May 27th, 2010

5 Tunes To Know & Why You Should Know Them

By Forrest

People are always spouting out the phrase, “Hey man, you should know this tune,” and they are probably right. But the attitude of knowing a tune just to know it, simply doesn’t make sense to me. I need some better reason than people play it down at some local crappy jam session.

As a teacher or mentor, next time you find yourself telling a student they should know a particular tune, give them some reasons why they should know it.

And the reasons should be better than, “You just should know it.” Help them out, by giving them some extra insights into why  the tune is so important to their musical development. Not only will it help them, but it will also make you clarify what valuable information is contained within the tune.

  • 1.) Cherokee

    • Why you should know it
    • It contains over half of the possible twelve ii-Vs. Play it in two keys and you’re working on all of your ii-Vs. When ii-Vs make up more than 80% of the chord changes you’ll encounter in jazz, I’d say this is worth your time.
  • 2.) Stella By Starlight

  • 3.) Confirmation

    • Why you should know it
    • You’ll constantly run in to one-measure ii-Vs descending by whole steps. Learning to navigate this progression without thinking is a must.
  • 4.) All The Things You Are

    • Why you should know it
    • The cycle movement of the ‘A’ sections reoccurs in many tunes and not sounding boring over this tune is actually really difficult. Think about it. how many people do you know that sound great over this tune? All the people that come to mind for me are killin’. Obviously they spent some serious devoted time to this one and you should too.
  • 5.) Someday My Prince Will Come

    • Why you should know it
    • As one of my teachers Rich Chiaraluce used to tell me, this tune is very revealing. Playing in three is something that we often put aside and consequently, our ability lags in comparison to our playing in four. This is a great tune to start freeing yourself up in three.

These five tunes are serious. I don’t care how easy people think they are. To sound great on them takes a lot of time, practice, and patience. But when there is so much value in each of them and you’re aware of what that value is, you’re reaping a lot more benefits than just learning each tune.