This post is a continuation of a comparison between Gershwin’s original aria and Gil Evans’ arrangement/re-composition.
This post will focus on melody and rhythm. I will combine these rather large subjects into two posts as most of the melodies stay the same as the original.
I have transposed the Gil Evans version to allow for easier comparison with the Gershwin original.
Refer to the first post of this series to see how the form is analyzed.
As mentioned in the previous post, Gil has placed most of the arrangement in 4/4 rather than the original 3/4. Many of the accompaniment rhythms are changed to accommodate for this. This is most obvious in the introduction where Gil paraphrases the rhythm to fit the common time. He also elaborates the bass line somewhat. The tempo in Gil’s arrangement is much slower which creates room for the bass melody.
The main difference in rhythm is that Gil avoids placing a chord on beat 2. This added syncopation is more jazzy and lends the music a more languid feel.
Here is a comparison of the melodies of the first A section. Gil has lengthened the durations of the melody to fit the common time.
Miles ad-libs the melody throughout enhancing the jazz feel. The delayed start (by adding a crotchet rest on beat 1) is a common jazz rhythm. The minim triplet is worth noting as it adds to the dreamy rhythm and freedom of the arrangement.
At the end of the A sections Gil adds an echo in the ensemble that isn’t present in the original. Gil retains most the harmony of the original and hints at Gershwin’s original inner voice leading. (N.B. In the following two examples the two versions are presented side by side.)
As I mentioned in the previous post, Miles doesn’t stick solely to the vocal melody and plays the orchestral transition motifs. Miles phrases the melody in such a way it makes them sound improvised. This change allows for more contrast when the ensemble takes over the melody.
Gil changes the rhythmic feeling significantly here by introducing a double time feel. This contributes to a more traditional jazz big-band feel. Miles re-enters to play the last half of the melody in the original 4/4 time. Gil has increased the amount of syncopation in this melody by avoiding the beat in many occasions. The melody for Miles is notated simply as it is likely he will ad-lib where appropriate.
At the end of B1 Gil adds a new melodic counterpoint. (Examples displayed side by side.)
The second B section enters in double time again recalling a more typical big band sound. The trombones interject with syncopated chords whilst Miles improves over the texture hinting at the melody. As in the introduction Gil has changed the accompaniment to have a jazzier syncopation. Note how Evans retains the inner melody.
End of part 1.