All Blues: Miles Davis

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I'm really struggling to find out some specific information about this peice. Could anyone tell me about...???

  • Structure
  • Performance Markings and Articulations
  • Rhythm
  • Tempo
  • Melody
  • Tonality/Harmony
  • Texture
  • Dynamics
  • Instrumentation/Use of a specific instrument.
  • Composition Date
  • A small amount of cultural/historical background detail.


Posted: 08-05-11 19:16 by Vanessa

‘All Blues’

The album was recorded with almost no rehearsal, and the musicians had no score to play from. They would have to know these things;

1.     The overall structure including who would solo and when

2.     The basic chord sequence

3.     The main melodic idea

4.     Which mode or scale to improvise on


*  ‘All Blues’ is based on the 12-bar blues progression.

*  The main melody is called the head and is played by a muted trumpet. It last for 12 bars and can be heard near the start and the end of the piece.

*  There is a simple 4 bar riff in parallel 3rds that separates each section.

*  The piece can be broken down into five sections...

o   Introduction – the opening four bars, played by the phthm section, is followed by the riff.

o   Head 1 – the head melody, followed by the riff, is played twice.

o   Solos – for trumpet, alto sax, tenor sax and piano, each followed by the riff.

o   Head 2 – the head melody, followed by the riff is played twice.

o   Coda – a solo for muted trumpet.

*  This structure is known as a head arrangement.


1)     The head melody is quite simple and characterised by the rising 6ths (the interval from D to B). This is followed by four improvised solos:

1.     Trumpet solo: lasts for 4 choruses. Mostly made up of short, syncopated motifs.

2.     Alto sax solo: lasts for 4 choruses. Uses quicker notes and a wider range, Adderly’s improvisation is more virtuosic than Davis’.

3.     Tenor sax solo: lasts for 4 choruses. Uses fast scales and quick runs; also very virtuosic.

4.     Piano solo: lasts for 2 choruses. This improvisation is calmer, with a simple melody that lads into a string of parallel chords.

Harmony and Tonality

*   Based on the 12 bar blues sequence.

*  We can think of ‘All Blues’ as being is G major, but with a flattened seventh, called a blue note.

*  This is the same as the Mixolydian mode, so we can also describe ‘All Blues’ as being an example of modal jazz.

Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

*  The score is notated in 6/4.

*  The tempo is described as a jazz waltz because each 6/4 bar sounds like a pair of bars in 3/4 time (the metre associated with waltz)

*  It is performed with swing quavers.

*  Frequent syncopation.

Instrumental Techniques

*  The snare drum is played with wire brushes at the start – it switches to sticks later on.

*  The bass plays pizzicato throughout.

*  The trumpet is played with a Harmon mute for the head.

*  The piano plays tremolo at the start of the piece. Once the solos begin, the pianist begins accompanying with chords and short melodic ideas. This is called comping.

Posted: 13-05-11 19:57 by Rebecca

I hope that helps; it is what I am learning. :) x

Posted: 13-05-11 19:57 by Rebecca

Thank you so much, that was amazing :D

Posted: 14-05-11 07:15 by Vanessa

Thank you! This is so good :)

Posted: 20-06-11 12:21 by Maura1