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  1. #1

    Significantly different interpretations of melody across versions of tunes?

    Ok, disclaimer time - I am NOT just talking about riffing on the melody, adding fills and embellishments at the performer's discretion. Obviously in "jazz" when people play the melodies they play them all sorts of ways, and that's not what I intend this thread to be about.

    Anyway, I was revisiting "Darn That Dream" this week and found it pretty interesting that most of the old vocal versions have the melody of beat 3 bar 6 as the 6th (la) of the key then down to b6, while most lead sheets and modern instrumental versions have that note as b7 of the key down to b6.

    I get that there's no mystery here - the tune was often sang/done one way, and people adapted it to have a slightly different flavor and the other version has caught on. I get that this happens with most tunes.

    However, I'd categorize the change of melody as 'significant' and also unusual.

    I think of it as significant because:
    1. It's a ballad, so beat 3 on a chord change has a similar weight in the harmonic rhythm to beat 1 at a medium tempo.
    2. The melody corresponds with different harmony and the two versions of the melody and two versions of the changes are not interchangeable. for the major-6th-in-melody version, chord is usually biiidim7. For the b7-in-melody version, chord is usually biiim7 or bVI7. The maj 6 melody won't quite work with the biiim7 change (b5 on m7) and the b7 melody won't quite work with the biiidim7 change (natural fifth over diminished seventh.) I mean, sure, anything can work, and in performance scenarios all sorts of things happen, but hopefully you get what I'm saying there. It's not just an ornamentation or a substitute chord progression, it's an ornamentation that requires the substitute chord progression.

    I think of it as an unusual change in melody because I feel like the variations we often see are more like adding a passing tone, a scale run, variations in how some arpeggio is broken up, inflection that could be notated a few different ways, etc.

    I mean, imagine if body and soul had, on beat 3 of measure 4, the b7 of the key instead of the major seventh, and the chord was biiim7 rather than biiidim7? That changes the sound of the tune considerably.

    I'm wondering - are there many other tunes where this happens, where different popular versions (versions that are commonly performed, not just in little niche circles) actually have significant changes to the melody that then require alternate harmony? Or where the real book/modern instrumental version of an old vocal song actually has a significantly different melody than the original?
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci View Post
    Ok, disclaimer time - I am NOT just talking about riffing on the melody, adding fills and embellishments at the performer's discretion. Obviously in "jazz" when people play the melodies they play them all sorts of ways, and that's not what I intend this thread to be about.

    Anyway, I was revisiting "Darn That Dream" this week and found it pretty interesting that most of the old vocal versions have the melody of beat 3 bar 6 as the 6th (la) of the key then down to b6, while most lead sheets and modern instrumental versions have that note as b7 of the key down to b6.

    I get that there's no mystery here - the tune was often sang/done one way, and people adapted it to have a slightly different flavor and the other version has caught on. I get that this happens with most tunes.

    However, I'd categorize the change of melody as 'significant' and also unusual.

    I think of it as significant because:
    1. It's a ballad, so beat 3 on a chord change has a similar weight in the harmonic rhythm to beat 1 at a medium tempo.
    2. The melody corresponds with different harmony and the two versions of the melody and two versions of the changes are not interchangeable. for the major-6th-in-melody version, chord is usually biiidim7. For the b7-in-melody version, chord is usually biiim7 or bVI7. The maj 6 melody won't quite work with the biiim7 change (b5 on m7) and the b7 melody won't quite work with the biiidim7 change (natural fifth over diminished seventh.) I mean, sure, anything can work, and in performance scenarios all sorts of things happen, but hopefully you get what I'm saying there. It's not just an ornamentation or a substitute chord progression, it's an ornamentation that requires the substitute chord progression.

    I think of it as an unusual change in melody because I feel like the variations we often see are more like adding a passing tone, a scale run, variations in how some arpeggio is broken up, inflection that could be notated a few different ways, etc.

    I mean, imagine if body and soul had, on beat 3 of measure 4, the b7 of the key instead of the major seventh, and the chord was biiim7 rather than biiidim7? That changes the sound of the tune considerably.

    I'm wondering - are there many other tunes where this happens, where different popular versions (versions that are commonly performed, not just in little niche circles) actually have significant changes to the melody that then require alternate harmony? Or where the real book/modern instrumental version of an old vocal song actually has a significantly different melody than the original?
    Hard to know whether the harmony or melody was changed to suit the other though. I would have assumed most change the melody to suit harmony usually?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    Hard to know whether the harmony or melody was changed to suit the other though. I would have assumed most change the melody to suit harmony usually?
    It is hard to say - but in the case of Darn that Dream, you couldn't really have one without the other.

    And the question is, are there other examples of this? Or is Darn that Dream unique in this sense?

    It's notable that if two people started playing the tune together and were not doing the same version regarding this measure, it could be pretty hairy...I'm thinking if an accompanist is anticipating that biiim7 change with a bunch of 9ths an 11ths, sequencing shapes up the mode or what not, then the melody player honks down hard on that major 6th of the key, not such a great sound. Obviously alternate changes can lead to clams when people play together, but usually alternate changes as there at least supporting the same melody.
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  4. #4
    Darn that Dream Bars 6 & 14 of A and Bar 6 of C were originally Bmin7 & Bbdim7

    beat 3 E natural diminished note.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Durban View Post
    Darn that Dream Bars 6 & 14 of A and Bar 6 of C were originally Bmin7 & Bbdim7

    beat 3 E natural diminished note.
    Thanks for...repeating part of my original post...?
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  6. #6
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    I find variations of some melody notes on jazz lead sheets often enough to accept it as par for the course. I'll often check 3 or 4 charts to research the variations of the differing chord changes used, and a slight variation of the melody in certain spots is not that uncommon.

    I do see you have criteria you consider as significant change, not sure if what I run into is relevant. So much Monk and Mingus has variations from chart to chart it's silly. But these aren't old vocal standards that have been twisted around in some evil conspiracy as you describe......like they say, "close enough for jazz".
    Last edited by cosmic gumbo; 10-20-2018 at 02:31 AM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci View Post
    Thanks for...repeating part of my original post...?
    my pleasure, merely highlighting a change in harmony and the note to accommodate that, not an entire thesis,

    as ...In your own Sweet way, Miles said play E..

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