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Muisc GCSE Set Work Miles Davis

Discussion in 'Music' started by Addy444, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. There appears to be some confusion about the tonality of the Miles Davis "All Blues" from the Kind of Blue album - including conflicting descriptions. Some authors mention that it's modal, others that it is major or minor tonality - it all seems to depend on which books you read !. I am finding it difficult to guide GCSE music students in a correct analysis. Any clarification and help would be appreciated.
  2. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    The best book to read is Ashley Kahn's book, "Kind of Blue", which is a very detailed account of the entire album. In it, he quotes saxophonist Jimmy Heath (one of the original performers):
    ""When we played 'All Blues', Miles would always say don't go to the IV
    chord on the second part of that. He wanted it to stay in a <u>modal</u>
    The Rhinegold Study Guide addresses the issue quite well. It points out that while there is a key signature of G major and G definately feels like the tonal centre, the majority of Fs are natural and the piece ends with typical modal cadences (F - G, F- G).
    I don't understand why other books (unless you refer to that awful Pearson publication) should claim anything else. After all, all of the pieces on "Kind of Blue" are modal - it's one of the most famous examples of modal jazz. "So What" is in the dorian mode, "All Blues" is mixolydian, "Blue in Green" introduces the lydian mode (amongst others) and "Flamenco Sketches" has passages in the ionian mode.
  3. The 'official' Perason/Edexcel book is wrong about so much of this piece. As Florian says, it's modal - from conception to execution. G-mixolydian bars 1-4 of the chorus, G-dorian bars 5-6. There is no C7 chord at all (although the g-dorian functions as a chord-substitution). Also, the bassline as transcribed in the anthology is completely wrong. The bass never plays the low f - not half way through the bar, not on the downbeat. Apart from during the altered d and Eb chords, the bass plays a one-bar riff. If you take what's given in bar 9 of the anthology and transpose that f up an octave you get the riff as played. grrr....
  4. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    And about much else, too. I can only assume that because they don't generally publish books on music, they had no knowledgeable editor to weed out the errors - but they could easily have employed a freelance specialist. Mind you, considering the roles of the authors in the actual exam, the errors are particularly worrying, and it is astonishing that the content reflects a level of demand that is miles above that indicated by the specimen paper.
    Personally, I'd recommend the Rhinegold Guide for reasonably bright students, or the CGP one for those that just need the basic facts (although I don't think the latter gives enough detail to get a reasonable mark in Section B).
  5. I write all my own notes for the GCSE course - I haven't finished yet which is worrying the Year 11's a bit. I did buy 10 copies of the CGP book because it give some test papers and a CD and it was on a fiver until the half term - whats not to l like?
    I think the point FG makes about the detail of the book is most important. I can barely concieve of a question paper in which students will have to use the word "modal" if the examples sent out by the board are anything to go by, There is far too much detail. Basically they want students to know the 12 bar blues scale and the chord substitions and to identify the instruments - perhaps the overall structure.
    I think the C7 chord is a ninth of some sort isn't it?
    Where the Pearson book does stand up is the background detail of the pieces - this does seem quite well researched and relevant - perhaps this is easier to pull of than musical analysis.
  6. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    You should sell them.
    Or post them here on resources so we can have them for free! [​IMG]
  7. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I agree that is the case in Section A. But a Section B question on the Miles Davis could well ask students to discuss the tonality of the piece (along with other elements such as structure, rhythm etc).
    I've always felt that it will be Section B in the new specification that will turn out to be the main means of differentiation between better candidates, because of the open-ended nature of the ten-mark question.

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