Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Donna Lee

Hi guys,

I'd like to share with you my transcription of the theme of Donna Lee by Miles Davis. I know it has been transcribed a zillion times and you can also find it in the Real Book, BUT there are two reasons why I still did it:
  1. There are some errors in the Real Book
  2. The fingerings for guitar are tricky, and it's very important how and where you play it to make it swing

I based my transcription on the 1947 recording of the Charlie Parker Quintet.

So, why on earth would anybody want to learn that song from almost 70 years ago? Well, first it's a great technical work-out. It's not easy to play the piece at the original tempo (around 220 bpm) and make it sound good at the same time! Second, it teaches you a lot of great bebop licks that you can use for your own improvisations. But in order to be able to re-use those licks, you must try to understand over which chords / chord progressions they are used. So try to find the II-V-I's and all other characteristic progressions that also pop up in many other tunes, and see what Miles Davis and Charlie Parker came up with.

As usual, start slow, and always listen how it's supposed to sound, because the notation doesn't show everything. I recommend you take the original recording, slow it down, and play along until you nail it, then increase the tempo, etc. Anyway, here's the tabs, have fun!

You can also find a pdf-version in Tabs&Sheet Music.

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