Blue Rondo à la Turk

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"Blue Rondo à la Turk"
Instrumental by The Dave Brubeck Quartet
from the album Time Out
Recorded 1959
Genre Jazz
Length 6:44
Label Columbia
Composer(s) Dave Brubeck

"Blue Rondo à la Turk" is a jazz standard composition by Dave Brubeck. It appeared on the album Time Out in 1959. It is written in 9
time, with one side theme in 4
, and the choice of rhythm was inspired by the Turkish aksak time signatures.[1] It was originally recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Dave Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, Eugene Wright on bass, and Joe Morello on drums.


Brubeck heard this unusual rhythm performed by Turkish musicians on the street. Upon asking the musicians where they got the rhythm, one replied "This rhythm is to us what the blues is to you." Hence the title "Blue Rondo à la Turk."[2]

Rhythm of "Blue Rondo à la Turk": the arrows on the tempo dial show the tempi for ♪, ♩, ♩. and the measure beat. Starts slow, and speeds up to approximate the tempo of "Blue Rondo à la Turk".

The rhythm is an additive rhythm that consists of three measures of 2+2+2+3 followed by one measure of 3+3+3 and the cycle then repeats. Taking the smallest time unit as eighth notes, then the main beats are:

♩ ♩ ♩ ♩. | ♩ ♩ ♩ ♩. | ♩ ♩ ♩ ♩. | ♩. ♩. ♩. |

The piece is sometimes incorrectly assumed to be based on the Mozart composition "Rondo alla Turca". In 2003, during an interview, Dave Brubeck commented that "I should've just called it 'Blue Rondo', because the title just seemed to confuse people."[citation needed]

Derivative pieces[edit]

Keith Emerson used this piece (uncredited) as a foundation of his "Rondo" beginning when he was with progressive rock band the Nice, using it on the album The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack. Emerson's version was in 4
time and Brubeck, meeting with Emerson in 2003, described it to him as "your 4/4 version which I can't play." Emerson, a great admirer of Brubeck, took this to mean that Brubeck preferred his own version, as Brubeck would have had no difficulty in playing Emerson's interpretation.[3]

Later, Emerson folded the melody into the 14-minute "Finale (Medley)" on the 1993 Emerson, Lake & Palmer release Live at the Royal Albert Hall, as well as improvisations on "Fanfare for the Common Man". Those medleys also included themes from other well-known tunes including "America" from West Side Story, "Toccata and Fugue in D", and "Flight of the Bumblebee".

Emerson frequently used "Rondo" as a closing number during live performances throughout his career.

French singer Claude Nougaro used this composition as a musical foundation for his song "À bout de souffle".[citation needed]

The song "Vesuvius" by Frank Ticheli borrows a motif from "Blue Rondo".[citation needed]

The opening bars of Blue Rondo are quoted at length by pianist Albert Gianquinto in "Midnight Creeper," a 1967 live performance by blues harmonica player James Cotton, included on the album The Montreal Sessions.[citation needed]



  1. ^ "The Music of Dave Brubeck". Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. 
  2. ^ Hedrick Smith. "Rediscovering Dave Brubeck". PBS. 
  3. ^ Emerson, Keith. "Meeting Mr. Brubeck Again". Official Keith Emerson Website. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Standards overview". 
  5. ^ "Heroes overview". 
  6. ^ "Heroes : David Benoit : Concord Music Group". Concord Music Group.