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Now that I've gotten over the hump and sat in on a blues jam, I'm want to start working on learning songs to build up a repertoire so I can get back into jazz, and maybe even find a combo to play with. I've decided to target Autumn Leaves as my first song, and am working on the head now. I can already sing along with the head. Tonight I played a little of it by ear, and then looked over a transcription of the Miles/Cannonball version to double-check where I wasn't quite sure. Tomorrow I'm going to work on getting it down entirely by ear and from what I sing.

However that leaves me with one question: How does everyone learn the CHANGES? Do you learn entirely by ear, or is that the point where you actually sit down with iReal pro and study the progression while the backing track plays?
 

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To me, this tune is a nice play on the differences between a major key and its relative minor. (The minor wins...). I would focus on the resolution points - bar 3 for major, bar 7 for minor. Sure you can run chordal arpeggios, but think about making a nice resolution at those points. Same goes for the 2nd 8 bars. The second half I like to treat as two pedal points, one on the 5th of the minor, one on the 5th of the major, then finally just a couple of ii-V’s in the minor.

A long way of saying yes, analyze the changes and understand the architecture of the harmony. Then try to make melodies that go the same places as the changes do, without just playing arpeggio exercises. (Though that can help you internalize the changes, but they don’t sound so interesting musically).

Hope that helps...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So TL;DR I'm hearing, "Once you have the head down, pop it open in iReal pro and study the progression."
 

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Now that I've gotten over the hump and sat in on a blues jam, I'm want to start working on learning songs to build up a repertoire so I can get back into jazz, and maybe even find a combo to play with. I've decided to target Autumn Leaves as my first song, and am working on the head now. I can already sing along with the head. Tonight I played a little of it by ear, and then looked over a transcription of the Miles/Cannonball version to double-check where I wasn't quite sure. Tomorrow I'm going to work on getting it down entirely by ear and from what I sing.

However that leaves me with one question: How does everyone learn the CHANGES? Do you learn entirely by ear, or is that the point where you actually sit down with iReal pro and study the progression while the backing track plays?
It helps a ton to learn basic progressions like ii-V-I progressions in all 12 keys. Many students fight doing this because it can be tedious and hard at first but once you learn them a tune like Autumn Leaves is really simple. It basically switches from Major to relative minor every 4 bars. You add the ii-V's in there and you have 99% of the tune down.
 

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The above is all true but the subtleties come when you put the right scale to the harmonic structure. Nothing, IMHO, does that better than George Russel's Lydian Chromatic Concept. Even without digesting the content of the theory, the chord/scale chart aligns with how the theory functions.

Abersold charts - with scales written into the chord chard - are helpful in this regard but perhaps not as advanced theoretically.

Have at it!
 

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So TL;DR I'm hearing, "Once you have the head down, pop it open in iReal pro and study the progression."
Howdy! Sure, you can use iReal to help with seeing changes, but keep in mind that it's always better to do everything by ear as much as you can. The more you can figure out with regard to root progression and chord quality (and how those relate to the melody), the more easily and naturally you'll be able to improvise over the tune. Internalizing it aurally is a longer and more challenging process but much more effective in the long run!
 

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It helps a ton to learn basic progressions like ii-V-I progressions in all 12 keys.
+1.

However, Ambaryerno, it is hard to give advice without knowing where you are in terms of your knowledge of music theory & harmony. You just posted about going to your first blues jam and had issues playing blues in the key of E (no surprise there, given your blues experience is one blues jam). It's still unclear if you understand and can play through basic 12 bar blues in most keys or if you know maj, min, and dom chords* in all keys, etc.

It would help a lot if you gave us some indication of where you are in terms of your knowledge of chords, voice-leading, standard chord progressions, scales and so on. Can't build a house without a foundation.

*For just one example, when it comes to chords, on any given chord do you instantly know the 3rd & 7th chord tone, without having think about it?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It's been a LONG time since I've taken theory, but I do understand and can build major, minor, diminished, and dominant chords (I don't have them under my fingers, tho). Unfortunately the jazz instruction I had back in school 15+ years ago wasn't the greatest. In HS big band everything we soloed on was the blues, as was most of what we played in college, with a rare outlier. In the jazz combo we were just given scans from the Real Book and told "play this scale in Bar X." The private instructor I was seeing at the time also didn't spend any time with me on theory, and had me working on stuff like the Creston sonata because he wanted me to focus on classical (he was supposed to work with me on both...not so much in practice) and I was a kid who couldn't bring himself to find someone else to work with. So there's quite a bit I'm playing catch-up on. Conceptually I understand voice leading — IE the F# in D7 resolving to the tonic in G — though can't hit it reliably. I HAD been working on Patterns for Jazz when I first picked things up again this March, but that was just proving to be an infuriating frustration that had me ready to put my horn through the wall.

I do know the standard blues progression, and the Quick Four variation (believe it or not I actually learned that one first). I also know a common variation in jazz blues replaces the standard V7-IV7 cadence with a ii-V7, adds a ii-V7 on the turnaround back to the top, or both. I also know there's other variations like Bird Changes, but I couldn't tell you what the specific progression for that is off the top of my head. I can comfortably solo on the blues in (concert) Bb, C, F, and Gmaj, and by extension their relative minors. I'm actively working on E, A, and D, both the progressions and getting the scales (major, natural and melodic minor, bop, and blues) under my fingers.
 

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Dave, is that you?

First of all, a major scale is not the right scale to use on a major 7th.

But let me clarify what I said above. I agree, there isn't a right scale to use but every chord is derived from a particular scale in the Russell theory.
 

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If I understand the original question whether one learns changes aurally or intellectually through "theory" for me it has been a combination of both. To learn a new song I find using a lead sheet and studying the changes is faster, but learning changes aurally has the advantage of helping to develop your ear.
 

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*shudders*

Yeah, like I said, in hindsight I found I wasn't really getting great instruction either in class or from my private teacher. My private teacher would rant at me for playing with too tight of an embouchure...and then NOT give me any feedback on how to actually try fixing it. :p
 

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If I understand the original question whether one learns changes aurally or intellectually through "theory" for me it has been a combination of both. To learn a new song I find using a lead sheet and studying the changes is faster, but learning changes aurally has the advantage of helping to develop your ear.
That's why I thought sitting down with something like iReal would be a good way to combine it; I can have it play the changes so I can hear what's going on, while studying them at the same time. Sort of as a way to help learn to interpret what it is I'm hearing.
 

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That's why I thought sitting down with something like iReal would be a good way to combine it; I can have it play the changes so I can hear what's going on, while studying them at the same time. Sort of as a way to help learn to interpret what it is I'm hearing.
I would suggest checking with multiple sources-- you'll find sometimes the iReal book, or the Real book aren't always accurate. If you have some other real books, like the NEW Real Book, Colorado Fakebook, etc, you can take a look at some different iteration of the same tune. It's normally subtle differences, but they can make big differences depending on who you're playing with.

Here's a comparison of two standards, based on different fakebook versions as an example... http://www.chrisfitzgeraldmusic.com...anges-Comparison-from-differetn-fakebooks.pdf

-Bubba-
 

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iReal is fine, to practice a tune. Nefertiti's comment about ii-V-I exercises in all 12 keys is a good one too, but I would make sure to understand the difference between major and minor key ii-V-I (or ii-V-i ??). That difference is key in this tune!

I fail to understand the distinction between aural and theoretical knowledge of changes. This is about music after all, and to sound good we have to have a conception, however it's easier for you to get that conception is the way you should do it.

In my earlier comment I was describing the conception I (sometimes) use for this tune, it breaks it up into larger chunks and gives a direction. Thinking of it like Nefertiti said, as alternating ii-V-I's in major and relative minor is another way of breaking it up into larger chunks. Ultimately, you have to think of the song as one thing - there are many roads that lead to that destination, and the things we all think of when we consider Autumn Leaves are similar, but slightly different.

I did a google search for something like "original key of Autumn Leaves" (because I really don't remember!) and ran across this page: http://danhaerle.com/AutumnLeaves.html This is a good approach to the tune, although the additional scales in the advanced section somewhat violate Mr. Pollack's mantra (which I happen to agree with!)
 

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In HS big band everything we soloed on was the blues, as was most of what we played in college, with a rare outlier.

I do know the standard blues progression, and the Quick Four variation (believe it or not I actually learned that one first). I also know a common variation in jazz blues replaces the standard V7-IV7 cadence with a ii-V7, adds a ii-V7 on the turnaround back to the top, or both. I also know there's other variations like Bird Changes, but I couldn't tell you what the specific progression for that is off the top of my head. I can comfortably solo on the blues in (concert) Bb, C, F, and Gmaj, and by extension their relative minors. I'm actively working on E, A, and D, both the progressions and getting the scales (major, natural and melodic minor, bop, and blues) under my fingers.
Thanks, that's helpful and gives us some idea of where you're at. Let me first state that blues IS jazz! Yeah, I know there are different forms of blues, including some very basic approaches. And we all, to some extent refer to 'jazz' as something a bit different, certainly from the most basic blues, or 'rock blues.' But one of the most common progressions used in jazz is the blues progression, with some variations. And many variations are also prevalent in the standard blues genre. It's semantics to some extent, but imo jazz is infused with the blues. I only mention this because I sense a certain attitude on your part that the blues is somehow inferior, or 'easier' and less important, than jazz, when in fact you can't really separate the two. I may be misinterpreting your attitude, though, so I apologize in advance if that's the case...

Back to Autumn Leaves (or any tune in a minor key), skeller makes a good point regarding II-V-I changes. If the tonic chord is minor, the II chord is usually a IImin7b5 chord and obviously the I chord is minor. So there are some differences to playing the progression in a minor key. And, like Autumn Leaves, some minor tunes do move back & forth between minor and the relative major. In my band we play some Louis Jordon tunes, including "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby." That tune is in F minor, but in places it 'resolves' to Ab major. That threw me at first, until I realized it was simply moving to the relative major.

As to using your ear vs knowing the changes, I'm with those who say to do both. Most of us (probably 99%) need to have a pretty solid understanding of the chords, the progression, and song form in order to play and improvise over a tune by ear. The key (no pun intended) is to learn, memorize, and internalize the harmony (chord progression, etc) to the point you don't have to think about it, but can 'hear' it and play through it. Takes a lot of time and practice, both on and off the bandstand. It also takes patience (more than most of us possess). "Patterns for Jazz" is a good resource; what made you want to throw your horn through the wall when working with that book? I'd suggest revisiting it.
 

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Thanks, that's helpful and gives us some idea of where you're at. Let me first state that blues IS jazz! Yeah, I know there are different forms of blues, including some very basic approaches. And we all, to some extent refer to 'jazz' as something a bit different, certainly from the most basic blues, or 'rock blues.' But one of the most common progressions used in jazz is the blues progression, with some variations. And many variations are also prevalent in the standard blues genre. It's semantics to some extent, but imo jazz is infused with the blues. I only mention this because I sense a certain attitude on your part that the blues is somehow inferior, or 'easier' and less important, than jazz, when in fact you can't really separate the two. I may be misinterpreting your attitude, though, so I apologize in advance if that's the case...
Mainly I was just saying that most of what we were given to solo over were blues, and there wasn't much in the way of say Rhythm Changes or other forms.
 

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Mostmblooz jams will be just that. Primarily I IV V blooz changes and the like.
Agreed. Most, but not all. But the OP is not asking about jam sessions on this thread. I only mentioned the blues jam in context to asking about his experience and where he's at right now, which he answered.
 

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Pretend you are a bass player and just walk the changes 1, 3, 5, 7 for 10 minutes with a metronome. You might surprise yourself and actually memorize the Harmony of the piece. And then since most melodies are 60 to 70% chord tones, go back and spend 10 minutes running rhythms up and down the changes. As you play look one time and then close your eyes anytime you find yourself knowing it by memory . I had played on tunes like blue bossa for decades without really knowing the harmony inside and out. Then I took the time to memorize like a bass player and now that you know the harmony you can anticipate the changes with approach notes or chord.s Steves idea of daily practicing ii 7 patterns is a good one for chops/tech. I'll sit on a II V I with a met for 5 minutes and just play chord tones with rhythms , range of horn, inflections, dynamics, never repeating the same pattern twice etc. So you are practicing facility and creativity in one shot. Good luck it takes many many many hours to get this to sync in. K
 
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