Miles Davis and the Development of Improvisation in Jazz Music

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  • Topic: Jazz, Chord, Miles Davis
  • Pages : 10 (4142 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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This essay is a discussion of how the way jazz trumpeter Miles Davis changes his way of improvising, looking at two pieces from different times. The solos in the pieces were transcribed by myself and then analysed in detail. From these analyses, several conclusions on the style of improvising were drawn, and then the conclusions from the two pieces were compared. The piece ‘New Rhumba', showed how Davis was using his technical ability to create an impressive solo, but was also leaning towards a more sparse and spacious form of improvising, where the times he doesn't play are just important as when he does play, and the solo in ‘So What', showed this new style in full. The analyses of the two solos also showed Davis' ability to improvise solos in a way that it seemed as though he had already composed them. They were full of melodic tunes. This was also emphasized by the fact that Davis often would think of a motif, and would then repeat this, developing on it, creating variations of it. This all gave the solo a sense of unity. When people in the audience heard the solos, they would recognize things Davis was playing late in the solo, as variations on themes he was playing earlier on. On a more technical basis, it shows the difference in the two solos, of the amount of time Davis spends on notes outside the chord. In ‘New Rhumba', the earlier piece, his use of extensions is greater, and there are far more times where he uses flattened, or sharpened extensions. The later piece, ‘So What', is less active in this area. This essay reveals some of the aspects of Miles Davis' style, which made him such a legendary, and influential jazz trumpeter.

Topic: A discussion of the development of improvisation in jazz music in reference to trumpeter Miles Davis. Miles Dewey Davis was born on the 26th of May 1926, in Alton, Illinois. He became famous around the world for his incredible trumpet and flugelhorn playing, but he was also an accomplished keyboard player, and composer.

Although born in Alton, Illinois, Miles Davis lived in East St Louis. He came from a wealthy middle-class background. It isn't surprising to see that a person with the talent of Miles Davis came from a Davis' father musical family. His mother played the violin, and his sister played the piano. Although Miles was not very musical himself, he obviously saw talent in his son, and for his thirteenth birthday, bought Miles his first trumpet. Miles was very privileged to come from the family he did, because it meant he was able to have private trumpet lessons. He learnt from a teacher called Elwood Buchanan, who taught Miles all the basics he needed to know, before his natural talent and flare for improvisation took over. Miles progressed quickly at the trumpet, and played in many bands and ensembles at his school. While still in school, he joined his first independent group as a trumpeter. They were called Eddie Randall's Blue Devils.

Many jazz musicians influenced Miles Davis. When Billy Eckstine's band played in St Louis, Miles was able to meet some of these influences; Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. (Trumpeter and saxophonist respectively) At the age of 18, Davis went to study at the Juilliard School of Music, in New York. How ever, what he really wanted to be doing was just playing jazz. He left the school to play in the small clubs of the famous 52nd street. He did much of his playing with one of his idols, Charlie Parker. Davis joined Parker's quintet in 1945. Together, they recorded some of the first true bebop songs - songs such as 'Now's the time'. It was during this time that Miles Davis established his style as a jazz trumpeter.

Bebop was a jazz style which developed in New York, at the end of World War II. It's distinctive style is created by the use of dissonant chords and complex rhythms in the improvised solos. Davis, always pushing the boundaries of what were the accepted styles...
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