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A study of "So what" by miles davis


LLroomtempJ

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So...

 

I'm studying this song. I've figured out the chords, but i'm sooooooo confused.

 

The chords in the solo section are d7 and eb7. However, the bass player is walking d and eb minor and IT FITS!! WHY???

 

Is the piano player allowing him to define the 3rds and i just can't hear it? Did i just hear the chords incorrectly?

 

I remember reading some theory about about using the perfect 4th above the root of the 7 chord to solo over (e.g. playing g major over a d7 chord)...but that doesn't explain what the bass player is doing.

 

I've yet to get to the solos in the song, but i'm sure they'll be just as difficult b/c of all the modes that i don't know.

 

help!

 

jason

2cor5:21

Soli Deo Gloria

 

"it's the beauty of a community. it takes a village to raise a[n] [LLroomtempJ]." -robb

 

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The tune is modal. I doubt there is a D7 or Eb7. The modes are D dorian and Eb dorian. Bill Evans plays voicings based largely on 4th but mostly within the modes so Dm7 then Ebm7 would be more accurate - I doubt he plays any major thirds. On the keyboard this is all white keys on the A sections and mostly black keys on the B sections.

Paul Chamber splays the bass around Dm7 and Ebm7. He uses mostly the dorian modes but makes some use of chromatics (often playing the C# on the Dm as a passing tone).

 

So on the A sections, solo on Dm7 (D, E, F, G, A, B, C)

and on the B sections solo on Ebm7 (Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C, Db.

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Same thing with Impression by John Coltrane.

 

There's a lot of modal music written during those years ('47-'57), the cool jazz era. You should listen "A love supreme" (Coltrane) too.

 

Have fun, and take your time. It's the best way to really learn something.

 

Mj

I've no more a guilty conscience, only a stomach.
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Yeah, it's worth learning to sing and then transcribe/play Miles' solo on the original too. Condensed melody! Try to hear George Russell's big band version where he orchestrates Miles' solo as a melody/head.

When I play the head/melody chords on bass I tend to play the bass melody followed by a Asus to a G sus over the 'So What' horn/piano phrase. (EAD harmonics sliding down to DGC harmonics). This is a simplification of the original and of course you can also play it using fretted notes. It's all based around Dm7. Try to think of chords and scales as the same thing.

Dm7 can be extended to D F A C E G B D

D Dorian is D E F G A B C D.

Of course over the B section, play the voicings up a semitone.

It helps when soloing to remember that you can just take any phrase or note up a semitone when you start the B section.

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Quartal Voicings

A style of voicing made popular by McCoy Tyner is based on the interval of the fourth. This type of voicing is used most often in modal music. To construct a quartal voicing, simply take any note in the scale associated with the chord, and add the note a fourth above, and a fourth above that. Use perfect fourths or augmented fourths depending on which note is in the scale. For instance, quartal voicings for Cm7 are "C F Bb", "D G C", "Eb A D" (note the augmented fourth), "F Bb Eb", "G C F", "A D G", and "Bb Eb A". This type of voicing seems to work especially well for minor chords (dorian mode), or dominant chords where a suspended or pentatonic sound is being used.

These voicings are even more ambiguous, in that a given three note quartal voicing can sound like a voicing for any number of different chords. There is nothing wrong with this. However, if you wish to reinforce the particular chord/scale you are playing, one way to do this is to move the voicing around the scale in parallel motion. If there are eight beats of a given chord, you may play one of these voicings for the first few beats, then move it up a step for a few more beats. The technique of alternating the voicing with the root in the bass, or the root and fifth, works well here, too. On a long Cm7 chord, for instance, you might play "C G" on the first beat, then play some quartal voicings in parallel motion for the duration of the chord.

 

As with the 3/7 voicings, these voicings are convenient left hand voicings on the piano or three or four string voicings on the guitar. They can also be made into two handed or five or six string voicings by stacking more fourths, fifths or octaves on top. For instance, the Cm7 chord can be voiced as "D G C" in the left hand and "F Bb Eb" in the right, or "Eb A D" in the left and "G C G" in the right. The tune "So What" from the album Kind Of Blue used voicings consisting of three fourths and a major third. On a Dm7 chord, the voicings used were "E A D G B" and "D G C F A".

 

Marc Sabatella

http://outsideshore.com/primer/primer/

Apologies for the naughty, long quote but I think it's valuable stuff. ;)

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Jason, "So What" is also the title of a biography of the man written by John Szwed. Only made it through the first half of the book (400 pgs plus notes and discography) but it's a must read for anyone interested in Miles' music. It's not as self-centered and controversial as his autobiographies and it provides a well-researched insight into the forces that shaped his music.

Enough said. Your library should have a copy by now. That's how good it is. :wave:

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  • 1 month later...

Hm...missed this the first time 'round. Good stuff. I'll have to check out the biography.

 

Originally posted by G7TZ:

I remember reading some theory about about using the perfect 4th above the root of the 7 chord to solo over (e.g. playing g major over a d7 chord)...but that doesn't explain what the bass player is doing.

That's because a 7 chord is a dominant chord (hence being called a "dominant 7" chord) so it is taken from the 5 of the key or tonic. All that just to say the same thing you did but the other way around...tonic being a 4th above the 7 chord or the 7 chord being a 5th above the tonic.
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Originally posted by Phil W:

Quartal Voicings

A style of voicing made popular by McCoy Tyner is based on the interval of the fourth. This type of voicing is used most often in modal music. To construct a quartal voicing, simply take any note in the scale associated with the chord, and add the note a fourth above, and a fourth above that. Use perfect fourths or augmented fourths depending on which note is in the scale. For instance, quartal voicings for Cm7 are "C F Bb", "D G C", "Eb A D" (note the augmented fourth), "F Bb Eb", "G C F", "A D G", and "Bb Eb A". This type of voicing seems to work especially well for minor chords (dorian mode), or dominant chords where a suspended or pentatonic sound is being used.

These voicings are even more ambiguous, in that a given three note quartal voicing can sound like a voicing for any number of different chords. There is nothing wrong with this. However, if you wish to reinforce the particular chord/scale you are playing, one way to do this is to move the voicing around the scale in parallel motion. If there are eight beats of a given chord, you may play one of these voicings for the first few beats, then move it up a step for a few more beats. The technique of alternating the voicing with the root in the bass, or the root and fifth, works well here, too. On a long Cm7 chord, for instance, you might play "C G" on the first beat, then play some quartal voicings in parallel motion for the duration of the chord.

 

As with the 3/7 voicings, these voicings are convenient left hand voicings on the piano or three or four string voicings on the guitar. They can also be made into two handed or five or six string voicings by stacking more fourths, fifths or octaves on top. For instance, the Cm7 chord can be voiced as "D G C" in the left hand and "F Bb Eb" in the right, or "Eb A D" in the left and "G C G" in the right. The tune "So What" from the album Kind Of Blue used voicings consisting of three fourths and a major third. On a Dm7 chord, the voicings used were "E A D G B" and "D G C F A".

 

Marc Sabatella

http://outsideshore.com/primer/primer/

Apologies for the naughty, long quote but I think it's valuable stuff. ;)

That was cool to read - I always wondered about the voicings in So What and I guess that just about clears it up!

 

Cheers

Stuart

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