Transcription: April In Paris
by Albert Romani
This July 26, 1955, recording of "April in Paris" contains
A) The first coda of 11 bars
B) Then Basie says "one more time.."
C) The second coda of 11 bars. This coda was chosen by Michael Pettersen
for his transcription.
D) Then Basie says "one more once..."
E) The third and final coda of 11 bars.
I have transcribed the same 11 bars as Michael, but I have also studied
all three codas.
I absolutely agree with Michaels transcription posted on the Freddie
Green website. He correctly notated the pitches clearly sounded by Freddie.
My transcription takes a different approach as it contains the "lead
line" as transcribed by Michael (black dot notes), but it also contains
"X" notes and "white dot" notes.
I have written "X" for the notes that form a probable chord
shape Freddie Green may have used. These "X" notes are normally
below the lead line, but can be above the lead line as well. Freddies
use of chord shapes and shape-to-shape movement are already discussed
on the Freddie Green website. The video footage of Freddie playing also
support this chord shape technique.
My approach does agree with the "One Note Chords" as described
by Michael Pettersen; there are many recorded examples where this technique
is perfectly obvious. However, I strongly believe there is much recorded
evidence that illustrates that other "sounds" occur in addition to Freddies
lead line. By seeking to transcribe those subtle sounds, I have become
keenly aware that other muted and ghosted notes do exist, and these notes
imply the possible chord shapes.
Exactly how loud the "X" notes are sounded, if they are actually sounded
or not, and if some of them are actually a pitched note, are subjects
for future research and discussion. For now, listen and decide for yourself.
Above the Freddie Green lead line note, we often encounter beautiful,
but softer, notes. This is very common in Freddies style. Now Im
not talking about muted notes; I mean pitched notes that are quite audible,
but are noticeably softer than the lead line. In my transcription work,
I notate them as a "white dot". Be aware of the difference between
the upper, softer notes and the muted notes transcribed as "X".
Among the many muted notes, make a distinction between notes that have
no pitch (muted notes combined with percussive string sounds to provide
rhythmic accents), and muted notes that have some pitch. There might even
be unwanted notes on the first string! All these subtle notes and sounds
provide important information about the chord shape used.
For "April in Paris", Michael transcribed just the lead line
because other notes are uncertain in pitch or just rhythmic sounds. I
have attempted to write a complete "transcription" based on
my years of studying Freddie Green. But I state that my "April in
Paris" cannot be considered a transcription; it is a hypothesis of
what Freddie likely played. This recording of "April in Paris"
is not useful for investigating the sounds surrounding Freddies
lead line; only for the lead line is it a good take. My work on this tune
is reinforced by listening to the three codas of 11 bars, and using the
chord shapes that are more audible in the other codas. Many aspects of
Freddies playing are not a "maybe" to me because I have
been playing this style of guitar for many years. Often when listening
to Freddie Green I will observe a common technique or chord movement that
I have already deciphered from other recordings where the technique can
clearly be heard or seen.
Please note that I am not saying "only play three note chords". Try to
play the lead line while moving from chord shape to chord shape. I believe
strongly that more sounds are happening below, and sometimes above, the
lead line. And in places, I believe these sounds are more than muted notes;
they are like half-muted notes, ghosted notes. But these ghosted notes
must be played in such a way that the lead line is the predominant melodic
line. This is made possible by using a muting technique with the left
hand and using a particular wrist action with the right hand.
I may do another transcription for the Freddie Green website where the
muted and half-muted sounds are more evident. My work on "April in
Paris" was done because I was asked by Michael Pettersen so that
we could compare our different approaches. However, I must insist that
"April In Paris" it is not a good recording for my analysis
of Freddies chord shapes. To understand more about my approach
to playing like Freddie Green, please read my article: [ Coming
Soon ] A New Hypothesis about
Freddie Green. The article contains my "Tenor Banjo Hypothesis"
and "Listening to the Unidentified Flying Sounds (UFS)".
Comments on "April in Paris":
Play the lead line on the 4th string. See my article "A New
Hypothesis about Freddie Greens Technique".
I have studied the three different endings. This helped me to infer
possible chord shapes. Comparing one ending to another let me distinguish
new sounds, and this aided my understanding of how Freddies
left hand may have been positioned.
The upper notes (written as X on 3rd string) in bars 1, 2, 3, 4,
and 6 may be muted or half-muted. These notes are certainly felt,
though not clearly sounded. Listen carefully on beats 2 and 4 of each
bar, and decide for yourself if those notes are there. Try the chord
shape and strum in such a way that you "aim" for the 4th
string. Sometime the chord shape in on strings 6-5-4-3, other times
it is 6-5-4, other times 6-x-4, etc. Experiment with different ways
of muting or half-muting strings.
Seek muted notes on strings 6 and 5, below the lead line. You will
likely recognize these sounds after arduous listening. The muted notes
may be on strings 6, or 5, or both. After careful listening, you will
become aware of the difference between the powerful and beautiful
"one note" chords, and the other chords that consist of
a 4th string leading note surrounded by unidentified muted notes.
In bar 4/beat 4, note the C#. It is an example of a typical Freddie
Green technique that places a secondary note on top of the lead line
note, but the secondary note is not as loud as the lead note. I notated
this C# using a "white" dot. These upper secondary notes
are meant to be heard, but are quite different from the muted notes
that we can sense are there because of the chord shape. Often these
upper secondary notes may be heard more clearly in a particular chorus.
Bar 6/beats 1 and 2...I am not sure what Freddie is doing. There
are two common moves and beautiful voicings that may have been used.
As a Dm7, the notes could be b7-b3-5; as a G9, the notes could be
3-b7-9. I have transcribed these two beats as a G9. One could say
that this G9 shape makes little sense as a 6-5-4 voicing and would
be easier (with less fretboard hand movement) using a (6)-5-4-3 voicing,
but in video footage of Freddie that G9 voicing is heard and seen!
I do not mean that G9 (3-b7-9) is always played as a 6-5-4 voicing.
Please dont make a rule of it. I hope to make you aware of listening
(or looking on video footage) for the possible jump between both shapes.
Bar 6/beats 3 and 4 is also a typical Freddie Green move. Using a
dominant 7th chord with the 7th as the lead tone, Freddie moves from
the seventh to root, one tone above. I have listen to this move in
many recordings and it can be played in two different ways using 6-5-4
voicings. One way is from Root-3-b7 to Root-3-Root. The other is from
Root-3-b7 to 3-5-Root, though this requires more fretboard movement.
Bar 8...again I am not completely certain, but my long term study
of Freddie leads me to either an Em7b5 (b5-b7-b3) voiced on 6-5-4,
or A7b9 (b9-3-b7). In other transcriptions it is easier to figure
out the shape below the lead tone by recognizing half-muted notes
on top. For example, on a dominant 7th chord type, many times the
shape 5-b7-3 alternates with 5-b9-3. If there is an audible "flying"
note above on the 3rd string , it is easier to ascertain the chord
shape on the lower strings.
Final bar...I cannot hear this clearly. At times I feel the presence
of the 6th and the 9th, in a possible shape Root-3-6-9. At other times,
I hear the simple shape Root-3-5 that fits the G lead note. Be aware
of the difference between hearing a 6-5-4 voicing and hearing a 6-5-4
voicing shape, which is half listening and half deduction. Take care
with these shapes. Dont forget you can play and sound as many
notes as you wish, and each can have a different volume. Try sounding
only one single note within the whole 6-5-4 shape. The 6-5-4 shape
concepts do not apply at all times. You will find recordings where
Freddie plays 6-5-4-3 or 6-X-4-3 or 6-4-3 voicings with the lead voice
on the 3rd string, instead of the common 4th string lead voice.
Be aware that when comparing Michael Pettersens transcription
to my "transcription", all types of chord shapes and voicings
are feasible. Freddie may have used: the chord shape moves I have
described; the one note chords with or without a chord shape; the
one note chords where a single string is struck; the one note chords
where additional muted strings are struck; the one note chords with
"half-muted" notes below the lead tone; the one note chords
with upper notes that are almost inaudible or only audible on a particular
beat. All of these variations may have been created by Freddies
left hand, or by his unique wrist/hand/pick movement, or a combination
of the two.
Written by Albert Romani
Edited by Michael Pettersen