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LJS 271- How to Know What the CORRECT Changes Are to a Jazz Standard

Welcome to episode 271 where today we are exploring the question of how to know what the correct chord changes are for a jazz standard. Because jazz musicians have often manipulated original chord changes, and often take liberties with chordal harmony, it can be difficult to know exactly what the chords are to standards. I give you some practical tips to help guide you through.

Listen to episode 271

One thing that would be very frustrating about learning jazz and playing jazz is that a lot of times jazz musicians will play a song just slightly differently. 

Maybe it’s the way that they phrase the melody. Maybe it’s the way they play the chord changes — adding chord changes, subtracting chord changes, playing an entirely different key. 

It can get very confusing and you wish you just knew what the exact original changes that everybody’s playing at the jam sessions is so that you’re not confused by all the options out there.

Well, in today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about that specifically. How do you know what changes you should be using and learning when you are learning a new jazz standard? 

In this episode:

1. Don’t use the Real Book or iReal Pro as primary resources

2. Consult the original recording, but realize that Great American Songbook original changes may be different than what jazz musicians play

3. Realize that some tunes have more than one set of “correct” changes

Important Links

1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Brent Vaartstrahttp://www.brentvaartstra.com
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for learnjazzstandards.com which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."

2 COMMENTS

  1. The Miles Davis version of Well You Needn’t also changes the beginning melody–different opening notes that are much less interesting than Monk’s.

    I think you made a small mistake in what you said was in the original Monk version, You said in the bridge it was Db7-D7-Eb-E7-F7-E7…..etc., where I believe it is actually Db7-D7-Eb-E7-Eb7-D7…etc. (instead of going up to F7, he goes down after the E7).

    By the way, The Real Book 6th Edition has corrected a few of those errors that were in the original Real Book.

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