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Herbie Hancock - The "Nefertiti" Interview

Herbie Hancock - The "Nefertiti" Interview

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Published by bird347504
The One and Only : Herbert Jeffery "Herbie" Hancock lays down the law in this extremely insightful interview on the Wayne Shorter masterpiece "Nefertiti". Taken from the Japanese periodical "Jazz Life" (1990).
The One and Only : Herbert Jeffery "Herbie" Hancock lays down the law in this extremely insightful interview on the Wayne Shorter masterpiece "Nefertiti". Taken from the Japanese periodical "Jazz Life" (1990).

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Published by: bird347504 on Jan 25, 2013
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01/27/2015

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1
The Herbie Hancock Interview on “Nefertiti”“When Wayne brought this song, there were no chord symbols.All of us were discovering the real song.”
--I have a score of “Nefertiti” here… (see below).
Herbie Hancock
(after here, HH): That’s my favorite song.--How do you play this song? What about voicings?
HH
: When Wayne Shorter wrote this music, he wrote its voicings as well. He wrotenot only the melody but also chord symbols for…well, no wait a minute. There wereno chord symbols!! This music has clear sounds. With chord symbols like the oneswritten in this score, you can’t express the sound of this music perfectly. It’s not athird layered harmony. Its sound isn’t a simple triad.All the chord symbols of this score are based on a triad, so I can’t say that’ssufficient. There was a voicing in “Nefertiti” from the very beginning.The first chord is like this (please see the score below). This is the voicing thatWayne wrote. (Herbie continues playing the piano.) There are other ways to play it,but not with these chords on this score. I can’t see an AbM7 at bar1?That’s not right. First of all, there isn’t a 5th.Basically it’s like this, Ab, D, G and C.You can add other sounds when you have 3 or 4 choruses, but at the beginning itgot to be this voicing. When this voicing reaches to Bar 2, it moves like this (fromAb-D-G-C to Ab-Db-Gb-Bb). Do you understand how it moved? It’s perfect voiceleading (inner voice movement) Just perfect!!!--Is Db the bass note in Bar 2?
HH
: No. That’s an Ab sus4 chord!!! And if you continue, the chord in bar 6 is exactlythe same as the chord in Bar 1. It has just changed from A
to B.Bar 10 is an E sus4 chord. The bass note of Bar 11 is Bb. It looks like an Eb chordbut that’s not Eb . -- Is it a D7 altered chord? No that’s totally wrong!! And thebottom of the next chord is D…oh, D isn’t even written. It’s an Emajor chord aboveD….. or something like that.Bar 13 isn’t an E9 sus chord. It’s a Bm7 chord. Bar 14is an Eb7(9 #11 13).BbmMaj7(add9) is next (Bar15). At Bar 16 there is a Eb7(b9 #11 13) chord on the 1stbeat, followed by an Eb7(b9 #11 b13) on the 2
nd
beat, and closing out with an Eb7(b9#9 #11 b13) chord on the 3
rd
beat (Herbie finishes playing Chorus 1). “I just love thissong. The structure is simply marvelous”!!!--Wayne didn’t write chord symbols, did he?
HH
: No, he didn’t. No chord symbols. Only notes. We had to think of a way todevelop the basic voicings. Well, the basic voicings of this song have a clear flavor(touch and distinctiveness). So if you understand the real meaning of these voicings,you can naturally understand the flavor of the song. If you want to play this songright, you have to feel the flavor and taste it.--When you developed this song, didn’t you think about scales?
 
2
HH
: Well, that’s hard to say. I didn’t talk about scales with this song, because Ithought scales might ruin the flavor. The flavor is everything with this song, and themelody has something intense. Miles and Wayne, on the original record, played onlythe melody. I heard this melody again and again. I don’t know why, but you neverbecome bored with it.By the way, that was me, who said to Miles “let’s play the melody only.” That wasmy suggestion. I thought that the rhythm sections could give colors from underneath.Miles said “Wayne, let’s do the melody,” and they did. We succeeded. You canhear how the rhythm section develops.By the way, you know that the first take of “Nefertiti,” wasn’t actually recordedon the original album?We were all really trying to find the real meaning of the song, and no one pressedthe “record button”. In take 2 we tried to reproduce the sound of take 1. The firsttake was the real original, but we didn’t record it. So you’re actually listening to take2 on the album.--Oh, really?
HH
: Yes. That’s right. When we finished the original “Nefertiti” album, Miles said toTeo Macero, “Teo, from now on, press the “record button,” whenever we grab ourinstruments; whenever you hear anything!!! Never mind about take 2,3,or 4, CBSrecord L35 or any of that kind of shit man!!! Get the music on the tape!!!” So afterthat, the music was always recorded. He never forgot to push the “record button”again, (laughs).Anyway, the first version was a masterpiece. Who listened to it? Only people inthe studio at that time. They never forgot that. Ask Ron Carter. He can tell you aboutthe“Nefertiti,” which was not recorded. That was more than 20 years ago.That was really interesting. We were learning, listening….. you know, we wereseeking to discover a certain flavor. We discovered and played the flavor. You canhear the pleasure of our discovery, and of playing that flavor.First you seek flavors. After that, you can see by yourself what you can use. If youthink about what scale you can use first, your attention and concentration for theflavor is distracted. We also found something by just playing the song.Maybe I should develop 2 more choruses, and try to think back to what I did over20 years ago.

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