Learning John Coltrane's Naima

I’m going to use John Coltrane’s Naima as a way to explore building arrangements.

Here’s the original.

And here’s a lovely rendition on guitar.

@mem you seem to be going down a similar path with Autumn Leaves.

Maybe we can compare notes.

One of the things that confuses me is whether to play the melody horizontally or vertically.

Using only the top two strings requires lots of jumps. Across the strings the melody can be played in a compact way across four strings.

Am I missing the plot on the value of horizontal vs. vertical fingering?

And how does it apply to chord /melody arrangements?


What a beautiful song, good choice for a chord melody study. How are you approaching it?

I wouldn’t get too hung up about playing vertically or horizontally. I’d try to get the melody in my fingers playing it anywhere on the fretboard. This will keep your options open for adding bass notes and chords notes.

Are you going to try to play it like the guitar arrangement you posted?

If you’re thinking about IFR Chord Memody for Guitar, David uses the width of the neck (from where ever your melody has taken you) to provide the bass & ‘choir’ (i.e. harmony from chord tones), moving along the neck when it makes for a better position. As usual, he’s clear that none of what he demonstrates is proscriptive; the usual IFR approach of 'try it out & see what works for & appeals to you’ applies.

PS. To hear the Coltrane Naima I needed to open the link in youtube. With the Forum embedded copy I got a message saying ‘playback on other wesites has been disabled by the video owner’. No such problem with the lovely guitar solo version. :slight_smile:

Try this one.

I love the Wynton Kelly’s piano accompaniment on this, the original released version.

Here’s a short history of the tune.

That would be one way. It’s a very lovely and elegant arrangement.

The guitarist just sent me his transcription. People can be so generous.

I think I will see what I can learn from the arrangement and then apply to something that I come up with.

@DavidW has already hinted at how @ImproviseForReal uses the layout of the neck in chord melody arrangements.

I’ll eventually take this course but it’s on the expensive side. If there was a book that covered the material I’d definitely buy it. Reed is such a good writer.

I have to acknowledge that this whole adventure is very rewarding. There are great people to interact with, new resources to draw from and a sense of real and meaningful growth.

I have been breaking down the melody.

I know what the key is and have broken down the notes.

As far as I can tell there’s a beautiful repeated flat 7 at the end of the b section. All though all the notes are available in the the chromatic scale that IFR put great importance on there doesn’t seem to the be a way of notating with notes that do not fit into any of the modes (worlds). I just put it down as a flat 7.

I’ll post a video of this. @ImproviseForReal any thoughts on this?

I’ll say this, it’s a great way to learn the sound of the intervals. I just sing along with the numbers.

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I’ve listened a few times now, it’s a lovely, although a little tricky melody. I tried to figure out the note numbers, I’m hearing a b7 in the second phrase. Here’s what I’ve got so far, 3 … 2 5 6, then 1 … b7 5 b7 5. I’ll need to check a lead sheet to verify, but I think it sounds right. Is this the same as your interpretation?

I’ve got:

A section

6 5 8 2

4 3

1 3 1


B section

3 5 5 3 2 1

3 5 5 3 2 1

5 b7 b7 b7

5 3 5

1 3 1

Then the final bit is:

3 5 5 3 2 1

4 3

1 3 1

4 3

1 3 1

4 3

1 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 8

Whatcha’ think?

Interesting. Just looking at the A section. I’m assuming your note 8 is a note 1 in the next octave up. Looks like your note 5 corresponds to my note 1, and the only difference in A section is my b7 would be a b3 in your numbers. I’m hearing a whole step drop here, 1 to b7, or 4 to b3. Are you hearing a half step?