Thursday, 26 October 2017

Sophisticated Lady (for solo guitar)

This is my classical/jazz guitar solo arrangement of Duke's 1932 composition "Sophisticated Lady". Listen to the free downloadable mp3 by clicking the orange button:
  

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Here's a preview:


In the score I elected to include the lyrics and chord symbols, both of which will hopefully be of assistance to performers by clarifying which notes constitute the melody, and by making sense more readily of some of the chords, aspects which can assist memorization.

I gravitate towards pieces like this because they are more harmonically ambiguous and melodically adventurous. "Sophisticated Lady" launches not on the its expected tonic tonic of E major but on chord ii7 (f#m7 on the word 'say'). The first hint of the tonic occurs only in bar 2 when the melody outlines the rising tonic triad E-G#-B ('into your') in spite of contradictory harmonies under them actually leading the ear AWAY from the tonic. By bar 4 the tonic is established more firmly. However, the 'middle 8' modulates unexpectedly to the remote key of Eb with harmonies which underline the emotions suggested by the melancholy lyrics. Words and music are exceptionally well matched... consider the phrase "Is that all you really want?" (bar 25) where the harmonies amplify the emotion.

In bar 3, there is a strikingly colourful chain of chromatically descending dominant seventh chords (D7, Db7, C7, B7), arguably the song's trademark 'hook'. Each may be interpreted as a secondary (or applied) dominant (more properly spelled as a quasi-augmented sixth) of the one which follows. For instance, in the progression C7-B7, the seventh of C7 is the note Bb, but if it is re-spelled as A# may be understood to function as a leading-note pushing towards B7. All these roads lead to Rome - the B7, in turn, serves as a functionally clear chord V of the E in bar 4. In my arrangement of this section, I extended that chain by preceding it with even more secondary dominants (see the last 2 chords of bar 2). 
 
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