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Is the form of Autumn Leaves confused?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Tom Lane, Aug 8, 2018.


  1. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Is it my imagination or do the chords to Autumn Leaves contradict the melody? Listening to the melody, I hear four 8-bar phrases, but the chords suggest that the bridge is only 4 bars long doesn't it? Making the form A A B C with B being 4 bars long and C 12 bars long. The first 4 bars of the bridge are just a tag of the last half of the A section.

    4 b7 3 6 2 5 1 1
    4 b7 3 6 2 5 1 1
    2 5 1 1
    4 b7 3 6 2 5 1 b7 6 5 1 1

    How do you hear it?
     
    Quinn Roberts likes this.
  2. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member


    I am Rendered Speechless for now the 4th time.
    I am Without Speech.
    Thanks.
     
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  3. donotfret

    donotfret

    Jun 11, 2018
  4. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Didn't know you were counting. I'm gonna go buy my lotto ticket because clearly I'm on a roll! Time to update your sig?
     
    Don Kasper likes this.
  5. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    I don't have anything to say, but I made a sig file for myself because you guys' sig files are so cool.

    -S-
     
  6. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    YOU need to update YOUR sig! ("...#4....."
     
  7. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Touche! Should I include the "inside jokes" part? I've never been a part of a club I wanted to join before! Wait! Maybe I don't wanna join! but, I'm IN... ugh! What was the quote about sarcasm?
     
    Don Kasper likes this.
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I hear the melody in four 8 bar phrases because of the melodic construction. On the bridge, to my ears there are two melodic “questions” and two melodic “answers” forming the 8 bars.
     
  9. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    plays-autumn-leaves-for-44-years-maybe-the-bridge-is-only-4-measures.
     
    Winoman, Dick Lont, okcrum and 5 others like this.
  10. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    AABC form. 8 bars each.
     
  11. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    I don't know what strikes me most about this clip, the introduction, her pronunciation or her vibrato. OTOH, it could be the glockenspiel. :)
     
  12. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    It's the vibrato, for me.

    It's a good thing Edith and Sidney Bechet never gigged together. I think the combined vibratos would have led to spontaneous ignition of the surrounding air.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  13. donotfret

    donotfret

    Jun 11, 2018
    Whatever it is - you definitely can't say that she doesn't make the form very clear.

    I do think her French pronunciation is rather good. :)
     
    matthewbrown likes this.
  14. To me it's just A B. 16 bars of A and 16 bars of B, my group puts an 8 bar turn around at the end of each chorus like the Jim Hall Chet Baker group recordings .
     
  15. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Interestingly, the tune was originally written and recorded in Hungarian, the composer's native language, but it didn't become famous until it was included in a French film and sung by Ives Montand. Anyone recognize Ives similarity to Frank Sinatra? How about those "la-la-la-las"? while the attractive couple dances?
    For me, the French lyrics are far superior to the English lyrics so I learned the lyrics in French. I do, channel Ives when I play and sing the lyrics but I do my best to downplay the camp.
    Still, the issue is the lyrics say four 8-bar phrases but the chord progression says two 8-bar phrases followed by a 4-bar phrase, ending with a 12-bar phrase, so the melody doesn't support the chord progression and vice versa.
    I think Kosma messed up and I'm going to try to write a better bridge and last 8. Working... working... working...
     
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  16. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    I see what you mean but I hear all tunes based on the melody. How would you explain the bridge of a song to someone? You sing it?

    Autumn leaves is weird though now that we think about it. I think of it (and thought this way when I played it tonight) AABC

    4 b7 3 6 2 5 1 1
    4 b7 3 6 2 5 1 1
    2 5 1 1 4 b7 3 6
    2 5 1 (7) b7 6 2 5 1 1 (edited your changes on C to the ones I think)

    I think the difference is I think and hear the bridge as the A section but the 4 bar phrases chord wise are flipped. That chromatic line down from 1 to 6 on the C section makes it different enough for me.
     
    HateyMcAmp likes this.
  17. Huh.

    The Miles version I learned I count in 4/4, as (get this) 13 bars of A section (C/F/Bb/Eb/A/D/G) and four bars of B section (A/D/G).
     
  18. donotfret

    donotfret

    Jun 11, 2018
    Aren't we overcomplicating this a little (not that I'm not enjoying this discussion...)? I mean it's a very old song and I feel it's best looked at in a very traditional way.

    If you strip it down, what I hear is that it's moving back and forth between relative major and a minor keys, with very simple chords in each of them.

    A
    4 major 4 minor
    4 major 4 minor
    B
    4 minor 4 major
    (B')
    8 minor
     
  19. statsc

    statsc

    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    The tune also lends itself to “pedaling” and chromatic chord movement:

    A sections
    D pedal (5 bars) D# E E

    B Section
    B pedal (4 bars) A G# G G
    B pedal (2 bars), then a choice of either hanging on B until the end of the progression, or using chromatic movement down from E to B (1 bar each), or II-V’s down in whole steps (Em7/A7/Dm7/G7) C B E or ???
    Lots of possibilities!
     
  20. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    It is a 32 bar tune with four 8 bar phrases. AABC.
     
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