It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) was written by Duke Ellington with lyrics by Irving Mills in 1931. The piece was composed and arranged during performance intermissions at the Lincoln Tavern in Chicago. This is a classic piece that has become quite famous. It perhaps serves as a sort of theme song for the genre itself, widely recognized by even the public unfamiliar with jazz. It’s hard to say what the most common changes are for this piece because it has been played many different ways. Dukes recordings keep the harmony fairly simple while others since than have built upon it. It’s best to check out different recordings and see what musicians have done. This piece is most commonly called in G minor (Bb major) at jam sessions.
It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
If you want to fully understand the basics of jazz theory and start learning how to improvise from the ground up, join our LJS Inner Circle membership, where you'll get access to our theory basics course "Zero to Improv", and all of our premium courses.
"Zero to Improv"