Examining Bill Evans’ Solo from ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’

By Scott Mercer

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This Bill Evans solo on “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” is from the Intermodulation album with Jim Hall on guitar. The melody and first chorus are played by Hall with Evans comping. When Evans solos, he doesn’t play chords – in effect allowing the guitar to function as his left hand. The basic changes are shown, although Jim Hall adds a great deal with substitutes and passing chords.   

The use of ascending arpeggios and descending chromatic passages so common to the language are well illustrated in this solo. His frequent use of Major 7 arpeggios from the 7 (7-1-3-5) and arpeggiated minor triads from the raised 7 (#7-1-b3-5) can be seen and heard in several measures (4, 5, 9 10, 11, 21).  In Bars 10 and 28, Evans implements the same idea using a o7 from the 3 of dominant chords, again leading into the arpeggio from a half step below. The use of chromaticism in descending passages is very effective, connecting scale tones with chromatic passing tones and creating strong drive to points of resolution. In my opinion, the melodic line and its drive overshadow the chord/scaled and melodic analysis.

On Transcribing

Using Pro Tools to slow the tempo of the imported audio, I transcribed the solo using MuseScore. I think it’s a good idea to make students aware of “free stuff” when I can (such as MuseScore), and this was an effort to familiarize myself with this platform. Exporting the MIDI data of the transcription and importing it into an adjacent Pro Tools track with a virtual instrument plug-in afforded the opportunity to further check for accuracy. Some of the more difficult rhythmic passages featuring quarter note triplets were confirmed through this process, although I had second-guessed myself on their accuracy. Another interesting observation I discovered through the use of Pro Tools is the consistent tempo of the recording. Remarkable!

Scott Mercer is an associate professor of music in his 30th year at Vincennes University, where he teaches Music Technology, Pro Tools, Audio Recording, and Music Theory.  He holds a Master of Music: Jazz Studies degree from Indiana University and a B.S. in Music: Concentration in Merchandising from Indiana State University.  He performs frequently in the southern Indiana area with the Hip Replacements Trio, the Steve Greenwell Trio, and has performed with the Owensboro Symphony and Evansville Philharmonic orchestras.

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