Nelson Riddle and Frank Sinatra at Capitol Records, 1950s

“Summer Wind”
(Sinatra/Riddle) Guitar Tab

by Tim Darling (email) - June, 2013

Music articles

Overview / Summary

Sinatra recorded "Summer Wind" on May 16, 1966 for the Strangers in the Night album, the last record he would record with arranger Nelson Riddle. It's a standout song from the album which has cringable moments (such as the title track and "Downtown" - neither of which Riddle arranged). The song progresses through 3 verses in 64 total bars: the first verse in the key of Db, then Eb, then F. The Sinatra recording was at a very slow tempo (averaging 78 bpm). The version here is at 100 bpm.

For guitar players, the song is interesting for the intro riff (the increasingly pushy breeze) and the harmonically loaded chords Riddle used in the horn sections. The notes in the chords are typically 3 half tones apart and Riddle ascends through 5-6 notes in groups of 3. The best example is in bar 36, Guitars #2+3, in the section "Verse 1->2 turnaround". Arranged here using alternate tunings, they create a rich sound unlike chords typically heard on a guitar - and largely impossible to re-create with a standard tuning. In the version here, I used an Electro-Harmonix Freeze pedal to get a long sustain on the strings and viola/cello chords which sit behind most of the score with chords held for 1-2 bars at a time.
Download the full mp3 on iTunes or Amazon. (I’d be happy to post it for free, but I have to cover the royalties.)

Guitar, bass guitar, tabs/arrangement: Tim
Vocals: Michael Greenberg

Sinatra’s intro   
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The intro is a simple riff with variations played, in order, by the piano, alto, tenor, and bari sax as the notes descend - the first 2 versions starting with a slide into a high Db. The vocals then start even lower, on the lowest vocal note of the song - a low Ab - which is on the low end of a baritone's range (as Sinatra was). The circled number 1 in bar 4 is a recommendation on fingering.

Fills (3 examples)
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Play clip 2   
Play clip 3   

"The arranger can then add fills, interludes and even endings based on material from the introduction." 1

The first 2 fills are from the ends of the 2 lines in the first half of verse 1. They are reminiscent of the intro. The 2nd is an octave lower than the first. Fill 1 starts in bar 11 ("from across the sea..."). Fill 2 starts in bar 15 ("and walk with me...").

Fill 3 is from the start of Verse 2 in bar 29+30 and interweaves with the lyrics ("The world was new / beneath the blue / um-brella..."). The same fill is used in bars 25+26 as well. The tabs indicate slight alternate tunings but those don't affect the notes here.


Verse 2->3 turnaround
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With the alternate tunings, these harmonically rich chord sequences are relatively easy to play (see the first couple bars for Guitar #2), though the swing rhythm is difficult since it requires very quick switching between notes.

Chord progression example
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Here's a nice chord progression in the intro and first verse key of Db.

These are the notes played by the violin as sustained notes in the background of the first 17 bars - through the intro and the first half of verse 1. Some of the chords in the beginning were transposed down an octave but they remain mostly unchanged. The guitar here is tuned down 1/2 step. The bass is unchanged from the song as well. A different drum track was used though since the tempo here is 50-60% faster than the song.

End of the final verse
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The ending of the song itself is simple: a return to the first half of the intro riff (played down one half-step over the 3rd verse key that is 4 half-steps higher), repeated 3 times with a slight fade on a possible 4th. The trombones play low F6 chords behind it and the bass does half note walks up and down in a low F power chord.

But the end of verse 3 is much more interesting with 2 descending chord progressions. The first gasps and attempts to rise as if trying to muster the energy to push the song a bit further, then descends back. The second is higher, harmonically richer, and very much a swing rhythm. Note the alternate tuning.

References / Footnotes:

1 Arranged by Nelson Riddle pg 140-141.

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All text copyright © 2013 Tim Darling.