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'Round Midnight changes


Dave Horne

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I'm working through 'Round Midnight to add to my personal fake book and made a few changes and have an observation to make.

 

I'm using the melody from the Real Book. I really just copy the melody to my notation program and then add the chords myself without being influenced by the changes in the Real Book.

 

The Real Book chord change at the 1st ending is a B7 (going to a Bb7). (Technically, it should be a Cb7 and the melody should be Gb's (and then some) and not the F#'s. It's really a bVI chord change, not a #V, but all those flats make certain decisions inevitable.)

 

At any rate, instead of that B7, I use Cø7, F7 (going to the Bb7).

 

I've made other small changes as well. What do you guys play on the 1st ending (measure 7)?

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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"I'm using the melody from the Real Book. I really just copy the melody to my notation program and then add the chords myself without being influenced by the changes in the Real Book."

 

I would think this would be tough since I already have the chord structure firmly in my mind when I hear the melody. Interesting idea, though.

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Depends on what mood I'm in, but usually some flavor of C dominant followed by B dominant.

 

Monk himself plays here, on the first two beats of the measure C7#11 B7#11, tied over the second two beats, but without the third or ninth.

 

So for the first chord his LH hits C-Bb (below middle C) and his RH Gb above middle C. For the second chord his LH hits B-A and his right hand the F above middle C. And they're right on the first two beats. He plays pretty much these exact same chords with the same rhythm every time that measure comes around in his solo recording.

 

That measure in the Real Book is kind of annoying, since the melody they write there doesn't correspond either to the original or to any lyrics that are sung in that measure, and the chords don't correspond to the melody they write. But that's another topic ;)

 

That Monk recording is definitely worth listening to again if you haven't heard it in awhile, there's a ton of great ideas in it.

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Hope you don't mind if I posit a question rather than an answer, DH.

 

When dealing with material, especially in jazz idiom, do you approach it as a matter of melody & embellishment or of playing within the changes?

Do you construct an accompaniment to your improvisations (or interpretations, even if not improvised) or view the harmonic structure as a channel for linear invention?

 

I'm sure it's not a single approach for most but on what do you base your decision? Composer's apparent intent? Listeners's expectations?

The mood of the moment?

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When dealing with material, especially in jazz idiom, do you approach it as a matter of melody & embellishment or of playing within the changes?

It depends for whom I am playing. If I'm playing for mom and dad at a restaurant or hotel, I keep it simple - jazz light. I play the melody, embellish the melody and usually improvise for no more than eight bars at a time usually playing within the changes. After those eight bars, I make it a point to play the melody or an embellished melody so mom and dad don't get lost.

 

Do you construct an accompaniment to your improvisations (or interpretations, even if not improvised) or view the harmonic structure as a channel for linear invention?

Since 90% of my jobs are solo piano, I am the drummer and bass player (figuratively speaking) at the piano. I play a lot of stride or running bass lines. Even if there are jazz lovers close by, I still keep it rather tame. I view the harmonic progressions as a road map for my right hand lines as it were.

 

The people I usually play for are wealthy folks who are not very musically sophisticated (that's a generalization). If I had to define my playing, I would define it as jazz light. The listener should always know where I am in the tune, thus I usually don't improvise for more than eight bars or so at a time; plus the lines I play are directly related to the harmonies. You could probably supply most of my left hand by analyzing my right hand. That's a simplification, but pretty close.

 

I listen a great deal to Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Teddy Wilson and Dick Hyman, so you have a good idea of my influences. (I also realize that none of them would be considered jazz light, but I don't have the luxury of playing whatever I want whenever I want and still work as much as I do.

 

I do a lot of reharmonizations, which for me, on those jobs, gives me great satisfaction.

 

I hope that more or less answer your questions.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Every musician seems to have a different version of 'Round Midnight'... Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, all seem to enjoy wild reharmonization of Monk's original changes. I like Richard Beirach's dark, ominous version, and especially Herbie Hancock's version - he uses apparently unrelated chords to build a kind of impressionistic progression, with results of fantastic beauty IMO. I remember almost losing my mind trying to figure out those chords... :)

 

BTW, here's what I personally use in that spot:

F7#5 b9 leading to Bb7sus4 b9. I play the second chord as an Abm triad/Bb bass. Then I resolve the Eb top note into a D, making it a 'regular' Bb7 b9.

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Just to clarify what I wrote. On the lead sheet I created (at bar 7), I wrote Cmø7 F7.

 

What I actually play is (LH // RH) C // Bb, C, Eb, Gb (for the Cmø7) and F, Eb // Gb, A, C, F for the F7.

 

I find it very tiring to write out exactly what I intend to play in the chord notation. I just use the notation to get me in the ballpark ... and to give the bass player a general idea.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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As a jazz pianist don't you play it various different ways? And don't you at at least vary the voicings if not the chord changes? If you are worried about always agreein with the bass player, than what I do is write the alternative changes above the common changes. There are a number of different changes that Monk and others have played on Round' Midnight.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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As a jazz pianist don't you play it various different ways?
Yes, but I like to have the bass player play more or less what I expect him to play.

 

In this example, the Real Book has a B7 chord (actually a Cb7) and I prefer a cø7 F7. I will keep those basic chords in mind and play extensions while the bass player works from what I gave him. I'm more or less guaranteed that he will play what I want to hear.

 

If you are worried about always agreein with the bass player, than what I do is write the alternative changes above the common changes. There are a number of different changes that Monk and others have played on Round' Midnight.

I more concerned that the bass player agrees with me than the other way around. Some players when confronted with a G7 C progression will go out of their way to play anything but that. Some bass players will see that G7 and automatically play Db. I would prefer to hear the G in the bass while I play the Db9+11 and that's why I go out of my way to create my own lead sheets. It allows me some control over what I really expect to hear from the bass player.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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