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Goodbye Pork Pie Hat harmonic analysis

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Tom Lane, Sep 3, 2020.

  1. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Any comments about Mingus' Goodbye Pork Pie Hat chord progression? From what I've read, the consensus is that it's coming from more of a blues than a traditional European harmonic perspective and that seems reasonable based on my ear; some sort of Minor blues. Most of the changes seem to defy traditional harmonic analysis for me, but maybe that's just me. I can see some x V I's but it simultaneously never resolves and never really leaves F Dominant. Certainly, a hauntingly beautiful tribute. Any thoughts?

    punchdrunk likes this.
  2. 834federal

    834federal David Brodie Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2012
    Good question! I hate soloing on this one and I've wondered why I can't figure it out too.
  3. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Listen to the Original Mingus recording - they don't solo over the changes...He wrote a simpler solo section with more beautfuller changes.
    I have a chart....somewhere....I'll try to post it later today.
    nickbass, punchdrunk, Dabndug and 7 others like this.
  4. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Mingus is an evil genius.
    nbsipics, punchdrunk, DrMole and 3 others like this.
  5. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    This Just In!
    The Real Book continues to SUCK!!
    Flames at Eleven.
    Now This...
    Low Crow, DrMole, 834federal and 2 others like this.
  6. The Real Book butchers Mingus's music. A majority of his tunes in there are in the wrong key and the changes are wrong. The chart for Goodbye Pork Pie Hat that's in the Mingus facebook the Mingus organization put out is way different and far more accurate. Plus it has those solo changes you mentioned.
  7. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Dewey Decimal??? More like "Do I Have This?"
  8. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Thanks Don! Looks as though most of the changes are the same, but I do find it interesting that your notation of the melody is so much more accurate than what's in the RB, and, of course, you carefully spelt out all of the extensions. And, those changes for the solos answer the question about it being a blues.
    I owe you once again!
  9. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    I am, again... Speechless!
    Thanks for your kind words. (Why the RB put this in "F" is another RB mystery to me....)
    In the words of Charles Mingus - "Let My Children Hear Music!"
    Tom Lane likes this.
  10. Jim Dedrick

    Jim Dedrick Jim Dedrick

    Nov 8, 2016
    Port Deposit, MD
    I did an arrangement of this over the summer. We still have not laced live. Chord changes were close to what Don posted above except everything was a whole step higher. Might be the recording. in the solo section I wanted to start with Blues changes and then see what happens. The song, to me, is mostly a blues anyway- 12 bars, I on first bar, and IV in fourth bar. I think the last four bars easily lead you to a free improv.
  11. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Frequently, when the RB got the key "wrong", I think it's because they transcribed a different recording. I don't KNOW that that's what happened here, but with the exception of something like Equinox originally recorded in C# Minor, and being tempted to simplify it to C Minor, that could be debatable, but why, otherwise, would anyone write a tune down in a different key? Just seems like a lot more work, no?

    In this case, RB5 claims:

  12. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Ha... John McL - does it in D on My Goals Beyond.
    Ralph Towner has done it in D and in E (there are more versions, as well...)
    Where the F did F come from in the Real Book?
    "Stay away from the Brown Acid...."
  13. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Here it is from More Than a Fake Book, ed. by Sue Mingus. Small variations from the previous.

    She quotes Mingus: "I was playing at the Half Note Club the night I heard he died, and we went to the bandstand and played a Blues for Lester. I knew the guys would never do that again. I went home and I wrote a blues the way I thought they were playing, with different types of chord changes — not just the regular blues — and it became part of the book."

    Goodbye temp.png
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
  14. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    I think if you take it as blues that mixes major and minor blues then you kind of manage to piece together some sort analysis of what’s going on.

    To me Bars 1 and 2 are I ii V i. i has been altered to I and ii V i being tritone subs.
    Bars 3 and 4 are like an altered VII VI VII I progression.

    Bar 5 being the IV chord suggests it’s firmly in blues territory. Then the next chord in that bar is a tritone of chord ii, followed by the altered II and then V. So bar 6 I think is a II V in the tonic minor. Bars 5 and 6 are therefore IV ii II V

    Instead of going to the I/i chord in bar 7 it’s tritone subs of the III VI chords. This idea seems to be supported since the first chord of bar 8 is also a tritone sub of the tonic ii V. The second chord of bar 8 is altered IV chord. Bars 7 and 8 are therefore III VI ii V

    Bar 9 is a tritone sub of the i chord followed by the IV chord. Bar 10 is a V VII so we’ve got i IV V VII

    Bars 11 and 12 are the same as bar 1 and 2 so it ends on the same I ii V I progression.

    Hopefully this makes sense but maybe this will make what I’m thinking clearer:

    I ii | V i | VII VI | VII I | iv ii | II V | III VI | ii V | I iv | V VII | I ii | V i |

    That’s how I tend to think of it and the melody seems to support that but I’m not committed to it so if someone has a better understanding then I’m all ears. This is one of those instances where you really get a sense of Duke’s influence on Mingus by really thinking about the composition of it.
    DrMole and Tom Lane like this.
  15. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    "I went home and I wrote a blues the way I thought they were playing, ...."

    Mingus is known for a lot of character traits, but false modesty isn't one that I've encountered. Do y'all think we should take him at face value here, that he was trying to transcribe what happened on the stand? If we go down that hole, does it put a different light on the analysis? Might there be a way to surface the original, improvised "Blues for Lester" forensically?
    staccatogrowl and Tom Lane like this.
  16. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    anecdotally...when carla bley played her arrangement of this live at the show i attended, she prefaced it by saying something like 'i agonized about this arrangement for months over what probably took mingus about 10 minutes". it was her way of stating a tribute to his genius.
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I worked alongside John LaBarbera at the U for about 15 years, and was a student in several of his classes years before that. In his arranging classes, he had a classification of harmony that he called "melody driven harmonization". This could take different forms, but one common assignment was to take a largely diatonic melody and attach "outside" harmony that worked with the melody notes of the moment, but that overall sounded non functional without the melody present.

    This tune holds a special place for me, because when I took my guitar entrance audition at Berklee in '84, this was the tune they set in front of me for the reading portion. I didn't know it then, and made a holy mess of it. I found out later that most of the guys who sounded good on the audition were playing largely tonic minor blues over the whole thing, and that putting it on the reading part of the audition was a sort of test to find out who was paying attention to the melody and who was looking primarily at the harmony.
  18. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    A pdf is a more user-friendly (and printer-friendly) format, yes?

    Attached Files:

    DrMole likes this.
  19. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Wasn't necessary for me. I spent 45 minutes printing out yours, Steve Ayres' More than a Fakebook, and the RB5 chart, and comparing the melody and harmony. As you'd expect they are the same.
    Regardless, I learned a lot from all of your comments, and guessed, based on the melody, that soloing mostly in the Minor blues would result in something roughly acceptable - certainly not if you want to truly make all of the changes - but, faking it... yeah, Minor blues is in the ballpark.
    At the end of the day, we can all respect, admire, and maybe even aspire to emulate a little bit of that genius. But dang, there are so many! Jobim, Silver, Shorter, Burton, Metheny, Brecker, Coltrane, Bird, Dizzy... so many!
  20. I read in Miles Davis biography that, very freely quoted (I read that 10 years ago): 'Mingus just used any chord he liked at the moment. I tried to teach him the basics of harmonic sequences, but he didn't listen to me.'

    It's such a beautiful song.
    Low Crow, Tom Lane, Joshua and 4 others like this.
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