Monday Notes

Michel Legrand, I Will Wait For You. A touch of France and a touch of jazz

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Leggi in Italiano

[Monday’s Notes No. 102] Michel Legrand was one of the greatest composers of French song. A composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist, thanks to his fantastic melodies and never trivial harmony his songs have also entered the jazz repertoire. Let’s listen to and analyze I Will Wait For You.

The piece was written for Jacques Demy’s film Les parapluies de Cherbourg (1964), we can appreciate here the opening titles of the film accompanied by Michel Legrand’s beautiful theme.

There are many sung interpretations of I Will Wait For You, for example that of Nana Mouskouri. However, this instrumental version is particularly fascinating, not only because of the beautiful images of the film but also because of the refined and colorful arrangement. The sheet music for I Will Wait For You follows.

Lo spartito di I Will Wait For You
I Will Wait For You, lead sheet

Another distinctive aspect of this piece is its similarity in harmony to the great French classic Les Feuilles Mortes, also a favorite of jazz musicians. Both pieces have AABA form and contain the transition between the minor and major modes.

Here is the beginning of Les Feuilles Mortes transported in the same key as I Will Wait For You for easier comparison.

La parte iniziale di Les Feuilles Mortes
The beginning of Les Feuilles Mortes

Among jazz musicians, pianist Bill Evans in particular has been a great interpreter of Michel Legrand’s music. His performances of The Summer Knows, What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life, and You Must Believe In Spring are really beautiful. Bill Evans was also a great fan of French Impressionism, particularly Debussy and Ravel.

Here, then, is a beneficial blending of different musical genres: classical music, jazz, song form, soundtracks. Because great music does not need any categories, it can very well do without them.

Until next Monday

Download the lead sheet of di I Will Wait For You

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