Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Changes for Nina Simone's 'I Put a Spell on You'

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by wulf, Sep 3, 2003.


  1. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Does anyone have an outline of the changes for Nina Simone's version of I Put a Spell on You? I scribbled out the chords for the Creedence Clearwater Revival version (16 bar blues in Em with a few twists and extensions) to take to band practise last night but we came unstuck because everyone seems to vaguely know different versions of the song and the vocalist who is taking a lead on it is most influenced by Ms Simone's version.

    Tab would be okay, but it's really just an outline of the changes that I need. I haven't got a copy of the recording to work from at present so thought I would ask in case anyone is familiar with it.

    Thanks,

    Wulf
     
  2. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    No suggestions? Fortunately I borrowed a copy over the weekend. My outline is:

    F#m7 /  /      / | /   /  /  / | /    /  /  / | F#7 /  /  / |
    Bm7  /  /      / | /   /  /  / | C#7  /  /  / | /   /  /  / |
    F#m7 /  /      / | F#7 /  /  / | Bm7  /  /  / | /   /  /  / |
    F#m7 /  F#m7/E / | D7  /  C7 / | F#m7 /  /  / | D7  /  C7 / |


    The intro is the last four bars of the progression.

    Wulf
     
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Oohh - nasty key for horns!!
     
  4. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    We're actually going to play it in Gm, although that's more to fit the singers voice than out of any desire to avoid torturing the horn section ;)

    Sometimes just a semitone shift can make a big difference in how the whole song comes together. One of our singers has done quite a lot of jazz singing and she'll often ask for a song to be transposed so that she can use the part of her vocal range that has got the most 'jazzy' sound - when the vocal melody covers a wide range, that often has to be a fairly subtle shift but it's always worth trying.

    Wulf
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes - we've had these things - where we have tried different keys to fit our singer - and then it ends up that none of the horns want to solo - I was thinking that's why everybody knows vaguely different versions of a song. So - often horn players will learn something in a particular key, thne find it hard to think of it differntly...

    Never played that particular song though ?
     
  6. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    The problem with this particular song is that, although written by Jay Hawkins (I think) it's been covered by lots of different artists. I've looked at a couple now and there's not much similarity between Nina Simone's take and what Creedence Clearwater Revival did with the song, beside being a sixteen bar blues form (and even there, CCR add one or more bars on later repeats).

    It was a frustrating experience - we're not even going for a particularly accurate rendition of anyone elses version, but I was the only one with a clear idea of a chord progression, and that didn't fit what the singer knew (she was the only one with a clear idea of the melody). Since we had a gig last Friday I eventually suggested we shelve it rather than persisting, dropping it in the set and risking a 'crash and burn' situation at the gig.

    Still, it's been an opportunity for further practise in developing. Does anyone have any comments about whether I got the chords for the Simone version correct? I think I've got the broad outline, including a couple of the substititions that 'jazz it up' (eg. the F#7 chord against the key centre of F#m) but there are probably some nuances I've missed.

    Wulf
     
  7. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    It is harder to transpose on a horn than it is on the bass :D
     
  8. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Could you lower the pitch of a horn by adding a tubing extension (say another foot or two of pipe with a bell at the far end)? A bit like a capo for guitar but in reverse.

    Or would that, as I suspect, drastically affect tone and playability?

    Wulf
     
  9. I dont buy this biz about horn keys. I'm no horn player, but I've played with two tenor sax players over the years who played anything in any key. One is blind, and knows no music theory, not even the names of notes, he is the ultimate ear player, and a damn fine one too. He also plays flute, trumpet and flugel. He never once complained about playing in 5 or 6 sharps, or 6 flats! The other one has a masters degree in music, and in four years of gigging with him, I never once heard him query a "difficult" key.
    At the present moment I am playing with a guy who does struggle with keys, and he's come from a big band and brass band background. My theory is that bands like those make horn players lazy because most of their charts are simple. Before someone takes exception to that last remark, I used to play in an 18 piece big band where all the bass lines were written out, and they were nearly as simple as the horn lines!
     
  10. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It's more difficult to transpose on a horn than on a bass because we just slide our fingers up or down a couple of frets while the horn player has to use a completely different set of fingerings - this is assuming a song that has been learnt in one key (eg from a CD) and then the singer, for example, asks for it to go up or down.

    There are also certain notes that are harder to play in tune on various brass instruments (do a search here for 'trumpet intonation' to find a fairly involved and very enlightening discussion).

    Actually, the various horn players associated with my band are in the group who don't have too many problems moving from key to key - I have to be careful at church though where the trumpet player has much less experience and a relatively limited range at present. I try to keep most of the stuff I arrange for her 'easy', with one or two challenges to encourage her to develop her skills.

    Wulf
     
  11. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Good question. I suspect that adding tube to the bell end might well drastically affect the tone. But if you were to add tubing in the middle (e.g. use a longer main tuning slide), it should work.

    But, it would affect the tuning. Tuning with the trumpet is always a compromise, as we discussed in that other thread. The thing is, what the trumpet tries to do is to use a constant length of tubing for a semitone, a tone, and a minor 3rd (1st, 2nd and 3rd valve, respectively), whereas, as you know, the size of a semitone in Hz is not constant, it get's bigger as you go higher.

    In a perfect world, the length of the tubes in a trumpet would magically change, depending upon what pitch you were playing. Since they haven't invented magic trumpet tubes yet, tuning is a compromise, and the tuning of a trumpet is appropriated to A440, and it's designed to give as accurate tuning as possible over the entire range.
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Presumably this does mean that some keys are going to be better/worse than others? Or are they all equally "out" ?
     
  13. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Presumably, that's because he's a good player. Some are better than others. I'm not sure it's fair to take a guy with a masters degree in music and use him as the yardstick by which you measure all other players.

    The truth is, it's harder to transpose on a horn than it is on the bass. It seems that you've been playing with some fine horn players, who have got it down. Not all horn players are as good as that ;)

    IMO, the key is to be able to think of a tune in generic terms. So rather than thinking that Autumn Leaves goes G A Bb Eb F G A D etc - think of it as 1 2 m3 m6 etc - or whatever. That way, as long as you're familiar with all the keys, you can transpose it.

    With the bass, however, you don't *have* to go through all that in order to transpose it, you can just shift it all up a fret or whatever.

    On a horn, the fingering pattern for playing it in Gm is entirely different to the fingering pattern for playing it in G#m - so you can't rely on that one learned fingering pattern.
     
  14. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    With a trumpet, some notes are worse than others, so I suppose the keys that use more of the dodgy notes will be worse, yes. I would suppose that the most in tune key would be C Major (concert Bb), as more open notes are used, and the 3rd valve is not used much. But in general, I've not found that playing in any particular key is so bad that you'd avoid that key.

    One note that is particularly bad however is the first octave C# (concert B). It comes out very very sharp, so when you play that note you're supposed to slide the 3rd valve tuning slide out.
     
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's what I thought - although I wasn't sure, but we have two trumpeters in the band who are often talking about things like this.

    So - wulf's version of the tune, dominated by F#M7 and Bm7 is quite likely to contain notes that any trumpeter won't like ?
     
  16. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    While sliding it a semitone in either direction will yield much more friendly keys where the dreaded B will either not be found at all or exist as a passing note ;)

    Wulf
     
  17. Wulf,

    Howard Werth has done a nice version of this tune. I'll look it out tonight and try to find out the changes for it. I'll also bung you an audio taster of it for reference ;) . I play bass for Howard (gigs coming up soon hopefully). EDIT - Sorry, I should make this absolutely clear, Howard has asked me to play bass at his upcoming gigs, I DON'T play bass on any of his albums. The albums feature much more talented bass players than me. Check out www.luminousmusic.co.uk for previews of his new album.

    :)

    Mike
     
  18. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Sounds good - cheers, Mike.

    Wulf
     
  19. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Well F# Minor becomes G# Minor for the trumpets - so a C# is entirely possible, it just depends on the arrangement.
     
  20. I checked last night and Howard's version is in the much more friendly key of G. Still working out what changes he's playing though.