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I was looking though my real book and saw an interesting phrase that I've never seen before in the song Stuff by Miles Davis. On the first and last bar there is the phrase "Time on D♭7(#9)" with what looks to be a multi-measure rest as seen below.

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So what exactly does "Time on D♭7(#9)" mean and what exactly does it convey in this song?

  • Just listening to it seems like it means something like "rhythm section vamp/intro on that chord for about 14 measures", or perhaps exactly 14 measures (I didn't count). It definitely starts on a single chord vamp and then the changes begin when the trumpet comes in. – Todd Wilcox Feb 25 '16 at 3:26
  • Agree with Todd. I would interpret as time spent on D♭7(#9) = 14 measures. – Rockin Cowboy Feb 25 '16 at 5:23
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"Time" in this context means that the rhythm section is to play the song's groove, and then the chord Db7#9 is given as an indicator of what the harmonic instruments will be playing around. Depending on what the groove is, i.e. the feel of the tune, the piano player might improvise some material for those 14 bars.

So the correct interpretation of this is "Play time, on chord X", rather than "Time On".

And of course as Todd mentioned in the comments, some informed perspective could definitely be gained from listening to recordings of the tune.

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