Maiden Voyage (composition)

"Maiden Voyage" is a jazz composition by Herbie Hancock from his 1965 album Maiden Voyage. It features Hancock's quartet – trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams – with additional saxophonist George Coleman. It is one of Hancock's best-known compositions and has become a jazz standard.[3]

"Maiden Voyage" opening vamp: Dsus chord in D Dorian,[1] or mixolydian.[2] Play 

The piece was used in a Fabergé commercial and was originally listed on the album's master tape as "TV Jingle" until Hancock's sister came up with the new name.[4] In the liner notes for the Maiden Voyage album, Hancock states that the composition was an attempt to capture "the splendor of a sea-going vessel on its maiden voyage".

While being interviewed for KCET TV in 2011, Hancock considered Maiden Voyage to be his favorite of all of the compositions he had written.[5]

Harmonic StructureEdit

Opening chord: minor eleventh chord (Am9/D).[6]  Play 
Rhythmic ostinato, a transformation of the bossa nova rhythm.[7]

A modal jazz piece, the composition follows a 32-bar AABA form with only two chords in each section:[8]

Ami7/D   |   |   |   |   Cmi7/F    |   |   |
Ami7/D   |   |   |   |   Cmi7/F    |   |   |
Bbmi7/Eb |   |   |   |   Abmi7/Db  |   |   |
Ami7/D   |   |   |   |   Cmi7/F    |   |   |   [6]

There are several different perspectives on exactly how to label or interpret these harmonies. The chord voicings used by Hancock make extensive use of perfect fourths, and could be interpreted as quartal harmonies: for example, the opening chord Am7/D has the notes A, C, E, G, D, and the same notes in a different order spell out a series of perfect fourths creating a quartal chord, E, A, D, G, C.

Another common analysis in print is to label each chord a suspended chord. In this perspective, the first chord Am7/D (D, A, C, E, G) can be thought of as a Dm9 chord (D, F, A, C, E) with a suspended 4th (G instead of F). Along these lines,'s Ted Gioia describes the harmonic progression used as "four suspended chords," [9] Jerry Coker describes the progression as "only sus. 4 chords,"[10] From this perspective, the first chord is really an extended Dm chord with a suspension.

On the other hand, The Real Book lists the chords as four minor seventh chords with the bass note a fifth below the root[11] which matches Hancock's description of the opening chord (right).[6] This label implies that the opening chord is not really any kind of Dm chord, but an Am7 chord with a non-chord-tone D in the bass. The Real Book also spells the fourth chord (measures 22-24) as A-7/D,[11] while Owens spells it Cm13.[12] These two ways of spelling the fourth chord are actually enharmonic equivalents; The pitches of Cm13 (ninth chord) are just a different way of spelling the same notes as A-7/D (C = D, E=F, etc.)

Recorded VersionsEdit


  1. ^ Herder, Ronald (1987). 1000 Keyboard Ideas, p.75. ISBN 978-0-943748-48-1.
  2. ^ Coker, Jerry (1997). Jerry Coker's complete method for improvisation: for all instruments, p.64. ISBN 978-0-7692-1856-4.
  3. ^ Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (2004). The Rough Guide to Jazz. Rough Guides. p. 332. ISBN 1-84353-256-5.
  4. ^ Rosenthal, David H. (1993). Hard Bop: Jazz and black music 1955–1965. Oxford University Press US. p. 68. ISBN 0-19-508556-6.
  5. ^ KCET
  6. ^ a b c Kernfeld, Barry (1997). What to Listen for in Jazz, p.68. ISBN 978-0-300-07259-4.
  7. ^ Kernfeld, Barry (1997). What to Listen For in Jazz, p.23. ISBN 9780300072594.
  8. ^ Kernfeld, Barry Dean (1995). The Blackwell Guide to Recorded Jazz. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 388. ISBN 0-631-19552-1.
  9. ^ Gioia, Ted (18 December 2007). "Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage". Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  10. ^ Coker, Jerry (1984). Jazz Keyboard for Pianists and Non-Pianists, p.46. ISBN 0-7692-3323-6.
  11. ^ a b The Real Book, Volume I. Hal Leonard corporation. 2004. p. 261. ISBN 0-634-06038-4.
  12. ^ Owens, Thomas (1996). Bebop: The Music and Its Players, p.164. ISBN 9780195106510.
  13. ^ "Befour - Brian Auger & the Trinity | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic.
  14. ^ Allmusic review of Mood