Use of double time to modify a melody
Changing a melody is commonplace in Jazz arranging. It is used to add excitement to what might otherwise be a predictable melody. Gil employs a variety of techniques when developing a melody, one of which is his use of double time.
My Ship audio example is below.
My Ship – bridge
In the bridge of My Ship Gil uses a brassy texture and double time to insert a great deal of energy into this beautiful ballad. The whole phrase ends up being the same length but to accommodate the quicker rhythm Gil elongates a few of the important melody notes. This lends a dramatic and contrasting effect to the whole phrase within the context of the arrangement.
Notice how the melody is “rushed” and elongated. Gil still touches on many of the same pitches so that the melody is recognizable even though some extra notes have been inserted (bar 2).
The G# pitch at the end is part of a E7 chord. The end of these double time sections often contain notes from the dominant chord to help prepare the next chord and connect the music back to the original tempo. Sometimes non-diatonic pitches are utilized to increase tension before the dramatic return to the original melody and tempo.
Bess, You Is My Woman Now – bars 31-35
This example is similar in many ways to the My Ship bridge. The melody is developed with a bluesy minor 3rd interval (Eb to Gb) before being rushed to its conclusion in the middle of the 2nd bar. Again, this phrase is the same length as the original but the last two bars are in preparation for the upcoming key change. These bars help to maintain and increase the tension that the double time swing has built up.
Note the use of a grace note to draw extra attention to important points in both examples.
Miles Ahead – bars 65-69
As this piece was composed by Miles Davis and Gil Evans there is no original lead sheet or simplified version to compare with. However, there are similarities. The double time phrase answers a fat and broad melody, the section contains elongated and “rushed” moments. The non-diatonic Bb pitches at the end are part of an E7alt chord which stand out not only for their different harmony, but also for the fact that the melody leaps upwards instead of continuing its downward scale.