Masterclass: Jazz style and technique for violinists


Taking time to explore a tune from all angles helps the player to perform it. Jazz violinist Chris Garrick takes bebop favourite Donna Lee and works from the bottom up. Taken from the September 2007 issue

Learning, understanding and playing a tune like Donna Lee will stimulate your rhythmic awareness and stretch your swing-playing technique. It offers many different challenges, but above ail it’s a terrific piece for both practice and performance purposes, as I have found every day since I discovered it as an impressionable 14-year-old.

A jazz bebop piece, Donna Lee contains characteristics of phraseology and rhythmic variety that make it indispensable in the jazz repertoire. Like many other tunes in the genre, it is based on an older tune - in this case (Back Home Again in) Indiana.

The two are often played together, which is a marvellous effect. It has a conventional 32-bar song form, in ABAC format, but these basic features belie the scintillating subtleties and beguiling complexities of the piece.

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