Moon Dreams

Miles Davis and his Nonet

date: 1949
style: cool jazz
form: 40-bar popular song (ABA'CC')

personnel:

Chorus One (40-bar ABA'CC')

0:00
A
The band begins a slow ballad. All the horns in the nonet play along with the main melody (in the trumpet), in intricate, semi-dissonant harmonies. The sound is dominated by the lower horns: tuba, baritone saxophone, and French horn. The melody is slow, with long held notes.

0:08
As the harmony is held, the horns swell in volume.

0:25
B
The alto saxophone takes the lead. Underneath, the horns play a rhythmically distinct accompaniment.

0:37
The band returns to block-chord texture, with the bass line adding an element of polyphony beneath.

0:51
A'
The band returns to the melody and harmony of the opening.

0:56
The melody is now doubled by the baritone saxophone.

1:13
During the faster passages, the tuba adds an intricate, independent melodic line.

1:17
C
The alto saxophonist (Lee Konitz) takes the lead.

1:24
The bass line moves up quickly. The alto, now blending in with the horns, accelerates into a much faster, bebop-oriented melodic line.

1:30
The trumpet and alto saxophone climax on a long, held note. Underneath it, the background horns warble back and forth in a faster rhythmic pattern.

1:44
C'
The baritone sax (Mulligan) takes the melody.

1:58
The trumpet takes back over for the past turn.

Coda

2:04
The tune hits its final cadence. All of the lines swirl around.

2:08
Finally, all voices coincide on F# (with the alto arriving last).

2:10
The trumpet is left holding the note; behind him, the drummer accompanies quietly on cymbal.

2:12
Painfully exposed, the trumpet player wavers slightly in timbre.

2:14
The band enters on chord, with the trumpet still sounding its F#. The horns gradually shift harmonies, moving chromatically from chord to chord.

2:27
The trumpet plays a mordent.

2:34
As the harmonies continue to shift, the trumpet note finally fades out.

2:37
The alto sax plays a melody fragment.

2:40
A distinctive musical motive--a stuttering repetition of a single note, ending with an upward gesture-- begins in the horn.

2:53
The brass bass plays a mordent.

2:55
The trumpet plays the stuttering motive.

3:01
The trombone plays the stuttering motive.

3:04
The saxophones and bass play a descending scale.

3:11
Over a B major chord (far removed from the D major of the opening), the band finally comes to a complete rest.

Copyright W.W. Norton