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"Song" or "Tune"

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by tornadobass, May 22, 2004.

  1. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I'm starting to learn "Blue Train" and am confused about something.

    My Real Book shows the chords in C minor. When I listen to the 10-minute Coltrane recording, I hear E-flat major instead.

    I guess this is a case of major key versus relative minor key.

    Which way is the song commonly done? Did Coltrane record both a major key and minor key version? Or is my ear getting tricked somehow?
  2. Firstly, and pardon me but I'm A.R...It is not a song. Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern wrote songs. You can tell a song right off the bat because it has words, which someone, usually a singer, is singing. John Coltrane, Bird, Monk, Wayne Shorter did not write songs. They wrote tunes, or compositions, or pieces. Many of them were similar in the length of their forms and internal structure to songs, but they are not songs. If a song is performed instrumentally, it is still a song, because it was originally composed as such. If someone takes an existing jazz tune and puts lyrics to it, I don't know what that is, but in many instances I find it little more than a novelty.

    There. I've been meaning to get that off my chest. Now another thing that really frosts my banana is why they call that thing the Real Book when it should be called the Really Wrong Book Full Of Bad Changes, Incorrect Melodies And Rhythms, Missing Measures, Erroneous Titles, And Uncredited Composers.

    You are correct. And you are smart for referencing the recording. The tune Blue Train is in Eb Major. It has been occasionally reharmonised by others, but that's another story. I don't know what they (people who wrote this chart) were thinking. Maybe they thought it was a minor blues because of the #9 sound on the I chord. Then they accidentally put the Eb part in there, which would put it in C minor, because the whole thing is in the wrong key - melody included. The correct changes for the head are Eb7#9 (4 bars), Ab13#11 (2bars), Eb 7#9 (2 bars), Bb7#9 (2 bars), and Eb7#9 (2 bars). The solos are just over Eb Major Blues.
  3. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    Thanks for sorting out my challenges with the tune (and the concept of "tune" generally).

    What confused me is that a local sax player told me it was a minor blues, but the recording wasn't. Same with a local bass player. They both must have learned it from the real book instead of from the recording.

    One last confusion. Some sources call it Blue Train, while other call it Blue Trane. Which?
  4. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Blue Train.
  5. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    Okay...I'll get the hang of this...wrong chords, wrong keys, wrong names...stay alert :)
  6. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002

    So, when a i hear someone singing "Well, you needn't ." am i hearing a "tune" or a "song ?"
  7. Monk (AFAIK) did not compose songs. So I'd have to say you're hearing a Monk tune as lyricised by (whomever). But let's not get too picky, or else DONONYCHUS might come on and rip me a new one. :eek:

    (Aside). How'd you change your username?
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Generally, you just post in a thread that FOGHORN is likely to reply to and then wait for the verdict. It helps if you say something that he is likely to disagree with.

    Alternately, you can email or PM Paul (site admin) and request that your username be changed. He used to not do this, but he is especially accomodating when someone changes a "handle" to their actual given name, as he seems to feel that this promotes more honest "I stand behind what I say" posting - not that this is an issue in your case. I'd say go for it!

  9. Can I hear an "Amen" ? Let me hear it, a BIG AMEN.
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I have often wondered if there was a clear distinction between song and tune... I must say though, it's not like it REALLY matters.. or is it? :rolleyes:

    Well You Needn't - I heard this version (the song) performed by Jamie Cullum on TV before I heard the Monk tune... and I did wonder how/why/if Monk wrote such tacky rubbish lyrics to a cool jazz tune.
  11. Well You Needn't is a tune
    'Round Midnight is a song
    Off Minor is a tune
    Little Rootie Tootie is a tune
  12. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    In British Isles (and possibly other) folk music circles, the concept of songs vs. tunes is still very distinct.

    Traditionally, songs were always done acapella and tunes were instrumentals without words.

    Anyway, when I play bass in folk groups if someone says "what TUNE do you want to do" it's assumed they mean an instrumental.
  13. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    My experience is "tune" can cover more ground than "song" and they can indeed overlap. Musicians use "tune" all the time to refer to pieces with sung lyrics; I've never had any problem with that and have never heard a gripe about it among the many folks I've played with over the years. I use it that way myself all the time.

    "Song", though, rings false to my ear when it's used to refer to a piece that has no singing of lyrics in it.
  14. The boundaries are fuzzy and not cut in stone, but I agree with T-Bag generally.

    I wrote one. It's on the Sampler. It depends sometimes on the perspective. The hearer can regard it as a tune. But I know that I wrote it as a song, keeping in mind the words to describe my visualization.
    Does 'Ruby, My Dear' have words? I hear it as a song.
    Milt Jackson recorded a 'tune' that he considered "a song without words", titled 'Heartstrings'.
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    song n.


    • A brief composition written or adapted for singing.
    • The act or art of singing: broke into song.
    • A distinctive or characteristic sound made by an animal, such as a bird or an insect.

    Poetry; verse.

    • A lyric poem or ballad.
    tune n.


    • A melody, especially a simple and easily remembered one.
    • A song.
    • Correct pitch.
    • The state of being properly adjusted for pitch: a piano out of tune.
    • Agreement in pitch: play in tune with the piano.
    • Obsolete. A musical tone.
    They look like synonyms to me.
  16. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    Ray did the same thing I did. Merriam Webster generally solves semantics arguments.
  17. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I still think youse guys are being a little snobbish.
  18. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002

    A lyricicised tune ??? That is FUNNY ! So, then, every pop tune ever written could be called the same thing !