Transcription: Hail To The Chief

Composer: Butch Miles
Transcription starts at 0'01"; ends at 7' 40"
Album: Hail To The Chief! Butch Miles Salutes Count Basie
Session leader: Butch Miles
Recording date: August 1982
LP: Famous Door HL145
Tempo: 108 beats per minute

"Hail To The Chief" is a twelve bar blues that begins in F and then modulates five times before the final bar. The keys are: F - Ab - Eb - Bb - Eb - Ab. The recording provides a unique opportunity to study how Freddie selected his one note and two note voicings depending on the key.

In F, the primary note is A - the third of the tonic chord.
In Ab, the primary note is Gb, the seventh of the tonic chord.
In Eb, the primary note is G - the third of the tonic chord.
In Bb, the primary note is Ab - the seventh of the tonic chord.

Notice that the primary note is always the third or the seventh - the color tones of a dominant seventh chord, i.e., the third determines if the chord is minor or major, and the seventh determines if the chord is a dominant seventh or a major seventh. Also notice that Freddie chooses to play most of his voicings in the vicinity of the fourth to seventh frets, and he always sounds the D string. On most archtop rhythm guitars, the D string has the most acoustic power of all the strings and the notes from the 3rd fret (F) to the 8th fret (Bb) have a timbre that is clearly heard in a big band setting. Freddie likely discovered this acoustical axiom by experience and experimentation.

This session was never issued on CD and locating a copy of the LP may be difficult. However, every Freddie Green devotee should make the effort as his guitar is prominent in the recording mix and his playing never sounded better.

For instruction on how to play one note and two note voicings, see:

Transcribed by Michael Pettersen, July 2009

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