Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

The Harmony of Bill Evans (2b)

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

In this article, I will analyze the thematic material of Bill’s tune, “Peri’s Scope.” My purpose will be to gain insight into the principles of good melody writing and, in Bill’s case, to get inside the creative mind of a genius as that mind organized, developed and evolved his compositions by following the dictates of what Schoenberg calls the “BASIC SHAPE,” the seed thought, the germ or idea that generates the entire piece.

Because I use in these articles a specific vocabulary when I discuss Bill’s thematic material, I think it best to define these terms before I begin the analysis.

MOTIF-an interval, harmony, and/or rhythm combining to produce memorable shapes or patterns; a motif appears continually throughout a piece; it is repeated. Repetition alone often gives rise to monotony, and monotony can only be overcome by variation.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bill evans harmony sheet music jazz transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Evans sheet music harmony

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

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

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

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

bill evans sheet music imatge-69

Bill Evans Trio – Waltz For Debby: The Complete Pescara Festival (1969).


01. Emily (Marcer/Mandel)…(00:00) 02.A Sleeping Bee (Arlen)…(05:43) 03.Alfie (Bacharach)…(10:44) 04.Who Can I Turn To? (Bricusse/Newley)…(16:15) 05.Very Early (Evans)…(22:15) 06.’Round About Midnight (Monk)…(27:09) 07.Autumn Leaves (Kosma)…(34:09) 08.Quiet Now (Evans)…(39:19) 09.Come Rain Or Come Shine (Arlen)…(44:49) 10.Nardis (Davis)…(49:56) 11.Waltz For Debby (Evans)…(56:52).

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Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

The Harmony of Bill Evans (2a)

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Evans Harmony sheet music

E7 (Sec. Dom.) E7 FMa7

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

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

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

Bill Evans Harmony sheet music

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

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

EX. 5 Peri’s Scope

Phrase One (measure s 1-8)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jazz & Blues Music

Dexter Gordon ♪Georgia on My Mind

Dexter Gordon ♪Georgia on My Mind (with sheet music in our Library)


Dexter Gordon Quartet- Georgia On My Mind.
From album- “Biting the Apple”.
Dexter Gordon- Tenor Sax.
Barry Harris- Piano.
Sam Jones- Bass.
Al Foster- Drums

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Musical Analysis Jazz & Blues Music


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even to Odd:


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

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

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

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

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

OutlineNo.1 OutlineNo.2 Outline No.3

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

Jarrett Line Basic Outline No. 2 & No. 1

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

Even too odd:

Jarrett Outline No. 1 Basic Outline No. 1

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

Even to Odd:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Basic Outline No. 1Shape Jarrett’s Embellishment

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

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

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

Find Keith Jarrett sheet music transcriptions in our Library.

improvisation keith jarrett sheet music pdf
JAZZ IMPROVISATION sheet music pdf

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Film & TV Music

Morricone: Once Upon a Time in America

Morricone: Once Upon a Time in America Soundtrack Deborah’s Theme – Amapola (sheet music available in our Library)

morricone sheet music pdf

Once Upon a Time in America (Italian: C’era una volta in America) is a 1984 epic crime drama film co-written and directed by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone and starring Robert De Niro and James Woods. The film is an Italian–American venture produced by The Ladd Company, Embassy International Pictures, PSO Enterprises, and Rafran Cinematografica, and distributed by Warner Bros. Based on Harry Grey‘s novel The Hoods, it chronicles the lives of best friends David “Noodles” Aaronson and Maximilian “Max” Bercovicz as they lead a group of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence as Jewish gangsters in New York City‘s world of organized crime.

The film explores themes of childhood friendships, love, lust, greed, betrayal, loss, broken relationships, together with the rise of mobsters in American society.

It was the final film directed by Leone before his death five years later, and the first feature film he had directed in 13 years. It is also the third film of Leone’s Once Upon a Time Trilogy, which includes Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Duck, You Sucker! (1971).The cinematography was by Tonino Delli Colli, and the film score by Ennio Morricone. Leone originally envisaged two three-hour films, then a single 269-minute (4 hours and 29 minutes) version, but was convinced by distributors to shorten it to 229 minutes (3 hours and 49 minutes).

The American distributors, The Ladd Company, further shortened it to 139 minutes, and rearranged the scenes into chronological order, without Leone’s involvement. The shortened version was a critical and commercial flop in the United States, and critics who had seen both versions harshly condemned the changes that were made. The original “European cut” has remained a critical favorite and frequently appears in lists of the greatest gangster films of all time.


The musical score was composed by Leone’s longtime collaborator Ennio Morricone. “Deborah’s Theme” was written for another film in the 1970s but was rejected. The score is also notable for Morricone’s incorporation of the music of Gheorghe Zamfir, who plays a ‘s pan flute. Zamfir’s flute music was used to similar effect in Peter Weir‘s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975). Morricone also collaborated with vocalist Edda Dell’Orso on the score.

Once Upon a Time in America
Soundtrack album by Ennio Morricone
Released1 June 1984
17 October 1995 (Special Edition)
RecordedDecember 1983
StudioForum Studios, Rome
GenreContemporary classical
LabelMercury Records
ProducerEnnio Morricone

Besides the original music, the film used source music, including:

  • God Bless America” (written by Irving Berlin, performed by Kate Smith – 1943) – Plays over the opening credits from a radio in Eve’s bedroom and briefly at the film’s ending.
  • Yesterday” (written by Lennon–McCartney – 1965) – A Muzak version of this piece plays when Noodles first returns to New York in 1968, examining himself in a train station mirror. An instrumental version of the song also plays briefly during the dialogue scene between Noodles and “Bailey” towards the end of the film.
  • Summertime” (written by George Gershwin – 1935) An instrumental version of the aria from the opera Porgy and Bess is playing softly in the background as Noodles, just before leaving, explains to “Secretary Bailey” why he could never kill his friend.
  • Amapola” (written by Joseph Lacalle, American lyrics by Albert Gamse – 1923) – Originally an opera piece, several instrumental versions of this song were played during the film; a jazzy version, which was played on the gramophone danced to by young Deborah in 1918; a similar version played by Fat Moe’s jazz band in the speakeasy in 1930; and a string version, during Noodles’ date with Deborah. Both versions are available on the soundtrack.
  • La gazza ladra” overture (Gioachino Rossini – 1817) – Used during the baby-switching scene in the hospital.
  • Night and Day” (written and sung by Cole Porter – 1932) – Played by a jazz band during the beach scene before the beachgoers receive word of Prohibition’s repeal, and during the party at the house of “Secretary Bailey” in 1968.
  • St. James Infirmary Blues” is used during the Prohibition “funeral” at the gang’s speakeasy.

A soundtrack album was released in 1984 by Mercury Records. This was followed by a special-edition release in 1995, featuring four additional tracks.

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Beautiful Music

Nat King Cole “Smile” (1954)

Nat King Cole “Smile” – 1954 (with sheet music)

Nat King Cole "Smile" free sheet music & scores pdf


Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
For you Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear maybe ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile- what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that…

Smile: The song

“Smile” is a song based on an instrumental theme used in the soundtrack for Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film Modern Times. Chaplin composed the music, inspired by Puccini’s Tosca. John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954. In the lyrics, based on lines and themes from the film, the singer is telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, just as long as they smile.

“Smile” has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin’s film and has been recorded by numerous artists. The song was also recorded by Jimmy Durante as part of his album Jackie Barnett Presents Hello Young Lovers. His version is part of the soundtrack to the 2019 film Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro.

Judy Garland sang a version of “Smile” on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1963.

The song was included in the soundtrack of Chaplin’s 1992 biographical film, as covered by its lead actor Robert Downey Jr.

smile sheet music pdf
Sheet Music download

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Beautiful Music

Oblivion (A. Piazzolla) Two pianos – pianists Argerich and Hubert

Oblivion (A. Piazzolla) Two pianos sheet music arrangement by pianists Martha Argerich and Eduardo Hubert

oblivion free sheet music pdf
This is the solo piano version

(This version for 2 pianos is not exactly the above performance).

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Did you know? Musical Analysis

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

Table of Contents

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

    1. Astor Piazzolla. Introduction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Some characteristics of Piazzolla’s style

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

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

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

    Astor Piazzolla sheet music partitura

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

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

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

    3. Libertango. Analysis.

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

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

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

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

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

    Astor Piazzolla sheet music partitura

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

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

    Astor Piazzolla sheet music partitura

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

    Astor Piazzolla sheet music partitura

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

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

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

    Best songs of Astor Piazzolla.


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

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