Scrapple From The Apple

Scrapple From The Apple was written by the great Charlie “Bird” Parker in either 1946 or 47.  It is considered one of the classic tunes in the BeBop repertoire.  It is a 32 bar form that is AABA.  Like many BeBop compositions, the chord structure is “borrowed” from other standard compositions.  The “A” sections are basically Jelly Roll Morton’s “Honey Suckle Rose” and the “B” section (bridge) is the same as the Gershwin classic “I Got Rhythm” bridge.  This supposedly was such a common bridge structure that the musicians of the day would refer to it as the “Sears and Roebuck bridge”.

Unlike Rhythm Changes, “Scrapple” is usually performed in F major.  This also means that the Scrapple bridge will be in a different key than the Rhythm bridge.  This bridge begins on the third scale degree of the tonic chord.  So in this case the tonic is F so the first chord of the bridge is A7.  Once you know the first chord of the Rhythm bridge the rest is rather easy.  The 8-bar bridge consists of four dominant chords moving around the cycle.  I prefer to think of moving up a fourth for the next three changes with each chord lasting two measures each.  I know others prefer to think of moving around the cycle by moving down a fifth.  (Either way gets you the same result.)  Because of the symmetry, there are numerous possibilities for for substitutions thus making this particular bridge a pretty flexible vehicle for improvisation.  I encourage you to mix and match your tritone substitutions as well as subbing the ii for the V7.

The Scrapple bridge is written, A7 – D7 – G7 – C7.  Notice what happens when you sub in the tritone for the second and fourth chord – A7 – Ab7 – G7 – F#7; suddenly we have a nice chromatic downward movement.  You could obviously sub the first and third chord for a similar effect.  Another common thought process is to replace the first bar of each change with it’s corresponding ii.  You then get: Em7/A7 – Am7/D7 – Dm7/G7 – Gm7/C7.  Notice how that creates a Dominant to minor relationship.

The “A” sections of Scrapple are rather stagnant hovering around the tonic F, basically moving from the ii (Gmin7) to the V7 (C7).  Many players treat these 8-bars rather modally and/or use chromatic planing.

Finally, as far as the melody itself, there are some subtle differences among the different printed editions of Scrapple.  By the way, only the A sections have a written melody.  The bridge is improvised.  This tune has been recorded on dozens of occasions by dozens of musicians.  Normally I would say that the definitive version of the tune is the one recorded by the composer, but Bird himself recorded it about a half-dozen times and there are subtle differences within his own renditions.

4 thoughts on “Scrapple From The Apple

  1. James Sakofsky

    Hi David,

    I went to the DavidCooperMusic.com website looking for products to acquire but it was no longer in service. Where might I go to purchase them?
    Thank you,
    Jim SAkofsky

    1. David Cooper Post author

      I’ve moved my store on DavidCooperMuisc to this site. I didn’t see the need to maintain two sites any longer.

  2. Pingback: Improvising over “Scrapple From The Apple” |

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