Body and Soul: For Cello

Here is the jazz classic “Body and Soul” transcribed and arranged for cello.

This beautiful, slow, languid, ultra-relaxed piece, written by Johnny Green (1908-1989) in 1930, is presented here in the key of D major/B minor because this key signature allows us to play the melody most comfortably in both the tenor and soprano register. The second verse is one octave higher than the first, so for an “Easier Version” just play the first verse twice. This piece can be played with very flexible rhythms in the cello melody. If we want to create an ultra-relaxed, laid-back mood then it will help if we are not too literal with our reading of the rhythmic notation and just cruise sleepily along with the harmonies, always feeling only two beats to the bar (never four). All the dotted figures should be played as slow triplets, and we can add many more syncopations to the series of quarter-notes (crotchets). Unfortunately, if we try and notate exactly the laid-back jazz rhythms then our notation will start to look very complex (see the article on Syncopations).

This type of notation is an interesting academic exercise, rather like putting the music under a microscope. But once we understand the style it is undoubtedly simpler to notate the music “square” and then play it with freedom (“swing”). In this way, unlike in “classical music”, the musical notation in jazz gives us just the basic skeleton, allowing the performers a lot of freedom to do what they want ……. which is one of the great beauties of jazz.

  1.   Edited Version
  2.    Clean Version
  3.    Easier Version
  4.    Square Version

Here is a play-along accompaniment audio. Unfortunately, it is a little too fast ……..