'Cantaloupe Island' Harmony

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by KyriacosKestas, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. KyriacosKestas


    Mar 20, 2012
    Hey guys...
    How do you excuse the changes of the Herbie Hancock's tune 'Cantaloupe Island'? Is there anyone who can analyse its harmony?
  2. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Modal isn't it?

    F-7 is Dorian
    Ab-7/Db is Dorian (up a minor third from tonic)
    D-7 is Dorian (down a minor third from tonic)
    F-7 is Dorian (tonic)

    The D-7 is problematic because technically the melody clashes with the chord, some folks will play a D7alt instead to compensate for it, but I actually like the dissonance and play Dm7 (Dorian) instead. I hear that note in the melody as an upper pedal tone and it really doesn't bother me.

    Ab-7/Db sometimes you will just see/hear it as a Db7. You can play Lydian Dominant over the Db7 and it sounds killer as sh_t! Easier to remember as a Ab-7 though.

    Anyway, hope this helps.
  3. Tommy el Gato

    Tommy el Gato

    Jul 6, 2007
    This is one of those tunes tunes where I think analyzing the three chords in terms of classical tonal harmony is a somewhat mistaken approach. I'll explain why:

    In terms of roman numeral analysis, you see i7, bVI7#11, iv7, i7.

    The movement from i7 to a bVI isn't so uncommon, the dominant flat six sound also being associated with Bernies tune and functionally being a tritone sub into the V chord. However, first problem is we usually associate tritone subs with alt scales. Second problem is that we don't follow up with the V chord, instead going to vi chord which is a sub-dominant function.

    So, instead of getting yourself messed up in that kind of functional garbage (I know it's not GARBAGE per se, but bear in mind that's not useful towards playing and improvising on this tune and I doubt Herbie was even thinking of this when he wrote the tune), let's instead think of each different chord as a separate tonal center, denoted by a chord-scale relationship. So we simply start on F Dorian, go to Db Lydian Dominant, then to D Dorian, and then back to F Dorian. Usually when tunes like this are composed, the composer isn't necessarily thinking functionally as in classical music, but instead looking for interesting shifts in "color."

    Or to say it all more simply: This tune is modal, as in hgiles' reply.
  4. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    So true.

    Roman Numeral labeling works great for compositions from the Common Practice Period. :eek:

    Otherwise, you are chasing some elusive tonal center with a tune like Cantaloupe Island (which, as stated above, is a modal composition).
  5. Groove Master

    Groove Master Commercial User

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    It is based on a Blues harmony to my ears.

    The Fmin can be played with the F minor Blues scale even if any minor scales like Dorian or Natural minor could be used.

    The Db7 is the perfect chord to blues the F minor Blues scale by focusing on the Cb. For a more jazzy sound, the Db Lydian dominant scale is the choice. BTW looking at the relative major of Fminor, we get Ab major scale and the Db7(#11) is based on Ab melodic minor. So between F minor and Db7 there is only one tone changing and it is C to Cb. A very good thing to know!

    To me, the Dmin is the sound of D min Blues or F Major Blues, so I would go for the D min Blues scale or F major scale or D minor natural or even better the F Major Blues scale. This resolves nicely to the F minor Blues for the last chord. The same tonic with different scales is very easy to grasp as an harmonic concept in my book and my ears ;-)

    Give it a shot like this: F minor Blues scale ( F min and Db7) and F Major Blues scale ( Dmin) for the whole thing.
  6. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    On the original recording that Dm7 (which, I take it is the "sticking" point that needs analysis) is always voiced as a Dm7sus4 in Herbie's left hand.

    You can't go wrong playing a G7 sound over that chord, but both Freddie Hubbard and Herbie take a much simpler approach.

    Herbie plays almost exclusively ideas based on a D minor blues scale. Really, both soloists make this the basis of what they're doing.

    This record was cut while Herbie, Ron, and Tony were the Miles Davis rhythm section and his influence is heavy on the piano solo here. It is simple and it is about setting a mood rather than exploiting every aspect of the harmony.

    Freddie Hubbard does throw in an implied D locrian sound at one point but otherwise sticks to a D minor blues scale or G7 bebop sound.

    One thing I did notice is that at times both soloists anticipate the return to the Fm7 chord a couple of beats early. This makes the solo sound smoother and less like "4 bars of this", then "4 bars of this", then "8 bars of this", etc...

    Hope this helps.
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