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Miles Davis: All Blues

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Daniel Monks

on 16 January 2013

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Transcript of Miles Davis: All Blues

All Blues Origins of Jazz A fusion of many musical styles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in New Orleans.

Mostly African - American musical roots. The piano was becoming popular in American homes at the start of the 20th century and people looked for new music to play.

Ragtime made the piano sound like a full ensemble with an on the beat left-hand rhythm jumping from low bass notes to mid-range chords working alongside high syncopated right-hand melodies

Examples: Scott Joplin - ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ and ‘The Entertainer’ Ragtime A thriving trade centre in the early 1800s when steamboats were the main way to transport goods.

They brought many different people from different cultures through the city, some deciding to settle there.

The city was already culturally mixed, having changed hands from the French to the Spanish, back to the French and finally to the US.

Caribbean people, plus African slaves also settled there in the 1800s along with other Europeans.

New Orleans Jazz was one of the first recognised jazz styles. New Orleans African Slaves Brought their own type of music with them – rhythmic, pentatonic music and work songs from being in slavery.

They also took on board the more Western European music of the city (eg hymns) and fused them together in the BLUES.

Blues contained lyrics about the slaves’ poor situation in life.

When singing and playing they would ‘blend’ notes between major and minor – notes in between were called BLUE NOTES.

Blues involved ‘call and response’, improvisation, any available instruments and a sad lyrical content. Most common melody instruments were CORNET, CLARINET and TROMBONE with all musicians improvising.

The rhythm section was bass, drums and banjo. This became New Orleans Jazz.

Towards the end of the 1800s, the railroad replaced steamboats for transporting goods and music in New Orleans started to decline.

At the end of WW1 musicians started moving north for better paid gigs and became household names eg LOUIS ARMSTRONG moved to CHICAGO. Bands Larger ensembles (hence the name BIG BAND) where the music was arranged (ie written down) allowing only the best musicians to improvise.

It would be musically chaotic if everyone improvised like the smaller New Orleans bands did.

As radio developed, Big bands played SWING music at dance halls, becoming the pop music of the 1930s and 1940s –

eg the GLENN MILLER BAND Swing Bands Some of the top musicians disliked SWING DANCE music because it limited their technical expertise and skills in improvising.

They left the bands and invented BE BOP in the HARLEM night clubs of NEW YORK –

Be Bop is very complex and requires virtuosic techniques
fast tempos, tricky chords, dissonant melodies and only 5 or 6 in a group all being able to improvise again


DIZZY GILLESPIE, CHARLIE PARKER and MILES DAVIS Be Bop •JUILLIARD SCHOOL of Music for 1 year

•Dropped out to play on the jazz circuit

•CHARLIE PARKER became his mentor

•Formed his own band to look for a new way of playing jazz, a more laid-back style eg his album ‘THE BIRTH OF COOL’

•Became a drug addict which affected his music and took time out to recover

•1955. A comeback at the Newport Jazz Festival and this band recorded ‘KIND OF BLUE’ album in 1959 in New York Miles Davis This track is from the album 'Kind of Blue' which recorded in one take in New York in 1959

Line up of trumpet, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Piano, double bass and drums

Unusual time signature uncommon in Jazz - 6/4. The score is marked 'Jazz Waltz'

This is Modal Jazz - this means that the scale on which the solos are built is a mode. Facts about All Blues The Recording Miles Davis gave his band for this track the minimum preparation before they went into the studio.

They were given some modes and melody lines to improvise upon

Each track on the album was recorded in one take - the whole album was recorded in 2 sessions! The Band All top Jazz musicians at the time - playing at the peak of their abilities.

Adderley and Coltrane pushed each other to new virtuosic heights in their soloing with Davis more laid back, 'less is more' approach balancing out their flashy, many note extravaganzas Miles Davis - Trumpet
Julian 'Cannonball'Adderley - Alto Sax
John Coltrane - tenor sax
Bill Evans - Piano
Paul Chambers - bass
Jimmy Cobb - drums G7 G7 G7 G7 Gm7 Gm7 G7 G7 G7 G7 D7#9 D7#9 Eb7#9 G7 = G, B, D, F

C7 = C, E, G, B

D7#9= D, F#, A, C, F

Eb7#9= Eb, G, Bb, Db, F Notice there are dominant sevenths chords used.

Adding an extra note to a chord is known as extending the chords. this is very common in Jazz

The last line uses extended chords where the harmony is made more interesting. 12 Bar blues
Sequence Structure
the chord sequence in a jazz song 'The Changes' In total All Blues plays the 12 Bar Blues pattern 19 times with a four bar riff in between each main section. One statement of the 12 bar blues chord progression is called a chorus. The main pre-written melody is called the Head; solo choruses are improvised over the same 12 Bar Blues chord sequence.

Let's have a listen and map out the structure!

Some eeeeasy questions for you...

1. What is the time signature of 'All Blues'?

2. What is the name of the chord sequence on which the changes are based?

3. Name the three frontline instruments.

4. What is the term given to the chordal backing the piano is playing during the solos? Harmony and Tonality 'All blues' is related to the blues. The blues influence can be heard in the 12-bar blues chord structure and the use of blue notes. G7 'All Blues' uses 7th (major triad with minor 7th added on top e.g. G7 = G B D + F) and minor 7th (minor triad with a minor 7th added on top e.g. Gm7 = G Bb D + F) chords. These are known as extended chords. Some chords are changed more radically. The third phrase uses altered chords (e.g. D7#9 and Eb7#9) - this is chromatic harmony. You know what a 7 chord consists of... can you work out the notes in these 2 altered chords?

Chromatic harmony uses notes from outside the key to colour the chords. Harmony and Tonality G7 G7 G7 Gm7 Gm7 G7 G7 G7 G7 D7#9 D7#9 Eb7#9 Notice there are dominant sevenths chords used.

Adding an extra note to a chord is known as extending the chords. this is very common in Jazz

The last line uses altered chords where the harmony is made more interesting. G7 All Blues - The Changes All Blues uses EXTENDED CHORDS such as 7ths, and the last line also uses ALTERED CHORDS.

A Dominant 7th is a normal triad with the 7th note above the bass added.

The dominant 7th is ALWAYS a whole tone below the root note, so the dominant 7th of the chord of C is a Bb. All Blues - The Changes All Blues - The Changes What are extended chords? Give an example.

Why are extended chords used in Jazz?

What is the chord sequence used in All Blues? Miles Davis - Trumpet
Julian 'Cannonball'Adderley - Alto Sax
John Coltrane - tenor sax
Bill Evans - Piano
Paul Chambers - bass
Jimmy Cobb - drums Extended and Altered chord challenge 1. Start with a 12 bar blues (Make sure you can play it fluently)

2. Extend/alter the chords. Extended and Altered chord challenge I II III IV V VI VII

G A B C D E F# R T T S T T T S Rhythm, Tempo and Metre 'All Blues is described as a jazz waltz.

The time signature for All Blues is...?

As is typical with Jazz music the quavers are swung. This means that each pairs of quavers is played with the first a little longer than the second thus creating a triplet feel.

Triplet = 1 beat split into 3! Rhythm, Tempo and Metre There is also a frequent use of syncopation This is when notes are accented off the beat. The weak part of the beat is often emphasised.

Find an example in your score!! Rhythm, Tempo and Metre Other rhythmic devices used:


Cross rhythms
rhythms that literally cross the usual pattern of accented and unaccented beats (barlines), creating irregular accents and syncopated effects Melody Within which section is the melody heard?

Which instrument plays the main melody?

Which instruments accompany the melody? Melody The head melody is characterised by rising 6ths from D to B, and continues with simple stepwise (conjunct) movement.

This is an example of Cool Modal Jazz which is quite unlike the fast and high trumpet lines heard in Miles Davis’ bebop of the 1940s. What are rising 6ths?

What does this mean...?? Melody The accompanying riff includes the saxes playing a swaying figure in parallel thirds.

It moves stepwise in a very narrow range. Techniques - The upright bass plays using pizzicato throughout.
- The trumpet uses a Harmon Mute during the Head sections.
- The piano plays a tremolo/flutter at the start of the piece. Once thye solos begin the piano starts comping (accompanying) with chords and little melodic phrases.
- The snare drum on the drum kit is played using wire brushes early on, then switches to sticks.
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