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Hello everyone!

I'm not an active contributor. I'm more of a peruser; however, I would like some support from a pro. I would classify my playing level from beginner to intermediate. I am reading up on Bebop playing style. Seems as though there is a lot of quoting from other songs as a result of similar chord progressions. This is the first time in my playing "career" I have heard the term "Contrafact". I was just wondering if there was another term for it because I am not finding much online in the way of Contrafacts.

Aside from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_jazz_contrafacts, if you know of a database, a book, anything really that would outline similar chord progressions from jazz standards, that would be great.

Songs I am looking for include:

1. Ain't Misbehaving
2. Girl from Ipanema
3. Summertime
4. Night in Tunesia
5. Route 66
6. String of Pearls
7. Blue Skies
8. A Train
9. Don't mean a thing if it aint got that swing
10. Don't get around much anymore

Any help would be appreciated.
 

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If you are looking to research quoting, rather than duplicating the entire chord progression, there are a ton (thousands) of typical sections which are used by different tunes. Thus you can quote a 4 bar section of tune A over tune B where tune B and tune A happen to have the same chord progression, even though tune A and tune B diverge considerably in the rest of their progression.

Sometimes these quotes become part of a player's distinctive vocabulary. For example, I used to play with a trumpet player who was fond of quoting the first couple bars of "Silver Threads Among the Gold" (which has a very distinctive downward leap of a sixth) whenever that particular set of chords came up. It was a trademark with him almost, so you would say "yep, that's Tommy".
 

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Never heard of 'contrafact' but the Wiki list is a good overview of the more well-known examples. Its been said for many years that 'Cherokee' has spawned more tunes than any other. I'm more familiar with pop/rock/soul so a couple that come to mind are 'Europa' which is 'Autumn Leaves' but in the form of a 'round' without the bridge. Chuck berry's 'Promised Land' is 'Wabash Cannonball'. This has been done forever, probably starting as far back as traveling minstrels. Once you start digging into this, the list could span centuries of music and include many thousands of entries.
 

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I am reading up on Bebop playing style. Seems as though there is a lot of quoting from other songs as a result of similar chord progressions. This is the first time in my playing "career" I have heard the term "Contrafact". I was just wondering if there was another term for it because I am not finding much online in the way of Contrafacts.

Aside from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_jazz_contrafacts, if you know of a database, a book, anything really that would outline similar chord progressions from jazz standards, that would be great.
If you are getting into Bebop, look for David Baker’s most excellent series “How to Play Bebop”. As I recall, there is a chapter in the third volume that lists several pages of bebop contrafacts.
 

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Contrafact usually refers to a practice common in jazz, of composing a new melody over an already existing chord progression that is popular with jazz players. For example: Ornithology is the same chord progression as How High The Moon. Donna Lee is the same as Back Home In Indiana etc. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of these in the jazz cannon. I would be surprised if someone hasn't already compiled a reasonably comprehensive list.
 

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I always thought contrafact was the process of writing different words to a song.

Many of the so-called bebop contrafacts I assume are basically done to avoid copyright issues (as there is no copyright in a chord sequence, but there is in a melody) and are probably just transcriptions of improvised solos that are then played as a head over the original changes.
 

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After doing a bit of research and discussion with a very eminent musicologist, my initial thoughts are correct. A contrafact is not a tune written to the chord sequence of another tune, it is as I thought, different words to a tune.

The Wikipedia entry is bogus. No surprises there as any old Tom, Dick and Harry can write stuff there and people take it as some kind of authority.
 

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After doing a bit of research and discussion with a very eminent musicologist, my initial thoughts are correct. A contrafact is not a tune written to the chord sequence of another tune, it is as I thought, different words to a tune.
So what would you call a tune written over the same changes?

I’ll have to check the Baker book when I get home. I consider him as much an authority as anyone.
 

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So what would you call a tune written over the same changes?
I'd call it a tune written over the same changes as another tune.

Otherwise I'd have to say that every 12 bar blues (except the very first one) is a contrafact.

This is an example of extreme jazz musicologist ponciness IMO. Did Bird say, "Hey Diz, let's write a contrafact of Indiana/I Got Rhythm/etc."

The word has existed for centuries meaning something very specific. I would have thought the jazz musicologists could invent their own word (if they really need one) instead of misappropriating one that already existed and meant something else.
 

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The word has existed for centuries meaning something very specific. I would have thought the jazz musicologists could invent their own word (if they really need one) instead of misappropriating one that already existed and meant something else.
Don’t look now, Pete, but a great many words have been “misappropriated” and given alternate meanings over the last few centuries. :shock: :bluewink:
 

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Its been said for many years that 'Cherokee' has spawned more tunes than any other.
I'm thinking the honor goes to "I Got Rhythm".
 

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This is an example of extreme jazz musicologist ponciness IMO. Did Bird say, "Hey Diz, let's write a contrafact of Indiana/I Got Rhythm/etc."
LOL. I can hear it now:

Bird: "I say old bean, shall we try out this contrafact over I've Got Rhythm?"

Diz: "What the $%^#?!"

I heard an interview with Bird where the interviewer asked him where he got the title for a tune he'd written (I don't remember which tune it was). Bird's response, paraphrased, but pretty close to the original quote : "Man I don't know, they named these tunes after we left the studio."
 

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Actually, getting back to your list, the A section of Ipanama is very very similar to A Train. You can play the melody of one over the other. (with a couple of cool chromatic changes in bars 3/4 of Ipanema)
I remember hearing Charlie Byrd himself doing this back in the early 80s.
 

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Don’t look now, Pete, but a great many words have been “misappropriated” and given alternate meanings over the last few centuries. :shock: :bluewink:
On the contrary, I think it's mostly appropriation that has happened over the last few centuries, and I have no problem with that - language evolves organically. It's the misappropriation that is not so good IMHO. But in this case it's no big deal, I just think that there are things that are better off not over-analysed and given poncy words by academics, it's just jazz.

Usually words are appropriated by normal people, the only sad thing is when it's done by academics who ought to actually know the meaning and not use big words incorrectly just to sound cleverer than they are. I’m talking about whoever invented this new meaning, not the people who now use it.

Actually I find it funny rather than sad, but now it’s in Wikipedia it’s out there and is now legitimate no doubt.

I heard an interview with Bird where the interviewer asked him where he got the title for a tune he'd written (I don't remember which tune it was). Bird's response, paraphrased, but pretty close to the original quote : "Man I don't know, they named these tunes after we left the studio."
Ironically, Contrafaction would have been a great name for one of those bebop tunes.
 

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On the contrary, I think it's mostly appropriation that has happened over the last few centuries, and I have no problem with that - language evolves organically. It's the misappropriation that is not so good IMHO. But in this case it's no big deal, I just think that there are things that are better off not over-analysed and given poncy words by academics, it's just jazz.

Usually words are appropriated by normal people, the only sad thing is when it's done by academics who ought to actually know the meaning and not use big words incorrectly just to sound cleverer than they are. I’m talking about whoever invented this new meaning, not the people who now use it.

Actually I find it funny rather than sad, but now it’s in Wikipedia it’s out there and is now legitimate no doubt.
Well, it predates “Wiki”...

Reference: David Baker. “How to Play Bebop, Volume 3. For All Instruments. Techniques for Learning and Utilizing Bebop Tunes”. Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. Copyright 1987.

I quote from Chapter 1, titled “The Contrafact”.

Note: I am indebted to an excellent article in Journal of Jazz Studies (June 1975) entitled “Charlie Parker and Harmonic Sounces of Bebop Composition: Thoughts on the repertory of new Jazz in the 1940s” by James Patrick for the present use of the term “melodic contrafact” and some of the following ideas regarding its importance.

Baker continues, “A contrafact is a tune which is based on an extant set of chord changes (harmonic progression), and it was this type of tune which comprised a large part of the bebop repertoire.”

OP - I sold this volume short. It is the source you are looking for. I need to get my head back into this book in the next few years.
 

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Grammarly
Contrafact: A new musical composition built out of an already existing one, most often a new melody overlaid on a familiar harmonic structure. An important part of the development of bebop. Contrafacts are not to be confused with musical quotations, which borrow rhythms or melodies from an existing composition.

Merriam-Webster
Contrafact: a 16th century musical setting of the mass or a chorale or hymn produced by replacing the text of a secular song with religious poetry

Dictionary.com, the oxford online dictionary and vocabulary.com don't even know it's a word lol. Anyway, the common usage I'm familiar with is the one grammarly noted. I don't think anyone from the 1500s is gonna mind.
 

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Well since we've sorted all that, can we get back to discussion of a database of these "contrafacts". I would think North Texas St., or University of Indiana, or some such school, has compiled a database of these type of compositions. It would be a pretty big undertaking and sometimes harmonic substitutions muddy the water a bit. For example "Subconscious Lee" is "What Is This Thing Called Love" but in the place of ii V he just uses the V7. I have seen contrafacts based on All the Things You Are, but with some re-harmonization-substitute chords.


I do agree with Isle Of Jazz in post thirteen that I Got Rhythm is probably the most used chord progression for contrafacts (other than the twelve bar blues). Bird probably composed 20-30 himself.
 
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