next up previous contents
Next: Lorenz Attractor Source Code Up: No Title Previous: Conclusions

Analysis of Congeniality

[Accompanying cassette, track 2. Transcription on following 6 pages.]

by Ornette Coleman
Originally Appeared on The Shape of Jazz to Come
Charlie Haden, Bass
Billy Higgins, Drums
Ornette Coleman, Alto Saxophone, Left Channel
Don Cherry, Cornet, Right Channel

Congeniality is a ``typical'' representative of Coleman's work, and one that encompasses many of the musical concepts utilized in my own original composition:

Basic tonal center (Bb major concert):
The piece is grounded to a basic tonality of Bb major. Most of the ``chords'' that have been transcribed in the solo section are triads from this key.
Arbitrarily changing tonal center:
Charlie Haden (bass) is free to change the harmonic structure at will. He stays in Bb major for most of the time, outlining triads as modes from that key, but strays to alternate centers in bars 11-15, 36-39, 45-58, 66-72, 76, 79 (2nd half), 137 (2nd half), 145-147, 161-163. It is possible that certain chords may have been intended as substitutes, as is likely the case with the B major that is a tritone substitute for F. Nevertheless, certain chords in the transcription are definitely in another key center altogether.
Bass pedal:
Haden pedals a Bb during measures 132-134 of Coleman's solo, freeing up the harmonic framework. Although not notated on the transcription, it is worth mentioning that he does this several more times during Don Cherry's solo, starting with many bars at the beginning.
Multiple distinct musical styles in head (and in solo):
The head to Congeniality contains two distinct styles, one in 4/4 time, one in 3/4 time (labelled as style 1 and style 2 in the transcription). Coleman's solo makes use of the blues (bars 22-24), a nearly classical style (bars 121-126) and even a familiar humorous melody (bar 127).
Performance environment with ``swinging'' rhythm section:
Throughout the tune, Higgins and Haden swing unfalteringly, keeping Coleman and Cherry aloft. Although the solos are essentially ``free'', the rhythm section is still operating within the paradigm of traditional jazz swing - an essential ingredient in Coleman's music.
On a number of instances, Coleman will state a melodic phrase and restate it some intervallic pitch difference away. Note examples in bars 100-102 and 160-162.
Melodic contours:
A description often applied to Coleman's soloing logic. The basic idea is ``development on a melodic shape'' rather than ``development on a theme''. Bars 1-5 have examples of him exploring a melodic contour by inverting it. Bars 41-42 have repeated melodic contours. Bar 97 has development through a slight variation of the melodic contour in bar 96.
Simple, short melodies:
Bars 88-91 have what can only be described as a short, simple melody and variation on the melody. This technique is especially useful in grounding the solo after a previous attempt at a more advanced concept.
Intervallic development:
Bars 66-69 show a general intervallic contour and Coleman's development on that. Note that he begins with fairly wide jumps (minor seventh), uncharacteristic of previous styles of jazz.
Rhythmic displacement:
From bar 73 until bar 78, Coleman manages to take a simple melody and displace it in time, almost as Thelonious Monk could have. This creates a pocket of activity in the rhythm section, Haden, in particular, responds with some odd time of his own.
In multiple places during the solo, Coleman recapitulates previous statements. Bars 30, 31-32, 45 and 114 all contain the same four note melodic pattern. As is the case with 133 and 147. Bars 84 through 87 are a differently phrased variation on the earlier rhythmic displacement figure (73-78).

Author's note: I recognize that the following transcription has annotated sections laid to paper by the original transcriber, along with a footnote indicating the reader to see the ``Preface for a discussion of this solo''. Unfortunately, the source I obtained the transcription from was lacking any other portion of the original work, save for the transcription itself. I cannot state whether or not the locations of the preexisting notes influenced the placement of my own by drawing attention to certain sections, but, I can say that it wasn't until my own third or fourth written notation that I noticed my notes were neatly coinciding with certain marks already on the paper - bringing to light either the correctness of my judgments, or the devious role of the subconscious mind.

next up previous contents
Next: Lorenz Attractor Source Code Up: No Title Previous: Conclusions

Mike Andrews
Wed Oct 23 01:18:29 EDT 1996