Transcription and Lead Sheet of Chick Corea’s Humpty Dumpty

Chick Corea’s Humpty Dumpty piano solo transcription and lead sheet, with examples of polyrhythm application.

Chick Corea’s Humpty Dumpty is an interesting and challenging tune the play, mainly because of two reasons:

  • The harmony changes in the tune breaks away from the normal 2-5-1 progression that we expect.
  • The length of the tune is actually 18 bars, giving musicians who are accustomed to tunes written in multiples of four bars something new to tackle.

Here is a youtube clip of Chick Corea’s acoustic band doing a wonderful job on this tune.


I’m sure most of you will be dying to learn this tune after this video, so here is the lead sheet as promised.


And here is the transcription of Chick Corea’s piano solo on Humpty Dumpty, which is from 0m49s to 2m05s of the video above.


We discussed about polyrhythm on an earlier post, you can read it here. Now we are going to see how the master of keyboard himself applied it in his improvisation.

First we look at the first four bars of the transcription,


Figure 1

We see a series of dotted crotchets over the 4/4 time signature, giving it a polyrhythm between the original 4/4 time and a 6/8 time.
In applying it, Chick Corea would simply fill the dotted crotchets with appropriate chord tones of each bar. And to add more flavor, a keen observer would notice that the string of dotted crotchets notes didn’t start on the first beat, but was actually displaced a quaver after.

Next, we look at bars 51 – 52 of the transcription


Figure 2

The basic polyrhythm pattern is exactly similar to the earlier example. But instead of just plain dotted crotchets, they are each divided into a crotchet and quaver to form a motif, which is repeated in an ascending manner.

Lastly, we look at bars 73 – 75 of the transcription


Figure 3

Here, we see that the motifs each has a duration of 3 crotchets, thus creating a polyrhythm between a 3/4 time and the original 4/4 time.

Moreover, it can be seen that not all the notes are in line with each chord, as if the motifs are rhythmically shifted to create and interesting effect, which we evidently call it the rhythmic displacement technique.

So that’s all for now, have fun learning and playing this tune. Enjoy …. 😀

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