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SET WORK SUMMARY


All Blues by Miles Davis
PART 1 - Placing the Set Work in its Musical, Social and Historical Context
About the Composer Placing the Set Work in a Social and Historical Context
Miles Davis, born in Illinois in 1926 to a wealthy family, began learning the trumpet
Davis performed in a number of bands before forming his own ensemble in 1948
Davis looked for a new way of playing jazz, feeling there was more to be found in the music
than the quest for speed forming his first album The Birth of the Cool, which had a more
laid back jazz sound.
All Blues is taken from the album Kind of Blue, recorded in three 3-hour sessions in New
York 1959, where Davis assembled an ensemble of some of the top jazz musicians of the time
(see instrumentation in part 2 below)

About the Set Work Placing the Set Work in a Musical Context

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Jazz began as the coming together of many musical styles and cultures in the late 19 and early 20
century in New Orleans. African-Americans brought their rhythmic pentatonic work songs they
developed while in slavery (the Blues). Singers would sing about their poor situation in life in songs
giving the music its title. Blues would include CALL AND RESPONSE, IMPROVISATION and
STRONG RHYTHMIC CONTENT. The fusion of African pentatonic scales and the seven-note
Western scale produced the blues scale with its characteristic bending of notes
Popular types of jazz include RAGTIME, SWING played by BIG BANDS in the 1920s, NEW
ORLEANS JAZZ one of the first recognised jazz style originating in New Orleans and BEBOP a
jazz style requiring virtuosic technique including fast tempo and complex harmonies
All Blues is an example of MODAL JAZZ features of modal jazz include:
The soloist is freed from the more restrictive former types of jazz where they had to stick to the
chords and now use a scale or MODE to use, more of less ignoring the chords underneath - this led to
a longer, freer improvisations. Modal jazz songs and numbers are significantly LONGER than the
shorter songs of bebop and cool jazz allowing for EXTENDING SOLOING.

PART 2 Musical Elements, Instrumentation & Musical Features


Time Signature
Marked
Jazz Waltz

Tonality

Texture

All Blues is an example of MODAL


JAZZ this means that rather than
relying on complicated chord patterns
the harmony focuses on a MODE or
scale and the improvised solos are
freer. Davis improvises on the G
MIXOLYDIAN MODE

Pitch & Melody

The texture is made up of RIFFS a


short rhythmic ostinato common in
jazz. 3 riffs are used in All Blues
the first (G D ED F DED) is on the
double bass, the second where the
alto and tenor sax play in thirds (D/B,
E/C, F/D, E/C)

The main melody (HEAD) and the


solos are all played over the 12-bar
blues chord sequence (the
CHANGES) based on the notes of a
MODE. The improvisations are
ORNAMENTED and combine riffs
together.

Dynamics

Rhythm

Instrumentation

Tempo

The dynamics of All


Blues is mainly p
throughout although
there is a diminuendo
in the final Head 4

The RHYTHM SECTION provides the


harmony and rhythmic background
drums, bass and piano. This section
provides the COMPING or
accompanying playing the
background chords and rhythms

FRONTLINE - Trumpet (Miles Davis),


Alto Sax (Julian Cannonball
Adderley), Tenor Sax (John Coltrane),
RHYTHM - Piano (Bill Evans), Bass
(Paul Chambers) & Drums (Jimmy
Cobb)

Tempo of crotchet = 156. Although


this may seem rather fast, the bar
feels like it is split into two slow beats
(two dotted minims), so it feels like a
laid back tempo of Dotted minim =
152.

G7
C7
D7#9

G7
C7
Eb7#9/D7#9

G7
G7
G7

G7
G7
G7

Harmony

All Blues is based around a REPEATED 12-BAR BLUES CHORD SEQUENCE


(the CHANGES) with a FOUR-BAR LINKING RIFF between each section. The 12bar blues chord sequences is based on the following chords where each box
represents one bar. Adding extra notes to a chord (as in bars 9 and 10 above) is known as EXTENDING or ALTERING a chord a feature used a
lot in jazz The structure of All Blues is based on the repeated 12-bar blues chord sequence, which is repeated 19 times in total!

Form & Structure INTRO drums (played with brushes), bass riff, piano trill then alto and tenor sax riff in thirds
HEAD this is where the original tune or melody is played melody played on muted trumpet with a simple motif mainly stepwise movement
LINK SECTION 4 bars between repetitions of the 12-bar blues chord sequence breaks up the repetitions and provides contrast
HEAD 2 same as the first time on muted trumpet but melody is slightly developed. LINK SECTION ride cymbal added by the drums
IMPROVISED SOLO first solo performed by Miles Davis, mute now removed from trumpet. Uses 4 repetitions of the 12-bar blues sequence (no
links) and uses the G Mixolydian mode to improvise. Ride cymbal now very prominent in the rhythm section. LINK SECTION
IMPROVISED SOLO Adderly on alto sax, uses 4-repetitions of the 12-bar blues sequence, very chromatic and technical - LINK SECTION
IMPROVISED SOLO Coltraine on tenor sax, uses 4-repetitions of the 12-bar blues sequence, virtuosic playing. LINK SECTION
IMPROVISED SOLO Evans on piano, continues COMPING in left hand, uses 2-repetitions of the 12-bar blues chord sequence, right hand plays a
melody line like frontline instruments. LINK SECTION alto and tenor sax play riff in thirds
HEAD 3 same as Head 1, trumpet muted again LINK SECTION alto and tenor sax play riff in thirds, trill returns in piano part
HEAD 4 melody now developed with a more minor feel LINK SECTION drums back down contributing to a diminuendo
OUTRO Davis plays a short solo on the tonic note G over the sax riff and piano trill before the song fades out
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