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Dolphin Dance

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“Dolphin Dance” is a tune written by pianist Herbie Hancock. This tune was recorded on Hancock’s hit 1965 record “Maiden Voyage”. Maiden Voyage is a very important record in jazz and I would highly recommend jazz listeners and musicians alike to have this in their collection.
This is a beautiful composition with all kinds of interesting harmonic movement. It combines modal and tonal harmony making this a fun but somewhat difficult tune to improvise on. My best suggestion as always is to listen to the original recording and study how Herbie, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Freddie Hubbard and George Coleman approach these changes. Some of the best practice is listening!
There is no set key for this tune as it constantly changing key centers and doesn’t begin or end in the same key.

Videos to learn the melody/changes

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Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. The download chart looks almost identical to the one in "The New Real Book vol 3". Is that where it got taken from or was it transposed by ear? There are several charts out there and they all differ, leading to different analysis of this tricky tune.


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Chord Charts

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