10 Oct 2022


Dave Brubeck's Take Five

Format: Chicago

Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 864

Pages: 3

Downloads: 6


The history of Jazz dates back to early 20th century in the regions within and around New Orleans where African Americans are believed to have pioneered its development. This paper focuses on the jazz song Take Five by Dave Brubeck. The song which was released in 1959 for the album Time Out, was written by Paul Desmond and recorded by Dave Brubek. The song was produced in New York by the 30th Street Studio, a division of the Columbia Records label, a famous record label of the time. The song is 5 minutes 29 seconds long (original version), but several cover versions with slightly varying lengths are available. It also uses different instruments at different stages, but these are discussed in subsequent sections. 

Why Take Five? 

The choice of this song is by far motivated by its melody. Melody in this context is the linear succession of tones which the music listener can perceive as continuous. The composer deliberately puts the melody over the occasional solo drummer, a decision that creates a soothing rhythm. While melody in the song Take Five is mostly of the form ABA, the composer makes it even smoother by the combination of drums and the alto saxophones that they somehow manage to maintain in C minor. Second most influential factor in my choice of the song is the harmony, which in is defined as the construction and the progression of notes to produce simultaneous chords sequences. 

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Within the second section, the piece progresses twice from a C Flat major 7th to a B Flat Minor 7th then to A Flat Minor 7th and concludes with a G Flat Major 7th. This creates a kind of desirable harmony in the song’s chords which was pleasant to hear. The rhythm of the song was the third aspect that influenced my choice. Albeit the song is divided into quarter notes that are in 3-2, it is played in 5/4-time signature. Rhythm in the song is also enhanced by the bass player in the way he creatively pulls the chords on the root and 5th. Recorded at a time when time signatures were mostly 3/4 or 4/4, the piece stands out in the way it uses 5/5 time. 

Sources That Identify My Musical Style 

Jazz is defined as a type of music characterized by rhythmic urgency and improvisation. Furthermore, jazz may often entail syncopation of beats as well as be polyrhythmic. Improvisation is the quality of being creative especially by jazz musicians that places them in a position where they have to be creative and come up with new and better music every time. This song is so because, as aforementioned, the composer deliberately chose to use 5/4 time so as to accommodate the bass player without having to create transitional time gaps that eventually makes the song too long. Brubeck gives the song a head that can be identified by a unique melody at 0:02 to 0:28 and also at the end at 5:04 to 5:29. The middle section is all improvised by drums, piano and the sax which come in solo. 

Syncopation which is a tendency to go off-beat in jazz is commonplace in Take Five. The pianist assumes this role the most as he resonates between 2-3 which is 3-3-2-2 that creates long and short beats, going off-beat. This doesn’t, however, destroy the beat as the bass comes in just the right time to create a harmony with the sax. Polyrhythm is a quality of jazz songs to have many rhythms at the same time. The drummers serve to highlight polyrhythm in the piece especially at 0:05 to 0:20, one can easily tell there are about 3 different rhythms playing at the same time. It is important to note that having many rhythms doesn’t necessarily ruin the rhythmic harmony that a ‘cool’ jazz piece is expected to have, instead, it’s what gives the song a pleasant feel. 

How Does Jazz ‘Taste’ to Other People? 

Understanding how jazz was perceived or the reasons why people listened to it requires its analysis from the historical, cultural and the scientific points of view. While jazz is an independent type of music especially in contemporary entertainment, there seems to be a consensus that jazz has developed as a result of it being able to bring together and transform the influence from other types of music. The historical perspective holds that jazz reminds the black Americans the oppressions and societal restrictions that have been long placed upon them on the grounds of race (racial discrimination). Recent scientific studies have an even more interesting perspective. Scientists hold that consistent listening to jazz can improve attention spans by altering the patterns with which the brain releases neural waves. Listened through a workout, jazz can decrease fatigue and provide motivation especially if the beats per minute are made to match the heart beat rate. 

Aside from the three perspectives, most people seem to agree that jazz is simply entertaining and relaxing. More research would still have to be conducted to establish better the scientific facts presented about the effect of prolonged exposure to jazz. While jazz has been able to provide a reason for which numerous injustices against black Americans were abandoned, the industry has faced its challenges, chief among them is how to split revenues among key parties involved in music distribution. There is hope, though, that through continued appreciation to jazz music would continue to offer a sustainable market for upcoming jazz musicians. Meanwhile, Take Five by Dave Brubeck shall remain an outstanding piece of art. 


Guarino, Lindsay, and Wendy Oliver. 2014. Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches. Florida: University Press of Florida. 

Pillai, Nicolas. 2016. Jazz As Visual Language: Film, Television and the Dissonant Image. London: I. B. Tauris. 

Sala, Anri. 2016. "Syncopation." Art in America , April 1: 42-43. 

Stevens, Christine. 2012. Music Medicine: The Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound. Louisville: Sounds True. 

Terefenko, Dariusz. 2014. Jazz Theory: From Basic to Advanced Study. New York: Routledge. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). Dave Brubeck's Take Five.


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