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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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
As someone who hacks So What out on the piano, I found this fascinating. Helped to sort out the notes
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!
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
three or four days ago i was studying ” so what (by Miles Davis) animated sheed, now it’s impossible,….why?