Neal Hefti – Lil Darlin

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Neal Hefti Lil’ DarlinThe most famous version of Lil Darlin was for big band and, despite the fact that we’ve got only six strings at our disposal, with a little effort we can summon up the style and feel of a large ‘jazz orchestra’. If you listen to the version on the track, you’ll hear how we’ve included many moving parts within the tune’s basic melody. This is done to imitate the way the different instruments of a big band would play different parts of the arrangement in counterpoint. Note how the tempo and the fact that I’m playing very slightly behind the beat makes the tune sound ‘large’ – it literally acquires more weight in this way.

The only downside is that slower tempos are invariably harder to play! It’s a fact which often surprises newcomers to the instrument, but it’s true: playing in time at slower tempos is more difficult. If you need proof, set your metronome to about 40-60 beats per minute and play a simple eighth-note rhythm. Now, increase the setting to l00bpm – which was easier to maintain over the period of a minute?

I suppose that the easiest way to become familiar with a big band sound is to take some rime out to listen to people like Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Take note how the melody is arranged between all the different instruments, but listen especially to the overall ‘feel’. This is the mysterious and elusive element that we are trying to capture with this particular piece. I learned an awful lot about arranging from big band recordings and try to bring what I have learned to everything that I do on the guitar.

Lil Darlin. Performance notes

Of course, it’s essential that Lil Darlin is played fingerstyle: this is important because the notes in the chords have to sound simultaneously and not ‘dragged’ or ‘staggered’ as they would with a plectrum. I realise that this is a factor for many people – the right hand, if used to wielding a plectrum, is very sluggish when called upon for fingerstyle duty. But it’s not difficult to develop an adequate enough level of skill in the right hand; it takes patience, practice and perseverance, that’s all. The basic idea is exactly the same: the right hand is called upon to play melody, harmony and bass in both instances and any classical tutor will be a help in setting you off in the right direction.

I’ve included the trumpet solo from the original recording because, to me, it’s a vital element in the tune. If you think about it, the melody is fairly heavy handed and this instrumental interlude lifts everything nicely. You’ll hear how the basic flow of the piece isn’t at all interrupted at this point – the trumpet solo becomes part of the upper melody part.

Neal Hefti Lil’ Darlin Guitar Tab

It’s just a part of Neal Hefti Lil Darlin guitar tab and music sheet.

Through the link below you can download a full transcription of

Neal Hefti Lil Darlin with full track


18 November 2012 0 comments
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