Free Transcription of Brad Mehldau’s Solo on C.T.A.

Here are the first three choruses of Brad Mehldau’s solo from his most recent album recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York City, Brad Mehldau Trio (Live).  I always loved this solo. When I first heard it, I was somewhat floored. Brad’s seemingly dissonant yet wonderfully melodic lines had developed to an entirely new level. As usual, the solo itself also developed and unfolded flawlessly. Although I only got around to transcribing the first three choruses, I feel that there is a wealth of information that one can learn from these three alone.

Brad Mehldau’s Solo on C.T.A.

To sum up how I interpret what Brad is doing, I believe he is essentially taking the elements that make up the average melodic bebop line and applying them through different cycles, as well as simply interpolating different keys over the harmony of C.T.A. The tune, C.T.A., is very similar to a rhythm changes tune, however, the A section is slightly different at the beginning. (Let me add that I also think he simply hears this way at this point after a great deal of practicing).

First of all, what makes a good bebop line? As my former teacher Hal Galper coined the term, “Forward Motion.” Basically, the idea that every line is leading to a strong melodic tone (root, 3rd, 5th, 7th) that falls on beat 1 or 3. (I highly suggest that you go to halgalper.com and learn more about Forward Motion.) If you listen carefully, you can hear that Brad’s dissonant sounding lines often use forward motion, but sometimes the “melodic” tones are actually led to in a different key than the original key of the tune.

That’s my theory. Hope it helps. Enjoy the transcription, and please feel free to contact me with any questions you have.

Don’t forget to go to the top right of the home page and subscribe to the blog so that you always know when there’s a new post! Click “follow.”

2 thoughts on “Free Transcription of Brad Mehldau’s Solo on C.T.A.

  1. Hey Noah, thanks for making this stuff available. Its always nice to have some transcriptions to check out. In analyzing, I always find it nice to have the changes on the transcription in order to see how the notes relate to the chords. Do you, by chance, have a copy of the changes, too?

    • Hi there,
      I don’t actually have the chords written out anywhere, but I can tell you that they are very similar to a rhythm changes tune. I believe the main difference is that the first four chords descend in whole steps, Bb7, Ab7, Gb7, F7, 2 beats per chord. This happens twice in a row.

      Here’s a link to a quicktime file that outlines the chords: http://www.songtrellis.com/sounds/viewer$3536

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s