Sophisticated Lady, a song from Duke Ellington
melodies: In the main theme the notes often move in small steps, and they make big leaps in the chorus. But the two parts, main theme & chorus, blend together well despite their differences; the whole song uses notes in creative ways to make melodies that are carefully designed to be unusual yet beautiful.
variety: In a basic non-embellished version of the chorus, 8 of the 12 chromatic-scale notes are used in a span of 11 notes in the song. It's sort of like "12-tone music" where a composer tries to use all 12 notes in succession without repeating any, but (by contrast with most 12-tone music) in this tune Ellington arranges the notes in a way that is intended to sound melodious, and it does.
inspiration: Duke's concept of a sophisticated lady was inspired by three of his grade-school teachers, who "taught all winter and toured Europe in the summer." And this idea inspired the "moods, feelings, and images" in the music he composed. (*)
transcription: Later, in mid-January 2010, there will be a "visual transcription" here, showing the notes and pattern-shape of melodies in the main theme (often moving in small steps) and chorus (with big leaps).
music: You can listen to Sophisticated Lady. note: This excerpt, with the main theme and chorus, is 1:24 near the start of an 11:32 version from a CD, Duke Ellington: 16 Most Requested Songs (1994, Sony Music Entertainment) recorded by the Duke Ellington Band in 1950. I.O.U. — In early 2011, here you'll find one or more files (of me playing trombone and/or keyboard) with a simple non-embellished version, containing only the essential notes, of melodies in the main theme & chorus.
* quoted from the "Imagery and Mystery" part of my page about
Musical Improvisation — Making Music with Creativity + Theory