Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Duke!

On this date, 110 years ago, Edward Kennedy Ellington was born in Washington, DC.

La Plus Belle Africaine is a mid-60s composition Duke Ellington wrote in commemoration of "the First Annual Festival of Negro Arts, after writing African music for 35 years."

Playing along with recordings is good ear training and can be both fun and frustrating. In working on this particular piece, I discovered something that (to my knowledge, at least) no one has written about before. It appears that Duke was trying to use only the black keys to form the main motif of the piece and tie into the title of the work. (He didn't quite succeed - two notes, E natural and F natural were used. )

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