Tag Archives: learn jazz standards

Make it Easy To Learn Jazz Standards – Important Chord Progressions in Minor

In this lesson, I will go over the most important harmonic building blocks in a minor key, which will help you learn most Minor Jazz standards and give you a ton of options for your own songs.

When you learn Jazz songs, you need to memorize the chord progression, and if you try to do that as a long string of chords, that is NOT going to be very easy. Instead, you want to recognize the smaller building blocks of the song, making it 5 or 6 things to remember instead of 30.

It is a little like going from looking at a row of letters to recognizing the words and reading the meaning, and I am sure that you can see how reading words and remembering the meaning is much more useful than spelling everything.

This lesson will show you how that works.

Hearing The Chord Progression

The way I am going to do this is also important, because it will help you learn and remember songs a lot faster! I will play the different building blocks but I will also play some songs they are used in. Hearing how they sound in a song is probably more important than recognizing them on a piece of sheet music.

If you think about the chords in blocks like this you can use the songs you already know to learn new ones because you recognize how they are similar.

And more what is more important: You know how it sounds

#1 The Most Important Progression

As I will show you later in the video, minor keys do things major keys don’t, like having chord progression that is only one chord but still moves.

But of course, the most common progression is the cadence of the key, the minor II V I.

You have that in most minor songs like Alone Together or Yesterdays. And actually, the next progression is a very common variation on this II V I but it is a little hipper.

A funny side note with the minor II V I is that in the pure form, you use all 3 minor scales, one for each of the chords:

Dø from Natural minor, G7(b9,b13) from Harmonic minor, and Melodic minor on the Tonic chord being m6 or mMaj7. This is, of course, a part of why these are considered more difficult than the major counterpart.

But let’s check out a very common variation that just screams minor.

#2 The Most Minor Cadence

This Chord progression is extremely common in minor and includes a tritone substitution, which is maybe a little surprising since that is mostly seen as a type of reharmonization, but here it sounds surprisingly natural and I will explain why in a bit.

You know this progression from Minor Blues or songs like You Don’t Know What Love Is.

There is a reason that this tritone substitute doesn’t sound so crazy or out of place. The chord consists mostly of diatonic notes, so for Ab7:

Ab C Eb Gb

Is mostly diatonic to C natural minor: CEb F G Ab Bb C

This progression is probably the most common final cadence in minor Jazz Standards. Next, let’s look at an important progression that doesn’t resolve to minor at all.

#3 Another Common Cadence

You don’t always go back to the tonic in a song, there are other places you want to move to or visit in Minor. The relative major is a very common destination. You come across this in songs like Beautiful Love: – First minor cadence then major

or the other way around in Autumn Leaves, first to major then to minor:

It is a nice variation to have, as is the next one which is also a cornerstone in the tonality

#4 We Need To Go To The Subdominant

Another place that many songs go is the IV in the key. You don’t want to just cycle around the tonic all the time, that gets really boring. An example would be Alone Together. It first moves around on the tonic and then before it gets boring it goes to the IV chord.

So a cadence to the IV in the key is useful:

Before we get to the One-Chord-Progressions then let’s look at a few great minor turnarounds.

Should I Make A Major Version?

The minor songs tend to be a little simpler than many major progressions, mainly because there is less use of modal interchange and fewer modulations. But would it still be interesting to make a similar video for major keys?

#5 Turnaround Variations in Minor

There are turnarounds that almost only work in minor, but the two most common and important version is of course the I VI II V in minor:

And the version with a secondary dominant for the II chord, which is again a tritone sub:

 

Another turnaround that is used almost exclusively in minor is the Andalusian Cadence:

But in minor, you only need one chord to create progressions.

#6 Chord Progressions With One Chord

You know both of these examples since they are incredibly famous. These are really just voice-leading tricks that sound great and are often used in the minor.

The first is the “Stairway to heaven/My Funny Valentine” line-cliche which has a static minor chord where the root is moving down in half steps:

Often we forget the other variation of these which is the line-cliche from the 5th which you find in songs like Cry Me A River and of course most famously the Theme from James Bond

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7 Easy Jazz Standards In Minor You Need To Know

Most Jazz songs are in a major or a minor key, and Minor songs are a great place to learn several things that you need in Major as well, so it is a good idea to really dig into studying some minor songs.

In this video, I am going to go over 7 songs that are in a minor key that you want to have in your repertoire because knowing them will improve your playing.

I don’t know if you ever thought about it, but most Jazz standards are in a major key. Some pretend to be in minor but then turn out to be in major. I don’t want to single anyone out, How Deep Is The Ocean, You’d Be So Nice To Go Home to, What Is This Thing Called Love.

Anyway… The first song you probably already know, but maybe a few of the other ones will be a surprise, and later in the video, I will also talk about why So What is not on the list.

#1 Autumn Leaves

Probably one of the most well-known Jazz standards, and even though the old Berklee Realbook has it in Em, then the most common one in Jazz is G minor.

A little fun trivia is that the Miles Davis “riff” is actually also a part of the original arrangement with that clear m6 sound.

Lesson on Autumn Leaves as a Chord Melody: Easy Chord Melody on Autumn Leaves

What do you learn?

When you are working on Autumn Leaves then you are working on the two main cadences, the major tonic and the minor tonic cadences (highlight in sheet music). It is also a great place to explore how to play tonic minor since you really have the melodic minor sound in both the melody and the arrangement with the Gm6 riff.

#2 Blue Bossa

Another famous and simple song that is often among the first 3 tunes that you learn is Blue Bossa. Mainly because it is a short 16-bar form and has really basic harmony in the key of C minor only taking a short detour to Db major, which you could describe as a cadence for the Neapolitan subdominant, even though the melody maybe suggests otherwise.

Learn Blue Bossa: Blue Bossa Getting Started Soloing

Famous Versions

There are quite a few famous versions of this song to check out beyond the original recording by Joe Henderson. Especially George Benson and Pat Martino’s interpretations are worth checking out!

#3 Bernie’s Tune

I think this is maybe the least known tune in this list. It was actually difficult to find songs that are in a minor key and also not too difficult, but this song is really pretty simple and covers some basic chords in the key that you want to master, especially the tonic minor and the tritone substitute of the V of V. The chords are also lasting a little longer so you have a bit of space to develop your vocabulary and really get into those melodic minor sounds and how beautiful they are.

The melody of this song is also based on a great swinging riff using 3/4 on top of 4/4. Lots of stuff to learn from this one.

Lesson on Bernie’s Tune: Getting Started With Melodic Minor on a Jazz Standard

#4 Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

This is in a way a minor version of Rhythm Changes, mainly because the A-parts are built around a minor turnaround, which is of course the most important progression in the key. It is usually played in the key of C minor.

There are many fantastic versions of this song, both Jim Hall and Emily Remler are important Jazz guitar versions to check out. Emily Remler also includes a beautiful reharmonization of the melody going away from the minor turnaround, but still going back to the usual progression later in the solo.

The bridge is a short trip to the relative major: Eb and then with a few diminished chords back to Cm.

Lesson on Emily Remlers Solo: Emily Remler on Softly as in a morning sunrise

#5 Minor Blues

The Minor blues is really the re-invention of the 12 bar blues of the Hardbop era. The most famous examples are probably Coltrane’s Mr. PC and Equinox, but of course, there are other great examples out there. Mr. PC and Equinox are great examples of the extreme range of tempos that you play blues in with one being very fast and the other very slow.

While the minor blues is a great progression to check out how to use different minor sounds, so really dig into melodic minor or Dorian and it is also a great exercise in playing the most common variation to the minor II V which uses a tritone substitution for the V of V instead of the II chord

Minor Blues Lesson: Using Minor Blues to learn Melodic Minor

Similar to Bernie’s tune this is a great progression to explore tonic melodic minor, Lydian dominants, and altered dominants (high light or call out)

#6 Summertime

Gershwin’s Summertime is a beautiful song that is actually a bit modal in the sound. It is a great example of a short-form song that still manages to get around the tonic, subdominant, dominant and relative major. It is also a good vehicle for other meters like Jonathan Kreisberg’s amazing 5/4 version of the song, also an awesome example of dynamic solo guitar performance.

And what many people don’t realize is that Wes Montgomery’s song Four on Six is in fact written on this chord progression with some common reharmonizations.

Lesson on Wes’ Four on Six: How To Make Simple Sound Amazing – Wes Montgommery

#7 Solar

In a way this is a Parker Blues version of the minor blues. It is actually also a Bebop composition written by Chuck Wayne and then later stolen by Miles Davis, who we all know as the composer, and even has a bit of the melody on his tombstone.

Solar is a great song to study because it has a melody that is quite clearly using tonic minor and also a lot of typical bebop movement with a long series of “how high the moon II V I” meaning that the tonic chord becomes a m7 to become the II in a II V going down a whole-step.

The famous recordings of this song would probably be Pat Metheny trio and Brad Mehldau trio both are amazing! A great composition on these changes is Jerry Bergonzi’s On Again Off Again with some interesting shifting melodic minor scales by Mick Goodrick in his solo. He also recorded it with John Abercrombie on a later album.

Chord solo lesson on Solar: Easy Chord Solo Exercise

Honorable Mentions

As I already said, most Jazz standards are in minor, and I actually asked a few colleagues about suggestions for this list and didn’t really get something that I thought was easy and famous enough. Maybe it was because they were both bass players?

Some of the songs that are very common, and in a minor key that is maybe not precisely easy would be Alone Together, Beautiful Love, Angel Eyes and You Don’t know what love is. They are all worth checking out because even if they are not exactly what I consider easy

Alone Together

Beautiful Love

Angel Eyes

You Don’t Know What Love Is.

Please let me know if you have other suggestions for easy songs in a minor key! It is always great to have suggestions for songs!

Why No “So What”?

So why isn’t So What on the list? I get the question “what about So What” very often on my 10 easy standards video, and I understand why that would seem to fit both there and also here, it is a song with very few chords for a jazz song. But to me, it is more logical to have a list of songs where studying one will help the other, and So What is a completely different type of sound and song than these. In fact, it is not really in a traditional key. There are no cadences or really moving harmony, so in that way, it is something else.

That does not mean that it is not a good song, that I don’t like it or that it won’t be useful to study, but, to me, it is something else and not anymore related to these songs than it is to How High The Moon.

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50 Jazz Standards – The Songs You Need To Know

Jazz Standards are the songs you need to know to learn to play Jazz. I always say “Learn Jazz – Make Music” in my videos and the Jazz Standards are the songs that play when you make that music.

This video is a list of 50 Standards that are really useful to have in your repertoire. I have split them up in some different categories because that is practical for when you are playing. You don’t want to play 5 medium swing songs in F major next to each other in a set, you might find yourself playing the wrong theme at the end (true story!) Having variation in a set is very useful.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:57 Easy Standards

2:03 Intermediate Standards

2:23 Don’t be like AC/DC!

2:37 And it goes for Jazz as well…

3:23 Difficult Standards

3:47 Ballads

4:05 Don’t be like Dutch Audiences

4:18 Samba & Bossanova

4:45 Jazz Latin (and a little modal)

5:14 Blues

5:45 Waltzes

6:27 Jazz Standards in a minor key

6:56 Bebop Themes

7:27 Is your favorite missing?

7:42 My favorites (that I couldn’t put on the list)

9:08 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

Learn important Jazz Standards

Download the list here

Fill in the form below to be taken to a PDF download

The 10 Types Of Difficult Chords In A Jazz Standard

If you are learning a Jazz Standard then the analysis is a great tool. It is very useful to know how the chords work and how they sound in the key of the song. But in a Jazz Standards Analysis, you are likely to come across chords that are not just a part of a II V I and more difficult to understand.

This video is on 10 types of chords that are like that and how you learn to recognize and deal with them. It should help you take your harmonic analysis up a level and help make it easy to learn jazz standards quickly.

My video on why you want to learn and use Functional Harmony
https://jenslarsen.nl/why-you-want-to-think-in-functional-harmony/

My video on why you don’t want to use modes:
https://jenslarsen.nl/learn-the-modes-is-horrible-advice-this-is-a-better-skill/

More information on Diminished Chords:

Secret to play over Diminished Chords

Content of the video

0:00 Intro

0:22 The chords that are not a II V I 

0:50 Secondary Dominants – Identifying and Playing

1:48 Function of a Secondary Dominants

2:13 #1 V of V

2:22 Example in C Major

2:58 Where they are in the form (ABAC + AABA forms)

4:05 Examples to hear V of V as Lydian and as “normal” dominant

4:22 #2 Secondary Dom7th that resolves to a major chord

4:45 Secondary II V Cadence

5:18 A Chord in the song vs A chord in a solo

5:52 #3 Secondary Dom7th that resolves to a minor chord

6:36 #4 Tritone Substitutions

7:18 Lydian Dominant on Tritone subs

7:34 Example in a Jazz Standard

7:45 #5 Secondary Diminished Chords

7:57 Example in a Standard + Reharmonization

8:45 Scale Choices for secondary diminished chords

8:57 #6 IVm chords

9:25 Basic IVm in C major

9:48 Example in a Standard

10:05 #7 Backdoor Dominants

10:18 It is a minor subdominant!

10:50  Scale choice and example in a song

11:11 #8 bIImaj7 and bVImaj7

11:23 bII – Neapolitan Subdominant

11:53 Standard Example You Stepped out of the dream and Suspension use

12:25 bVImaj7 

12:53 #9 #IVdim

13:05 Rhythm Changes example and voice-leading

13:30 Scale Choice for #IV dim

13:44 #10 bIIIdim

14:00 Typical Progression and Scale choice

14:40 #11 Reharmonized #IV dim chords

15:07 How it works

15:20 In a song: I remember you

15:40 Stella By Starlight

16:14 Understanding Jazz Harmony in Jazz Standards

16:35 Like the video? Check Out my Patreon Page

How To Learn a Jazz Standard – Important Exercises

Learning Jazz Standards is essential to learning jazz, in fact learning the repertoire is everything with any genre of music. There are of course many ways to go about this, but since it is important and you want to learn a lot of songs then it is also useful to do this in an efficient way.

The first time I started to learn a Jazz Standard it took me about two months, and there are better ways to do that how I did it. And that is what this video is about.

If you want to check out my other video on the 10 first Jazz Standards to learn, you can do so here: The First 10 Jazz Standards You Need To Know

If you want to check out some more videos on the topic of studying songs then check out this short playlist: Learning Jazz Standards

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:07 Learning Jazz is Learning Jazz Songs

0:28 Take a better approach than I did

0:44 A Method or a Checklist

1:10 #1 Pick A song

2:02 #2 Listen

2:29 Learning By Ear and using vocal recordings

2:54 #3 Analyze the Song

3:35 Join the FB Community

3:54 #4 Playing The Song

4:13 Play the music, not only exercises

4:31 #5  Pick a Position

5:12 #6 Learn The Melody By Heart

6:04 #7 Play The Chords

6:44 #8 Learn The Arpeggios

8:01 #9 Other Exercises

8:50 Like the Video? Check out My Patreon Page

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5 Common Mistakes When You Learn Jazz

Learning Jazz is difficult and you want to get it right the first time around so you don’t waste any time. When you learn Jazz Guitar then there are some things that you can keep in mind in terms of how you practice jazz, the type of music or jazz theory that you learn and also what you focus on with your jazz practice.

In this video, I am going to go over 5 mistakes that I see many students make and talk about how to approach learning jazz and practicing in a more efficient and useful way.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Be Efficient with your Practice

0:33 You can fix it by thinking differently

0:45 #1 Modes

1:00 Most Jazz Repertoire is Tonal, not modal

1:26 Breaking down Modal vs Tonal Analysis

2:04 Chords are in a context – use your ears

2:37 Play the movement

3:11 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 vs Dbmaj7 E7 CmMaj7

4:06 Understanding and stripping down Chord Progressions

4:29 #2 Learn Songs

4:30 it’s not all exercises.

4:49 Just Listen to Scofield!

5:21 #3 Listen To Jazz

6:02 What Jazz Do You Like?

6:13 Jazz is not a Skill, it is a type of music….

6:58 #4 Learn Vocabulary

7:30 What is having Vocabulary?

7:48 How To Learn and Develop Vocabulary

8:15 #5 Practice the Right Techniques and Exercises

8:32 Arpeggios and how they appear in a Jazz Solo

9:31 Keep in mind that you need to improvise

9:54 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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The First 10 Jazz Standards You Need To Know

I say it all the time: Learn Jazz – Make Music, and to do that you need to know some songs, so in this video, I am going to go over 10 jazz standards that you want in your repertoire and are great places to start learning jazz. This is In terms of playing changes and knowing all the chords and scale but also about the form that you want to know which is going to make it easier to learn more complicated standards.

When talking about the songs I will try to reference great versions of them, and also talk about whether this song may be a good place to start for you if you are looking for songs to learn.

If you already know a lot of songs and have some other suggestions for this list then let me know about that in the comments to this video. Sharing information like that is really useful for everybody checking it out! I’ll talk about the first standards I learned later in the video, none of those are on the list.

Get started learning some of these standards: Learn Easy Jazz Standards

For example Blue Bossa or Autumn Leaves

If you want to check out some of the important progressions that make up Jazz Standards then check out this video: Chord Progressions as Building Blocks

Want to learn how to analyze standards? Then see how I do that in this playlist of videos on Jazz Standards and music theory: How To Analyze Jazz Standards

Get a PDF of the list

You can get a PDF of this list by filling in your e-mail here, your browser will go to the download page automatically.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Learn Jazz Make – Music!

0:24 10 Typical Standards and Forms

0:36 The Form Of Songs is Important!

0:56 Where are you coming from?

1:12 Something missing?

1:37 #1 Take The A train

2:04 AABA forms

2:52 #2 Cantaloupe Island – Modal Jazz

4:03 #3 Blues

5:28 #4 Satin Doll

6:12 The Ellington Bridge

6:23 #5 Blue Bossa

6:54 #6 Autumn Leaves

7:25 #7 Perdido – Rhythm Changes Bridge

8:02 No Rhythm Changes?

8:15 The First 3 Standards I learned

8:57 #8 Summertime – Four On Six

9:27 How To Use the list

10:00 Did I leave out a Song?

10:05 #9 Solar – Not by Miles Davis

11:23 #10 All Of Me – ABAC Form

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Favorite Jazz Guitar Album Recommendations From YouTube

One of the most important ways to stay inspired and motivated to keep on playing and practicing is to check out new Jazz Guitar Albums or Jazz Albums. The main way that I get introduced to new music is from recommendations so I thought it would be a fantastic idea to ask a lot of Jazz YouTubers what their favourite Jazz Guitar Album is and get some great recommendations.

Since I expect that you guys are probably also interested in some good music, so I made this video!

You should check out these channels if you like my videos. These are the people I check out on YouTube when it comes to music and Jazz Guitar!

I would like to thank Brent, Bob, Rick, Nick, Chris, Jacob, Ben, Levi and Sean for being a part of this video. I am really grateful for their help and recommendations!

Let us know what your favourite Jazz Guitar Album is!!

Brent Vaartstra – Learn Jazz Standards – https://www.youtube.com/user/Learnjazzstandards
Bob Reynolds – https://www.youtube.com/user/bobreynolds
Rick Beato – https://www.youtube.com/user/pegzch
Nick Homes – Jazz Duets – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqimxUbWsE26KSpx2_OcmmA
Chris Zoupa – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5A0eJ-bgtJddy0rG_prVog
Quist – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEXDaXzYhqYdLCQ3Ce7U2Og
Uncle Ben – https://www.youtube.com/user/BenEllerGuitars
Levi Clay – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCySQog_SBfX4-CnR2hWVBOQ
Sean Daniel – https://www.youtube.com/user/seandaniel23
Jens Larsen – https://www.youtube.com/jenslarsen

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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I Don’t Like Jazz Standards – Q&A with Brent from Learn Jazz Standards

Here’s a video Q&A with me and Brent Vaarstra from Learn Jazz Standards answering your questions! We cover quite a few questions and both Brent and I give our perspective on the questions which isn’t always the same.

Brent runs a great channel and PodCast with LJS he is certainly worth checking out. I have been invited as a guest teacher, but the list of interesting topics and teachers is very impressive. Learn Jazz Standards is a great resource for everybody trying to work on anything jazz.

Table of Content

0:00 Intro

0:49 I Don’t Like Jazz Standards

3:48 Sight Reading – Best Method

6:33 First Jam-session Advice

8:54 How To Remember Tunes

11:49 Short Daily Practice Routine

It was a lot of fun to do this Q&A and of course, Brent is a great guitar player and a very nice guy so check out his channel and the podcast!

The Q&A Video on Learn Jazz Standards

Learn Jazz Standards: https://www.youtube.com/user/Learnjazzstandards
LJS Website and Podcast: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/

My Guest appearance on LJS Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLSTWhMheU8

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https://jenslarsen.nl/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/

Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

Learning Jazz Standards – What you need to Know and Be Able to Do With It

Playing Jazz Guitar should mostly be about playing songs. It is the goal and also the way we practice to get to the goal. In this video I will go over what it is to learn a jazz standard, give you some ideas on things you can work on and want to try to be able to do. The Idea is that you get the most out of the standard, and that you also train your skills as a jazz guitarist and improviser at the same time.

The video should give you some useful exercises and ways of thinking about learning melodies and chord progressions. Most Jazz Standards are great compositions and vehicles for improvisation and interpretation, and keeping that in mind helps when it comes to learning them.

Content of the video:

 0:00 Chord Melody excerpt of Days Of Wine And Roses 

0:05 Intro — Learning and studying songs 

0:46 Building a check list and suggesting some exercises 

1:21 The Melody — The Foundation of everything 

1:51Practice the melody — All positions, using your ear 

2:28 Demonstration with Days of W melody 

3:22 Using the melody to hear the changes 

3:42 Chord melody — Harmonizing the melody 

3:53 Basic Chord Melody excerpt 

4:04 Keep your harmonizations open ended for phrasing 

4:39 Low Chord Melody 

5:38 Learning and studying the chord progression 

6:02 2 Versions of Days of Wine and roses 

6:13 Bill Evans and the modulation arrangement 

6:32 Oscar Peterson Changes 

7:43 The art of harmonizing a Standard 

8:19 Improvising — some simple exercises 

8:57 Solo with just Arpeggios (in all positions) 

9:38 Demonstration of a chord tone solo on Days Of Wine And Roses 

10:28 Learning reharmonizations for solos 

11:00 Playing the reharmonizations as chords in the song to get it into your ear 

11:48 Do you have things you always check out on a Song or Jazz Standard? 

12:57 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!