Mark Feldman, Charms of the Night Sky

Mark Feldman – violinist (photograph by Valerie Trucchia)

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Download the PDF: C, Bb, Eb, Bass Clef

Charms of the Night Sky, written by Dave Douglas and performed by: Dave Douglas, trumpet; Greg Cohen, acoustic bass; Mark Feldman, violin; Guy Klucevsek: accordion.  From Charms of the Night Sky, recorded 1998 and released on the Winter & Winter label.


I’ve been drawn to this solo (the whole album, really) since the first time I heard it.  I love the combined timbres of accordion+violin and accordion+trumpet, and so many beautiful textures and combinations are explored on this album.  Even just during the violin solo.  One thing that really turned me onto this solo in particular is the subtly nebulous nature of the rhythm which seems to fight the underlying rhythm, but without sounding ‘wrong’ in any sense of the word.  (I first noticed this kind of rhythmic stretching/contracting listening to Miles Davis, such as his solos on Sweet Pea and the title track of the album Water Babies – it’s really inspiring how Miles goes in and out of the groove without disrupting it.)

So my transcription is, of course, only an approximation of what’s really going on, and I tried to notate the underlying rhythm that Feldman seems to be hinting at, or playing an impression of.  Measures 33 and 34 were especially difficult and my notation could never do the line justice, but if you want to play the solo this should really help!  One little technical note is the difference between 3pltes and 6lets in my transcription.  I use 6lets specifically to indicate when Mark groups his 8th-note 3plets in groups of 2, which makes for a kind of hemiola effect.  Very hip.  I could have also notated it this way:

– but I thought the other way was at least nominally less confusing.  Let me know what you think!

Then there’s the harmony underlying this whole tune – just looking at these chords makes my eyes glaze over but hearing Mark Feldman navigate them is the most natural thing in the world.  It’s really incredible playing, and the chords really are more intuitive than my eye can recognize without digging in and analyzing how the tonalities relate.

I’d like to transcribe Dave Douglas’ (trumpet) and Greg Cohen’s (bass) solos on this tune as well, so watch for those in the coming months.  If I do continue to work on this tune I’ll definitely have the chords analyzed by my next post.  Thanks for reading!



One thought on “Mark Feldman, Charms of the Night Sky

  1. Beautiful solo and a wonderful transcription! I thought you did a wonderful job with the rhythms. So very hard to decipher that stuff on solos like this. I’ll have to post some of Dave’s solos from that record. Love it!

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