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Miles Davis: ‘All Blues’ from the album Kind of Blue (1959)

Updated on December 23, 2012

Miles Davis: 'All Blues' from the album Kind of Blue (1959)

The American jazz trumpiter, Miles Davis, was born in 1926 and died in '91. He introduced new styles of jazz into the world.

Davis studied in New York at 'Julliard School of Music' but left to play professional be-bop and jazz. He later played a laid back style of jazz called 'cool jazz'.

In the 50s, he started using modes to improvise rather than chords - quite cleverly called modal jazz. He also introduced new instruments into jazz during the 60s, such as electric bass' and pianos. He also introduced a new 'fused' rock and jazz.

'All Blues'

All blues is a track on the abum 'Kind of Blue'. This was recorded in a very different fashion to today's music. Just before they recorded Davis gave the other musicans the modes/notes/scales/melodies they would use to improvise, and the track was recorded on its second take. The album also took very little time to record.

Jazz

Jazz is a genre which evolved from a fusion of African music from the slaves in southern usa and from folk music from Europeans. It came about at the end of the 19th century. Jazz is generally characterised by improvised melodies, syncopation (offbeat rhythms) and swung rhythms. Improvisation is based on the modes/chords/notes/scales of the piece and the mood of the moment - it can seem hard to improvise at first, but eventually youc can learn (if you want!).

Trad jazz or traditional jazz came about at the beginning of the 20th century in New Orleans, Storyville.

Chord Structure

1

2

3

4


G7

G7

G7

G7


5

6

7

8


C7

C7

G7

G7


9

10

11

12


D7#9

Eb7#9->D7#9

G7

G7

This, like any other set work's chord structure, you need to learn the chords! Its very likely you'll be asked to fill in a skeleton chord structure.

MAD T-SHIRT

What is it?

MAD T-SHIRT is a tip for remembering musical features by going through 9 key parts of any musical piece.

They are:

Melody, Articulation, Dynamics, Texture, Structure, Harmony (tonality), Instrumentation, Rhythm, Tempo

MAD T-SHIRT

All Blues

Melody
- Piano Comping as solos play
- Modal jazz solo's, rather than basing a solo over the changes of chords, the soloist would play over different modes, freeing the player
- soloists use a mixolydian mode to help improvise

Articulation
- The intro riff has a tenuto on the minim, with a staccato quaver, making the quaver sound like a grace note

Dynamics
- The solo is always louder when they are playing, so the soloist can be heard clearly
- The second part of the head has crescendos and diminuendos on the minims, making the notes seem longer (augmented) and more relaxed

Texture
- Thin to start, piano, drums, and bass open, then saxes come in playing a harmonised riff (intro riff), then a muted trumpet playing the head. Saxes drop out when solos start

Structure
- 12 bar blues sequence with 4 bar linking riff, this repeats 19 times

Harmony (tonality)
- Key of G major

Instrumentation
- trumpet, alto sax, tenor sax, drum kit, piano, bass

Rhythm
- Time signature of 6/4 but it seems like 3/4 with the slow rhythms and long notes

Tempo
- 156 bmp, but seems as its 2 dotted minims of 52 bmp

Glossary

Ragtime - A type of music popular in the early 20th century America with syncopated rhythms (Jazz came from Ragtime)

Blue note - flattened 3rds, 7ths and sometimes 5ths of a major scale

New Orleans Jazz - first recognised jazz style, originated in New Orleans

Bebop - a type of jazz with complex harmonies and fast syncopated rhythms

Big band - a band that plays jazz and swing music

Swing - a type of jazz from the 1930s and 40's that could be danced to

Head - main theme of a jazz piece

Modal jazz - Modal jazz is jazz that uses modes, rather than chord progressions as a harmony.

Chromatic - the notes that do not belong in the mode or scale upon which a composition is made

Comping - chords played on the guitar or piano underneath an improvised solo, usually short and staccato

Frontline - the main instruments in the band

Voicing - ordering pitches in a chord differently to give a certain effect

Swung Rhythm - notes of equal value may be played differently to others to add a syncopated or off-beat feel

Syncopation - rhythm where the accents are shifted from the main beat to a weaker beat

Triplet Rhythm - a rhythm made up of triplets, which could contrast or create a polyrhythmic texture with the other melodic lines

Hemiola - when the music feels like it's in 2/4 when its actually in 3/4 (or 6/4)

Rhythmic Displacement - when the rhythm has move into a different meter, throwing the listener's comfort, even though it's still the same. E.g. the phase shift might start a beat early, or 2 beats, creating tension or dissonance.

Cross Rhythms - musical rhythms don't fit together that can add a syncopated feel

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