Alex Terrier has studied, performed and recorded with some of the greatest musicians both in Europe and the US. A demanded musician and acclaimed instructor, Alex shares his knowledge and thoughts with you. Read More

Rhythm Changes – I Got Rhythm Part 1

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What we call a “rhythm changes” is a typical form used in jazz. Like most “typical” things in jazz, you will find many small variations in the chords when you listen to different versions of the same tunes.

The name “rhythm changes” comes from the Gershwin song “I Got Rhythm” (show “An American In Paris”) from 1930. It got very popular among jazz musicians and many songs are composed over the same form and harmony.

The song is composed on a AABA form. The head has 2 extra bars in the last A section but for the blowing we use the regular 32 bars AABA form.

This song is typically played in B-flat, however Gershwin played it in D-flat and F

As usual, I encourage you to sing the melody, use the Do solfege to help you understand the relation of the melody with the tonic and study the characteristics of the melody (shape, intervals used, rhythmic activity, contrasting elements, motif development…)

Note that the melody on the A section is completely diatonic, no foreign notes at all. Only on the bridge we have the #11.

Until the be bop era, major chords are Maj6, not Maj7. 

The most basic chords you need to create motion are I, IV and V. 

The bridge is a series of secondary dominants starting on the V of VI


Backing Track, Rhythm Changes in B-flat:

  1. Bb Rhythm Changes


Related Lessons:

Rhythm Changes Part 2

Do Solfege

Oleo (Coltrane’s solo) Part 1

Potato Head Blues (bass in 2)

How To Play A Bass Line

Motif Development Techniques Part 1 

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