If Footprints isn't exactly one of those "embarassing not to know" tunes, then it's pretty close. At any rate, it's fun to play The chords are easy, and this time I'll start to talk about memorizing melodies a little bit, too.
Here are the chords:
| Cm7 | x 8
| Fm7 | x 4
| Cm7 | x 4
| D7 | D7 | Db7 | Db7 |
| Cm7 | x 4
So what is this, really? It's a 24-bar minor blues in ¾ time with a II7 where you'd expect the V (I'm assuming that you'll just naturally remember, or hear or feel that the D7 goes down to a Db7). A 24-bar blues feels just like a 12-bar blues, so you probably will reduce the concise description to:
minor blues in ¾ time with a II7 where you'd expect the V
As far as the melody goes, first, a reference: How to Learn Tunes, by David Baker, Volume 76 in the Jamey Aebersold Jazz series is an interesting book, especially insofar as memorizing melodies is concerned. He has a system for memorizing chords as well. It shares certain elements with the system I'm developing here, but of course the fact that I'm developing a system at all shows that I didn't really find Baker's chordal system that effective for me personally, for whatever reason. Nonetheless, he has a lot of good ideas about memorizing melodies.
Before memorizing the melody, let's try and understand what key it's in, and something about where it stops and starts and where the jumps are. So, before trying to describe it concisely, let's note some facts:
- Even though the tune is notated as being in C major in the Real Book, that can't be the real key! That's just mental laziness on the part of the transcribers. The tune starts and ends with Cm chords - the natural guess for what the key should be would be the key of Cm, or 3 flats. But, in fact, if you examine the melody closely, you'll see that all the A's are natural. The melody (with the exception of the II7 section) is really rather clearly in the key of Bb - two flats. So you can think of the tune as being
- in Cm with natural A's (when you play a minor key, you often find that either a natural 6th degree of the scale or a flatted 6th work in a song, but not both).
- OR/ALSO in Bb major, with the melody note beginning on I and ending on V.
- OR/ALSO in C dorian
- The first phrase is scalar, starting on I (thinking in Bb maj), with skips coming off the high C and the F near the end
- The second phrase also begins on I, but goes up before going down, with only 1 skip, off the Bb, before repeating the last motif of the first phrase.
- The II7 section starts on B natural and has several m3 skips up.
I don't think this is quite enough description to memorize the whole melody - but it'll probably get you close enough to fake it, until you've played the tune enough to know it. I may have more to say as I continue to internalize the melody.