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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 wrote not only the melody but also chord symbols for…well, no wait a minute. There were no chord symbols!! This music has clear sounds. With chord symbols like the ones written in this score, you can’t express the sound of this music perfectly. It’s not a third 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’s sufficient. 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 that Wayne 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 it got to be this voicing. When this voicing reaches to Bar 2, it moves like this (from Ab-D-G-C to Ab-Db-Gb-Bb). Do you understand how it moved? It’s perfect voice leading (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 exactly the 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 chord but that’s not Eb . -- Is it a D7 altered chord? No that’s totally wrong!! And the bottom of the next chord is D…oh, D isn’t even written. It’s an Emajor chord above D….. or something like that. Bar 13 isn’t an E9 sus chord. It’s a Bm7 chord. Bar 14 is an Eb7(9 #11 13). BbmMaj7(add9) is next (Bar15). At Bar 16 there is a Eb7(b9 #11 13) chord on the 1st beat, followed by an Eb7(b9 #11 b13) on the 2nd beat, and closing out with an Eb7(b9 #9 #11 b13) chord on the 3rd beat (Herbie finishes playing Chorus 1). “I just love this song. 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 to develop 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 song right, you have to feel the flavor and taste it. --When you developed this song, didn’t you think about scales?
HH: Well, that’s hard to say. I didn’t talk about scales with this song, because I thought scales might ruin the flavor. The flavor is everything with this song, and the melody has something intense. Miles and Wayne, on the original record, played only the melody. I heard this melody again and again. I don’t know why, but you never become bored with it. By the way, that was me, who said to Miles “let’s play the melody only.” That was my 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 can hear how the rhythm section develops. By the way, you know that the first take of “Nefertiti,” wasn’t actually recorded on the original album? We were all really trying to find the real meaning of the song, and no one pressed the “record button”. In take 2 we tried to reproduce the sound of take 1. The first take was the real original, but we didn’t record it. So you’re actually listening to take 2 on the album. --Oh, really? HH: Yes. That’s right. When we finished the original “Nefertiti” album, Miles said to Teo Macero, “Teo, from now on, press the “record button,” whenever we grab our instruments; whenever you hear anything!!! Never mind about take 2,3,or 4, CBS record L35 or any of that kind of shit man!!! Get the music on the tape!!!” So after that, 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 in the studio at that time. They never forgot that. Ask Ron Carter. He can tell you about the“Nefertiti,” which was not recorded. That was more than 20 years ago. That was really interesting. We were learning, listening….. you know, we were seeking to discover a certain flavor. We discovered and played the flavor. You can hear 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 you think about what scale you can use first, your attention and concentration for the flavor 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 over 20 years ago.
Herbie Hancock “Nefertiti”
The Flavor of Voicings Research
By Hiroshi Okamoto “Nefertiti” on pages 102-103 (above) show the voicings which Herbie pointed out one by one. I wrote down the chord names according to his comments. As he
mentioned voicings cannot be expressed by chord symbols only, please keep that in mind when you look at this score. The first 2 Bars are “perfect voice leading,” Herbie said. These voicings are so beautiful with their smooth half step development and perfect 4th intervals. The G♭∆ / A♭ of Bar 2 , as Herbie says, should be considered as A♭sus sound and A A♭₇⁽⁹⁾sus4 Omit 5th. The voice leading and intervals are shown in EX○. B As it is shown in EX○, Bar 5 and Bar 6 are 4th voicing. BMaj7(9 13) is E♭₇ sus4 / B. B∆₇♭⁵ is a try tone with left hand F/B . It seems like G₇ but that is “not a G chord.” It is the A♭∆₇♭⁵ voicing of Bar 1 pitched a “minor 3rd” higher. C The upper 4th voicings appear in bars 9-12 as EX○ shows. The voicing of the E∆₇⁽⁹⁾ th is an open voicing having a perfect 5 and a perfect 4th. The important point is that the “G#” of the melody comes as the top note; therefore, a 3rd sound. The “G#” of E∆₇ is not placed in the inner voice. It doesn’t seem important, but if you play an ordinary voicing that has a 3rd sound as the inner voice by looking at the E∆₇⁽⁹⁾chord inscription, the flavor that Herbie says will be lost. The next D∆ /E is a Esus sound as it appears in Bar2. Then the upper 4 voices in the next two Bars shape the same voices of Bars 1-2 being a major 2nd lower. When you D look at the melody, it shows “Perfect Voice Leading.” (EX○) When we look at the harmony of this part vertically, G♭∆₇♭⁵ / Bb it seems like a convenient “Eb” chord, but it is not an Eb chord,” when you consider “E♭” as the bottom, it becomes E♭ m₆⁽⁹⁾. Also D₇ (alt) / B♭in “New Real Book” is considered as D₇ (♭13#₉) if “D” is the bottom. E See EX○. The following E∆ / F# / D are poly chords which can be written as E∆ / D∆. E♭₇ of Bar 14 has ♮9th, and E♭₇ of Bar 16 has ♭9th tension. The chords of the score on p.104-105 were checked first and corrected as Herbie played 2 choruses following his memory of the original session. You can see Herbie’s characteristics here and there. For the opening section of the voicing of Bar 2, you cannot give a chord name. The 4th chord is placed every augmented 4 intervals of right hand and left hand, and two dominant 7th intervals are found here. It sounds like floating without a direction, not determinate by pitching Perfect 4th intervals that is harmonically stable augmented 4th and unstable Major 7th etc., intervals. With sophistry I wrote Ab7 (9 11 13), but it is not a harmony which gives a feeling of ordinary dominant 7th chord but it is a sus sound because of the ♮11th. Please look at it as an example of the sus sound that Herbie feels. However, since it has the tritone of “Gb” to “C,” and the next chord F root is a half step lower it can be seen as Dominant 7th chord. It is not completly clear, thus delicate and pleasurable. F The intervals are shown in EX○. The Gm₇♭⁵ in Bar 3 is also the voicing of Herbie’s which doesn’t hold the 3rd sound. “C” the 11th and “D♭” the ♭5th are neighbors as inner voice half steps. E∆add9 in Bar 9 is an open voicing which has an octave doubling, a 4th chord in the left hand and a triad in the right hand placed in a Perfect 5th interval. As I wrote before, the 3rd sound as a melody note, comes to the top, but the 3rd is not included G in the inner voice. As it is shown in EX○, there are 4th Perfect intervals.
Also the “F#,” “D,” and “A” Octave doublings, which give a rich timbre, appear in the E sus voicing of Bar 10 with the left hand E 4th chord and the right hand D∆₇ in turning style. The F#’s 4th chord voicing in the left hand voicing of Bar 12 can be considered as an “E chord above D” when played by one hand. The BbmMaj7 of Bar 15 is a cluster in the right hand where the 2nd intervals H appear. As EX○ shows, a major 7th intervals in the left hand and an “E♭” (the 11th) is like a susu4, are included in the inner voice creating the Maj7th sound, and the “A” produces an augmented 4th interval. It is interesting that you cannot define the harmony easily. In the second chorus, Bar 2 is very similar to the one of the first chorus; however, the 3rd sound “C” is inserted in the left hand inner voice creating the half step from the Db. As a result, Octave Doubling is created supporting “a more stable instability.” I His technique here is similar to the Gm∆₇ of the first lesson “Dead Leaf” as EX○ shows. At Bar 3-4, the delicate chord change in the inner voice, Gm₇♭⁵ -> C₇, G₇-> C₇, and J an altered tension create a wonderful counter line as it is shown in EX○. I would like you to see this smooth voice leading. If you play it, you will see amazing sound colors that change seamlessly within the 2 Bars. He proves that the feeling of tension & release can be created within 7th chord harmony only. Parameters examples are given as the follow: The tension of a 13th is ♭or ♮, that of a 9th is #,♭, ♮.How are the other intervals? The most interesting intervals are in the first G7 (#9 b13) neighboring two Perfect 4th intervals with half steps. By doing so, a minor 2nd and a major 7th are created giving a hard sound to the song. At Bar 5 and Bar 6, the upper structure triad with G♭, E♭ and D♭, is played along with the melody. The BbMaj7b5(11) voicing does not have a 3rd as Bar 3 of 1st chorus does not. It is a distinctive voicing with half steps of the 11th and 5th are doubled in an Octave. K (EX○). At Bar 9 and Bar 10, the left hand voicing of Bar 10 takes the shape of an A sus4 chord in which the 4th chord of E is the same as in the 1st Chorus. At Bar 11, the first beat of left hand was originally “B♭” only, and the mixture of “B♭” and “C♭” half steps is simply the wrong feel.