Miles Davis Analysis - so What and Autumn Leaves

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  • Topic: Jazz, Rhythm, Relative key
  • Pages : 3 (1097 words )
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  • Published : December 1, 2012
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‘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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