New York: Simon & Schuster.
      DiMartino, D. (1999). Herbie Hancock : He Continues to Lead Where Most Other Artists Are Content
      to Follow. Billboard – The International Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment, 111, 2-12.
      Dobbins, B. (1992). Herbie Hancock Classic Jazz Compositions and Piano Solos. Rottenberg: Advance Music.
      Gelfand, A. (2005). Almost Anything Goes: For Herbie Hancock, Jazz is All About Freedom and Personal Expression. JAZZIZ, 22, 36-38.
      Heinrich, D. (2006). Jimmy Smith and Larry Young – Blue Note Records’ Jazz Organ Masters: A Comparison of Style. Unpublished honours thesis, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.


      Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2002). How Jazz Musicians Improvise. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19(3).
      Kart, L. (2000). The Avant-Garde, 1949-1967. The Oxford Companion to Jazz, 446-458.
      Levin, E. (1987, January 19). Herbie Hancock. People, 27, 64.
      Levine, M. (1989). The Jazz Piano Book. Petaluma, CA.: Sher Music Co.
      Levine, M. (1995). The Jazz Theory Book. Petaluma, CA.: Sher Music Co.
      Opstad, J. (2009). The Harmonic and Rhythmic Language of Herbie Hancock’s 1970s Fender Rhodes
      Solos. Jazz Perspectives, 3(1), 57-79.


      Perry, J. C. (2006). A comparative analysis of selected piano solos by Red Garland, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly and
      Herbie Hancock from their recordings with the Miles Davis groups, 1955–1968. University of Miami.
      Pond, S. F. (2005). Head Hunters: The Making of Jazz’s First Platinum Album: University of Michigan Press.
      Rose, J. (2006). White Light, Black Vibrations: The Music of John Coltrane and his Spiritual Quest. Unpublished honours thesis, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.


      Sawyer, R. K. (2000). Improvisation and the Creative Process: Dewey, Collingwood, and the Aesthetics
      of Spontaneity. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 58(2), 149-161.
      Seymour, G. (2000). Hard Bop. The Oxford Companion to Jazz, 373-388.
      Silvert, C. (September 8, 1977). Herbie Hancock: Revamping the Past, Creating the Future. Down Beat, 16.
      Szwed, J. (2002). So What: The Life of Miles Davis. New York: Simon & Schuster.


      Thompson, S., & Lehmann, A. C. (2004). Strategies for Sight Reading and Improvising Music. New York: Oxford University Press.
      Wallmann, J. P. (2010). The Music of Herbie Hancock: Composition and Improvisation in the Blue Note years. New York University.
      Waters, K. (2005). Modes, Scales, Functional Harmony, and Nonfunctional Harmony in the Compositions of Herbie Hancock. Journal of Music Theory, 49(No. 2), 333-357.


      Waters, K. (2011). The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-1968. New York: Oxford University Press.
      Widenhofer, S. B. (1988). Bill Evans: An Analytical Study of His Improvisational Style Through Selected Transcriptions. University of Northern Colorado.
      Woodard, J. (1997). Hancock and Shorter: Two Divided By One. JazzTimes – America’s Jazz Magazine, 27, 44-47, 57, 144-145.

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      Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons” complete (Olga Scheps live)

      Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons” complete (Olga Scheps live)

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      Olga Scheps playing Tchaikovsky’s cycle “The Seasons / Die Jahreszeiten” Op. 37a live at Stadthalle Germering.
      Live recording April 29, 2016.

      00:06 – January: At the Fireside (A major) 05:13 – February: Carnival (D major) 08:16 – March: Song of the Lark (G minor) 11:00 – April: Snowdrop (B-flat major) 13:42 – May: Starlit Nights (G major) 18:34 – June: Barcarolle (G minor) 23:34 – July: Song of the Reaper (E-flat major) 25:34 – August: Harvest (B minor) 28:48 – September: The Hunt (G major) 31:50 – October: Autumn Song (D minor) 37:00 – November: Troika (E major) 40:02 – December: Christmas (A-flat major)

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      Tchaikovsky sheet music pdf

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      Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons”

      From mid nineteenth Century to early twentieth Century, Russia’s national piano music developed rapidly, with a unique style from the school, only for half a century, it has established an important position in the International Piano World [ In the Russian classical piano music, piano divertimento “four seasons” is a has a important significance of works, it is completed by the end of the 19th century Russia’s most prominent composer Tchaikovsky.

      The whole divertimento is composed of twelve pieces for Piano and respectively in December in a year as the background, in the form of solo piano to describe the four seasons in a year, Russia’s unique scenery of mountains and rivers and people in changes in the natural life of labor scene. Tchaikovsky using a variety of music genres of writing, all kinds of ethnic dance, Russian folk songs, hunting song, Barcarolle, genre can be heard in the “four seasons”.

      It can be said that this is a gathering of the Russian national flavor of the piano music works. Touching melody, unique minor style, vivid image of the music, and represents the national temperament of poetry with, the “four seasons” become a classical piano music in a shining star, and it also shows the unique charm of Russian folk music to the people.

      Piano set “Four Seasons” content

      The piano set “Four Seasons” is as its name. Its content is based on the twelve months of the year. It is a solo piano to express the changes of the four seasons. It vividly depicts the unique scenery of the country and the people of Russia. Living in life, it can be said that “Four Seasons” is a true portrayal of the Russian national image in the form of music. “The Four Seasons” consists of twelve piano pieces, each with a unique title that echoes the twelve months of the year.

      They are “January-At the Fire Side”; “Carnival” February-Carnival; “Song of the Lark”; “Snow Snow” April-Snow Drop; “Clean Night” May-White Nights; “Song of the Boat” June-Barcarolle; “Song of the Reapers”; “Harvest” August-Harvest; “Song of the Hunt” September-The Hunting; “Song of Autumn” October-Autumn Song; On the carriage “November-Troika; “Christmas” December-Christmas. Twelve piano pieces are based on the life of the Russians.

      In each season’s transformation, they are accompanied by people’s mood and living atmosphere. According to the chronological order of seasons, winter, spring and summer promote people to do various activities, from the quiet of winter to the recovery of spring, from the busy summer to the harvest of autumn, all reflect the season one by one.

      Bringing people a life, so we can also call “Four Seasons” a “music of life.”The reason why

      “Four Seasons” can stand out in the vast river of music is loved by people because of its special way of creation. In the winter of 1875, Tchaikovsky, who had been thirty-five years old, had created a lot of works and won praises from people. Nikola Mattefevich Bernard, publisher of the St. Petersburg music and art magazine Novelist, wrote to Tchaikovsky saying that he had selected 12 contents from the poems of Russian poets.

      The poems that match the seasons of each month are published in the monthly magazines, and at the same time, the twelve piano works to be matched with him, he hopes to complete the creation by Tchaikovsky. After receiving this letter, Tchaikovsky was very excited and immediately wrote back that he was willing to accept the job and would do his best to create it. In this way, the songs and poems were published in magazines every month. Until December of 1796, twelve works composed a beautiful long-form piano set, named “Four Seasons.”

      “Four Seasons” performance skills and artistic expression

      In short, piano performance is a simple structural analysis of a piano work. According to the basic requirements of the work, the author and the chronological background and style of the work are analyzed. There are also many details to be noted in the performance of “Four Seasons”.

      In the Four Seasons, in addition to the quiet and euphemistic melody, there is a very strong and cheerful rhythm, most of which is the dense arrangement of the upper and lower chords. In the second “Carnival”, the seventh song “The Song of the Skull”, the eighth “Harvest”, the ninth “Song of Hunting”, you can hear the chord-like chord playing, give people are an expression of emotion that is extremely cheerful and reveals joy.

      In the second round of Carnival’s ABAC’s Rondo, the three A-segments are densely arranged chords to show the joyful scenes of singing and dancing in celebrations. In the ninth song “Hunting”, on the basis of the original song genre, Tchaikovsky chose 4/4 beat instead of the original 6/8 beat, making the rhythm feel cheerful and compact. At the same time, the use of double-point octave chords vividly expresses the tense atmosphere of people hunting. In the performance of these works, these magnificent chords require the player’s full power to play with full spirit, and also need some strength control skills.

      In order to play the momentum of the top of the sea, the player first needs to turn the fingers, wrists and arms into a whole, with the wrist as a fixed, with the arm directly to the finger, the height of the force is concentrated, and the keyboard is quickly and forcefully hit. It is required to press the keyboard to the end at the moment of touching the key, and after a strong sound, quickly pull out the keyboard and continue to tap the next set of chords in the same way.

      One of the most important components of piano performance is the application of the foot pedal. The use of the foot pedal can make the sound of the key strikes smooth and consistent, and the pedal can control and adjust the volume to a certain extent, even changing the brightness of the sound. Therefore, the pedals are used well, which can add color to the performance, and can also express the emotional expression of the player. For the performance of “Four Seasons”, because of its minor characteristics, it is soft, deep and dim.

      First of all, it is necessary to accurately represent the contrast of the sounds played by the piano, so the application of the pedals is essential, and the usage should be alternately using the sustain pedal and the soft pedal. In addition, there is a strong sound method for the use of the sustain pedal, which is to highlight the changes in the mood of the music, and it is necessary to perform with great strength. In fact, the acoustic effect of the piano itself is relatively thin, so in order to satisfy this strong musical effect, it is necessary to render a sound effect to be highlighted for a bright and dim contrast on the sound, so the player needs to be in the foot sound.

      The use of the tread is very good to enhance the thickness of the sound and the strong contrast. Every kind of music works has the thoughts and emotions to be expressed and the artistic appeal and expressive power. In this respect, “Four

      Seasons” has a very special nature. It is not just a piano piece, it is accurate. Four Seasons is a musical product combined with literary works.
      We can feel the temperament of a poem from the title of each work. Russia’s most beautiful and beautiful poems and music infiltrate each other. These languages with strong patriotism can not only dominate people’s consciousness, but also subtly dominate people’s life behavior.

      Therefore, this melody with poetic temperament can impress the hearts of the people and deeply imprint the feelings of Russia in the minds of every listener.In the fourth song “Song Xuecao”, the poems are written as “light green, fresh pine grass! In the early spring, the snow is squatting beside you. The sadness of the past, only the last few tears are still flowing, coming to Japan. The happiness will bring you novel illusions. The melody of the whole song is deep and quiet, like a crying cry, and it is like singing in a low voice. The picture depicted is a faint wind, and the ice and snow that have not completely melted and the green grass of the newborn sprouts are intertwined with each other.

      Just like the people at this time, in the winter and spring, the memories of the past are remembered, and the future is also aspired. Happiness. A good musical piece can not only bring a beautiful melody to the listener, but also bring a kind of philosophical thinking or enlightenment of life outside the melody. In this respect, “Four Seasons” has With its unique expressive power, it not only depicts the landscape of Russia’s mountains and rivers with notes, but also shows people’s attitude towards life in nature.

      It can also be said that this is a representative work of the image of the Russian nation. Listening to “Four Seasons”, you can hear the sounds coming from Russia to the distant land. The listening experience in it brings people unlimited imagination and aftertaste. It is the unique artistic charm of “Four Seasons”

      Conclusions

      Tchaikovsky’s piano suite “The Four Seasons” is one of the most important masterpieces of Russian piano music. This work uses a beautiful and beautiful melody and a musical language like poetry to describe the beautiful scenery of the four seasons, and let us hear the most pristine voice from the Russian nation. Strong national imprints, magnificent mountains and rivers, touching festivals and songs, and a determined attitude towards life are all baptisms that the Four Seasons can give. Tchaikovsky used his wisdom and sweat to create a miracle belonging to Russian national music.

      His national music can also be called a model of classical music in the world, and “Four Seasons” will be like vast music. Among the stars, it is the most shining one.

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      Charlie Parker’s compositional study

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        Charlie Parker’s compositional study

        Charlie Parker (1920–1955) has long been admired as an improviser, but as brilliant as his solo skills were, Parker was also a significant jazz composer, an aspect of his musicianship that has not been sufficiently investigated and appreciated. Parker ranks as one of the most important jazz composers of his era by virtue of the quality and continuing popularity of his best-known tunes. Performed widely, they are considered seminal within the jazz repertory. Yet, despite the importance of his contribution, Parker’s approach to composition was casual, and as a result there seem to be no extant working manuscripts that might suggest how Parker composed his pieces.

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        This article explores what we can infer about Parker’s compositional process from those instances where he made revisions to improve or (in one case) create the final product. In particular, there is one instance of Parker revising a work already completed (“Ornithology”), one instance of Parker combining two pieces by another composer into one of his own (“My Little Suede Shoes”), and two instances of Parker composing in the studio where we can hear his revisions immediately (“Red Cross” and “Blues (Fast)”).

        Ornithology by Charlie Parker

        Parker composed at the last minute, usually because he needed material for recording dates. Even more last-minute, there are instances of Parker composing during sessions themselves. For example, bassist Tommy Potter recalls,

        On record dates he could compose right on the spot. The A. & R. man would be griping, wanting us to begin. Charlie would say, “It’ll just take a minute,” and he’d write out eight bars, usually just for the trumpet. He could transpose it for his alto without a score. The channel [bridge] of the tune could be ad libbed. The rhythm section was familiar with all the progressions of the tunes which were usually the basis of originals. (Reisner 1962, 183)

        The story of the trumpet parts related by Potter is corroborated by the reproduction of two such parts in Parker and Paudras 1981. A photograph on p. 196 shows a trumpet part labeled “Si Si,” which is in fact the tune now called “Blues for Alice,” while on p. 190 we see a photograph as a collage, including a trumpet part whose name is obscured but is the tune now called “Si Si.” The names of the two tunes were probably interchanged when the records were originally produced. Parker and Paudras 1981 also shows us that Parker would indeed write out a part for himself if the tune were complicated enough and composed in advance, for on p. 313 there is a photograph of a manuscript marked “Bird” in the upper left corner.

        The manuscript is an alto part to Parker’s “Passport Rhythm,”. Atop the page, in place of a name for the tune, we see what may be “No. 2,” so it may have been the second piece Parker composed for the session.

        charlie parker sheet music pdf

        In the late 1990s, I had the opportunity to photocopy sample Parker autograph manuscripts at the Institute of Jazz Studies and came across two other Parker trumpet parts that were preserved from his recording session of August 8, 1951, the same session that produced “Blues for Alice” and “Si Si.”
        These parts contain no crossings-out or rewritten passages, and as such tell us virtually nothing about Parker’s compositional process. They may have been copied from prior manuscripts, which would have allowed us to see Parker revising his work on paper, but none of these seem extant, However, they do provide a melody notated by Parker and examples of his music manuscript.

        The Library of Congress (L. C.) has an extensive selection of copyright deposits of Parker compositions. Of the four pieces discussed in this article, “Blues (Fast)” is the only one that lacks an L. C. deposit. However, none of the other three is in Parker’s hand, and in fact the total number of L. C. deposits that were copied by Parker is small: only four out of a total of 90 deposits. An example of an L. C. deposit in Parker’s hand appears, in “Bill’s Bounce.” It may be compared to the previous examples of Parker’s manuscript.

        Far better known than his manuscripts are stories of Parker composing quickly. One of the most important Parker studio sessions was his first as a leader, which took place November 26, 1945 for Savoy Records. Sadik Hakim (Argonne Thornton), a pianist who probably performed at the session, recalls the haste of Parker’s preparation:

        I was living in the same apartment with Charlie Parker at that time (it was November 1945). He got a telegram from Savoy in the morning telling him to get a group together and make a recording date. By 10:30 A.M., he had written the two new blues, “Now’s The Time” and “Billie’s Bounce” (actually it should be Billy’s, it was dedicated to Billy Shaw), and for the other two numbers he planned to use a “head” of his those fellows were playing then which was called “Thriving From a Riff” on the record and later called “Anthropology,” and finally “KoKo”—which is based on the chords of“Cherokee,” of course. He asked me if I wanted to play on the date. Naturally I was quite thrilled and honored to be working with him. (Hakim 1959, 11)

        So early on in Parker’s maturity, as he achieved leader status, we find him composing when he needed material. However, toward the end of his life, rapid composition for a specific purpose was still the norm. Consider drummer Max Roach’s story of how “Chi Chi” was composed in 1953:

        And Bird came by, and I said “Damn!” It was like 3 o’clock in the morning. I lived on 30th Street between 3rd and 2nd Avenues and I had a basement apartment. He’d come by anytime and, of course, I let him in, whatever. He saw me laboring over this goddamn music. He said, “What’ cha doin?” I said “I got a session I’m producing; my first, myself, tomorrow.” So he says, “OK here’s a gift.” And this is the truth Phil, he sat down at a little kitchen table and a cheap piano—and I wish I had saved that goddam ’script; I never throw anything away—he wrote off the tune like a letter and I did it the next day [April 10] with Hank Mobley. We recorded it, then Bird recorded it. That’s “Chi Chi.” (Schaap 1988, 30)

        Charles Colin, a music publisher in New York City who later published Parker’s work, attended a Parker session supervised by Norman Granz, Parker’s final record producer, and provides us with a memorable account of the proceedings. Note in particular Granz’s frustration at Parker showing up without material:

        Charlie Parker’s quintet of sidemen patiently awaited instructions from Charlie. Out of the blue, Charlie Parker announced to Norman Granz: “I don’t have any music and I just can’t remember the chord changes of the bridges. We’ll fake the first eight and repeat the second eight bars but remembering the bridge is a big problem.”
        Frustrated, Norman screamed, “Here we go again! This one tune is gonna take the whole night and way into the next morning! Send a messenger to Colony Music on 48th Street and Broadway for an original copy of the piano sheet music. At least we can lay down the right chord changes.”

        This was shockingly exciting for me. I never experienced such a star holding up and delaying an important and expensive recording session. Frustrated, Norman admitted this was nothing new. Evidently this was a common occurrence for him but it was one of the most amazing, heart-beating experiences I’ve ever encountered!
        The messenger finally arrived with the sheet music and Charlie created instantaneous head arrangements! His first instructions were to have a four drum beat. Charlie would play the first eight bars by himself, then repeat the next eight. Then one of the side men would take the next eight repetitive refrains. With this layout, the quintet ran it down for the first cut! (Colin 1994, 5–6)

        The session described by Colin was not the one that created “Blues (Fast),” a piece discussed later in this article, since the piece in question was based on a popular standard and not blues changes. However, Colin’s observations corroborate Tommy Potter’s and are undoubtedly pertinent to Parker’s sessions in general; that is, since Granz claimed that Parker’s lack of preparation was the norm, Colin’s account may be taken as typical of Granz’s problems in trying to run a small-group Parker session. Also significant is the amount of time taken for Parker to create the tune, for “Blues (Fast)” required twelve takes.

        Aside from stories of Parker composing at the last minute, just before or during sessions, we have little to go on regarding how Parker may have thought about creating his compositions. The four pieces discussed in this paper vary considerably in their approach (and my treatment of them will vary accordingly), but I have chosen them because they allow us at least to glimpse some of the ways that Parker thought about creating pieces. Before proceeding to them, however, let me conclude this introduction with general remarks on jazz composition to set the stage for the Parker tunes.

        A jazz composition is a distinct musical piece by one or more musicians (its “composers”), created for or during a jazz setting, and intended for future performance or realization or later becoming available for such future performance or realization. This accords with the views suggested by some scholars that a musical composition must be “discrete, reproducible, and attributable.” Jazz compositions can be divided into three groups: large-scale works, smaller-scale works intended for improvisation, and directly improvised works.

        Larger-scale jazz compositions vary widely in scope, but always seem to show self-contained sections. “Tiger Rag” (LaRocca, 1917), “Carolina Shout” (Johnson, 1917), or “The Pearls” (Morton, 1923) are examples from the early jazz repertory that are small enough to fit the three-minute format of the 78-rpm record, but are nonetheless multi-sectioned works. More ambitious larger-scale works similarly involve multiple sections, and one or more of these might be extensive in scope.

        Larger-scale works may also combine elements of the Western concert-music tradition or other musical cultures with features of jazz, and sometimes conductors may be involved in directing the ensembles. Some sections or parts of sections may involve improvisation. Many jazz composers have written large-scale works, for example Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Mary Lou Williams. Charlie Parker was interested in this repertory, and he contributed improvisation to the recording of Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite, but he did not write such works.

        The second type of jazz composition is the smaller-scale work expressly written for improvisation, and it is for this improvisational repertory that Parker composed his more traditional pieces. Works in this repertory are typically in standard song forms and often appear in fakebooks with melodies, chord symbols, and sometimes lyrics. Jazz instructional programs and method books often provide a sampling of such tunes and direct students to learn them, as they are considered fundamental to performing jazz. This improvisational repertory can itself be divided into two groups: popular songs (many of them “standards” of the American Songbook) and jazz tunes (generally understood as tunes written by jazz musicians, usually for improvisation, and sometimes called “heads”).

        Popular standards, by their very nature as songs, are more likely to be well known and have lyrics. Long-lived jazz tunes may be called “jazz standards,” a category often used to include those popular standards preferred by jazz musicians. Among the many jazz musicians who have written for this improvisational repertory are some of the best known.

        In addition to works written prior to being recorded, Parker also directly improvised pieces that took on a life of their own, issued as recordings with Parker credited as composer. I consider these works to be Parker “compositions,” although they are not compositions as traditionally conceived. The oral component of jazz (and presumably other musical cultures with similar characteristics) urges us to expand the idea of “composition” to account for products of improvisation with sufficient compositional attributes.

        Take A of Parker’s recording of Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” (Gershwin-Gershwin, 1930) on October 28, 1947, is a well-known example of his studio recordings. Although the Gershwin piece provides the title to the recording, the significant item at hand—what we care about vis-à-vis Parker as a jazz performer—is his interpretation of or improvisation on the pre-existing piece. The recording is a performance not of a Parker composition but rather of a Gershwin song, even though its melody is not expressly stated. The record’s title and excerpts from the original melody, particularly toward the end of the recording, connect the performance to the Gershwin original.

        In contrast to Parker’s “Embraceable You,” consider take C of Parker’s recording of “Bird of Paradise” from the same session: the recorded improvisation is based on the form and harmonies of “All the Things You Are” (Kern-Hammerstein, 1939), but not its melody. Mayhew Music Co. and Charlie Parker Music Co. jointly registered a lead sheet of the improvisation with the L. C. (deposit EU659286) on February 23, 1961, as “Bird of Paradise” and credited the piece to Charlie Parker. Therefore, the piece is not only a Parker recording, but also a Parker “composition.”

        Parker’s “Ornithology”

      1. “Ornithology” is based on the form and harmony of “How High the Moon” (Hamilton-Lewis, 1940). It remains one of the most significant compositions of early bebop. Parker sometimes neglected his best tunes, but not “Ornithology,” which he performed consistently through his career. Perhaps the conjunction of “Bird” and “Ornithology” was too tempting to ignore: how could this not be a trademark tune?
      2. We know that Parker memorized Lester Young solos, including the “Shoe Shine Boy” solo. (He reproduced this solo at a jam session recorded in February 1943. Using the same saxophone fingering, Parker plays the tail of what becomes the “Ornithology” idea at the beginning of the “Honey & Body” recording from early 1940. About two and a half years after recording “Honey and Body,” Parker recorded “The Jumpin’ Blues” solo on July 2, 1942, a phrase that combines the beginning of the fragment first heard in Young with its tail, first heard in “Honey & Body”. Note that the keys are all consistent (concert F), and the “Ornithology” lick is now set in place with the “Jumpin’ Blues” solo. Of course, I am not claiming that the “Ornithology” opening was arrived at methodically through these occurrences, but rather their association is suggestive of the opening taking shape.

        About six months after recording “The Jumpin’ Blues,” Parker joined the Earl Hines Orchestra (December 1942). Harris was also a member of the band, and became fascinated with the Parker “Sepian Bounce” solo, as reported in Feather (1977, 26). He probably became aware of the “Jumpin’ Blues” solo at this time as well, as it was recorded at the same session as “Sepian Bounce,” and may have been experimenting with it compositionally. Harris was later performing with Coleman Hawkins, and the latter player may have picked up the “Jumpin’ Blues” lick from him. Later, Hawkins, perhaps continuing to be interested in the lick, used it for the out-chorus of “Hollywood Stampede”, where it is varied accordingly through the circle-of-fifths progression of “Sweet Georgia Brown.”


        It was also around this time, the early 1940s, that Harris was frequenting Monroe’s Uptown House and, as we have seen, was fascinated by “How High the Moon.” At some point, Harris may have been inspired to take the “Jumpin’ Blues” lick and apply it to “How High the Moon” changes rather than the “Sweet Georgia Brown” changes heard in “Hollywood Stampede.” However, because “How High the Moon” was being performed in concert G major, Harris needed to change the key, thus transforming the “Jumpin’ Blues” lick in F into the “Ornithology” lick in G.
        Parker, meanwhile, continued to play variants of the “Jumpin’ Blues” idea in F, as heard in the “Billie’s Bounce” solo of November 26, 1945. When we first hear him playing “Ornithology” at the Finale Club in February–March 1946, the beginning of the piece is finally set. Thus, it’s probable that Parker, if he had a hand in composing the “Ornithology” melody at all, had worked on it with Harris before traveling to Los Angeles in December 1945, and the beginning of the piece may have been determined as early as 1943.
        The formula that begins “Ornithology” has remarkable precedents, showing Parker’s connection to both Young and the Kansas City jazz scene of the 1930s, as well as its close association with his personal style. Harris probably composed mm. 3–6, but, as pointed out by Sturges 2006, he almost surely wrote mm. 7–8, as these bars appear in a “How High the Moon” solo that Harris recorded in 1945 with Don Byas.

        A motive D is bracketed in mm. 4, 6, and 8, consisting of a descending third on the bars’ downbeats, usually with the rhythm of quarter-eighth-eighth. As the tune proceeds from m. 8, motive D continues to appear. The appearance of motive D in Harris’s solo and then in the tune suggests that Harris probably wrote mm. 7–11 as well.

        Finally, to complete the tune, the composer(s) needed to work up the remaining five bars of the form, i.e., the half cadence set up by mm. 12–16 in the first half, and (on repeat) the full cadence in mm. 28–32. We hear the first attempts at the Finale Club performance of February or March 1946—material that proved unsatisfactory. The cadences to the first half may have been partially planned, as Davis and Parker each play the same ascending figure to D5 before Parker improvises the turnaround. In the second half of the performance of the head, the cadence appears to be improvised before pianist Joe Albany plays repeated Ds to introduce Parker’s solo. (As the recording is a fragment, there is no out-chorus.)

        The studio recording of “Ornithology” was made around the same time as the Finale Club performance, on March 28, 1946. The first time through the tune, the pianist improvises the turnaround through mm. 15–16. The second time through the tune, in mm. 28–32, the triplet figure is passed among the players without alteration and with no definitive cadence.
        The triplet-figures themselves are a mystery. They weren’t present at the Finale Club recording, and so perhaps the musicians worked out the idea at the session itself, with Parker’s direction or at least acquiescence. Koch refers to the triplets as “the difficulty in this tune” (1999, 90), while Henriksson calls them “aesthetically unpleasing” (1998, 136).

        As Sturges points out (2006, 10–11), the repeating triplet figure is not idiomatic to bebop style and is effective only if there are several players trading it off. It’s especially bland with only one player taking the melody.(36)

        Nonetheless, the earlier version of the piece with the triplet figures continues to circulate widely. It appears in the tune’s first publication (Parker 1948, 6). Most significantly, it continues to appear in The Real Book, Vol. 1 (ca. 1975, 335) and in the popular Charlie Parker Omnibook (Aebersold 1978, 6).(37)

        Parker was hospitalized with a mental and physical breakdown after a Dial session on July 29, 1946, and was a patient at Camarillo State Hospital in California until the end of January 1947. As he began performing again, “Ornithology” became part of his standard playlist and can be heard at various Hi-De-Ho Club gigs in Los Angeles in March 1947. In these performances, which were recorded in part by Dean Benedetti, performances of the theme are often cut off; what fragments of them are heard, however, all feature the triplet version.

        Between March 1947 and May 1948, the endings of each half of “Ornithology” were rewritten. These revisions can be first heard on a Parker performance made in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 1948. At the presentation of the theme, Parker continues to play the triplets for the first half of the tune, while for the second half he plays the revision. On the out-chorus, Parker plays the revised version for each half.

        With the changes taken from “How High the Moon,” it’s evident that the harmonic rhythm doubles for the final cadence with the tonic arriving at m. 31; this contrasts the one-bar harmonic rhythm that leads to the half cadence. Parker, then, essentially negotiates the chromatically descending chord progression twice as quickly in the second half, and as such the top line F –F–E–E –D descends more precipitately to set up the GM I chord at m. 31.

        In the second half, the descent of the piece’s primary line — is clarified by the interweaving of the arpeggiations through the chromatic chord progression. This interweaving places the primary line’s final descent squarely on each bar’s downbeat, thus imparting a finality that obviates a codetta or other extension to conclude the tune (aside, perhaps, from a brief drum fill). The large-scale voice leading that ends the first half is less clear, but a Schenkerian – // – – interrupted form may be inferred with the interrupting /V occurring at mm. 15–16.

        As mentioned at the beginning of this discussion of “Ornithology,” it is unclear who created the revision that Parker played for the remainder of his career. I would suggest that the precision of the voice leading points to Parker as the reviser of the tune. Increasing that probability considerably is the occurrence of a particular rhythmic figure in the first ending: a four-note pattern bracketed in Example 10a, mm. 13–14, then again in mm. 15–16.

        This standard Parker formula is found in many of his compositions. The first part of the tune, on the other hand, contains none of the Parker syncopations that are characteristic of his pieces. Certainly, a key improvement Parker brought to the revision is an outstandingly clear voice leading of the melody for the cadence of each half, giving the tune the snappy ending that has helped define it ever since.

        Download Charlie Parker’s sheet music from our Library.

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        Be creative at the Piano (Part 5)

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          Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes When Improvising

          Mistake #1 -Thinking about what you’re going to play A lot of students think there should be some kind of preparation before improvising on the piano. They are right! There should be some thought as to the sound, tonality, and key but once these choices are made the thinking should stop
          and the playing should begin.

          Mistake #2 -Worrying about whether it’s good or not are you concerned with how your music sounds? Many students are. This mistake is prevalent among newbies at improvisation. They play a key or two and then think it stinks. Nothing will stop the creative fl ow more than thinking that what’s coming out of you is not good enough! Good is in the ear of the beholder. That beholder is you, so stop judging the product and focus on enjoying the process of being at the moment. This is why people learn to improvise in the first place. Let go and let the music tell you where it wants to go!

          Mistake #3 -Thinking that you don’t know enough to improvise. This mistake is really an oxymoron because the more you know, the more likely it is that you will experience blocks. If you do not have a lot of formal music knowledge, don’t let that stop you. All you need to know in order to improvise is chords and the scale the chords came from. That’s it. And the
          good news is this is easily learned.

          Some students create unnecessary problems for themselves because they believe they need to know this or that before they can begin. This is just an excuse to avoid jumping in the water. It’s also a way to avoid the act itself because once you begin to play you may tell yourself you really don’t
          know what you’re doing. Trust me. You know enough, and you know enough to begin now.

          creative at the piano sheet music

          Create A Fantastic Sounding Piano Improvisation Using Just One Chord!

          You’d be amazed to find out that some of the most complex sounding pieces of music are actually simple to create. Take the piano lesson, “Caverns,” for example. Here, we use just one chord in the left hand to create a harmonic foundation for the right-hand improvisation.

          The right hand plays both melody and bass notes, but the left is just playing one chord. The sound that is created is full and rich! But how can this be? After all, only one chord is used. The secret is in how the chord is played. We use a simple ostinato pattern to create the backdrop.

          This backdrop is the key to the whole piece. It quietly goes on in the background while the right hand is busy playing melody. Bass notes are also called into play with the right hand crossing over the left . Back and forth the right hand goes, and we end up with 2 minutes of music using just one chord!

          This is an excellent example of the power of limits. We know what the chord will be – in this case, D minor. We know that we will be playing melody notes from the D Dorian mode. Now we can relax and enjoy the act of making music. With the decisions of what to play out of the way, it makes the act of creating all that easier.

          Creating a Broken Chord Piano Improvisation

          There are really only two ways you can play chords on the piano – solid or broken. While solid chords are nice, it’s the arpeggio or broken chord that students love to play! Cascading notes shimmer and glide up and down the piano keyboard to create a waterfall of sound!

          Creating a broken chord piano improvisation need not be difficult. All that you need to know is what chords to play and how to create the broken chord sound. Knowing the chords you will play is the easy part. Creating the broken chord sound can present some with problems.

          These problems can be easily overcome if we start out by using a special
          chord structure known as the open position chord. Here, both hands are used to create a modern sounding seventh chord. The left hand gets the root, fifth, and seventh of the chord, while the right takes care of the third and seventh as well. With this chord structure, the beginner can create
          that beautiful lush sound right away!

          We can begin in the left hand and go up to play what is called an ascending piano run, or we can begin in the right and go down. We can alternate fingers back and forth to create different textures and use the notes under our fingers to explore a whole new world of broken chord possibilities.

          For example, in the lesson, “Forest’s Edge,” we use open position chords in the Key of B Major to create an ascending broken chord run. Both hands are used to create it. The right plays melody notes as well. The amazing thing about this lesson is that it sounds a lot more difficult than it actually is to play.

          Of course, broken chords can be played using triads, closed position chords, and any number of infinite chord varieties. But by using the open position chord first, students can quickly create a modern broken chord sound right away!

          Creating a Free-Form Piano Improvisation

          So many piano students wonder, how can they improvise? They just don’t understand how someone can sit down at the piano and play off the top of their head. What they don’t know is, there is some method or system behind the pianist’s approach. One of the best methods is to just pick a few chords from a key and play.

          For example, imagine you’re sitting down at your piano, and you just want to play what you feel. What do you do? For starters, you could place your fingers on the first chord that calls out to you. Perhaps a minor chord is what you feel like playing. Or maybe you’re in a Major mood. The key is to not think about it and allow the fingers to move towards what it wants.

          Let’s start out by playing a C Major 7 open position chord. This chord choice really determines the way the whole improvisation is approached. By using this chord structure, you’ve already determined what the sound will be. Now, all you have to do to create your free-form improvisation is to play around with this chord and a few others from the Key of C.

          You can relax and play around with the possibilities and come up with your own unique improvisations. By using this template, you
          begin to understand that the way pianists can sound so professional
          when sitting down to play, is by using chords.

          Creating a Timed Piano Improvisation!

          Have you ever heard of a “writing prompt?” That’s a tool creative writing instructors use to give students focus. For example, a writing prompt could be a photo of a beautiful nature scene. The instructor will then create an exercise where students write 1000 words or so about the picture.

          The beauty of exercises like this is that it gives you focus! Focus to think of nothing but writing about and describing what’s seen in the photo.
          We musicians can do the same thing. We can use pictures, a descriptive phrase, or as in the lesson below, just a few chords. While the medium is different (music) the method is the same – get students to stop thinking and start creating!

          The reason this works so well is you don’t have to think about what materials to use. When we have four chords to play around with, we know the names of the chords, and we know the chord type (open position.) Now all that’s required is to sit down and just play. We’re not worrying if the music is “good” or “bad.” We just play. And the more involved we get with this exercise, the more the music “loosens up.” No thinking is required here. Just the ability to play around with chords and melody.

          When the allotted time is up, we can either stop or continue playing. I advise students to stop playing when they feel themselves growing disinterested or bored with their playing. The more you work with the power of limits, the freer your music will become. Why? Simply because you are not concerned with the outcome! Instead, your focus is on the process. And from this comes a music that is never forced or willed into being, but one that is inspired right from the start!

          Creative Piano Playing 101

          So many piano students worry about playing notes correctly. Th ey think about timing, dynamics, velocity, and so on.

          Yet these same students are dying for the ability to feel something real. That spark of creative energy that enervates and refreshes the spirit.

          Poets know of this feeling, as do painters and other creative people working in their respective fields. But what about music? Surely, we’re not meant to spend months and sometimes years learning how to play other people’s music. Yet, this is exactly what is being done in schools and universities around the world.

          The piano is a marvelous instrument full of wonder. It sits waiting to be played. And you can play it! Not like traditional schools. You can sit down and let your fingers reach for a chord that calls to you. You gently rest your hands on this chord and music; beautiful, wondrous music comes forth! How different this is than trying to play something someone
          else has written.

          Your music is alive! It’s unique and fresh and born of originality! Each note perfumes the air with delicate fragrance, and you feel alive with this. Your heart and mind work together as the ideal music – YOUR MUSIC – fl oats into the air. The notes surround your heart and the hearts of others as they hear it. Gone is the need to recreate yet another dead composer’s music. In its place, a feeling of quiet joy as you let go and let the music tell you where it wants to go.

          Deep Piano – How To Go Beyond Surface Playing

          All of us have our “special” times at the piano. You know what I’m talking about. Those times when every note sounds like it was meant to be and everything comes together. Body, mind, and spirit are aligned and the music that flows out of us seems to come from a limitless source.

          Then there are times when nothing comes. These periods are frustrating yet essential to our growth. We may not like them, but unless we go down in the valley, so to speak, we will never see the next peak on the horizon.
          I’ve found that it’s best not to try and bypass this back and forth scenario. Some students get so frustrated that they try and force the music. This is a mistake and will only lead to further frustration.

          The key to getting “back in flow” is to listen. Listening is essential for without it, we will only be playing on the surface. But if we tune in to what’s going on inside us – or more accurately, if we just let go and let the music itself speak through us, we’re following our intuition and going with the fl ow rather than against it.

          As you might have surmised, this is similar to meditation. Not the mantra chanting kind of meditation, but the kind where you just sit and allow thoughts to come and go… watching them go by as an impartial observer.

          Soon, thoughts slow down, and we are left contemplating nothing. From this place can come your deepest piano playing. To get to this place, it’s a good idea to not have a goal when sitting down at the piano. You simply allow yourself to be and explore using the materials of music – chords, notes, etc.

          Perhaps the key of G Major calls to you. Then, that is what you must play. Your intuition will never fail you and will reward you with some of the “best” music possible. You must release your grasp on what you want and allow for the unexpected to develop.

          Easy Piano Improvisation: Learn to Express Yourself!

          Have you ever wanted to just sit down at the piano and play what you feel? Without worrying if it’s good enough or if you have enough “talent?” You can when you learn how to play piano using the amazing open position
          piano chord!

          This chord structure allows the complete beginner to create modern sounds at the piano FASTER THAN ANY OTHER METHOD! After teaching piano for 14 years, I can safely say that I’ve never seen students progress as fast as they do when working with this chord position. Let’s examine how one can improvise right away using the open position chord.

          First, you must learn how to use it. The easiest way to do this is to simply learn the chords in the key of C Major. We take the entire 6-note chord and move it up step by step. First, we play C Major 7, then D minor 7, E minor 7, F Major 7, G 7, and A minor 7 and finally, B half-diminished. We play the chords first as solid chords (all tones together) then we break
          them up.

          Once we’ve got this very large chord structure down in our hands, we can then use it to create music. Improvisation simply means spontaneous expression – learning how to create at the moment. Improvising does not have to be hard!

          Once you get the chords down, you’re left with the melody creation aspect, and this is easy to because all you use are the notes from the C Major scale.
          We use our chords much the same way a painter uses a palette of colors. We create using chords and the element of time.

          Sheet Music Download

          Easy Piano Improvisation Strategy Lets You Play With Freedom and Confidence

          When I first started playing piano, I looked everywhere for information to help me play what I felt. And, much to my disappointment, I was left floundering in the library aisles.

          One of the things I’m good at is just knowing if something works or not. In fact, I can look at a book and, within a few minutes, determine if it has anything useful in it. It just so happens that during my library visit, I ran across a small book, barely 60 pages or so. This book contained nothing but chord progressions laid out over small 4 and 8-bar phrases. The goal of the book was to get you to play these chord changes and develop a sense of structure.

          Well, it was brilliant. They say good things come in small packages, and this was pure gold to me. I took the book home and started to play through the chord changes. After all, here was something that was pretty easy to do. And it didn’t require a lot of experience. Just knowledge of a few chords.
          So what’s the easy piano improvisation strategy here? Simple. You have to find the right kind of limits that will set your playing free. You see, the problem for most students is not that they can’t improvise. It’s that there are way too many choices to begin with. By playing a few chords within a set framework, I learned that I didn’t need a lot of material to begin creating my own music.

          Free To Be Creative at the Piano

          I sometimes wonder why people even bother taking piano lessons. I suppose the hope is that one day, with a lot of practice, they too will be able to play Beethoven, Mozart, etc.

          The idea of creating one’s own music seems to be a foreign notion to most piano students. They believe it is beyond their ability. And with this belief they limit themselves. In fact, I think music may be the only area where students are not encouraged to be creative. Not only that, but the majority of piano teachers want you to learn how to note read before you learn how to play chords – that is, if they teach you chords at all.

          You see, classical piano teachers can stretch their curriculum out forever. You could literally spend 10 years learning how to play other people’s music. And while there’s no denying this music is “good,” it’s also been played and recorded by people who have dedicated their entire life to getting it right.

          Contrast this with visual artists. Do you think someone studying watercolor will spend years learning how to create another artist’s picture? It’s ridiculous right? Yet this is what is done in the music world over and over again.

          A student interested in learning how to paint in watercolor does not want to spend time learning how to paint the “masters.” They want to be able to create their own beautiful paintings. So why should music be any different? It certainly isn’t any more difficult than learning how to paint.

          Personally, I have nothing against people who just want to play from fake books or learn the classics to perform for family and friends. I just wonder why the desire to create one’s own music is so distant for most. It doesn’t have to be this way. Finding the right teacher or books is a start.

          How To Quickly And Easily Improvise Your Own Unique Piano Music!

          Improvisation… the word alone conjures images of free expression. It also intimidates those who have thought about actually trying it, but stopped because of self-doubt. It doesn’t have to be this way.

          The ability to improvise music at the piano is a skill that, like most others, can be taught. Try having just a basic piano improvisation using just two
          chords. The left hand plays a repeating pattern, while the right improvises melody. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than this.

          The problem most newbies make is they want to play sophisticated chords and elaborate melodies before they can play simply. They want to run before they can walk. And they soon talk themselves out of playing piano because it’s just too hard or difficult.

          The solution here is to just relax and play slowly. Then, you can play an ostinato pattern and improvise your own unique melodies in the right hand. This is a perfect exercise for those new to improvisation because your task is so well-defined.

          You see, when you have too many choices, you can get lost rather quickly. But if I were to give you an improvisation exercise that tells you to play these chords and this scale for a certain time frame, it frees you up! How? Because you now are no longer thinking of what to play. You know what to play. Now, your only concern is with self-expression. And once students get a taste of this, they always want more!

          It’s very freeing, this ability to spontaneously create music. And the more one plays, the more one grows in this art. Not by constantly learning new techniques (although there’s nothing wrong with this) but by turning within and listening.

          How to Be at the moment When Playing Piano

          Your best music will always come when you are at the moment and just playing the piano. Why is this? Because you have forgotten about trying to make music. Instead, you are now “making” music. A subtle but crucial difference that can be detected by most careful listeners.

          The key to being at the moment when playing piano comes when the technical aspects are mastered and the player can just play. Think of sports as an example. Michael Jordan didn’t have to think about how to drive the basketball to the hoop. He had done it thousands of times. Now he could allow his intuition to guide him in making the best shot.

          If Andre Agassi had to think about how to hit the tennis ball, he never would be able to get it to where he wanted it. The good thing about New Age piano playing is that technique is easily learned. Once the technical aspects of playing the chords is down, you are free to allow your feeling to guide you in making music. Now you are “at the moment” and can let the music tell you where it wants to go -not the other way around.

          Wynton Marsalis LIVE Wynton Marsalis Sextet plays the Music of Sidney Bechet at Jazz in Marciac 2009

          Wynton and his Sextet (with Bob Wilber and Olivier Franc) performed the Music of Sidney Bechet.

          Set list: 0:01 – Sheik of Araby 7:25 – Bechet’s fantasy 15:08 – Cake walking babies 18:58 – Summertime 23:23 – Promenade aux Champs-Élysées 32:20 – Petit fleur 38:00 – Way I ride 48:42 – Sweet Louisiana

          Personnel Wycliffe Gordon – trombone Dan Nimmer – piano Carlos Henriquez – bass Ali Jackson – drums, tambourine Bob Wilber – soprano sax Olivier Franc – soprano sax Victor Goines – tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet

          Subscribe & download the best scores and sheet music transcriptions from our Library. The Sheet Music Library (PDF) is a non-profit project dedicated to the divulgation and education of music.

          Please, visit: https://sheetmusiclibrary.website/ and, if you like it, subscribe. Thanks for your support!

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          Musical Analysis Jazz & Blues Music

          Herbie Hancock: An Analysis of His Improvisional Style (1/3)

          Table of Contents

            Herbie Hancock: An Analysis of His Improvisional Style (1/3)

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            Jazz music is often described as a language; in the same sense, improvisation between members of a small ensemble is referred to as a conversation. Just as children learn to speak their native language by imitating older competent speakers, young musicians learn to speak jazz by imitating seasoned improvisers. Like any language, there is a bank of common vocabulary of phrases and phrase components which are shared among all jazz musicians, and which reflect the historical development of
            the music.

            Appearing on the scene at somewhat of a pivotal point in jazz’s history, Herbie Hancock reflects two sides of the coin – he demonstrates both a strong command of “traditional” jazz language, as well as a powerfully explorative, individual voice. This chapter investigates the first side of this coin; the fundamental melodic elements of Hancock’s style which reflect the wider jazz language.

            In his book Elements of the Jazz Langauge (1991), Jerry Coker describes constructing a list of 18 devices he found through his research to be common among the solos of a wide range of jazz artists.

            Chapter 1 of this study discusses a few of these devices – the ones that metaphorically “provide us with the less-important, but needed aspects of the language – words like “the”, “is”, “by”, “for”, “a”, “an”, etc.”19 In other words, it examines the essential building blocks of creating an improvisation in a jazz context.

            Given Hancock’s uniquely individual style, these devices are often hard to find in their purest forms – they have a tendency to sound dated and cliché.

            Change-running

            Change-running is a jazz colloquialism for chord-arpeggiating. It is a technique frequently used among jazz musicians, as it strongly outlines the harmonic functionality of the chord or chord progression in question.

            Herbie Hancock sheet music

            All three of the previous figures demonstrate Hancock’s use of change running, with similar phrases being found over similar progressions. In Figure 1.5, Hancock uses numerous examples of change running.

            Herbie Hancock sheet music

            In this example, Hancock also performs a bar-line shift – a device which will be discussed shortly. This figure is also a classic example of a melodic sequence – a fundamental aspect of Hancock’s style examined in depth in Chapter 2.

            Digital/Scalar Patterns

            Digital patterns are cells of notes, usually numbering 4-8 notes per cell, that are named according to the numerical relationship of each note to the root of a chord/scale. Accordingly, a digital pattern of 1-2-3-5 in C major would be the notes C-D-E-G. Used in an improvisation, digital patterns
            strongly outline the harmony of a chord and add solidity of structure to a solo.

            herbie hancock

            John Coltrane used digital patterns extensively to solo through the challenging, fast moving chords in his composition “Giant Steps”:

            Hancock also uses digital patterns, albeit sparingly. In Figure 1.8, Hancock plays a digital pattern of 1-2-3-5 (in A major) over the first two beats of the bar.

            Similarly, in Figure 1.9 above, Hancock plays a descending digital pattern of 6-4-2-1, then 2-7-6.

            In a similar sense to digital patterns, scalar patterns are simply patterns derived from a single scale. They are usually longer than digital patterns and use a primary intervallic shape, such as consecutive 3rds or 4ths. Hancock uses these extensively.

            In Figure 1.10, Hancock takes an initial two-note motif of a third and ascends it through the Eb major scale. Scalar patterns of this nature have a tendency to sound formulaic; to avoid this Hancock alters the harmonic content of the scale from the middle of bar 3 onwards – a technique known as outside playing which is examined shortly. Hancock’s use of triplets within his melodic lines is also extensively examined in Chapter 2.

            Hancock uses a similar pattern of descending thirds and fourths in Figure 1.11.

            Figure 1.12 below also demonstrates a scalar pattern; Hancock descends the scale of B dorian using a motif of 3rds from bar 2 onwards.

            This figure is also another classic example of a melodic sequence.

            Resolution

            The term 7-3 resolution refers to the musical resolution accompanying the melodic movement from the 7th of one chord to the 3rd of another. In jazz, this occurs at typical cadence points such as ii-V or V-I.

            This type of movement is present through all eras of jazz improvisation, and can be foundfrequently in Hancock’s melodic lines.

            In Figure 1.14, the 7th at the end of bar 1 resolves (via a grace note) into the 3rd of the C7 in bar The exact same movement occurs in Figure 1.15 below;

            And again in Figure 1.16:

            A 7-3 resolution often appears in conjunction with a device known as an enclosure, which will be discussed shortly.

            3-b9

            3-b9 refers to the melodic motion between the 3rd of a dominant seventh chord and the flattened 9th of the same chord. This is a typical occurrence in jazz improvisation, although its use dates back into classical antiquity:

            The first beat of bar 2 of Figure 1.17 is a clear example of movement between the 3rd of the V7 of Dm and the b9, which resolves to the tonic triad in bar 3.

            Herbie Hancock also uses this phrase in his solos, as seen in bar 2 of Figure 1.18. Figure 1.19 from the same solo demonstrates 3-b9 movement via two intermediate notes. He precedes both of these examples with a device known as CESH, which will be discussed shortly.

            Hancock plays another simple 3-b9 in Figure 1.20, this time also voicing a third below the top melody note.

            Bebop Scales

            Bebop scales are common scales (mostly major, dorian or mixolydian) that have one specific chromatic (non-harmonic) tone added.

            Hancock uses all permutations of the scale in a variety of different situations.

            Hancock finishes the phrase in Figure 1.24 with an enclosure, a device which will be discussed shortly.

            In Figure 1.25, Hancock plays a simple bebop minor scale phrase in bar 2. He uses a similar phrase in Figure 1.26, this time using the bebop dominant.

            Enclosures

            An enclosure is a melodic device in which a target note is approached chromatically by both an upper and lower tone.

            In this example, Hancock encloses the A on beat 1 of bar 2 by preceding it with a semitone above, then below.

            Similarly, in Figure 1.28, Hancock plays a scalar line before enclosing the Ab in bar 2.

            Figure 1.29 shows Hancock enclose the D in bar 2 by a semitone above, then two consecutive semitones below.

            Hancock uses three quick-fire enclosures in Figure 1.30 above, the first landing on the 5th of the Ebmaj7 in bar 2, the second landing on the third of the Ebmaj7, and the last landing on the 5th of the Gm7 in bar 3.

            CESH

            Pronounced “Kesh”, this terminology comes from the initials of a device called Contrapuntal Elaboration of Static Harmony. It comes in two primary forms, demonstrated below – note the principal of each example applies to both major and minor tonalities.

            In Figure 1.31, the tonic note descends chromatically while the other chord tones remain static.

            Similarly in Figure 1.32, the fifth of the chord ascends chromatically while the other chord tones remain static.

            Hancock makes extensive use of the first form of CESH in his melodic lines, as seen in both Figure 1.33 and Figure 1.34 below.

            Tri-tone Substitution

            Tri-tone substitution is the common practice among jazz musicians of substituting a chord (especially a dominant seventh) for a chord of the same type whose root is a tri-tone (augmented fourth) away from the given chord. The process works because the guide tones (3rd and 7th of the chord) stay the same (only in reverse), with the equivalent harmony giving an altered sound. Hancock uses this device frequently, as seen is Figure 1.35 below.

            In this example, Hancock uses tri-tone substitution to reharmonize the F7 to B7, before resolving the line in bar 2. A few bars later, Hancock plays Figure 1.36 and uses the device again to change the Gm7 to a Db7 – pre-empting the Cm7 in the third bar by preceding it with its V7altered (Db7 shares the same scale as G7alt).

            Later in the same solo, Hancock plays Figure 1.37, clearly spelling out an Ab major tonality over the D7altered.

            Similarly, in Figure 1.38, Hancock clearly plays Bb7 (Bb mixolydian), instead of the given E7.

            Harmonic Generalization/Superimposition

            Harmonic generalization occurs when an improviser chooses one scale to accommodate two or more chords of a progression. Hancock does this frequently, as seen in Figure 1.39 below.

            Here, Hancock superimposes a Bb altered scale over the Gm7 chord, treating the whole iii-bIIIii-V-I progression as the V7altered of the Eb7.
            Similarly, in Figure 1.40 below, Hancock generalizes the complicated harmony to two basic scales, the first being Fmajor (or D dorian), and the second essentially Dbm. He then resolves the line in the final bar by playing an enclosure into the third of the Fmajor7 chord.

            The opposite of generalization, harmonic superimposition, occurs when the soloist imposes their own alterations over the harmony. This mostly occurs over longer chord changes, as seen in Figure 1.41 below.

            Here, Hancock continues the Gm7 chord into the 3rd bar, and then implies G# aeolian (G#m7 or Abm7) over the Dm7 and Bbm7, which lasts from the middle of bar 3 until the end of the phrase, when he implies a resolution back to G dorian (Gm7).

            Bar-line Shifts

            Bar-line shifts occur when the improviser intentionally arrives at a given chord earlier or later than its specified placement.

            In Figure 1.42, Hancock anticipates the change of chord to Db7(#11) by nearly and entire bar.

            Similarly, in Figure 1.43, Hancock anticipates the change to D7alt by 2 beats. Bar-line shifting is also often be strongly related to harmonic generalization, as is Figure 1.44.

            In Figure 1.44, Hancock stretches the Bbm7 out for another bar and half, before switching to Gbmaj7 – he ignores the Gm7 in bar 3 completely.

            Similarly, here, Hancock stretches the initial Fmaj7 chord out for nearly 2 bars, and then anticipates the Dbm7 in bar 4 by 5 beats, before resolving the line in bar 5.

            Side-slipping

            Side-slipping is similar to harmonic superimposition, in that it involves superimposing an alternate chord or chord progression over the fundamental harmony of a song; however, side-slipping generally refers to cases where the superimposed chord or progression is a semi-tone away from the original.

            In Figure 1.46, Hancock superimposes a Bm7-E7 over the usual two bars of Bbmaj7, setting up a II-V progression into the subsequent Am7.

            Similarly, in Figure 1.47, Hancock plays two side-slips in a short space of time; the first in bar 2 replaces the pre-existing Cm7 with a Dbm7, and the second in bar 6 replaces Fm7 with Gbm7. Each time, the side-slip resolves back to the original chord.

            Chromaticism/Outside playing

            As the title implies, chromaticism involves simply playing highly chromatic lines through chord changes – which results in not all of the notes in a phrase specifically fitting any appropriate chord scale; the soloist is instead playing in the key of “chromatic”.

            All three of the above figures demonstrate Hancock’s use of chromaticism which temporarily disregards the fundamental harmonic progression.

            Similarly, in Figure 1.51, Hancock plays a long, chromatically descending line over the underlying shifts in harmony.

            Chromaticism is closely related to outside playing – which refers to when a soloist intentionally plays notes that are “wrong” – that is, they play melodic lines which do not conform strictly to the set harmonic progression or associated chord scales. In these situations it is the structural integrity of the melodic line which makes it sound “right”. Hancock uses this device frequently.

            In Figure 1.52, Hancock briefly ventures outside twice within a short period of time. At the end of bar 1, Hancock plays a digital pattern of 1-2-3-5 in E major, which takes him briefly outside the Gm7 chord. Hancock resolves the line in the second bar, then uses a tri-tone substitution over the C7 before hinting briefly at another outside phrase and then once again resolving the line in bar 3.

            In Figure 1.52, Hancock briefly ventures outside twice within a short period of time. At the end of bar 1, Hancock plays a digital pattern of 1-2-3-5 in E major, which takes him briefly outside the Gm7 chord. Hancock resolves the line in the second bar, then uses a tri-tone substitution over the C7 before hinting briefly at another outside phrase and then once again resolving the line in bar 3.

            Phrasing

            Phrasing is the manner in which a soloist groups their melodic lines; it is a way of describing a line’s shape and nature, whereas all of the elements discussed previously examine the line’s content.

            Hancock’s phrasing is strongly reminiscent of that of his instrumental predecessors, in particular that of Bobby Timmons and Oscar Peterson.

            Both Figure 1.54 and Figure 1.55 involve blues-orientated material typical of the hard-bop era, and each phrase is of a similar length and nature.

            Both Figure 1.56 and 1.57 start with two short phrases of similar length before concluding with a longer line.

            In summary, Hancock draws extensively from the bank of language and musical devices shared among jazz musicians across generations. However, Hancock also imparts his own unique style onto this language, through his adoption and use of a range of personal melodic concepts and musical devices, or signature characteristics.

            Herbie Hancock – Live in Concert 2006

            ● Tracklist: 1. Actual Proof 2. Watermelon Man 3. Stitched Up 4. Maiden Voyage 5. Virgin Forest 6. Cantaloupe Island 7. Chameleon

            ● Personnel: Herbie Hancock – piano, keyboards Lionel Loueke – guitar, vocals Nathan East – bass, vocals Vinnie Colaiuta – drums

            ● Herbie Hancock – Live in Concert 2006

            Jazz sheet music and transcriptions download.

            herbie hancocl free sheet music & pdf scores download

            References

            Berliner, P. F. (1994). Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation. Chicago: The University of
            Chicago Press, Ltd.
            Blumenthal, B. (2000). Pianists of the 1960s and 1970s. The Oxford Companion to Jazz, 466-467.
            Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Taxonomy. Retrieved 31 May, 2011
            Coker, J. (1991). Elements of the Jazz Language for the Developing Improvisor. Miami: Belwin, Inc.
            Coolman, T. F. (1997). The Miles Davis Quintet of the mid-1960’s: Synthesis of Improvisational and Compositional
            Elements. New York University.
            Coolman, T. F. (2006). Herbie Hancock & the Miles Davis Rhythm Section. Piano Today(26.1), 30-31.
            Davis, M., & Troupe, Q. (1989). Miles – The Autobiography. New York: Simon & Schuster.
            DiMartino, D. (1999). Herbie Hancock : He Continues to Lead Where Most Other Artists Are Content
            to Follow. Billboard – The International Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment, 111, 2-12.
            Dobbins, B. (1992). Herbie Hancock Classic Jazz Compositions and Piano Solos. Rottenberg: Advance Music.
            Gelfand, A. (2005). Almost Anything Goes: For Herbie Hancock, Jazz is All About Freedom and
            Personal Expression. JAZZIZ, 22, 36-38.
            Heinrich, D. (2006). Jimmy Smith and Larry Young – Blue Note Records’ Jazz Organ Masters: A Comparison of
            Style. Unpublished honours thesis, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
            Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2002). How Jazz Musicians Improvise. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal,
            19(3).
            Kart, L. (2000). The Avant-Garde, 1949-1967. The Oxford Companion to Jazz, 446-458.
            Levin, E. (1987, January 19). Herbie Hancock. People, 27, 64.
            Levine, M. (1989). The Jazz Piano Book. Petaluma, CA.: Sher Music Co.
            Levine, M. (1995). The Jazz Theory Book. Petaluma, CA.: Sher Music Co.
            Opstad, J. (2009). The Harmonic and Rhythmic Language of Herbie Hancock’s 1970s Fender Rhodes
            Solos. Jazz Perepectives, 3(1), 57-79.
            Perry, J. C. (2006). A comparative analysis of selected piano solos by Red Garland, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly and
            Herbie Hancock from their recordings with the Miles Davis groups, 1955–1968. University of Miami.
            Pond, S. F. (2005). Head Hunters: The Making of Jazz’s First Platinum Album: University of Michigan Press.
            Rose, J. (2006). White Light, Black Vibrations: The Music of John Coltrane and his Spiritual Quest. Unpublished
            honours thesis, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
            Sawyer, R. K. (2000). Improvisation and the Creative Process: Dewey, Collingwood, and the Aesthetics
            of Spontaneity. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 58(2), 149-161.
            Seymour, G. (2000). Hard Bop. The Oxford Companion to Jazz, 373-388.
            Silvert, C. (September 8, 1977). Herbie Hancock: Revamping the Past, Creating the Future. Down Beat,
            16.
            Szwed, J. (2002). So What: The Life of Miles Davis. New York: Simon & Schuster.
            Thompson, S., & Lehmann, A. C. (2004). Strategies for Sight Reading and Improvising Music. New York:
            Oxford University Press.
            Wallmann, J. P. (2010). The Music of Herbie Hancock: Composition and Improvisation in the Blue Note years. New
            York University.
            Waters, K. (2005). Modes, Scales, Functional Harmony, and Nonfunctional Harmony in the
            Compositions of Herbie Hancock. Journal of Music Theory, 49(No. 2), 333-357.

            Waters, K. (2011). The Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-1968. New York: Oxford
            University Press.
            Widenhofer, S. B. (1988). Bill Evans: An Analytical Study of His Improvisational Style Through Selected
            Transcriptions. University of Northern Colorado.
            Woodard, J. (1997). Hancock and Shorter: Two Divided By One. JazzTimes – America’s Jazz Magazine,
            27, 44-47, 57, 144-145.

            Categories
            Did you know? Musical Analysis

            Be creative at the Piano (Part 4)

            Table of Contents

              Be creative at the Piano (Part 4)

              Paint Your Own Musical Landscapes!

              I don’t know why, but I find the idea of interpreting nature musically to be very appealing. Maybe it’s because I’m attracted to nature’s beauty, but the notion of communicating that beauty musically has always intrigued me.
              Not being a very patient person, I wanted to find a way to capture a musical idea very quickly and sketch out an entire piece all at once. Visual artists do something called a thumbnail sketch, and I wanted to do the same thing for music.

              It then occurred to me that if I just sketch out the first 8-bars of the piece, and write in the first 2-bars of melody, I could capture an idea that would be remembered weeks or even years later. It’s amazing, but this actually works! The secret is the melody.

              creative at the piano free sheet music & scores pdf download
              This book is available in our Library.

              If you can’t read music and want to do this, just do what I do. I write down the note values (quarter notes, half notes., etc.) and write the letter name of the note beside the note value. One of the most important things I’ve discovered over the years is that the note value (its time length) is what really captures the idea. Just think of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony for a good example. Da Da Da Duh… These notes mark the whole composition.

              Piano Journeys -Create Your Own Unique Music!

              Have you ever marveled at how artists can quickly sketch out a beautiful landscape scene and convert it into a full-fl edged painting? I have and I’ve always been jealous of their ability to do so. I’ve oft en wondered why music couldn’t be more like this.

              Of course, composers know how to create a complete piece of music, but I didn’t want to spend years learning theory and harmonic analysis. I didn’t want to study form and compositional technique. Not because I was lazy or unmotivated, but because there had to be a simpler way of taking what I felt inside and turning it into a piano improvisation or composition.

              Fortunately for me, I discovered my own unique method for quickly creating what I love to create, and that is New Age piano music. A few chords and a key in which to play are all I needed to begin quickly creating my own unique piano journeys.

              You see, the problem most aspiring composers have is that they think they need to learn everything that was ever written about how to compose music. This isn’t necessary, and only serves to delay the experience of jumping in the water and trying it first hand. My method is really simple – improvise first and let the music tell you where it wants to go. That is, let go and allow the music to fl ow through you.

              I ALWAYS START WITH IMPROVISATION because this is where the raw creative energy is. If something strikes me as particularly nice, I’ll draw out 8-bars on a sheet of paper. It doesn’t have to be notation paper either. I just use a blank composition journal I bought at a bookstore to do this.

              After the 8-bars is drawn, I’ll write in the first 2-bars of the melody to remember the initial idea. I then use the chords from the key I’m working in to complete this small 8-bar section. Working within 8-bar sections is, I think, the best way a beginner can actually complete a musical phrase.
              It’s a very attainable goal and works very well.

              Piano Lessons: Creating an Impressionistic Soundscape

              Ah… the Soundscape. That indefinable rush of notes that envelopes and soothes. The first classical composer to really embrace this type of music was Claude Debussy.

              In fact, a whole style of music, Impressionism, was coined based on his music alone. It’s a lush style that tries to steer clear of too definable a melody line. Instead, textures and rhythms are explored.

              Some students think this style is the hardest to learn, but I think it’s actually easier to play this style than the straight melodic style embraced in the classical period. For the improvising pianist, creating an impressionist
              Soundscape requires nothing more than learning a few chords and playing them.

              Debussy based much of his music on something called the whole-tone scale. This scale basically takes out any “tension” that can be found in our major and minor scales. The Chinese and Japanese use pentatonic scales frequently, and this is also similar. But, we don’t have to use these scales to create our Soundscape.

              The C Major scale will work just fine. For instance, in the lesson “Reflections in Water,” we use open position chords to create with. It’s HOW we use them that gives us the feeling of a Soundscape. We play slowly and allow the notes to ring out. No rushing is involved here. Instead, we adapt an attitude of exploration.

              The music is created by allowing our fingers to play with the tones in the C Major scale. Chord changes come every few bars or so. The music is repeated a few times, and then we stop.

              You see, you don’t need fancy materials to create beautiful Soundscapes with. You can use just a few chords from the C Major scale and improvise a beautiful piece of music! We play with the textures and allow the music to appear – without forcing or willing it into being.

              Piano Songs – Create Them Yourself With Just a Few Chords!

              Most people play other people’s music. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that. The classical repertoire is fantastic and worthy of playing.

              But what if you want to just sit down at the piano and create on your own? Piano songs can come out of you as easily as drinking a glass of water. Think not? It’s true. All you need to realize is it can be done -if you start using a chord based approach!

              For example, in the lesson “Reflections in Water” (available at quiescencemusic.com), a few chords and a simple technique is used to create a very nice little piano song. Nothing complicated or sophisticated here. Just some simple chords in open position and a framework upon which to hang it.

              But, and this is important, it’s an original piece of music. No note-reading was used. No attempt to “come up” with material. You see, when you’re able to freely improvise, piano songs can spill out of you as easy as words do when speaking.

              So what’s the trick? It’s being able to let go of the need to control the outcome and allow the music to unfold on its own. This is actually an intuitive approach to playing the piano, and one that’s served me well over the past 15 years. Look, the goal for most piano players is to be able to
              either play the classics, or play from lead sheets or fake books. Creating one’s own piano music is a foreign notion to most.

              That’s why I’m a big fan of the New Age piano style! It focuses mainly on improvisation and “free play” and requires very little in the way of technical know how. What is required is the ability to suspend judgment and allow for the unexpected.

              Th is can be very threatening to some. In fact, people come up with all kinds of excuses as to why this music is “inferior” to other types. I always laugh when I hear that argument because I know there’s nothing more these people want then just to “be” at the piano.

              Piano Songs – Create Them Yourself!

              Have you ever wanted to create your own unique piano songs? Just simple pieces that express how you feel? You can if you learn how to improvise first and then learn how to compose. Here’s why.

              Improvising allows you to express what you feel without constraint. In essence, it’s like free writing because the goal here is to free your own unique voice without having to worry about right or wrong, good or bad. It is a skill that students should learn before any other and is foundational for further success at composing. Once you are able to sit down at the piano and can trust your intuition to guide you, you’re ready to compose.

              Composition is really just slowed down improvisation. We take the initial inspirational gem we’ve discovered through improve and flush it out using the tools of repetition and contrast. For example, in the lesson “Waiting for Spring,” we learn how to create a simple ABA form in the Key of C.

              The key here is that we already know the piece will be an ABA form, so how do we proceed? Easily! The way I do it is I write out the first 8-bars and then improvise to see what will come up. Once I’m onto something, I write out the first 2-bars of the melody, so I can remember it. Then I use chords from the Key of C Major to finish the first 8-bars; my (A) section.
              Another 8-bars or so for my (B) section, and I’m done!

              The arrangement of this easy piano song usually works itself out to be play the (A) section twice, (B) section once, back to the (A) section, and I’m done. Most of the time, this comes out to about 2-3 minutes of music.

              The important thing for creating your own piano songs is that you must be able to move forward and complete sections of music. This is best accomplished when you can improvise freely first!

              Play and Compose New Age Piano Now – Even if You’ve Never Touched a Keyboard!

              You love the sound of New Age piano. You may have wondered how certain people can just sit down at the piano and start playing from scratch. It’s not magic! It’s called knowing what you’re doing, and you can do the same! To begin, you need to know a few chords. I suggest complete
              beginners start out with something called the open position chord. This chord structure has many, many benefits for the beginner (and advanced student!)

              First, it’s a modern sounding chord. Forget about triads and scales. The open position chord allows you to play seventh chords right away. This chord structure is used by most jazz and contemporary piano players.
              Second, it uses both hands right away! When you first finger this chord structure, it will stretch your hands out completely. In fact, you will be playing more than 2 octaves of the piano keyboard. This is something beginners want to do right away, and it can be done with a minimum of practice.

              Let’s look at how we can use this chord structure to create music with. In the lesson, “Reflections in Water,” we have 4 chords to play. The chords are in the Key of C major, which means they are all located on the white keys. We finger the first chord (C Major 7) with both hands and notice the sound. How open it is! The sound you get from this chord is perfect
              for the New Age sound. In fact, once we finger this chord, we only have to move our fingers around a little and music comes out. It’s really an amazing thing.

              We switch chords using the same fingering and play around with the notes from the C major scale. This is all that is required to create New Age piano music, or Jazz music for that matter. The amazing thing about this chord type is the amount of music you can create right from the start. If you’re into New Age piano and want to immediately play in this style, I highly recommend you learn how to play the open position piano chord!

              Relaxing Piano Music – Create It Yourself With These Easy to Follow Piano Lessons

              You love the soothing sounds of relaxing piano music. But have you ever thought about actually going to your piano and creating it yourself?
              There are many piano courses, that teach beginning adult students how to play piano using a chord-based approach. Usually, the lessons are designed in an easy step by step fashion that shows you what chords to play and how to improvise and create your own music. (Check our Library Catalog).

              You already know how therapeutic listening to solo piano music is. Creating it on your own is much better because you’re actually involved in the process. Making music forces you to be in the present. Once you get a taste of how good this feels, you’ll want more and more.

              For instance, take the free lesson “Winter Scene.” Here we have a relaxing piano lesson that teaches you to play 2 chords in your left hand while your right improvises melody. To the complete beginner, this may seem like a lot. And it is until you actually try it. Once you start to play the chords in
              your left hand and get the pattern down, it becomes quite simple to jump in with the right and begin improvising a melody. I always advise students to go as slow as they need to at first. Speed is not important at all. Playing with sensitivity is.

              If all you can do is play one note in the right hand while your left is busy playing, then you’ve accomplished quite a lot. It won’t take long for you to freely improvise and create your own relaxing piano music!

              Simple ABA Form – Creating Your Own Piano Compositions!

              Form… to give shape to something. Yes, form is about giving music shape. Odd as this sounds (because we can’t see music), there can be a definable shape to our creations. One of the more frequently used forms is called ABA.

              This means we play a section of music 1 or 2 times, we play another (B) and then we return to our first section. Seems simple enough, right? Yet, many students have trouble creating their own piano compositions using this simple form. Most likely, this has to do with thinking too much.

              Many students overthink things and make their job of music creation that much harder. It doesn’t have to be that way. Not if you think in phrases! For example, take the lesson, “Rainforest Revisited.” Here we return to Lesson 3: “Rainforest” which is basically an extended improvisation. In “Rainforest Revisited,” you’re shown how to add another section of music – a contrasting (B) section, to create a new piece of music in ABA form.

              Now, most of you have no trouble when it comes to improvising and just playing the piano. Your music flows out of you, and this is how it should be. The problem comes when students try and think about what comes next. Wrong approach! Don’t think! Continue your next section the same
              way – by using your intuition.

              Here’s how I came up with the (B) section for “Rainforest Revisited.” I simply sat down at the piano, played the original “Rainforest” piece and allowed my intuition to guide me to the next section. I didn’t ask, “what should come next?” No. Furthermore, I felt my way through. I knew the (B) section would be 8-bars or so long and just came up with something contrasting to the original “Rainforest.” I now had a (B) section and could
              turn the entire thing into an ABA form piece of music!

              The Secret to Composition

              When I first started out playing piano and trying to compose, I couldn’t figure out how someone could get his or her inspiration down on paper.
              It was very frustrating to look at and listen to other artists who seemed to know the “secret” to composition. Little did I know that the big secret really isn’t about composing, it’s about being able to trust your own intuition and let it lead you instead of the other way around. It took a long
              while before, I was able to just let go and allow the music to fl ow out. But once I could do this, the idea of capturing an idea didn’t seem to matter so much. No. It was more important for me to let it all go.

              It also occurred to me that the more I tried to “capture” an idea, the harder it was to get down. Another artistic irony that’s proved itself over the years. Many people who want to compose their own music have
              problems because they believe that the musical idea they are working on is holy. They don’t understand that there are literally millions of ideas waiting to be born. If they loosened their grip slightly, they would be able to gently notate that idea and see where it would lead them.

              An entirely different approach and one that allows for so-called errors, mistakes, etc. For me, the secret to composing is not knowing how to
              capture a musical idea. It’s being able to open up to the limitless ideas within and allowing them to express naturally through improvisation.

              To Learn How to Compose, Learn How to Improvise

              As I sit here writing this, listening to Mozart, I can’t help but think of musical form. That sometimes, but oft en not, discernible quality to music that makes it art. And when I say art, I’m not talking about improvisation
              or free form.

              I’m talking about composition. Most students are baffled as to how a piece of music is constructed. It’s as if learning how to compose is something only gift ed individuals do. And while the intuitive sense
              behind creating melody itself can not be taught, the craft can!

              Form is to music what flower arranging is to the florist. You see, it’s all about creating a structure. In flower arranging, the goal is to create something pleasing to the eye. This is accomplished by how the florist places the flowers. He’s not going to stack them all to one side. No. He wants to create something that allows the eye to go back and forth.

              Something that the viewer can take as a complete experience. Music is much the same way. If we played the same thing over and over, we get monotony. If we vary the music too much, we get incoherence. The
              solution? Go back and forth between sections! Now, this is easy to grasp intellectually. The difficulty comes when students attempt to create their first composition and end up with something less than satisfactory. And this is because most students haven’t learned to trust their intuition.

              You see, to be able to compose, you must have the ability to move forward without criticizing yourself. This is THE most important skill and one that can be developed through learning how to improvise. I always suggest students learn how to improvise first. Then, when the internal critic is gone, they can move forward with their ideas. It seems strange that
              improvisation should come before composition, but if you want to develop quickly you do really need to free yourself from judging the product and have the ability to move forward. Then, when you learn how to compose by using sections, you won’t be as daunted and stuck at every little detail.

              You Can Compose Your Own Music!

              Whenever someone uses the word composer, inevitably, the names of Beethoven, Bach, and other classical personages come to mind. This can be very intimidating to those who want to record their musical thoughts and ideas down.

              In fact, comparing yourself to ANY composer will be detrimental to you. Why? Because you will always have to live up to someone’s expectations of what is good music or what is not good music. This comparison trap will lead you nowhere and will result in a drying up of the creative spirit.

              The solution to this trap is to begin where you are, and for most of us that means begin EASY!

              I’ll never forget the first time I tried to “compose” something. It was for classical guitar. I tried to create something original, and it took me 2 hours just to write out 4-bars of melody. Of course, I didn’t know what I was doing. There has to be some kind of method that works for you. Now, the
              method I use today has been very easy to work with because it gives me the freedom to compose AND improvise at the same time. I “compose” using 8-bar phrases.

              To do this, all one has to do is write out 8-bars on a sheet of paper. Any paper will do. It doesn’t have to be music paper or manuscript. In fact, I just use a spiral bound journal with ruled lines on it. Whenever I want to memorialize an idea, I draw out 8-bars very quickly. I then improvise and allow myself the freedom to play anything that comes out of me. If I try and think something up, the music will usually wind up sounding forced or contrived – qualities that music is better off not having.

              Once the idea (either melodic or textural) appears, I write out the first 2-bars, so I remember what it is and use chords to quickly fill in the 8-bar section. After this is completed, I may draw another 8-bars and see what else comes. If nothing more is coming at this particular point, I put the journal away and come back to it later on. This method has served me well over the years and is an excellent starting method for beginning composers.

              Keith Jarrett – The Art of Improvisation Part 1/10 remastered

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              Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978): A Retrospective

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              Table of Contents

                Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978): A Retrospective

                Table of Contents

                  Of the three stalwart Soviet composers who had achieved international fame during the reign of Josef Stalin, namely Sergey Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Aram Khachaturian, it was the latter who most
                  consistently exemplified the tenets of Soviet Realism. As 2018 marks the fortieth anniversary of his passing, it is a fortuitous time to reflect on his music and take note of how it may be assessed from the vantage point of
                  hindsight. The stunning international success of a single number, the “Sabre Dance,” from his ballet, Gayane (1942), might have marked Khachaturian as a one-hit marvel after it was popularized in a uniquely “low-brow” American manner.

                  It served, e.g., as the accompaniment to plate-spinning entertainers on the Ed Sullivan Show on CBS-TV. The complete ballet, however, and the three suites extracted from it, achieved, along with other works by the Armenian musician, acclaim from the political gurus on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The works of the student years were considerable (more than fifty) and already suggest the individual styles with which he later became associated. Khachaturianʼs compositions encompass such genres as the symphony, the concerto, film scores, incidental music to plays, band music, vocal and choral compositions (including such patriotic efforts as Poem on Stalin and Ballad about the Motherland), and, what might be regarded as a sequel to the three earlier concertos for piano, violin, and cello, viz, the Concerto-Rhapsody for violin and orchestra (1961), the Concerto-Rhapsody for cello and orchestra (1963), and the Concerto-Rhapsody for piano and orchestra (1968).

                  His final works moved in a somewhat austere direction, certainly unlike the full-blown soloorchestral music with which he is associated; they feature the Sonata-fantaziya for solo cello (1974), the Sonatamonolog for solo violin (1975), and the Sonata-pesnya for solo viola (1976). Although he was widely honored by the Soviet regime, one aspect of which was the incorporation of a state policy known as Socialist Realism in 1932 under the Georgian dictator, Josef Stalin, Khachaturian ran afoul of the so-called Zhdanov Doctrine, a cultural decree which, supportive of Soviet Realism, promoted the idea that the common man was at the center of Soviet life and, consequently, his humanity should be the central focus of all artistic works.

                  This study treats the stylistic propensities of Aram Khachaturian from his student works to his final creations, examines the political influences of his country on his life and esthetic sensibilities (he was a true believer in Communist ideology), and provides evidence that, as the post-Zhdanov years rolled along, and as his works, with their fascinating mix of Eastern and Western tendencies, came to be seen as worthy of renewed interest, the composer of the once-infamous “Sabre Dance” is experiencing a musical reawakening. As a result, a series of posthumous honors and distinctions have been bestowed upon him, embracing more fully than ever the admixture of his Armenian heritage, his Georgian upbringing and early schooling, and his Soviet-Russian musical training and cultural life.

                  Introduction

                  When in the Spring of 1978 Aram Ilʼyich Khachaturian left his earthly
                  existence (his grave is in the Komitas Pantheon in Yerevan, Armenia), the world was witness to a unique musico-political spectacle, viz. a composerʼs obituary written by Leonid Ilʼyich Brezhnev, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the pallbearers at his funeral including Aleksey Kosygin, Premier of the Soviet Union. This intermingling of the worlds of politics and music, a simmering stew that characterized Soviet cultural life, played a central role in the personal and professional life of Khachaturian, who was born to Armenian parents on 6 June 1903 in the Georgian city of
                  Kodjori, a suburb of Tiflis (now known as Tbilisi). Along with such other musical titans as Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergey Prokofiev, he was both lauded and condemned by Soviet officialdom according to the direction in which the political winds were blowing at any given time.

                  Early Years

                  The youngest of four sons (a daughter died at the age of 1), Khachaturian
                  became acquainted early on with Armenian and Azerbaijanian folk songs as a consequence of his family background. To this tradition, he added a general flavoring of the rich and diverse folk heritage of the Caucasus and mixed these features into the more traditional academic styles which he encountered during his formal studies with Mikhail Gnessin and Nikolai Miaskovsky in Moscow. It was, indeed, his brother Suren who, in 1921, brought him to the Russian capital, where he entered the Biology Department at Moscow University while studying concurrently at the Gnessin Music School.

                  Despite his limited youthful forays into the arcane world of music (he was self-taughton the piano and played tenor horn in the band at the Tiflis Commercial School), he undertook a serious approach to the study of the cello and, in 1923,entered Gnessinʼs composition class. As his mentor, a Jew, was fascinated bythe music of his religious heritage and combined this with the so-calledRussian-Oriental style acquired through his training with Liadov, Glazunov,and Rimsky-Korsakov, it is not surprising that the Georgian youthʼs earliest efforts reflected an admixture of the styles promulgated by the masters cited herein.

                  The Poem in C-sharp minor of 1927 (Example 1), as with many of the composerʼs works (the Collected Works are published by State Publishers”Muzyka” in Moscow), is notable for its frequent changes of meter, tonality, dynamics, and mood, aided and abetted by a free use of rubato; it received its initial publication by the Music Section of the Armenian Gosizdat, Yerevan in Dedicated to his friend, Yuri Sukharevsky, it made a deep impression on the composer and pianist, Eduard Mirzoyan:
                  When I began learning Khachaturianʼs Poem I was at once overwhelmed by the wealth of unexpected and exciting impressions, actually a perfectly new musical world, which it opened before me. This music struck me as faintly familiar and at the same time astonishingly and refreshingly novel.

                  This novelty lay in the composerʼs approach to the traditional musical material so well known to us, in the lush and highly original harmonies, riotous colors and imaginatively varied piano writing which seemed in itself pronouncedly national. It gave me special pleasure to play Khachaturianʼs Poem and I preserved it in my piano repertoire for many years.

                  Aram Khachaturian sheet music

                  In 1929, a dozen years after the Bolshevik Revolution, Khachaturian followed his teacher to the Moscow Conservatory, studied with him for another year, and then pursued advanced studies with Miaskovsky and Vasilenko. The years spent as a student at this venerable institution, which extended to 1936, saw the creation of more than fifty compositions; these included perhaps his best known work for solo piano, the Toccata in E-flat minor, composed in 1932 under the tutelage of Miaskovsky and first published in 1938 by the Muzgiz. Rodion Shchedrin said of it:

                  Khachaturianʼs Toccata, a full-blooded, vividly emotional piece, is constantly performed on the concert stage, at palaces of culture, workersʼ clubs and over the air. There hardly is a professional pianist who does not know it by heart, and few amateurs who do not cherish the ambition of being able to play it some time.

                  Originally the opening movement of a Suite, the other movements of which are titled “Waltz-Capriccio” and “Dance,” it is in a tripartite structure. The work features rapidly repeated notes as would be anticipated in a “touch piece,” and it contains other features associated with its composer, such as ostinati comprised of conjoined alternating fifths, perfect and diminished, and a luxuriant B section with melismatic chromatic passages suggestive of eastern exoticism influenced by the Asiatic Republics of the former Soviet Union (Example 2). As with the Poem, it also contains elements of bimodality and bitonality and chords with superimposed seconds and ninths.

                  Aram Khachaturian sheet music

                  While Tiflisʼs gift to the musical world was experiencing the birth pangs of
                  the composer, it is instructive to note the conflicting currents in which the Soviet artist was enmeshed in the decade following the Revolution of 1917. A modernist movement, exemplified by such figures as Léon Theremin (1896-1993), Alexander Mosolov (1900-1973), and Vladimir Deshevov (1889-1955) was heralded in the pamphlet, October and New Music, published by the Leningrad Association of Contemporary Music in 1927, the period of Khachaturianʼs Poem in C-sharp minor:

                  What is closer to the proletariat, the pessimism of Tchaikovsky and the false heroics of Beethoven, a century out of date, or the precise rhythms and excitement of Deshevovʼs Rails? Proletarian masses, for whom machine oil is motherʼs milk, have a right to demand music consonant with our epoch, not the music of the bourgeois salon which belongs to the era of the horse and buggy and of Stephensonʼs early locomotive.

                  While Deshevovʼs homage to the workerʼs paradise is scored for solo piano, Mosolovʼs ballet, The Factory, a movement of which is known in the West as The Iron Foundry, includes in the score metal sheets to be shaken to simulate the sound of a factory at work. Among his other innovative approaches are songs composed to texts drawn from newspaper ads. Be it noted also that this “new music” movement included the establishment in Leningrad of the Society of Quarter-Tone Music by George Rimsky-Korsakov, grandson of the composer of Scheherazade, and the formation of Tritone, a music publishing firm whose name conveyed the character of the music it was prone to disseminate to the public, The use of quarter tones found support outside the Soviet Union; Blochʼs Piano Quintet No. 1 and From Jewish Life for cello and piano, and Coplandʼs piano trio Vitebsk are notable examples.

                  If the modernist enterprise was a thesis to be foisted upon a somewhat
                  innocent public, an antithesis, in the form of an organization known as the
                  Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians (RAPM), was organized in 1924, the year in which George Gershwinʼs Rhapsody in Blue was introduced at Aeolian Hall in New York. It declared boldly that,

                  The brilliant development of musical culture of the ruling classes was made possible by their possession of material and technical tools of musical production. As a ruling class, the bourgeoisie exerts great influence upon all strata of the population, systematically poisoning the workerʼs mind. In the field of music, this process follows the lines of religious and petty-bourgeois aesthetics, and recently, the erotic dance music of contemporary capitalistic cities (fox trot, jazz, etc.).

                  The RAPM was virulently opposed to mechanistic music, and, instead,
                  advocated a traditional approach to musical creativity; indeed, it praised the
                  music of Beethoven and, among the late nineteenth-century Russian School, gave its blessing to the nationalists, Mussorgsky in particular. As it gained strength in cultural and political circles, the modernist school came under increasingly negative scrutiny, the result of which was that its musical adherents found it in their best interests to repudiate what they had wrought and to turn to a more politically correct approach to their art. Mosolov, for example, traveled to Turkestan, collected folk songs, and incorporated them mundanely in such works as his Turkmenian Suite. The likes of The Factory were consigned to an honored place in musical Hell.

                  By 1932, a new “ism,” Socialist Realism, was imposed upon the proletariat by the then dictator of the Soviet State, the Georgian-born Josef Stalin, and ratified by the Congress of 1934. Its essential components were that art works (a) reflect relevance to the working class and that they be understandable to that class, (b) that they aspire to represent the every-day life of the people, (c) that they be definable as realistic in the representational sense of that term, and (d) that they reflect the principles of the Soviet State and the Communist Party. Khachaturian, among the major composers of the Stalinist era, was an enthusiastic supporter of
                  Communistic ideals, including expansion of ideology.

                  His early Trio of 1932, a student work for piano, violin, and clarinet, reflects the aesthetics of the RAPM in its formal design and the folkloric features promoted by Stalin. Elements drawn from ashug music, such as melismatic melodic phrases, Eastern dance rhythms, modal flavoring, and, in the final movement, an Uzbeki folksong, are combined with European features, including French impressionism. As in other works, Khachaturian employs modern instruments to imitate the sounds of folk instruments, in this instance the dohl, a two-headed drum which can be played with either the hands or sticks; the kamancha, a bowed stringed instrument of Persian origin and an ancestor of the modern violin, common in the classical
                  music of Iran and Azerbaijan; and the duduk, a double-reed instrument widelyused in Armenian folk music.

                  The Composer Establishes Himself

                  Symphony No. 1, dating from 1934, was composed to commemorate the
                  fifteenth anniversary of the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia. In this important foray into the genre that has been seen for generations as the musical venue where one sinks or swims as a creative artist, the musician altered the traditional form of the first movement which, as with other works of this student period, meld together eastern folkloric materials with the compositional expectations of the academy.

                  The formal novelty centers about issues of thematic development in the first movement. Materials drawn from an introductory Prologue form the basis for the traditional bi-thematic approach to sonata-allegro form, except that these themes are elaborated upon developmentally in the
                  expository section and then again even more so in the recapitulation section. The primary themes maintain their individual identifying features despite the ongoing elaborations, but their pure elemental presentation at the beginning of the movement returns to the closing epilogue.

                  The exotic element is noted by Margarita Rukhyan, the Armenian music critic: “The contest of two ashugs, voicing two philosophies, two temperaments, contains the nucleus of the development of the elaboration which acquires an original trend thanks to a third party—the people, who judge this contest.”6 A true development section in the formal sense is not part of the equation. The slow second movement is in a typical tripartite structure, with allusions to folk dance traditions of Eurasia, while the third movement, as in many of the masterʼs large-scale symphonic works, is
                  notable for its rapid dance rhythms and its cyclical return of materials from the opening movement.

                  Although some student works of the ʼ30s, such as the Poem and Toccata cited earlier, reflect the modernist tendencies later decried by the new order, others, such as the various dances for wind orchestra (the two dances based on Uzbek folk songs and the two dances based on Armenian folk songs were written for the fifteenth anniversary of the Red Army), the Trio for clarinet, violin, and piano of 1932, the Dance Suite in five movements of 1933 (the last movement, composed a few years later and added to the suite, is a Georgian Lezghinka), and the Piano Concerto in D-flat major of 1936, adhere closely to the Party line as do those of the 1940s and beyond.

                  The Piano Concerto, first introduced to the public by Soviet pianist Lev Oborin with the Moscow Philharmonic under the direction of Lev Steinberg at Sokolniki Park on 12 July 1937, was promoted and recorded in the West by such artists as William Kapell, Moura Lympany, and Oscar Levant. Among its notable features are bravura cadenzas in the Development of the first movement, cyclical thematic usage (e.g., the opening theme is recalled at the close of the work), thematic interconnection among the three movements (e.g. the principal themes share the commonality of major-minor thirds), tonal clusters in abundance (a feature common to the composerʼs works in general), and, in the second movement, the inclusion of a prominent role for the flexatone7 (Example 3). The main theme of this movement is based upon the Caucasian folk song, “My lover.” Yet, its specific origin seems to have eluded the musicanti. The composer explained his intent thusly:

                  By taking this melody as the basis for the central theme of the Piano Concerto obviously ran the risk of the critics tearing me to pieces when they learned the source of the music. But I departed so far from the original, changing its content and character so radically, that even Georgian and Armenian musicians could not detect its folk origin.

                  aram khachaturian sheet music

                  As in each of Khachaturianʼs concerted works, the solo part, which enters
                  after a short orchestral introduction, is marked by virtuosity of the nineteenth century order, and, while creating a challenge for the soloist, it is a feature which has assured an audience appeal that is not often encountered to this degree in similar works by the more avant-garde composers of the twentieth century.

                  During the 1940s, Khachaturian produced a plethora of diverse works,
                  among which are three-movement concerti for the violin (also in a version forflute) and cello. Formally, they follow the pattern of the Piano Concerto, thus material from the first movement finds its way into the finale, thematic materials are expanded after their initial appearance, cadenzas are tours de force (Example 4), and folkloric elements abound. Artists of the first rank, David Oistrakh for the Violin Concerto, and Svyatoslav Knushevitsky for the Cello Concerto, introduced these works as well. The composerʼs collegiality with regard to his chosen soloists is exemplified by Oistrakhʼs comments:

                  … I came to know him quite well while the Violin Concerto was being written. I remember that summer day in 1940 when he first played the Violin Concerto, which he had just finished. He was so totally immersed in it that he went immediately to the piano. The stirring rhythms, characteristic turns of national folklore, and sweeping melodic themes captivated me at once. He played with tremendous enthusiasm. One could still feel in his playing that artistic fire with which he had created the music. Sincere and original, replete with melodic beauty and folk colors, it seemed to sparkle. All these traits which the public still enjoys in the Concerto made an unforgettable impression at the time. It was clear that a vivid composition had been born, destined to live long on the concert stage. And my violin was to launch it on its career.

                  aram khacharurian sheet music

                  Six years later, the Cello Concerto made its appearance, representing the first major work following the close of World War II. The Introduction to the first movement is much longer than it was in the previous two concerti, but the general format is similar. Knushevitsky, the workʼs dedicatee, was accompanied by the Moscow State Symphony under the direction of Alexander Gauk on 30 October, 1946. The elegiac and at times dolorous atmosphere of this work has resulted in an audience and critical reception less accepting than that which greeted the previous concerti. The reduction in bravura in favor of more contemplation suggests that the public prefers old-fashioned virtuosity in their concerted works. Other notable creations of this period include incidental music to plays, the best-known score of which is Masquerade (play by Mikhail
                  Lermontov). A five-movement suite, extracted by the composer in 1944, consists of the following movements: “Waltz,” “Nocturne,” “Mazurka,” “Romance,” and “Galop.” There are also many patriotic and nationalistic songs, and the Symphony No. 2 in E minor (Symphony with Bells) and Symphony No. 3 in one movement, also known as Symphony-Poem, a work that is outsized for its time (1947) among Soviet symphonic creations; the score includes organ and fifteen solo trumpets.

                  Khachaturian had adjusted his creative bent to conform to the requirements for a successful professional life by composing as officialdom decreed while being true to his personal artistic creed. The Second Symphony, a “war symphony” owing to its creation in 1943, bears some resemblance to the more somber utterances of Shostakovich, notably the latterʼs Symphony No. 7 (“Leningrad”). It is referred to as the “Bell” symphony in Russia due to its descending motif, F-D-D-B played
                  initially by bells, piano and winds, a motto which recurs throughout the work. Notable also is the darkly hued chorale in the violas, a theme which may well be intended as a reference to a people enduring the hardships of war. It returns to the close of the symphony along with the “bell” motto. A traditional scherzo with trio occupies the second movement slot, but it is more than a jocular romp as it encompasses the diminished fifth of the first movementʼs motto in muted horns, creating thereby a fearful reference to its earlier appearance. The third movement, essentially a funereal march, refers again to the opening motto but also includes
                  the Dies irae. The final movement, introduced by a fanfare, recalls materials from the previous movements, thus bringing organic unity to the four-movement work as a whole.

                  International Fame and Political Realities

                  The ballet Happiness, inspired by a visit, in 1939, to Yerevan, dealt with the common people by way of featuring as primary characters frontier guards and collective farmworkers. It was the precursor to Khachaturianʼs politically-themedballet, Gayane, composed in 1942 and revised in both 1952 and 1957. Originally athree-act work, it evolved into a 4-act creation, with a deeper penetration of the inner selves of the principal characters, and increased thematic development. The story line, which centers about life and love on a collective cotton farm, features a diversity of ethnic dances owing to Konstantin Derzhavinʼs libretto which emphasizes the farmʼs culturally varied inhabitants. The dances themselves are introduced as a natural aspect of the lives of the people rather than, as in traditional classical ballet, set pieces in which all the dancers are dressed in the
                  expected costumes and in which the dances tend to be set as divertissements, à la salon as it were. Of the dances that have found their way into several suites and other “highlights” settings for orchestra, the “Lezghink(a),” a fast mountain dancein the context of this work, is generally thought of as a slow dance a ssociated with Muslim peoples who lived in Persia; it is often performed as a distinct showpiece quite apart from its balletic association. Without doubt, the most popular of the
                  dances is the infamous “Sabre Dance,” which has taken on a life of its own even more so than has the Lezghinka. The bristling minor seconds in the left-hand part of the piano score sharpen the thrust of the piece (Example 5). The composer has written about its late arrival into the score:

                  My Sabre Dance came into being quite by accident. One day while rehearsals were in progress, the director invited me to the theater and said that he wanted to have one more dance in the final act. I considered the ballet completed and declined to add anything to the music. On coming home, however, I sat at the piano and began thinking about what kind of dance would be suitable. I visualized a quick and warlike dance. My hands struck a chord as if obeying an inner urge, and I repeated it as an ostinato; then I felt that a sharp shift was necessary and added the leading note in the upper part. Well, well, thatʼs something like it! … Letʼs play it in another key … Got it! Now for contrast. I thought of the lyrical dance with a flowing melody in Scene Three. I added this theme (played by a saxophone) to the warlike material, and after that repeated the beginning, in a new guise, of course. I started work on the piece at three p.m. and it was ready by two a.m. the next day. At eleven oʼclock the orchestra was playing the dance, by the evening it had been staged – and the dress rehearsal took place the day after.

                  In the West, the sabres have been rattling far beyond the original intent. The dance, e.g., accompanied plate spinners on the Ed Sullivan Show, a one-time staple of Sunday night televiewing on the CBS network, and it has been variegated to meet the needs of diverse performers such as the three Andrews Sisters; Wolf Hoffmann, the heavy metal guitarist; and UK Subs, the British rock band. Its use in circuses to accompany acrobats and animal acts has caused it to be described by the pejorative adjective “notorious.”

                  Its artistic values were also questioned by arbiters of good taste when it found its way to Late Night with Conan OʼBrien where it accompanied the Masturbating Bear when this regularly featured character regularly masturbated on stage. But be it noted that a more “serious” usage was found for it on the TV news commentary program, Countdown, with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC-TV where, from 2003-2007, it was heard on the segment known as Oddball, so named for the off-beat stories featured thereon. Khachaturian wrote this showstopper in one evening; it was not intended to be part of Gayaneh. The colloquialism, “Go figure!,” comes to mind here.

                  khachaturian

                  The incidental music for Lermontovʼs play, Masquerade, and the suite drawn from it in 1944, has become part of the established Khachaturian canon. A previous production with music by Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936) was viewed by the composer in 1938; oddly, the “Waltz-Fantasy” by Mikhail Glinka (1804- 1857) was inserted in the place where a waltz was indicated in the play as per the instructions of Glazunov. Khachaturian, who surmised that the earlier composer had difficulty producing the requisite dance piece here, found that he, too, was
                  stymied to find the proper stylistic atmosphere for his effort. His teacher,
                  Miaskovsky, presented him with a collection of waltz pieces that predated the era of Glinka, but these did not satisfy him. The need for a waltz that could somehow convey the mixture of sadness and happiness came to him, according to his own recollection, while he was sitting for a portrait of himself by Evgeni Pasternak:

                  One day while posing I suddenly heard a theme in my head which became
                  the second theme of my future waltz. I doubt if I can explain where it came from. But I am certain that, had it not been for the strenuous search of the past weeks there would have been no such discovery. The theme was like a
                  magic link, allowing me to pull out the whole chain. The rest of the waltz
                  came to me easily, with no trouble at all.

                  The “Nocturne,” “Mazurka,” “Romance,” and “Galop” are the accessible andmemorable other movements which follow the waltz (Example 6).

                  aram khachaturian

                  Colorful orchestration and, in this instance, dances contrasted with slower,
                  lyrical sections appropriate to a masked ball, aristocratic in nature, rather than to a cotton farm peopled by the peasantry, signify a composer possessed of supreme craftsmanship. The story line and music are unified artistically and expeditiously.

                  Pianists have welcomed a version for solo piano by Alexander Doloukhanian approved by Khachaturian.12 Credit for the first performance of the suite in America goes to the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, which performed it on 7 May, 1946 under the direction of Jacques Rachmilovich. The composer has arranged the “Nocturne” for violin and piano.

                  Given his prominence in the Composerʼs Union and the esteem in which he was held by the Stateʼs arbiters of matters cultural, Khachaturian, who had joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1943 and had been a recipient of such honors as the Order of Lenin and the Stalin Prize, could not have predicted his ungraceful fall from grace as the recipient of collateral damage in an attack launched by the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party on 10 February 1948. Although Vano Muradeli (1908-1970) and his opera Great Friendship, premiered a few months before this outburst, on 7 November 1947, were the central targets, other composers included in this sweeping denunciation
                  included such very diverse figures as Shostakovitch, Prokofiev, Miaskovsky,
                  Kabalevsky, Shebalin, and Khachaturian. The “catch-all” term “formalism” was employed to reference various modern tendencies, including atonalism, dodecophony, cluster chords, and jazz wherever these were applicable.

                  Khachaturianʼs Symphony No. 3, composed to honor the thirtieth anniversary of the October Revolution, and premiered on 13 December, 1947 by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Evgeny Mravinsky, was ostensibly the work which merited his inclusion among the “formalists.” Oddly, it received a glowing review from journalist G. Lvov in the Information Bulletin of the Russian Embassy in Washington prior to its completion;14 odder still was Khachaturianʼs
                  letter to this publication dated 28 February 1948 in which he chastises Lvov for his laudatory comments and, with his metaphorical tail between his legs, agrees with the Central Committeeʼs concurrence with the so-called Zhdanov Doctrine, developed in 1946 when Andrei Zhdanov (1896-1948)15 was secretary of the Committee.

                  He goes on to state that, although this action may be seen by commentators abroad (the West) as a purge, he asks the following question with its answer implicit in the question itself: “How can there be any question of “purging” when the Central Committee, while pointing out very justly the errors into which a number of Soviet composers have fallen, indicates the path which should lead Soviet musical culture to the creation of work of really high quality and finish, such as may be comprehensible to all people, and also offers full opportunity to the composers named in the decision to participate in this work?” Such a mea culpa is quite bizarre considering that, of all the composers indicted, Khachaturian was, and is still, seen by objective observers as the least objectionable figure with respect to falling into the bourgeois trap known as formalism. There is a touch of irony in the fact that in 1939 Khachaturian received the Order of Lenin for distinguished service to the State by way of the music he penned for the ballet Happiness, and, during the 1940s, he was rewarded with the Stalin Prize17 for his Violin Concerto (1941–second class), Gayaneh ballet (1943), and Symphony No. 2 (1946), a prize whose purpose was to recognize achievements which brought honor to the Soviet Union and/or socialism. Of smaller-scaled creative endeavors which preceded the 1948 ruckus, an exemplar of an effort that also converged with the prevailing views of officialdom is the National Anthem of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic,18 for which Khachaturian composed the music (Example 7) in 1944 to lyrics by Armenak Sarkisyan (1901-1984), better known by his pseudonym “Sarmen.” The chorus sings such texts as “Glorious be, glorious be, our Soviet Armenia!” and, at the close, salutes Russia, the Communist Party, and Communism; the powerful music, chordal, hymn-like, and dynamically loud, would have delighted commissars, sycophants, and the public at large.

                  Regarding the Symphony No. 3, its irregularities were not cited by political
                  critics, viz. the fifteen trumpets in addition to the three regular trumpets in the orchestra, the powerful organ part, and the non-programmatic single movement that justifies the appellation, symphony-poem. It was the composerʼs intent to capture the ebullient spirit that he envisioned had enveloped the Soviet people in light of the countryʼ victory in World War II and its increasingly powerful place in world affairs. The sheer volume of the work as a whole, and the ceremonial sound created by the massive array of trumpets plus the organ, disconnected from its customary association with matters liturgical and now identified with a greater societal role, were intended to induce a swelling of national pride.

                  As with others among “the condemned,” Khachaturian had written patriotic and nationalistic music during his early years, and continued to produce works glorifying the State and its primary leaders, such as his (Funeral) Ode in Memory of Vladimir Ilyʼich Lenin19 drawn from the film score for “Lenin,” a work first performed on 26 December, 1948, the score for the film “Battle of Stalingrad,” in 1949,20 from which an eight-movement Suite was constructed, and many others in subsequent years, including March of the Soviet Militia in 1973 and Triumphal Fanfares for 8 trumpets and 2 drums “for the thirtieth anniversary of victory in the
                  Great Patriotic War” in 1975. Music for children, also an ideal fostered by state musical overseers, did not escape Khachaturianʼs purview; indeed, in 1947 most of his first Childrenʼs Album for piano was composed. A year later it was published in the west under the title Adventures of Ivan with eight of the original ten pieces intact. The editor, Alfred Mirovitch, provides helpful introductory remarks:

                  … The refreshing originality of mood, harmonization and pianistic invention in these easy, amusing, but provocative compositions from his pen will act as a stimulus and a challenge to all alert student and teachers.
                  All pedal indications are by the editor. To obtain the rhythm and color
                  required, it is essential that they be strictly observed. Phrasing, slurring and
                  shadings, with very few exceptions. Are the composerʼs own. The fingering is the editorʼs.

                  khachaturian sheet music

                  The opening “Andantino,” (“Ivan Sings”) composed as early as 1926, is
                  notable for its cantabile melodic writing, its syncopated pedaling, its chromatically descending bass at the opening of the piece (Example 8), and its iambic rhythms in the left hand in the second part of the piece.22 The editor has provided short descriptive commentary of a pedagogical nature at the beginning of each selection as an aid to the pupil and his/her tutor.

                  khachaturian

                  After the death of Stalin on 5 March, 1953 (the same date of the passing of
                  Prokofiev), Khachaturian once again resumed a place of honor among his
                  compatriots, both musical and political (in the Soviet Union the two were
                  inseparable). He expanded his activities during the 1950s to include conducting his music in more than thirty countries, thereby gaining for it an international audience. It was also during this time that he developed a career as a teacher at the Gnessin Institute and the Moscow Conservatory, and completed a major ballet, Spartacus, which, after several versions, was reduced to four principal characters: Spartacus, a Thracian slave-gladiator and leader of a revolt of slaves against the power of Rome in 73 B.C.; Phrygia, his wife; Crassus, a power-hungry general; and Aegina, Crassusʼs concubine.

                  As with his other ballets, several suites were provided, but unlike the earlier works in this genre, folk dances and Soviet subject matter are eschewed. The music is lush, colorfully orchestrated, and neoromantic in its style. The “Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia” has been extracted from the ballet and become widely popularized through its use as the theme for The Onedin Line, a British television series which ran for nine years beginning in 1971, and by way of the song, “Journeyʼs End,” recorded in 1984 by the American pop singer, Andy Williams.

                  Pragmatism and Innovative Traditionalism

                  During the post-Stalin era, the composer wrote many songs and choral
                  works, several important piano works, including a second Childrenʼs Album for piano, a Sonatina in C major, a Sonata in E-flat major dedicated to his teacher, Nikolai Miaskovsky, a set of Recitatives and Fugues, a Sonata-Fantasy for solo violoncello, a Sonata-Monologue for solo violin, a Sonata-Song for solo violin, and, very importantly, three works for solo instrument (one each for violin, cello, and piano) and orchestra with the title Concerto-Rhapsody. These one-movement works, truncated and formally innovative, recall the earlier Concerti for the same instruments; however, the unusually placed cadenzas, combined with folk-like and elegiac sections, arrest the listenerʼs attention by virtue of the unpredictability of the musical events.

                  Khachaturianʼs fondness for mixing, matching, and altering works of his
                  own from different time periods in his career is observable in Book II of Childrenʼs Album, wherein three of the pieces were composed in the late ʼ40s, the first two of them with different titles. The closing Fugue, in C minor, dates from as early as 1928, while the remainder of the Album dates from 1964-1965.23 With regard to the Recitatives and Fugues, it is instructive to note that the fugues were composed originally as early as 1928-1929. Of the work as a whole, its creator provides his
                  own self-effacing assessment:

                  At that time, I was studying composition under Mikhail Gnessin at the Music College … I wrote seven fugues for piano, which must have been far from perfect. Now, viewing them with the eyes of a mature musician after the lapse of more than four decades, I have rewritten some of them while noting with gratification that many of them contain intonations that I have been partial to all my life. I have added a recitative to each of the seven fugues.

                  The traditional use of an opening prelude to precede a fugue in works
                  such as this, such as was employed by his colleague, Dmitri Shostakovitch, in his collection of 24 Preludes and Fugues of 1952, has been supplanted by the recitative in order to infuse an Armenian flavor to this example of comingling European formal traditions with the national musical traits of Khachaturianʼs ancestral homeland. The opening of No. 4 contains some of the latter traits which, by this time, have become musical markers of the composer, among them the shifting triple-duple meters, melodic ninths by way of connected augmented and diminished fifths, and motoric ostinato patterns in the left hand with alternating perfect fifths and diminished sevenths (Example 9) and chromatically descending scalar patterns in the bass.

                  khachaturian

                  The Sonatina in C major,25 another impressive contribution to the student
                  pianistʼs repertory, dates from 1958 during which year Khachaturian and Dmitri Kabalevsky made a tour of a coal mining area, the Kuznetsk Coal Basin. The immediate impetus for the work was a visit to a music school in Prokopyevsky; indeed, it is dedicated to students enrolled in the Prokopyevsk Elementary School. The three movements are marked, respectively, Allegro giocoso, Andante con anima, rubato, and Allegro mosso. In a performance time of approximately seven minutes, the Sonatina contains characteristics observed in the Childrenʼs Albums,
                  including ascending and descending scalar passages in octaves and broken
                  octaves, considerable chromaticism, and a variety of touches, interpretive
                  directions, and tempo changes as exemplified by such markings as marcato,
                  espressivo, poco accelerando, poco più mosso, piano subito crescendo, et alia.

                  With his contributions to childrenʼs piano literature, Khachaturian takes his place besides his compatriots Kabalevsky, Shostakovitch, Prokofiev, and Gretchaninov, each of whom contributed importantly to this oft-neglected genre. It is important to recall that it was Soviet pianist Emil Gilels who is remembered for his chiding of Soviet composers for not devoting sufficient creative energy to enhancing the piano repertory in general, and it was this same artist and pedagogue who introduced
                  Khachaturianʼs major solo piano composition, the Sonata in E-flat major-C major to the world, in 1961. This three-movement opus, revised during 1976-1978, is, in many ways an “adult” extension of the Sonatina.26 The opening Allegro vivace, in cut-time, with its plethora of sixteenth-note rhythms, chromatic scalar patterns, numerous thirds and octaves, cluster chords, and eventual meter changes, including 5-8, 6-8, and 6-4, provides an ample supply of pianistic fireworks. Given that the dedication is to the composerʼs teacher, Nikolai Miaskovsky, the general atmosphere appears to be antipodal to the expectation.

                  The second movement, Andante tranquillo, opens softly and in an elegiac musical environment, but it changes in midstream to a contrasting Allegro ma non troppo, marcatissimo e pesante, and dynamically fortississimo, before closing with suggestions of tolling bells and a four-measure coda, Lento. The final movement, Allegro assai, with the familiar cluster chords, chromatic scalar passages, and a Prestissimo coda, envelopes the listener in an aural maelstrom. At the conclusion, the clanging, menacing, bell-like and dissonant chords at a quadruple f level and including iambic rhythms in 3-4 meter alternating with others in straightforward 4-4, lead to combined seventh and ninths chords with superimposed perfect fifths and fourths in the right hand as the tempo broadens (poco a poco allargando) and paves the musical road to a tension-releasing triumphant a tempo, fff, C major chord (Exampe 10). For the pianist, and presumably for the audience, this is the long-awaited moment of release.

                  The Concerto-Rhapsody in B-flat minor for violin and orchestra, written for and dedicated to Leonid Kogan, was premiered by the latter on 7 October 1962; the Yaroslavl Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by I. Gusman. On November 7 of the same year, Kogan performed the work with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Kyril Kondrashin. After the presentation of introductory material consisting of a somewhat edgy but familiar chromatically descending melody in the strings and brass and then, by way of contrast, a descending passage featuring flutes and harp, with the violins, not to be ignored, rendering a series of diminished fifths, the soloist emerges with a cadenza (Example 11), serving to prepare for the initial theme over chords in the winds.

                  There follows in quick succession a folk-flavored lively atmosphere presaging a more emotive rendering of the principal theme with which Part I closes; however, before one can absorb what has transpired, a Gypsy-styled theme is offered by the solo violin with brass and percussion enlivening the proceedings before the initial theme returns followed by the descending figure of the opening portion of the work. The soloist and orchestra then join forces to bring this hybrid composition to a brilliant and, as expected in concerted works by Khachaturian, highly virtuosic conclusion.

                  The Concerto-Rhapsody in D minor for violoncello and orchestra, written for and dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich, was first performed in 1963 by the famed virtuoso at the Royal Festival Hall in London with George Hurst directing the London Symphony Orchestra; the cellist gave its first performance in the Soviet Union in Gorky on 4 January 1964. The Concerto-Rhapsody in D-flat major, the key of the Piano Concerto, received its first performance on 9 December 1968; Nikolai Petrov was the piano soloist with Gennady Rozhdestvensky conducting the Soviet All-Union Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra. Traits similar to
                  those of the violin work described earlier dominate here as well. The Cello
                  Concerto-Rhapsody, e.g., begins with a prominent horn call which returns to usher in the fiery conclusion of the work with its Armenian dance flavor. The cello cadenza following the Introduction is, as in the other rhapsodies in this trinity of compositions, a “show-stopper.” The scoring, in the piano essay, actually begins with a cadenza (Example 12)! The work is notable for its percussion, which, in this instance, includes xylophone, marimba, and vibraphone. And, as if reflecting on earlier styles acceptable to the Soviet regime, one finds throughout the piano Concerto Rhapsody, motoring rhythms mixed with folk-flavored lyricism, yet another example of the composerʼs conflation of the polarities that existed in the aesthetic inclinations within Soviet officialdom as well as within the Composerʼs
                  Union during the establishment of Soviet Realism as a guiding principle for
                  creative artists.

                  A final trilogy, for solo stringed instruments, composed during the 1970s,
                  comprises the Sonata-Fantasy for violoncello (1974), the Sonata- Monologue for violin, and the Sonata-Song for viola (1976). It is consequential that the maestro chose to add hyphenated descriptors for each work as a way to impart the very personal attributes each was meant to convey. As with other twentieth-century composers who contributed to the solo string repertory among their final creative statements (Ernest Bloch, e.g., composed three suites for solo cello, two suites for solo violin, and an incomplete suite for solo viola) there is a plumbing of the depths, an effort to penetrate the core, the very essence, of what that instrument
                  was capable of expressing on behalf of the composer.

                  As with the earlier creations, the sonatas reveal a mixture of the improvisational style associated with the ashugs of old and a musical language more contemporary than that with which Khachaturian has been associated in his earlier creative endeavors. Each of these final efforts, however, does contain traits that have become familiar, viz. a generous array of thematic materials and offshoots derived from them; stylistic contrasts, notably those whereby virtuosic display and long-breathed lyrical lines vie for attention; and folk-flavored, even literally quoted, tunes of Armenian derivation. The viola sonataʼs subtitle, “song,” seems particularly apt, for its cantabile sections treat the solo instrument as if it were approaching the qualities of the human voice. The closing Sostenuto illustrates this quality effectively.

                  The Closing Years and Beyond

                  Throughout the 1950s and continuing to his final years, Khachaturian
                  widened his circle of musical friends and admirers by extending his career to include conducting—in the main, concerts of his own compositions. In so doing, his reputation as a creative artist grew exponentially. His public appearances took place not only in the major cities of the Soviet Union, but also in eastern and western Europe, Japan, Latin America, and the United States. To be sure, he often acted as a spokesperson on behalf of the ideals of his country and, in particular, those of Soviet Realism, thereby improving his status among Soviet officialdom.

                  Recorded performances of his works contributed further to his reputation as a composer-conductor despite the fact that, during the post-Soviet era, his name began to wane somewhat in comparison to his one-time cohorts among the “formalists.” It is significant that by the early 1980s, awareness of his Armenian roots spread to the larger world of music, in part because of events in Armenia itself. In 1982, e.g., the home in which the composerʼs brother Vaghinak and his family resided was opened as a museum and managed by the conductor Goar Agaievna Arutyunian. Its collections include many letters, manuscripts of scores, books, thousands of CDs, photos, and other items related to the life and works of Khachaturian.

                  The composerʼs son, Karen, has donated personal items of his father, such as his cabinet, dining room, bedroom, piano, and baton. The museum also contains a small recital hall in which many younger performers, especially of chamber music, have displayed their talent. Of more general interest, there is also located here a workshop for restoring stringed instruments, as well as a collection of musical instruments intrinsic to the country.

                  By the 1990s, Yerevan became the site for the International Cultural-
                  Educational Association “Aram Khachaturian,” an organization whose purpose was to promote the study and performance of the maestroʼs music on a worldwide basis. In addition to its involvement in matters related to the composer, the Association also serves as an advocate for Armenian culture in all its dimensions.


                  From a political perspective, it is important to recall that the national anthem composed for Armenia in 1944 by Khachaturian when that country was one of the Soviet Socialist Republics was replaced on 1 July, 1991 by Mer Hayrenik (“Our Fatherland”), its first national anthem (1918-1920). In December 1991 Armenia became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the name applied to the former Soviet Union. The anthemʼs opening text conveys the new order:

                  “Our Fatherland, free, independent, /That has for centuries lived,/Is now
                  summoning its sons/To the free, independent Armenia.”

                  Conclusion

                  It is significant that Aram Khachaturian was known through most of the
                  twentieth century as a “Soviet composer,” and his views on Communism suggest that the appellation has merit. He expressed enthusiastic support for the doctrine throughout his life; indeed, as early as 1920, he evinced visible support when Armenia was pronounced a republic of the Soviet Union. He did so by joining a group of Georgians of Armenian heritage who embarked upon a train-tour of Armenia to commemorate the event. It was twenty-three years later, however, that he officially became a member of the Community Party. Following the Zhdanov denunciation of 1948, he made the obligatory speech of repentance, and continued to display in his music and in personal discourse the evidence of a true
                  believer in the doctrines of Soviet communism, including atheism.

                  Subtle changes in how he is viewed in academic circles can be observed by
                  noting that, in the 1954 edition of Groveʼs Dictionary of Music and Musicians, he is identified as an “Armenian composer,”28 while he is identified as “Soviet” in the 1980 edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians”29 by Boris Schwarz, author of the article on him in that august source, and, again, as Armenian in the article on him by Svetlana Sarkisyan in the second edition of the NGDMM. Given the breakup of the former Soviet Union (Plate 1), and the reality of the independent countries of Armenia, Khachaturianʼs ancestral homeland, Georgia, his place of birth, and Russia, locus of his principal musical education and career, the world has come to recognize him (Plate 2) much as he recognized himself—as an Armenian, but one not limited to a narrow nationalism, but rather one whose art, in transcending geographical boundaries, has proven capable of speaking to a universal audience.

                  Article by David Z. Kushner, Professor Emeritus of Musicology, University of Florida, USA.

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                  Khachaturian: Ballet Suites | Gayaneh, Spartacus Suites

                  Track List:

                  00:00:00 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Dance of the Rose Maidens 00:02:41 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Aysha’s Dance 00:07:04 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Dance of the Highlanders 00:09:01 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Lullaby 00:14:54 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Noune’s Dance 00:16:39 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Armen’s Var 00:18:37 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Gayaneh’s Adagio 00:22:37 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Lezghinka 00:25:35 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Dance with Tambourines 00:28:35 Gayaneh, Ballet Suite: Sabre Dance 00:30:58 Spartacus, Ballet Suite: Introduction – Dance of the Nymphs 00:37:02 Spartacus, Ballet Suite: Aegina’s Dance 00:41:02 Spartacus, Ballet Suite: Scene and Dance with Crotalums 00:44:55 Spartacus, Ballet Suite: Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia 00:54:38 Spartacus, Ballet Suite: Dance of the Gaditan Maidens – Victory of Spartacus

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                  The Bach Chaconne: a practice guide to play and compose

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                  The Bach Chaconne: a concise analysis

                  What is a chaconne?

                  A chaconne is a set of melodic variations that occurs over a repeating chord progression. There are several famous examples of pieces that are chaconnes (even if they are not actually called that). You may know the Pachelbel Canon, which is a 3-part canon built on top of a chaconne. It’s one of the most famous pieces of classical music, and there are lots of performances of it on YouTube you can listen to; here’s a nice one by the London Symphony Orchestra:

                  In the world of classic rock, there’s a well-known tune by Ray Charles called “Hit the Road, Jack” that repeats the same four chords (A minor, G, Major, F Major, and E Major) over and over again. In case you don’t know it, you can hear it at:

                  The chaconne is not just a piece of instrumental music, but is also a Baroque courtly dance! It was usually performed as a stately procession to enter or exit a ballroom.

                  In the French court of Versailles, you probably would have entered the grand salon to greet King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette to the strains of a chaconne. Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor Bach wrote a famous chaconne—the Mother of all chaconnes—as the final movement of his Partita in D minor for solo violin.

                  No one would be able to dance to this one! In performance, it usually lasts over 14 minutes! Violinist Joshua Bell said this about the chaconne: “it is not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history. It’s a spiritually powerful piece, emotionally powerful, structurally perfect.” Some music historians and performers believe that it is actually a sacred work because of hidden references to the Passion story. There are many performances of it on YouTube; here’s a good one by Bella Hristova, a student at the Curtis Institute of Music:

                  As you listen to it, you can hear the violinist playing an unbroken succession of melodic variations that follow the chord progression laid out in the first nine bars.

                  Here’s the chord progression of the Bach chaconne:

                  Bach Chaconne sheet music

                  Now, some of you may have had a little music theory already in school or perhaps as part of your private lessons. Some of you may actually enjoy music theory; others of you may not know much about it yet, and possibly a few of you may hate it and wish it would go away. For those of you in the second or third group, the good news is that you don’t have to know any music theory in order to write excellent variations on the chaconne chord progression.

                  But just for you music, theory fans, I’ve reprinted the chaconne progression below with a Roman numeral analysis and lead sheet notation. But again, it’s not necessary to understand the symbols above and below the staff in order to create a successful variation.

                  Bach Chaconne sheet music

                  So, how do you go about writing your own variations above this chord progression?

                  There are several different ways. We’ll try one way that we can call “connect the dots” (except in this case, the dots are actually notes.)

                  Let’s look at the chord progression again. If we consider the same chords but now put the notes in many registers, it would look like this:

                  (Depending on your instrument, you might not be able to play all those notes, or possibly you might be able to play notes that are even higher or lower than the ones shown.)

                  Step one

                  Now, we’re going to connect the dots by drawing a line connecting one note in one chord to any other note in the next chord. Obviously, there are countless possibilities, depending on whether you draw your lines up, down, or straight across. Here’s an example, in which I use a dotted line to connect my notes, which I selected somewhat randomly:

                  Bach Chaconne sheet music

                  Step two

                  Next, I’ve taken the notes that I connected with the lines and put them on a staff by themselves. You can do this with your own notes using manuscript paper or a music software program. Here are my notes:

                  This by itself would sound a little weird—kind of leap-y and not very tuneful. But now comes the fun (and most challenging) part.

                  Step three

                  I can now create a melody by filling in the space between ny notes with other notes of various rhythms. This means, in most cases, changing the original note values to shorter notes. There are, of course, an endless number of possibilities. You can use any combination of 16ths, 8ths, quarters, etc., and move by step, by leap, or by a combination of steps and leaps. Here’s an example, based on the notes above.

                  You’ll notice that my original pitches are in their original positions in the measure (though in most cases I’ve changed their rhythmic values to shorter notes). I’ve marked them with an asterisk, so they’re easy to see.

                  Here’s another example, based on the same asterisk notes. In this one, I use fewer 16th notes, and I also take some of my asterisk notes up an octave so that the melodic line goes higher.

                  Obviously, there are an infinite number of possibilities, and some will sound better than others. Remember, the “connect the dots” method is only meant to be a guide—a way to start. There is no rule that says you have to stick with it throughout your melody, or even use it at all. You could use it as a rough guide from which you can depart at any point.


                  As you begin to experiment with your melody (and this will take some trial and error), keep in mind that there are certain conventions that Bach and other Baroque composers followed to make their music sound good:

                  • Most of the “filler” notes should fit into the chords. Notes that do not fit are called “non-chord tones” and they usually occur on weak beats (2 and 3), weak parts of beats (the “and” of the beat, as in 1-and, 2-and, 3-and), and notes of short duration. Certainly, it is possible to have non-chord tones on strong beats and parts of beats, such as suspensions, and these can sound very beautiful. But they need to be used with care, and rather sparingly.
                  • Melodies usually have a single high point. In the examples above, the highest notes (C in the first example and E in the second) occur only once.
                  • The 7th scale degree (C# in our key of D minor) usually moves to the first scale degree (D), either immediately or within a beat.
                  • Melodies often have repeating rhythmic patterns to give a sense of
                    cohesiveness. In the examples above, the eighth-and-two-sixteenths figure
                    occurs eight times in the first example and twice in the second. And in the
                    second example, the pattern of two eighth—quarter—two eighths within one measure occurs three times. We call these patterns “unifying devices,”
                    because they help to unify the melody.
                  • Your melody should be fairly easy to perform. After all, you’ll be playing it, so you’ll want to make sure it fits within the range of your instrument and stays within your comfort zone as a performer. Of course, if you want to write some really challenging lines that will push your limits as a performer, then go right ahead! There is certainly a long tradition of composers writing virtuosic variations for themselves as a means of featuring their own prodigious performing skills.

                  Of course, you can also try writing melodies without using the “connect the dots” method, simply by listening to the chord progression (or playing it on the piano if you can) and then just freely inventing a melody to go along with it. Whatever method you use, you will still want to adhere to the bullet points above.

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