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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
    Join Date
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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..

  8. #8

    All of me example

    The last 2 5 of All of Me before the turnaround, one often hears (and sees in real books) D-7 and A natural melody on the NOT note, rather than the more subtle/interesting/mysterious Ab.


  9. #9

    you'd be so nice

    There are many places in here where the harmony is interestingly unlike what folks typically think it to be. In the melody, most pass up the opportunity to play a descending minor ninth, undoubtedly a gem of TGASB.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,339
    Just wanted to pop my head around and say - please keep posting matelski.

    Interesting stuff. Original versions of tunes. I try to check them out when I am learning something, but they slip through the net.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Just wanted to pop my head around and say - please keep posting matelski.

    Interesting stuff. Original versions of tunes. I try to check them out when I am learning something, but they slip through the net.
    Thanks for the encouragement Christian

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Durban View 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..
    Wes did the same in his version. Maybe Miles had a thing for that note - he also changes the melody and hits an 'E' at the end of the the first eight bars in Autumn Leaves rather than the written 'Bb'.

  13. #13
    For years, the often questionable melodies and changes in the original Real Book reigned supreme but a lot of younger players are rediscovering things like the melodic and harmonic alterations to tunes like Darn That Dream and Stella by Starlight (the opening diminished chord). It's getting to the point where there'll be no really accepted version at a jam session and the changes will have to be discussed beforehand (or ears will have to be on full alert!).

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