Melody #2 – The Duke

Melodic Invention in The Duke

In the arrangement The Duke from Miles Ahead, Gil invents some new melodic material in the introduction, backings and shout chorus.

This post will analyze the new melodies, uncovering how they are related to the original and each other.


Here is the introduction to The Duke. The melody and bass line are shown. Melody2a.JPG

There are several factors that help to tie this new melody to the original:

  • Intervals
  • Sequence
  • Similar bass part, and question & answer phrasing
  • Diminution

1. Intervals

Like in the introduction the bass part in the original moves almost entirely in step wise motion or in 5ths (or inverted 4ths). These are present in the introduction, all intervals of a falling 5th are labelled here with a bracket. The dotted lines indicate step wise melodic segments that all span a perfect 4th. The final phrase increases tension by inverting the falling 5th so that it rises.Melody2b.JPG2. Sequence

The original melody has many example of sequence. Both the introduction and shout chorus contain many examples of this. Here are a couple of segments from the lead sheet with sequences. Note that in the first example each phrase spans a perfect 4th.



Sequence in the introduction (the first box is similar to the rising melody shown above):Melody2e

3. Similar bass part, and question & answer phrasing

Here is a transcription of the original part as played by Dave Brubeck. Note the similarities to the bass part of the original piece and Gil’s introduction. Observe the space given to the bass part to anticipate each new phrase.Melody2f.JPG4. Diminution

In both the shout chorus and introduction, diminution is used to enhance the drama and maintain excitement. Notice how each time the rising melody is presented the rhythms are shortened.Melody2e

Shout Chorus

Here is Gil’s shout chorus for The Duke. Some of the backings are very similar to this melody.Melody2g

This example illustrates the use of perfect 5th intervals (brackets), sequence (boxes S1&2) and diminution (boxes D1&2).Melody2h.JPG

The brackets under the phrases are just to highlight the use of a static pitch in both of these phrases. This builds a lot of tension in this brassy section and helps to create a counterpoint with the moving bass line.






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