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Chapter 18

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XVIII. ANALYSIS: The BIG Picture


TRANSCRIPTION
It is often said that transcribing jazz improvisations is one of the best tools for learning to improvise jazz. Transcription is a great tool, but many questions arise: why? what to transcribe? how much? how to? what is done after transcribing? Analysis is defined as the separation whole into separate components for individual study. The previous chapters have dealt with many of these separate components, approaches and tools for developing jazz music. The material was gathered and sorted from hundreds of transcriptions of great jazz performances. How do these pieces fit into the whole of a jazz improvisation? This chapter will attempt to answer the why, what, how much, and what then questions of jazz transcription and analysis. Five well-known improvisations will be analyzed. The analyses should be studied in conjunction with repeated listening to the recordings.

WHY TRANSCRIBE?
Like so many other arts, learning jazz improvisation owes much to imitating the Masters. Every great jazz artist can list those they imitated while learning to play. These artists developed their own unique voice while emulating someone else; much the same way a child becomes a unique individual even though beginning by imitating parents words and actions. Historically, imitation was the only way jazz was passed on from one musician to another and from one generation to another. Books about jazz came later. Ear development is one of the primary benefits of transcribing. Training the ears to take musical dictation from an outside source helps the ears hear the music from the inside source. Imitation should go beyond just playing the notes and rhythms: an artists inflections and articulations should also be mimicked. There is a common musical vocabulary that all jazz musicians must know. This vocabulary is part of the socialization of jazz musicians. We often listen for that common language from an artist before accepting the unique artistic expressions. We are often more comfortable with the individual expression of an artist once we sense they have done their homework and speak our common language. Transcription expedites the development of melodic vocabulary.

WHAT & HOW MUCH to TRANSCRIBE?


Transcribe what interests you as an artist. Begin transcribing improvisations with a low degree of difficulty in order to develop skills and to prevent discouragement. The first attempts should be short phrases, maybe only two to four measures of a particular improvisation. One or two potent phrases can provide hours of practice room material. With practice, entire improvisations will be easier to transcribe. In the beginning an entire improvisation might be too difficult, too time consuming, and too much to digest to make it worth the investment of time.

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HOW TO?
There are many methods and tools to aid transcription. There are many digital devices that can slow down the playback of a recording and even stop the recording on a single note. These may help the process, but can in some ways be damaging to the learning process. Stopping a melodic line on every pitch and plucking randomly on an instrument to find the pitch will be time consuming and counterproductive. Learn to depend on your ear. Resist the temptation to check every single pitch with an instrument. Write out the phrase and then check it for accuracy with an outside source. Try to hear phrases, not just individual pitches. Let your intellect assist your ears. For example, if a piece is in Bb, then the Bb, D and F will sound consonant and the other pitches will sound dissonant to varying degrees. Groups of chromatic and diatonic dissonances will usually point to a consonant note. Learn to hear those groups of notes as you would perceive a noun clause or a verb clause in a sentence: not as separate words or letters but as a unit. In difficult passages it may be helpful to notate rhythms first, identify the primary pitches on downbeats and significant rhythmic places, and then fill in the secondary pitches that complete the line.

WHAT THEN?
After completing a transcription fragment or complete improvisation, analyze the material. Determine what is being done literally and conceptually. Practice playing the entire transcription along with the recording matching rhythms, pitches, phrasing and articulations. Take choice fragments and practice them literally in all keys. Examine the same fragments conceptually: what musical principles are at work? How could the same principles apply in a different way to the same or other musical settings? What could be added or subtracted to the fragment and how else might it be applied? One fragment could occupy hours of inventive work in the practice room.

ANALYSIS
Why analyze a solo? There is a practical motive for most jazz theorists: we want to play quality jazz solos. By examining outstanding improvisations by great jazz artists we can find specific things to practice, find ways of organizing our thinking about structure, train our ears and brains to listen more intently and intelligently to the music we love. Analysis is defined as the separation whole into separate components for individual study. Data must be gathered, sorted into categories and classified, and then connections and conclusions can be formulated. Analysis begins with asking the right questions. Better questions yield more useful information. Have a list of questions on hand when you begin your analysis. No improvisation will include all the elements on any list. There is no set formula or paradigm for a jazz improvisation. Several improvisations will share similar characteristics. One improvisation may focus on thematic and motivic transformation, another on improvising over the harmony using common melodic outlines, another may rely on paraphrasing the original theme. Treat each improvisation as an individual avoiding forcing square pegs into round holes or dismissing one as irrelevant because it does utilize the same principles as another. Do not try to make the improvisation fit your idea of what should be there; analyze what is actually in the music. Some questions may lead to dead ends. A specific approach may be searched for and not found. Determine that by asking the questions, and then move on to another area. Traces of one approach may be found, and later determine to be insignificant for the analysis. Leave it behind, the job is not to justify every note, or to justify any note. The absence of a specific approach may be significant to the analysis.

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Some of your search should be microscopic, and some macroscopic. You may have to examine small pieces of the solo, down to individual notes in some cases. You should also step back and look at the overall larger picture of the solo: how does it build? what are the devices that give the entire solo form and structure? Is there a shape and how is it achieved? Examine the trees and the forest.

SPECIFIC QUESTIONS to ASK ABOUT an IMPROVISATION:


The outline below is a source for questions about the specific devices used to create an improvisation. An improvisation can be based on the melodic material or the harmonic structure. A study of theme and variations by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and others will reveal the same: that variations are based on melodic or harmonic material. Within these two large categories are many separate divisions. If the improvisation is based on melodic paraphrasing, what devices were used? If the improvisation is based on the harmonic progression, was it specific or general? I. Paraphrasing the Melody A. What figurations were added to the melody? (NTs, PT, arpeggio tones, etc.) B. How was the rhythmic content altered? C. How was the general contour ornamenting or embellished? II. Improvising on the Harmony A. Harmonic Generalization 1. Triadic generalization 2. Blues scales 3. Common clichs B. Harmonically Specific 1. Specific arpeggios (1-3-5-7 & 3-5-7-9) 2. Scales (related first to the key center, or specific chord symbol) 3. Guide tones (3rds & 7ths) 4. Outlines nos. 1, 2 & 3 5. Step progression: simple ascending or descending step motion in the middle of more angular lines. (Outline no. 1 is a typical example.) C. Harmonic superimposition 1. Tritone substitutions 2. Additions to the basic progression 3. Specific scale colorizations 4. Mode changes 5. Side slipping or planing An improvisation may include many overlapping concepts. A single phrase may begin using harmonic generalization, move to harmonic specificity and end by paraphrasing the original theme or melody. Within an improvisation, compositional and motivic devices may be applied to any of the developmental processes listed above. The list below reviews some of these devices that are illustrated in chapter 12 beginning on page 318. III. Compositional Devices for Motivic Development A. Repetition: The theme must recur for it to be a theme. What elements recur in the improvisation and how are they similar or different? B. Sequencing: Transposing to other pitch levels in a repeating series. C. Fragmentation: Using a smaller portion of the initial idea. D. Addition or interpolation: The opposite of fragmentation. Material is added to the motive. The new material can occur before, after, or in the middle of the original motive which is usually intact and recognizable.

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E. Embellish or ornament: This differs from the addition of notes before or after as it involves the elaboration of the original note using neighbor tones while still following the general contour of the original idea. F. Augmentation: To augment is to make something larger. Musically this can apply to the rhythmic units, the intervals and even the orchestration. G. Diminution: To diminish is to reduce something. This can apply to rhythmic units, the intervals and the orchestration. H. Inversion: The intervals of the original idea can be turned upside down. They can be inverted using exact intervals or generally following the diatonic intervals. I. Retrograde: The motive is played with the pitches in reverse order. This is not perceived by the casual observer, but can be a useful device. J. Retrograde inversion: the original can occur upside down and backwards. This is also not always recognizable to the casual observer. K. Displacement: May be applied to rhythms or pitches. Pitches may be displaced by moving them up or down an octave. A motive may be rhythmically displaced to a different part of the phrase earlier or later than might be expected L. Mode Change: The motive might be set in other modes. M. Iteration: Repetition. Making a simple rhythm more active by repeating melodic pitches. O. Quotes from other sources After closely examining individual notes in relationship to the original melody or harmonic structure, it is helpful to view the improvisation from a larger perspective. How are the phrases formed without considering harmonic implications? Is there a relationship between phrases? Are there connections? Do several phrases work together to imply larger architectonic forms? A phrase can begin only three different ways: before the downbeat, on the downbeat, and after the downbeat. A phrase can be long or short. Do the length and placement of phrases contribute to the musical result of the improvisation? IV. Phrasing A. Length (short or long, relationship) B. Placement (before, on, after) C. Connections (last notes or note of one phrase begins the next phrase)

What types of rhythmic character are present in the improvisation? Were there instances of polyrhythmic superimposition? Was there a contrast between simple and complex subdivisions? How does the rhythmic character contribute to the structure of phrases, phrase groups and the overall form? VI. Rhythmic Development (polyrhythm, contrasts)

How was contrast used as a developmental tool? VII. Contrasts to look for: A. Harmonic specificity and harmonic generalization B. High and low ranges C. Loud and soft D. Simplicity and complexity E. Short and long phrases F. Thick textures and space G. Agitated and calm

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The improvisation can be examined in an even larger context. What is the overall shape and character? What musical mechanisms help determine the contour? VIII. A. B. C. D. E. F. Overall Character Agitated, calm, relentless, conversational, etc. What musical elements contribute to the overall mood? When is the high point of the solo? How is that achieved? Resolves conflict or not? What is attractive about the solo? sound? rhythm? melodic ideas? technical interest? formal? feeling? Harmonic vocabulary It is recommended that the following improvisation analyses be studied in conjunction with frequent listening to the recordings.

SO WHAT:

MILES DAVIS

In the liner notes from the Kind of Blue recording session, Bill Evans described the tune So What as a simple figure based on 16 measures of one scale, 8 of another and 8 more of the first. Miles Davis did not base his So What improvisation on scale running. Without the harmonic framework of traditional harmony, Davis chose to develop his ideas using motivic devices including: repetition, fragmentation, sequencing, and diminution. Davis improvised two thirty-two measures choruses employing two major themes, one for each chorus with some overlap, and referred to both themes in his closing statement. Davis introduced theme 1 in m.2 after a initial sigh motive. Theme no. 1 can be divided into three parts as indicated by the lower case letters a., b., and c. The theme is a palindrome1 with an additional note at the end. The rising fragment of a. was balanced by the falling fragment of c. Davis sequenced the theme in mm.4-7. The fragment c. was saved for the end of the phrase as Davis worked primarily with fragments a. and b. Fragment b. was transposed up a diatonic third in m.6. Fragment c. was rhythmically displaced to end on the upbeat of beat four in m.7. The D was repeated up an octave to bridge the first A section with the second and recalls the initial sigh motive. 18.1

&c

. .
1

Theme 1:

a. b. X

j . - . c. .

b.

Sequence:

b.

j
a.

Seq. cont.: b.

& .
a.

b. > J > . c. a.

Fragment b. occurred inverted in m.10 and was answered by fragment c. The pitches of c. were changed, but the general shape (descending, ending with repeated note) remains unchanged. This occurrence alone may be difficult to hear, but in conjunction with numerous appearances of fragment c. at the ends
1 A word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward. Examples: radar, refer, civic, deified, rotator, Poor Dan is in a droop.

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of phrases the relationship becomes clear. The inversion of b. returned in m.14 transposed up a step from m.10 and again was answered by fragment c. Fragment c. was preceded by triadic material in m.13: the E a leading tone to F, a passing tone (G), A and the leading tone C#. These two phrases in the second A section are symmetrical. b. inverted

&

> .

(1/2 V)

c.

. . . # j &
3

b. inverted

J . . c.

Section B began with a. transposed a tritone away from its first occurrence in m.3. A scale passage that may suggest fragment a. followed. The line ended with fragment c. again, up a half-step from its last appearance in m.15. Another scale passage followed that included the unusual leap of a tritone (D-Ab) in m.23. This phrase, as all preceding phrases, ended with fragment c., this time transposed up a perfect fifth higher than in m.15. The pitches (D and A) are the same as those in m.3 and m.7, but inverted and the rhythmic value of the repeated notes is augmented

b > b b b & b b b . b> .


a.

c.

b b b > >

b b > >

& b j . >
1

c.

> c. b . b ^ # # b b n j b b b> b b > b> b > > >


(1/2 V)

& .
5

c.

>

The inversion of fragment b. returned in m.30 answered by fragment c. Fragment c. occurred with the same pitches in m.25 and m.31. This short idea signaled the end to the first chorus. b. inverted

&
9

>

>

c.

Theme 2:

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The second chorus is an ideal structural point to introduce a second theme. Davis chose a secondary theme that contrasted in many ways to the theme no. 1. Theme no. 1 was introduced between the pitches of D and A; theme no. 2 is between C and G in an upper register. Theme no. 1 was rhythmically active with eighth note subdivisions; theme no. 2 floated above the rhythm section using notes of longer values. Theme no. 2 anticipated the second chorus and is answered in mm.34-35. Theme no. 2 was stated again in the lower register in mm.36-37 and was answered in mm.38-39 similarly to mm.34-35. An inverted fragment b. appeared to be a part of the answer to theme no. 2.
II

&
3

Theme 2:

. J ^ .

b. inverted

. J

Theme 2 down octave:

(1/2 V)

Theme 2 answer T2 down octave T2 answer in upper octave:

&
7

(1/2 V)

b. inverted

The second A section of the second chorus began with a bluesy response to theme no. 2. The first two short phrases end with fragment c. of theme no. 1. It is as if Davis wanted to remind the listener of the first theme before further development of the second theme. The phrase in mm.45-47 which is nearly identical to the sequence that occurred in mm.4-7 was an additional reminder of the material of theme no. 1. Bluesy response
(1/2 V)

. & b
1

> >
c.

j
b. b.

(1/2 V)

.
c.

j .

T2 up half-step:

Sequence of T1. Echoes mm.4-7: b.

& j . .
a.

j . > >
a.

> j .
c.

Having reacquainted the listener with theme no. 1, Davis continued the development of theme no. 2. At section B of the second chorus Davis played theme no. 2 up a half-step. The answer in the lower octave, in mm.50-51 was filled in with passing tones. A short passage (mm.53-54) that recalled fragment a. of theme no. 1 ended with theme no. 2 transposed to another pitch level in m.55.

. &
9

T2 up half-step:

J b

. b b b J . .

T2 with PTs down octave:

b b

j >

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> > b bJ b b . J b bJ & b b> b> .


3

a.

T2 transposed:

a.

a.

Davis anticipated the last section of the chorus with a return of theme no. 2 in the original key. The answer in m.59 was rhythmically more active than previously heard. A response grew out of the theme no. 2 answer that included the inverted fragment b. and fragment c. T2

&
7

T2 answer

. j

b. inverted

> .
c.

A concluding paragraph of a well written essay sums up the major points discussed in the exposition and body. Davis seemed to follow this model and refers to both themes in his concluding line. The line begins with fragment a. as if to restate the sequences found in mm.4-7 or mm.45-47. Theme no. 2 recurred in m.63, and then Davis played the remainder of theme no. 1 ending with a rhythmic augmented fragment c.

& >
1

> j b # > > >


a.

T2

. j # - > .
c.

EXCERPTS from SO WHAT


Separating individual motives and themes, the component parts of the whole improvisation, makes them easier to trace, examine and compare their characteristics. Theme no. 1 is shown with its three fragments in ex. 18.2. 18.2 Theme no. 1 Fragment a. Fragment b. Fragment c.

j & . - . .
2

j j .

The M shaped palindrome structure of theme no. 1 is clear as illustrated in ex. 18.3. 18.3 Theme no. 1 as a Palindrome

&w

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Davis began developing theme no. 1 by repeating the first two fragments, transposing fragment b. and returning to the complete theme in this phrase from mm.4-7. 18.4 Repetition of theme no. 1 fragments from mm.4-7. b. b.

& j
4

a.

b. X

> J

b.

a.

> . a.
c.

Forty-one measures after mm.4-7, Davis recalled and played almost the exact phrase in mm.45-47. 18.5 Repetition of theme no. 1 fragments from mm.45-47 b.

& j . .
45

j > >.
a.

b.

> j .
c.

b.

a.

Twelve phrases in the improvisation ended with fragment c. This recurrence of material unified the improvisation more than any other element. The first two occurrences were almost identical, both ended on an upbeat and both used the dominant falling to the tonic. The third occurrence in m.12 was a bit disguised with smaller intervals and augmented rhythmic values. In m.15, the rhythmic values of fragment c. were closer to the original although the interval was slightly diminished. MM.21-22 recalled the fragment heard in m.15, but up a half-step. The original pitches, though inverted, returned in the two occurrences at mm.24-25 and mm.30-31. Davis created a rising step progression with the endings of the three phrases in mm.41-47. Each phrase ended with fragment c. and each fragment was a step higher than the previous (mm.41, 43 and 47.) The fragment from mm.60-61 used the same pitches as that of m.47. Davis ended the improvisation in mm.64-65 with the original pitches, the dominant and tonic, but the rhythmic values were doubled. 18.6 Twelve occurrences of fragment c. as phrase endings

&

j
3

&

j
8

&


12

&


16

j & b b j .
21

&

J
25

&

J
31

&
41

&
43

j .

&
47

j . J

&

J
61

&
65

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At the midpoint of the two chorus improvisation after developing one theme and its fragments for the first half, Davis introduced a contrasting second theme. Theme no. 2 floated while the first was more rhythmically active. Theme no. 1 was primarily constructed with the notes of a D minor chord and the second was based on the upper extensions, the 7-9-11, or a superimposed C major triad over the D dorian. Davis repeated theme no. 2 with the first two pitches transposed down an octave. Theme no. 2 returned anticipating the B section in m.48. The triadic shape of the answer was disguised with passing tones. A short reference to the triadic theme no. 2 occurred in mm.54-55. Davis anticipated the last A section with another return of theme no. 2 in m.56. Theme no. 2 recurred one last time in m.63 as a part of the last phrase, a summary including material from both themes. 18.7 Occurrences of Theme no. 2 b. inverted

&

33

. J
(1/2 V)

. J

&

37

b
49

&

J b

. b b b J . .

b b

&

b J
55

b .

. j

&
18.8


57

Last phrase of improvisation as summary of all thematic materials Theme no. 2

> b # & j > > >


62

j # - > .

c.

a.

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OVERVIEW of THEMATIC MATERIAL


The charts below provide a overview of the thematic material in the Davis improvisation. FIRST CHORUS A (mm.1-8) Theme no. 1, fragments a., b., & c. A (mm.9-16) Fragment a., inversion of b. B (mm.17-24) Fragments a., c., & inversion of b. A (mm.25-32) Fragment a., inversion of b

SECOND CHORUS A (mm.33-40) Theme no. 2, inversion of b., fragment of Theme 2 A (mm.41-48) Theme no. 1, fragments a., b., & c. B (mm.49-56) Theme no. 2, fragment a. A (mm.57-64) Theme no. 2, inversion of b. Summary of all ideas in the last phrase: (mm.62-65)

Without a harmonic progression, this modal improvisation included no guide-tones or outlines. There were no instances of exotic scales or harmonic substitutions. Davis developed two main themes and their fragments using motivic devices including: repetition, fragmentation, sequencing, and diminution. This improvisation is an exceptional lesson in motivic development and economical construction. Miles was frugal with notes, which made it easier to see and hear the simple structures. Miles constructed a logical improvisation manipulating fragments of his themes like Picasso in an analytical cubist painting.

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ANALYSIS SUMMARY
In any search for meaning, the answers can only be as good as the questions asked. More questions yield more information and the more information helps bring the picture of the whole into better focus. There is no indisputable paradigm for the form or approach to a jazz improvisation. Improvisations are as unique as the artists who create them. There are many elements of music about which many questions can be formed. Be prepared to accept the music as it is, ask the questions, accept the answers. If one tool for analysis works, then implement it; when it becomes ineffective, replace it with another tool. Many musical materials overlap. A common melodic outline implies the use of guide tones and may create a step progression. An outline may be sequenced. Some lines can be at once harmonically general and specific. Guide tones may be observed within a line based on triadic generalization. Learn to examine more than just notes in relationship to chords. Learn to consider melodies lines as horizontal, linear entities and avoid strict, vertical thinking. How are the phrases related? What is the rhythmic character? The significant notes may be on the downbeats of the measure but they can be anticipated and delayed. Measure lines exist only in music notation. What elements contribute to the character of the whole or parts of the improvisation? Good music theory reveals something about the way the music sounds and suggests practical applications for implementing those concepts. Developing Practice Materials The book, Comprehensive Technique for Jazz Musicians, was written from materials gathered from transcriptions. There are numerous examples of extracted practical musical concepts and applications for implementing them in improvisations and compositions. These would include: Extract specific examples from solos. Learn in all keys. Transpose to minor. Add to, take away and personally adapt these ideas. Use large scale charts of improvisational approaches in creating improvisation agendas for practice. Extract rhythmic ideas to add to your vocabulary. Include contrasts between simple and complex subdivisions, polyrhythmic ideas, displacement, etc.

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