Watch Animated Sheet Music for Miles Davis’ “So What,” Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” & Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”

Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue changed jazz. It changed music, peri­od. So I take it very seri­ous­ly. But when I see the ani­mat­ed sheet music of the first cut, “So What,” I can’t help but think of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts car­toons, and their Vince Guaral­di com­po­si­tions. I mean no offense to Miles. His modal jazz swings, and it’s fun, as fun to lis­ten to as it is to watch in ris­ing and falling arpeg­gios. The YouTube uploader, Dan Cohen, gives us this on his chan­nel Ani­mat­ed Sheet Music, with apolo­gies to Jim­my Cobb for the lack of drum nota­tion.

Also from Cohen’s chan­nel, we have Char­lie Parker’s music ani­mat­ed. Nev­er one to keep up with his admin, Park­er left his estate unable to recu­per­ate roy­al­ties from com­po­si­tions like “Con­fir­ma­tion” (above).

Nonethe­less, every­one knows it’s Bird’s tune, and to see it ani­mat­ed above is to see Park­er dance a very dif­fer­ent step than Miles’ post-bop cool, one filled with com­plex melod­ic para­graphs instead of chordal phras­es.

And above, we have John Coltrane’s mas­sive “Giant Steps,” with its rapid-fire bursts of quar­ter notes, inter­rupt­ed by half-note asides. Coltrane’s icon­ic 1960 com­po­si­tion dis­plays what Ira Gitler called in a 1958 Down­beat piece, “sheets of sound.” Gitler has said the image he had in his head was of “bolts of cloth undu­lat­ing as they unfurled,” but he might just as well have thought of sheets of rain, so mul­ti­tude and heavy is Coltrane’s melod­ic attack.

See Cohen’s Ani­mat­ed Sheet Music chan­nel for two more Char­lie Park­er pieces, “Au Pri­vave” and “Bloom­di­do.”

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Miles Davis Plays Music from Kind of Blue Live in 1959, Intro­duc­ing a Com­plete­ly New Style of Jazz

Char­lie Park­er Plays with Jazz Greats Cole­man Hawkins, Bud­dy Rich, Lester Young & Ella Fitzger­ald (1950)

John Coltrane’s Hand­writ­ten Out­line for His Mas­ter­piece A Love Supreme

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (4)
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  • Bernard Smyth says:

    As some­one who hacks So What out on the piano, I found this fas­ci­nat­ing. Helped to sort out the notes

  • David Drazin says:

    Dear Sirs, That’s very inter­est­ing, but the key sig­na­tures for So What are incor­rect. D minor is the rel­a­tive minor of F major so there is one flat (Bb) in the key sig­na­ture. The “Bb” part for tenor sax is a whole step above con­cert pitch which would be E minor, the rel­a­tive minor of G major, so there is one sharp (F#) in the key sig­na­ture. Alto sax is writ­ten a major sixth above con­cert pitch. That would be B minor (the rel­a­tive minor to D major), so there are two sharps, not three in the key sig­na­ture. The sharps are F# and C#.nThanks!

  • Etienne says:

    Hey David Drazin,nnAs you prob­a­bly know, So What is a modal thing. It’s in D dori­an. (D E F G A B C D) So there is no flat in there ! More­over, jazz is often writ­ten with no alter­ations in con­cert key, even if there is a clear tonal­i­ty, because it’s an her­itage of 20th cen­tu­ry music !nnHope it helps,nCheers,nnnEtienne

  • Davide De Gregori says:

    three or four days ago i was study­ing ” so what (by Miles Davis) ani­mat­ed sheed, now it’s impossible,.…why?

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