|The song “I’m beginning to see the light” was written by Duke Ellington and Harry James, developing a melody originally written by saxophonist Johnny Hodges. The words are by Don George and the piece was first published in 1945. The song made numerous appearances in the charts in 1945 with the version by Harry James being the most popular. Other artists who recorded it were Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. I’ve listed some of my favourite versions below.
|Guitar Chord Progression Analysis
|The progression starts with a major 6th chord going to a m6 chord on the 3rd beat of the first bar. This gives the piece a nice bluesy feel to kick it off. From there on II-V chord movements are used until we reach measure 5 where we have a chromatic downward movement of chords from the I major chord. As you would imagine with an Ellington song, the progression just naturally swings. When playing this arrangement on the guitar using a fingerpicking technique you should play the chord notes simultaneously rather then picking through the chords. I cover this technique in my online guitar course.
Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass
Album – Sophisticated Lady
Great swinging walking bass line with interwoven chord stabs on this one from Joe Pass. This is a great technique to learn as a fingerstyle guitarist and it was from listening to players like Joe Pass and Martin Taylor that I developed my own walking bass line guitar technique. Although I’ve got say, having played the bass in a big band when I was younger certainly helped as well. I discuss this techhnique in my Beyond TABS online guitar course
Album – The Best of Duke Ellington
You can learn a lot about phrasing by listening to Duke Ellington. In fact I would say that if you want to develop your ability on the guitar along these lines then listening to the Duke is a must
Album – The Warm Moods
Often known for his tough no nonsense tone, tenor saxophonist Ben Webster could also play ballads with great warmth. I love this version.
Album – Jumpin with Al
This is a faster version of the tune. Al Casey is great fun to listen.
|Which artist’s version of I’m Beginning to see the Light would you recommend? Tell me about it and I can feature it here