1990Released
4:00

Did You Know?

Interesting facts and trivia about Mood Indigo. By Songfacts®.

"Mood Indigo" was first recorded for Brunswick Records on October 15, 1930 but it has had so many arrangements that Duke Ellington said of the song, "We sometimes, or all of the time, practically have to compete with ourselves." Of course, in typical Ellington fashion, he downplayed the effort that went into creating the song when he said, "Well, I wrote that in 15 minutes while I was waiting for my mother to finish cooking dinner." The birth of the song was more complicated than that and his clarinetist, Barney Bigard, took exception to that account, ultimately suing for his share of the royalties.

The song was developed from an instrumental called "Dreamy Blues," written by one of the best musicians in New Orleans in the early 20th century, Lorenzo Tio, Jr. Bigard, one of Tio's former students, met with Tio in New York City earlier in 1930. Tio shared several songs he had written with Bigard, including "Dreamy Blues," which was also the theme song of Tio's band, Armand Piron's New Orleans Orchestra. According to Bigard, he had Tio's permission to rework the song, creating something that vaguely recalled the original, but would become famously known as the clarinet solo in "Mood Indigo." Within a year, critics would compare Ellington's jazz composition to George Gershwin's groundbreaking jazz recording, "Rhapsody in Blue."

The original arrangement of "Mood Indigo" offered something new to jazz. The way that Ellington blended instruments from different families, rather than block scoring the trumpets or the clarinets, was not typically done. Neither was the manner that he presented the instruments. Instead of arranging the instruments from highest pitch to lowest pitch, he turned that concept upside down and presented the clarinet at the bottom of its register and the muted trombone hit the high notes.

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Song Analysis

Key, BPM (tempo) and time signature of Mood Indigo.
FKey
MajorMode
4/4Time Signature
70BPM

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