What's In A Song?


A lot!

Often, students think that they need to learn a whole song when it comes to jazz but this is not the case. Jazz is mainly a common collection of chord progressions that you take the time to master 'away' from repertoire so that, once down, you're freer and less distracted to be able to improvise and embellish the chords and melody.

On my channel, I have many song tutorials but over the years, I have come to realise that most do not want to learn the song so for the last few years, I've mainly (unless the song has been requested in detail) used a song to emphasise another point, without the intention or expectation that you'll actually care to learn the whole thing.

With this in mind, I made a few videos recently which didn't get too much love (I guess the algorithm doesn't like nice jazz songs!) so I wanted to promote them in this post

The first one is this:

All My Tomorrows is a very pretty song and Section A has a particularly lovely chord progression that you should learn. It goes: 251... 36251! Yes, that old classic but the melody embellishes these chords (as many jazz melodies do) by landing on the 9 or b9.

A demonstrate in this song, you can't avoid the (3 6) 2 5 1 progression. It also demonstrates that melodies were so well constructed that they embellished the otherwise basic chords of M7 and m7. You may not want to learn the whole piece but at least see, experience and understand what is happening and why it sounds so pretty.

The second song is:


Over the Rainbow is one of the top ten jazz songs of all time but section B demonstrates very well what I call 'note value awareness': the idea that one same note changes it value and therefore feeling as the key of the chord changes.

Section B relies on alternating two notes, such as G and Bb which, in the key of Eb are the 3rd and 5th but over Fm7 for example, they become the 9th and 11th and in Bb, they're the 6th and root... two notes, lots of different feelings! Therefore, the takeaway from this video, if you don't want to learn the whole song, is that with very few notes, you can play many chord types which contain those notes and get a lot of sounds you maybe don't realise are possible from the two same notes.

Finally, we have this:


Moonlight Serenade! One of the first songs I ever learnt on the piano.  It's in the key of F which is a nice warm jazz key. Again, we look at section B (even though section A is just as pretty) because it is structured whereby the melody is composed of 'leaps', or 'large intervals'. It's very symmetrical-feeling and a great example of how choosing the right note value against a chord writes an absolute classic of a tune!

Just a short article this time but I hope you'll take away lots of lessons and theory, plus a few performance tips from these videos and be able to apply what I discuss to the jazz repertoire you'd like to or are already working on.