Miles Davis Analysis - so What and Autumn Leaves Essay

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‘So What’ Miles Davis Solo Analysis

Miles Davis’ solo is very minimalistic mainly using crotchet and quaver rhythms throughout with the occasional triplet or semiquaver grace note. For the A sections of the first chorus he bases phrases around the minor pentatonic scale. He develops his opening motif (bar 2 of A1) in bar 4-7 returning to the root (E) in between each ascending then descending phrase going up to the 7th (D) in the final variation of the motif. The phrase lengths are irregular; Davis generally uses shorter phrases in the E minor Sections taking a vertical approach to the improvisation then uses longer phrases in the contrasting F minor section where he takes a more horizontal approach. In A1 of the second chorus Davis’
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Davis uses his opening phrase, an upbeat crotchet followed by another 3 crotchets, at the start of both choruses and continues to use the 3 crotchet pattern throughout the solo for example bar 7 of A2 in chorus 1. He also uses the pair of quavers starting or ending a phrase motif from ‘So What’ throughout this solo for example bar 7 of A1 chorus 1. From the start of this solo Davis’ makes use of the upper extensions starting on the 9th (E) of the D minor chord. He tends to start the majority of phrases on the 4th of the chord being played at the time and also emphasises the 6th at the end of some phrases (bar 7, A1 in chorus 1) using the F# over an A minor chord. In general phrases last for about 2 bars although the phrase lengths increase during the middle of the solo. One of the standout melodic phrases is the partly chromatic semiquaver/triplet run in bar 7, A1 in the second chorus followed by the repeated triplet pattern in the following bar. This phrase contrasts with the rest of the solo and adds variation and excitement whilst moving the solo forwards. Davis uses triplet scalic/chromatic runs in order to emphasise notes at the start of phrases for example, bar 8 of A1 in section 1 where the runs leads to the G which emphasises the use of the 11th over the D minor chord. Miles Davis also uses ghost notes in this solo (bar 6 of A2 chorus) in order to vary the dynamic levels
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