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Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

Hey guys,

I love jazz, but I find it technically daunting. Listening to Hancock's Cantaloupe Island I figured it was a simple and fun song to venture into the genre. However, I'm having a tough time trying to follow the chord changes and make my solo sound jazzy enough.

As you may know, the song is comprised of three main chords: Fm7, C#7 and D7sus/#9 (?). Over the Fm7 chord I've been playing an F blues scale adding some chromaticism here and there. At this point, I'm playing mostly blues, so I feel at home. When the C#7 comes in, however, I'm at a loss as to what to play over it. Same thing goes for the D7sus/#9.

I was hoping those of you who are familiar with the song and the genre might be able to give me a few tips.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/26/2007 11:08 PM

Chris Bond II (2841) wrote:

Try phrygian Dominant (some folks call it spanish phrygian)

1 - b2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7 - 1

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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/29/2007 2:57 AM

Obee Obier (4521) wrote:

some folks call it harmonic dominant or the V. scale degree of
harmonic minor

cheers to you cg bond II

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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/27/2007 1:52 AM

Craig Lindsey (5518) wrote:

Chris's response sounds helpful. I am sure familiar with the genre, as it was Herbie's "Maiden Voyage" album that first started converting me to jazz. And yeah, I use the term converting, because it is almost a religiosity that one can feel for that art form.

My own advice would be to immerse one's self in that great post-bop kinda stuff, and let the ideas come to you, rather than try to force them along with one scale or another. It's a freeflowing conception that lends itself to some true creativity, outside the boxes implied by a scalier, structured attack. Its all over the place, in many different scales, and the thing to do is just to keep one's solo melodic and just keep hearing where you want to go, in your head.

Cheers for keeping that music alive, and good luck!


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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/28/2007 8:32 PM

Nick Pinder (1098) wrote:

Hi Nicolas,

I too love jazz and also made (and am still making!) that dificult transition from blues/rock-based guitar thinking.

Let's see if I can help a bit. I can see what you are getting at with the Fm7, although it really depends on how you define a blues scale, but I would suggest F Dorian (E major played from F-F).

Now for the C#9; let's call it Db9 for now. I would see this as a tritone (b5) substitution for G7 alt - that is to say G7 with a b5, a #5 and a b9. For a groovy scale to play over that (or indeed any altered G7) I'd suggest Ab melodic minor - Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab. If you play that from Db - Db Eb F G Ab Bb C Db - you end up with Db Lydian dominant and that should do nicely!

The third chord is simpler than you might think. Dm7 will do or, if you can find a nice voicing, Dm11. D Dorian - C major played from D-D - should do the trick.

Sorry for a long dull technical explanation but I think that this may help.

I'm sure others could, and probably will, provide a more comprehensive or at least alternative theory - after all, it's all about ears rather than cold analysis - but this should be enough to get you going on this splendid tune!

Good luck with it.

All the best,


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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/28/2007 10:04 PM

Jeremy Cotton (7938) wrote:

There are lots of ways to approach this tune (and playing in general).

Lately I've been thinking about pentatonic scales and small alterations.
For example-

the Fm7 chord goes nicely with f minor pentatonic. C minor pentatonic is also very nice, and G minor pentatonic is also handy. These 3 minor pentatonics are all derived from the F dorian scale. Although the notes are fairly commonplace you might find you tend to play things differently if you are thinking of C minor pentatonic rather then F dorian.

You can also add other scale tones to those same minor pentatonics- again nothing strange happens harmonically, but adding Ab to G or C minor pentatonic can give you some fresh melodic ideas, as can adding G to F minor pentatonic.

The Db7 is a particularly nice change. It can take F minor pentatonic if you are slick in handling the C natural (the other F minor pentatonic notes are chordtones in a Db13 arpeggio). Or alter your F minor pentatonic- instead of the normal notes, change the C a half step to Db or B, and it will fit the chord better. You could also use Ab minor pentatonic, but alter the Gb a half step to an F or G.

The final chord is Dm7- D, E or A minor pentatonic are cool here- or think C major triad (with an added F or D if you like).


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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/30/2007 12:26 AM

Brian Elzey (4318) wrote:

I would suggest treating each chord separately. I looked at the
chart, and it seems each chord last 4 bars. That's enough time to
get into each chord. Something you have to get used to when
playing jazz is changing keys/scales/chords throughout a song.
One scale isn't going to do the trick most of the time. Try playing a
blues scale off of each chord. F blues for Fm7, C#blues for the
C#7, and D blues for the D7sus. If you play the f blues rooted on
the 5th string 8th fret, then the C#blues at the 6th string 9th fret
and the d blues at the 6th string 10th fret, you can stay in the same
area of the neck for the entire tune. This is a simple approach, but
I think one that will give quick results and get you on your way.

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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/30/2007 12:45 AM

Brian Elzey (4318) wrote:

I just watched your blues vid on your home page. Great stuff,
you're a good player. You'll have no prob getting into jazz with
your blues chops and feel.

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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/30/2007 5:56 AM

Jon Riley (9697) wrote:

This is a kind of twisted blues, IMO.

As has been pointed out, the C#7 is really Db7 (important to get one's enharmonics right ;-) ).

Db is the normal bVI chord of the key (Fm), and a dom7 version is often substituted for the iv (Bbm) in a minor blues in jazz.

I use F blues scale over the Db7, it sounds great (IOW, same scale I would use on the Fm7). You need to avoid the C, but the F-Ab-Bb-Cb-Eb all fit perfectly - and it sounds to me like that's how it's supposed to sound.
The b7 of Db7 (Cb) is the b5 of F blues. That's why it works.

The Dm7, OTOH, is a typical Herbie Hancock modal chord, stuck in where we might expect (in blues mode) to find a V chord.
Many scales would fit here.
D phrygian (D-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-C) is closest to the home key - in fact, that's the scale suggested by the melody at this point, which uses the notes C-Eb-A.
But it's also worth trying D aeolian and even D dorian, to really highlight the out-of-key nature of the chord.

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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/31/2007 7:05 PM

Jon Riley (9697) wrote:

Just realised: D phrygian is D-Eb-F-G-A (not Ab) -Bb-C.

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Re: Soloing over Cantaloupe Island - Herbie Hancock

7/31/2007 2:22 PM

Nicolas De Guzman (2715) wrote:

Thanks for the help guys. I've been playing with your suggestions and I feel like I'm starting to get somewhere. I'll keep you posted.