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Autumn Leaves

“Autumn Leaves” is a tune composed by Joseph Kosma in 1947. It has become one of the most popular jazz standards. It is based on a V-I circle progressions, backcycling - moving through the circle of fifths counterclockwise: Cm7, F7, BbM7, EbM7 …

The circle of fourths: C-F-Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-B-E-A-D-G-C-F-Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb

Chord changes

Cm7 F7 BbM7 EbM7 Am7b5 D7 Gm7 Gm6
Cm7 F7 BbM7 EbM7 Am7b5 D7 Gm6 /
D7 / Gm6 / Cm7 F7 BbM7 /
Am7b5 D7 Gm7 C7 Fm7 Bb7 Am7b5 D7 Gm6 G7

SCALES: It moves between Bb major and G harmonic minor.

Bb major Bb C D Eb F G A
G harmonic minor G A Bb C D Eb F#

===== Matt Otten Autumn Leaves solo im
provisation

Autumn leaves solo improvisation by the Dutch jazz guitarist Matt Otten: “…just sort of free solo playing with a standard progression in mind, late one evening…”

You'll find a Jazz Guitar Lesson on Autumn Leaves on his home page, demonstrating some basic improvisation principles, with notation/TAB and video.

Doug McKenzie jazz piano trio

Autumn leaves played by the Australian jazz pianist and jazz educator Doug McKenzie, blowing the whistle on the secrets of jazz. Don't miss out on this.


Listen to the better quality audio file from the same recording as on the YouTube video below. This file can be downloaded from the Doug McKenzie Jazz Piano Site in the WMA format. The midi file frome the same recording is available too at the Doug McKenzie Live Played Jazz MIDI files along with many other other jazz standard MIDI files. Left click on midi and select save as, to download the file directly.

See the original copy of this movie at bushgrafts.com. Much better quality than the YouTube version. Or if you have Band-in-a-Box, download the midi and load it into BIAB. The instruments are recorded in separate MIDI-channels, so you can separate out the part you want to study through your sequencer software too. Or if you don't have any of that, download vanBasco's Karaoke Player, the best and most useful midi file player there is, with slow down and all.

Usenet posting from T Gannon

USENET  From: tgannonATcharlie.usd.edu (spideir) 

"AUTUMN LEAVES" (Joseph Kosma, 1947--"jazz standard") 
=============== 
-- chord chart "arrangement" by tcg, 198?, 1994 
-- 4/4 // key of Em/G // Allegro (pretty fast) 
  [the way _I_ played it, at least!-- 
   just to piss off Roger Williams...] 
-- form: 32-bar--||: A(8)-A(8)-B(8)-C(8) :|| 
-- the lyrics? believe me, you DON'T want to know! . . . 
-- each chord symbol = / / / / 
  [straight fours: "chunk"-"chunk"-"chunk"-"chunk"] 
-- chords voiced for fingerstyle; may have to alter voicings 
  for plectrum (especially Em...) 
 
A: Am7        Am6        GM7        GM6 
  5-55(5)-   5-45(5)-   3-44(3)-   3-24(3)- 
   
   Am7        Co7*       Em         Em [hold for 4] 
  5-55(5)-   -3(4)24-   0-545-     0-545-  
 
  [repeat A] 
 
 
B: B7         B7         Em         Em 
 -2424-     -2424-     0-545-     0-545- 
 
   D7         D7         GM7        GM7 
  -5453-     -5453-     3-443-     3-443- 
  
C: Am7        B7         Em         Em 
  5-555-     -2424-     0-545-     0-545- 
  
   Am7        B7         Em         Em [hold for 4] 
  5-555-     -2424-     0-545-     0-545- 
 
* Co7 is a substitute for the B7 chord in the "sheet music"; feel free 
  to interchange Co7 & B7 in tune [Co7 = B7b9(no root)]. 
 
 In fact, the chords above can be viewed as a simple example of 
 jazz substitutions-- 
 
 
A section, "sheet music":    Am   D7   G   G   Am   B7   Em     Em 
"    "     "jazz chords":    Am7  Am6  GM7 GM6 Am7  Co7  Em     Em 
 
 
--the WHY's: 
  1) Am-->Am7: in most cases, you can play a m7 for a minor to get a 
    "jazzier" sound (Santana & Steely Dan did it all the time--likewise, 
    in this tune, you could change all the Em's to Em7's...). Another 
    common jazz substitution "line" for the plain minor chord could also 
    be incorporated into this song: instead of  
     
    Em  Em, try Em(//) Em(M7) (//) Em7(//) Em6 (//). 
 
  2) D7-->Am6: for a V7 chord in a major tonality (here, D7, in G major), 
    you can substitute the V9 (D7->D9); in addition, D9(no root)=Am6 
    [V9(no root)=ii6]; therefore, D7 becomes...Am6!, which follows 
    nicely, voice-leading-wise after the Am7.... ("IT's not MAG-ic....") 
 
  3) G-->GM7-M6: for the I (major tonic or "key") chord, especially 
    long stretches thereof, the M7, M6, or both! can be played in lieu 
    of the boring plain major chord (though the M7 & M6 would sound 
    pretty weird in a country or folk progression!).... 
 
  4) B7-->Co7: see *note above; indeed, most diminished seventh chords 
    you'll see can be explained as substitutes for some dominant 
    seventh-type chord.... 
 
LEAD notes: I'd tab out the schmaltzy melody, but the reason this 
    song is still being recorded by jazz people to this day is that 
    it's a fun tune to improvise over (and by the way, only the Lord 
    knows why anyone would still want to sing the corny words!). 
 
  Since this song doesn't modulate (unless you count GM<->Em, but not 
  really) it's a lot easier to jam over than most "jazz standards." 
  In fact, you only need TWO scales: 
  
  1. E natural (aeolian) minor (=G major!) scale: e-f#-g-a-b-c-d-e 
     --this'll fit all the chords except the B7 & Co7.... 
 
  2. E harmonic minor scale: e-f#-g-a-b-c-*d#*-e 
     --this'll fit over the B7 & Co7 chords: notice that the only 
       difference from the first scale is the d#--in fact, it's 
       actually easier to just think "d# instead of d" when you 
       come to these chords than to worry about "harmonic instead of 
       natural minor! oh, no!...." 
 
  {3. For a little spice, try a diminished 7th arpeggio over the Co7 & 
      B7 chords: c-d#-f#-a (true, these tones are in the harmonic 
      minor scale given above--just a slightly different approach): 
 
 
         ______ --try playin' from low to high and back, then experiment 
      I  ||1|||  on your own--right, just every three frets in any 
         |||1|1  direction!... 
         |3|||| 
         ||4|3| 
         |||4|4 
         |||||| 
 
--Now lay down the rhythm track, and go fer it-- 
 
FINALLY, the "sound" of these chords (and associated scales) does 
take a lot of getting used to--even after you get the rather 
difficult fingerings down (took me months), there's still the 
matter of acclimating your ears to actually _liking_ the sound of, 
say, a M6/9b5 chord (took me years!). But if the plain old G-C-D 
stuff is gettin' yu' down, and you also realize you'll never be 
a great speed-metal lead picker--well, this is one logical direction 
of development. . . . Oh, a M6/9b5? :: CM6/9b5: - 3 2 2 3 2 . 
"Beautiful-ugly," ain't it?! 
   
  | 
--:--tcg 
  ) 

Keith Jarret performing a masterpiece

Keith Jarret playing “Autumn leaves” with Gary Peacock (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums).


See also

'When I'm playing tunes like Autumn Leaves or Stella By Starlight, as much as I've played those tunes over the years, I still enjoy playing them. And because I know them so well, I'm very free with them. I'm just as free with them as when I'm playing no chords at all. That, to me, is free jazz,“
– John Abercrombie1)

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