Miles Davis Analysis - so What and Autumn Leaves

Topics: Jazz, Rhythm, Relative key Pages: 3 (1097 words) Published: December 1, 2012
‘So What’ Miles Davis Solo Analysis

Miles Davis’ solo is very minimalistic mainly using crotchet and quaver rhythms throughout with the occasional triplet or semiquaver grace note. For the A sections of the first chorus he bases phrases around the minor pentatonic scale. He develops his opening motif (bar 2 of A1) in bar 4-7 returning to the root (E) in between each ascending then descending phrase going up to the 7th (D) in the final variation of the motif. The phrase lengths are irregular; Davis generally uses shorter phrases in the E minor Sections taking a vertical approach to the improvisation then uses longer phrases in the contrasting F minor section where he takes a more horizontal approach. In A1 of the second chorus Davis’ explores the upper extensions of the chord (9, 11, and 13) and superimposes a D major triad on the E minor chord. In A2 he returns to the pentatonic style we see in the first chorus with the use of the blue note (Bb) giving the section a bluesy feel. In the B section he again emphasis the upper extensions this time superimposing an Eb major triad over the F minor chord. In bars 5-7 of this section he plays an F minor scale in thirds. He plays a run making use of the F# in order to lead back an E minor section. He continues to use upper extensions in the first half of the last A section before returning to the pentatonic to finish the solo. The phrases are generally longer in the second chorus. A noticeable rhythmic motif Davis uses throughout his solo is starting and ending phrases with a pair of quavers for example the first phrase of the solo in bars 2-3). His note choices span over one and a half octaves ranging from a concert D to Ab. Miles Davis tends to leave rests of up to a bar in between phrases during which the piano plays melodic fills.

‘Autumn Leaves’ Cannonball Adderley version – Davis’ solo analysis

This Davis solo is more complex than the ‘So What’ solo due to the fast harmonic pace with a new chord each bar...
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