so, what are the "rhythm changes"?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Berlin Chris, Mar 3, 2005.


  1. Berlin Chris

    Berlin Chris Member

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    question here:

    where does the phrase "rhythm changes" come from?

    I know basically what they are and what their function is and I also know that there are millions of variations of "rhythm changes". But why are they called like that?

    Is it because..
    a) of Gershwin´s "I got rhythm"? If so, why?
    b) the rhythm section plays some (more) changes/ turnarounds to make the song/section more interesting?
    c) your rhythm changes (a lot) when you are not able to hang in there with the cats?
    d) none of the above

    Someone enlighten me please....
    :confused:
     
  2. cameron

    cameron Member

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    You got it with (a). They're so called because Gershwin's song became an instant standard, and that chord progression is forever assiciated with it.

    Note that "changes" in this sense doesn't mean "alterations" or "mutations" but refers merely to the chord progression. If I ask "Do you know the changes to 'All the Things You Are'?" I'm merely asking if you're familiar with the chord progression. Thus "rhythm changes" refers to the chord progression from "I Got Rhythm".
     
  3. righthandman

    righthandman Member

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    "rhythm changes" is a song form (like 12 bar blues) based on the chords to "I Got Rhythm" by George Gershwin but with different melodies. Like 12 bar blues there are lots of slight variations but they all function pretty much the same way. Some well known examples of "rhythm changes" are "Oleo" by Sonny Rollins, "Anthropology" by Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie, "Cottontail" by Duke Ellington. Aebersold has a great instructional book about "rhythm changes" that comes with a play-a-long cd. Check it out.
     
  4. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    Right on
     
  5. Garygtr

    Garygtr Almost as good! Silver Supporting Member

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    What is the chord progression? Numbers are ok...
     
  6. Dajbro

    Dajbro Member

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    In one of its more basic forms:

    BbM7 G7b9| Cm7 F7 | Dm7 G7b9 | Cm7 F7 |

    Bb7 | Eb7 Edim7 | Dm7 G7b9 | Cm7 F7 ||

    BbM7 G7b9| Cm7 F7 | Dm7 G7b9 | Cm7 F7 |

    Bb7 | Eb7 Edim7 | Bb7 | Bb7 ||

    D7 | D7 | G7 | G7 |

    C7 | C7 | F7 | F7 ||

    Bb G7b9| Cm7 F7 | Dm7 G7b9 | Cm7 F7 |

    Bb7 | Eb7 Edim7 | Bb7 | Bb7 ||
     
  7. Berlin Chris

    Berlin Chris Member

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    As usual, this is the forum to get answers. Thanks guys :)
     
  8. Garygtr

    Garygtr Almost as good! Silver Supporting Member

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    Wow, thank you! :D
     
  9. cameron

    cameron Member

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    The "form" of a rhythm changes song is that of a 32-bar ballad, with overall structure AABA. That form is more general than the rhythm changes. The distinctive feature of the rhythm changes is the progession, which in its simplest form is characterized by the sequence: I VI7 ii V

    That basic sequence tends to get elaborated quite a bit, with substitutions made and passing chords added, such as you see in the example posted above.
     
  10. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    Ballad? The original version was a medium swing and the majority of variations (Oleo, Anthropology, Moose the Mooch, Kim, etc.) have been at breakneck tempos. (1/4 note=300)
     
  11. cameron

    cameron Member

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    "Ballad" refers to a song with a 32 bar structure, of form AABA. it doesn't imply a tempo, any more than the term "blues" does.
     
  12. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    No, sorry. In jazz and popular music, a ballad is a slow song. If you were playing a wedding and someone came up and requested a ballad, it means they want to slow-dance.

    They're not talking about Oleo at 1/4=300 !
     
  13. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Not to argue, the standard form is a bit simpler...
    A || Bbmaj7 G7 | Cm7 F7 | Bbmaj7 G7 | Cm7 F7 |
    | Fm7 Bb7 | Ebmaj7 Ab7 | Dm7 G7 | Cm7 F7 ||

    A || Bbmaj7 G7 | Cm7 F7 | Bbmaj7 G7 | Cm7 F7 |
    | Fm7 Bb7 | Ebmaj7 Ab7 | Cm7 F7 | Bbmaj7 ||

    B || Am7 | D7 | Dm7 | G7 |
    | Gm7 | C7 | Cm7 | F7 ||

    A || Bbmaj7 G7 | Cm7 F7 | Bbmaj7 G7 | Cm7 F7 |
    | Fm7 Bb7 | Ebmaj7 Ab7 | Cm7 F7 | Bbmaj7 ||
     
  14. cameron

    cameron Member

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    I realize that. Just like if someone came up to you and asked for a blues, they would expect a slow to mid tempo number, not a rave-up. But a 12 bar blues is a 12 bar blues no matter what tempo it's played at, and "Satin Doll" is a ballad even if played at Slayer's tempo of choice.

    We're splitting hairs here. I'm aware of what most people mean when they say ballad, but the term is also used in the technical sense I outlined above. Fewer people know/use the technical sense, but this is the sort of forum where that sense is not out of place.
     
  15. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    I disagree cameron. Most people who ask for a blues are not asking for a slow blues. In fact, at most blues clubs they are asking for a jump blues.

    Regarding the term ballad - I've been doing pop and jazz gigs for 30 years and I can say with a fair degree of certainty that every musician I play with knows what a ballad is - AND that is a slow tempo song. The dictionary definition is out of place in this case.

    The accepted term for a slow-dance tune is a ballad. I'm sorry but you're wrong here.
     
  16. cameron

    cameron Member

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    And have you never encountered anyone refer to the usual 32-bar structure of pop and jazz standards as the "ballad form"?

    Would you call a slow dance tune a ballad even if it had a 12-bar blues structure?
     
  17. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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  18. rh

    rh Robo Sapien Noise Maker Gold Supporting Member

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    I think what they want to hear when they ask for a blues is "The Thrill is Gone." :)
     
  19. Dajbro

    Dajbro Member

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    It's all cool Ed. There are many different Rhythm Changes to go around.

    David
     
  20. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    Which is a ballad! :D
     

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