All Blues-Miles Davis AOS3 GCSE Music Edexcel

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Background

  • Jazz originates from South America in the early 20th century, sung by African slaves.
  • Main feature of jazz, across all types of jazz, is improvisation.
  • Miles Davis was one of the best known Jazz trumpeters, and he developed modal Jazz, which All Blues is an example of.
  • Bebop jazz is a fast and virtuosic type of jazz, with improvisations based on complex chord progressions.
  • Modal, however, is more laid-back and uncomplicated.
  • All Blues is from the album Kind of Blue, which was recorded in New York on 2 March and 22 April 1959.
  • From a sextet, a group of 6 players.
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Instrumentation and Instrumental Techniques

  • Frontline- the main melody and prominent solos-
    • Trumpet-Miles Davis
    • Alto sax-Julian Adderly
    • Tenor Sax-Paul Coltrane
  • Rhythm section-harmonic and rhythmic backing-
    • Piano-Bill Evans
    • Bass guitar-Paul Chambers
    • Drums-Jim Cobbs
  • Snare drum-wire brushes are used at the start of the piece but then are changed to sticks later on.
  • Bass guitar-completely pizzicato all the way through.
  • Trumper-Harmon mute is used for the head meoldy, with its stem removed.
  • Piano begins comping in the solos; accompanying the solos with chords and short melodic ideas.
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Structure

  • The structure is a head arrangement. A head is the main melody, which is based on the 12 bar blues, played by the muted trumpet. One cycle of the 12 bar blues is a chorus. 
  • Introduction: Introduction and riff(played by saxes in minor thirds)
  • Head:
    • Head 1 and riff
    • Head 2 and riff.
  • Solos:
    • Trumpet solo (4 choruses) and riff
    • Alto sax solo (4 choruses) and riff
    • Tenor sax solo(4 choruses) and riff
    • Piano solo (4 choruses) and riff
  • Head:
    • Head 3 and riff
    • Head 4 and riff
  • Coda:
    • Muted trumpet solo.
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Melody

  • Introduction: piano plays clusters of semi-quavers: E, Fnatural, G, A.
  • The riffs by the saxes move in steps, and in a very narrow range.
  • The head melody is simply, with rising 6ths from D to B, which mirrors the falling leaps in the bass guitar.
  • Trumpet solo: Short, syncopated motifs. Ghost notes are used, which are very faint and quiet. Glissandos are used for 'fall offs'.
  • Alto sax solo: Wider range and quicker notes, full of scales and arpeggios.
  • Tenor sax solo: Quick runs and fast scales.
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Harmony and Tonality

  • It is in G major, with a flattened 7th, which means it is is Mixolydian mode.
  • Usual 12 bar blues in G:
    • G, G, G, G
    • C, C, G, G
    • D, C, G, G
  • The 12 bar blues chord progression sequence in All Blues:
    • G7, G7, G7, G7
    • Gm7, Gm7, G7, D7
    • Eb7#9/D7#9, F/G, F/G6
  • The saxes play in minor thirds in the intro riffs.
  • Extended chords (adding notes on top of normal chords) are used, a common feature of jazz.
  • For example, Eb7#9 Is Eb, G, Bb, Db, F#. Db is the 7th note above 3B and F# is the sharpened 9th note above Eb.
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Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

 

 

  • It is a jazz waltz, with 'swing quavers' as performance directions-this enhances the jazz feel.
  • It is in 6/4, which is unusual for jazz music, which is normally in 4/4.
  • Syncopation occurs all the time.
  • In the intro, the piano plays tremolo-like notes.
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