Saturday, March 04, 2023

Transcription: Tony Williams - Cantaloupe Island

A student was asking about Cantaloupe Island, played by Tony Williams on Herbie Hancock's Empyrean Isles album, so I went ahead and transcribed the whole thing. Why not. The style may get called as a Blue Note beat, a boogaloo beat, a Lee Morgan beat, a Cantaloupe Island beat— it's a very well known tune, and was heavily sampled in the 90s. This should probably go in a future transcription collection on Amazon, so get it free while you can.  

The tempo is around 115; it's starts a little slower, and ends a little faster. The form is 16 bars long:
4 bars F min | 4 bars Db7 | 4 bars rhythm figure | 4 bars F min  

It's pretty straightforward, with a lot of repetition. He'll do variations on the main groove, which he will repeat for several measures in a row. I could have used more one measure repeats, but I've been pretty strict about notating subtle variations and dynamics. 

He's following the dynamics of the soloists pretty closely— even within a repeating pattern, he'll build or back off in a subtle way. He's also not punching hard in obvious places, like at the beginning of phrases. Despite the repetition, he's not playing it like a groove drummer, he's playing color. He's also deliberate in how he uses the hihat, playing it with his foot mostly just during Freddie Hubbard's solo— the strongest part of the track.  

No comments: