Lonely Woman

Ornette Coleman

date: 1959
form: AABA
style: avant-garde

personnel:

Ornette Coleman, alto saxophone; Don Cherry, cornet; Billy Higgins, drums; Charlie Haden, bass.

What to Listen For:

Introduction

0:00
The drummer (Higgins) begin quietly tapping out a short motive. On bass, Haden joins in with a resonant double-stop (playing two strings at the same time).

0:07
Higgins switches to a rapid accompaniment. As if in a slower rhythmic space, Haden simultaneously holds down a pedal tone with one string while soloing with the other.

Chorus One (head)

0:18
A
Coleman and Cherry enter, playing the arching melody to "Lonely Woman" in octaves. Like the bass line, the melody floats rhythmically above the drum accompaniment.

0:30
Coleman plays a short, plaintive reply. The bass falls to the dominant.

0:34
The two horns harmonize in parallel intervals.

0:36
On the upper string of the bass, Haden temporarily changes the harmony from minor to major. The mode changes back to minor when the horns reenter.

0:43
A
Coleman and Cherry repeat the melody.

0:55
As Coleman plays his plaintive reply, Haden doubles him on the bass.

1:03
On the last phrase, Coleman rises to a bluesy wail.

1:08
B
Over a new harmony, Coleman repeats a riff-like phrase. Behind him, Cherry and Haden creep upward chromatically, their background line accentuated by drum strokes.

1:16
Underneath Coleman's last phrase, the drum plays with richer timbres while the bass shifts to the dominant.

1:20
A
A drum stroke signals the return to the tonic harmony and to the free-floating melody.

Chorus Two

1:46
A (indeterminate length)
Coleman plays simple, bluesy phrases, unaffected by the rising chromatic line Haden suggests behind him.

2:01
As his emotional temperature begins to rise, Coleman's tone becomes rough and uneven.

2:06
Coleman moves to a harder-swinging rhythmic feeling, evoking a cry of "whoo!" from one of the musicians.

2:21
B
The bridge is signaled by the return of the rising chromatic line in the trumpet, doubled erratically by the bass.

2:31
At the end of the bridge, the harmony and the soloist's line focus on the dominant.

2:33
A
With a dramatic return to the tonic, Coleman leads the group back to the A section. Haden, playing double stops, holds the bottom note in a pedal point while moving the upper voice up and down chromatically.

2:49
Rising in intensity, Coleman's line reaches its climax.

Chorus Three

2:54
A
The two horns return to the melody in octaves.

3:17
A

3:41
B

3:47
Cherry hits high notes, followed by quick, descending blurs.

3:53
A

4:02
At one point, Cherry inadvertently hits the wrong pitch.

Coda

4:19
The two horns combine to play bluesy wails.

4:25
Coleman holds out his last note; underneath, Cherry adds low, breathy comments.

4:32
The bass continues playing his double stops, rising chromatically until finally reaching the upper octave (at 4:42); he continues to play until the drums finally stop.