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Chameleon (composition)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Instrumental by Herbie Hancock
from the album Head Hunters
Released1973 (1973)
RecordedSeptember 1973
GenreFunk,[1] jazz-funk[2]

"Chameleon" is a jazz fusion standard composed by Herbie Hancock with Bennie Maupin, Paul Jackson and Harvey Mason,[3] all of whom also performed the original 15:44 full-length version on the 1973 album Head Hunters,[4] and featuring solos by Hancock and Maupin. The 9:41 edit omits an out-of-tune segment, features a new bassline added in at around 6:40 and new instruments added in post-production.


The song has a characteristic bass line and is set to a funk beat. For the most part, it is built entirely on a two-chord vamp: a i-IV in B Dorian (Bm7 and E7).[5] The piece's signature 12-note bass line was played by Hancock on an ARP Odyssey,[6][7] as was one of the keyboard solos. The other keyboard solo was played on a Rhodes piano.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1974) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 42
US Billboard Hot Soul Singles[9] 18

Other recordings[edit]

The piece is one of the most widely recognized jazz standards, and has become standard repertoire in many small jazz ensembles. It has been performed by various artists including:


  1. ^ Big Gigantic (September 20, 2016). "The 30 Best Funk Songs Ever". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  2. ^ Gorton, TJ (July 30, 2018). "BeatCaffeine's 100 Best Jazz-Funk Songs". BeatCaffeine. Archived from the original on August 25, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  3. ^ "Jaime David Vazquez Bass Lines: Herbie Hancock - "Chameleon" vs "Watermelon Man" - Bass Musician Magazine, The Face of Bass". bassmusicianmagazine.com. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  4. ^ "www.allmusic.com". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  5. ^ "Deconstructing the bassline in Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon"". The Ethan Hein Blog. 2017-02-17. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  6. ^ synthhead (2015-04-21). "The Iconic Sounds Of Synthesis: Herbie Hancock's Chameleon Bassline". Synthtopia. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  7. ^ "The Art of Synth Soloing: Mr. Hands Himself, Herbie Hancock". KeyboardMag. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2013). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles, 14th Edition: 1955-2012. Record Research. p. 368.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 244.