Gershwin - It Ain't Necessarily So


George Gershwin (1898 - 1937), the American composer was originally named Jacob Gershowitz, but he changed his name to Gershwin after becoming a professional musician.

Famous works by Gershwin include Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris.

Gershwin is probably best known for his Broadway musicals and jazz-influenced songs. One of his most important works was Porgy and Bess, the opera from which this piece, Ain't Necessarily So is taken. Porgy and Bess was also the source of the much loved song, Summertime, heard here in a live recording of the legendary singer, Ella Fitzgerald.

Practice Tips

An arrangement of Ain't Necessarily So is set for the Grade 5, ABRSM Piano Examination 2011 - 12.

Probably the most important Practice Tip is to begin by listening to the song in its original context of a Porgy and Bess production, such as the one shown here. The tempo change for the middle section really begins to make sense when we hear the sung version.

It is so important to understand the piece rhythmically and stylistically, as well as to grasp the melody of the song so that it can feel natural against the accompaniment figure.

Also listen to the recording of the piano arrangement (in the Complete Performance section here) many times, following the score, before beginning to learn the piece.

Final Performance

An excellent performance of this arrangement of Gershwin's Ain't Necessarily So will demonstrate an easy feel for the jazz idiom. The cross rhythms of the outer sections will show rhythmic poise, with a clear melodic line and the swing-style, middle section will provide a lively contrast in mood and pace. The chords will be well balanced throughout and the whole performance will exude an air of sophistication.

A good performance will demonstrate a firm grasp the essentials - that is the cross rhythms in outer sections and the swing rhythms in the middle section. The performance will have accuracy and some detail but will probably be less confident in tonal poise, with a less lively - or perhaps less tidy - middle section.

A sound performance will show sufficient accuracy to keep a reliable sense of continuity. The rhythms will be understood even though they may give the feel of being 'counted' rather than intuitive. The pace will be suitable in the outer sections at least, with the middle section maybe lacking in vigour.

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