Magical rainbow ponies

The Real (Originial) Chord Changes to Standards

(18 posts)
  1. jazzbum

    I have been mulling this topic over for quite a while and reading the topic about jazz books I thought it might be something worth discussing. I have talked to a lot of players who have legitimate problems with the Sher Real Books and the Ol' 5th edition. Most of them complain that many ii chords are added where they weren't necessarily originally intended and that a lot of the standard chord changes are actually Bill Evans' changes that he used. This has often made me wonder how guys like Peter Bernstein, Bill Charlap, really anyone who interprets a lot of Standards, unearth the core changes of these tunes. It seems really hard to get the essential changes when the Real Books are already slight re-interpretations. Further, it is hard to re-interpret someone else's interpretation.

    I used to sit at the piano and play When You Wish Upon a Star, using one of those really old sheets from when the song was first released. I am not a very good pianist so I would play really basic triads under the melody. It seemed to really open a lot of doors for me, not only was I hearing the essence of the tune, but I could hear all the possiblilities of the tune itself. Anyone have an approach to finding that essence of a Standard? Or do you guys know of any books that really pare down tunes to their basic elements? I'd also love any ideas on how to interpret these charts that have all kinds of added chords.

  2. jorgemg1984

    I can only say Bernstein hates Real Books and I know he used to go to New York Public Library to get the original sheet music to the songs. A lot of changes are sort of known between musicians - I usually take them from guys like Bernstein or Kurt, because I know they play "the right changes". Usually they are wrong at the Real Books - just compare "All or Nothing All" to Kurts version... Good standard records are always the best source.

  3. eSkills

    Shouldn't be that hard. Find the 'original' version -> transcribe it.

  4. jazznan

    I know that most jazz musicians that I've spoken to frown upon Real Books. One jazz musician told me to listen to the Miles Davis Quintet stuff for changes, that was a good source. It's kind of like reading fairy tales and re-interpretations, if you're seriously interested in the fairy tale, you'd go back to try and find the original source, instead of someone else's retelling.

    One basic point that I think gets lost in this discussion is that the point is to make music. So if the changes sound good and everyones playing the same ones, who cares what they are, just make music. I remember hearing an interview with Gary Peacock and Jack D., where they said that Keith would come to the show and they would sometimes talk about what they were going to play if he wanted to change a chord in a certain standard tune.

    I think you could play a tune for a while and then decide, I'd like to change the quality of this chord or add something here that you're hearing, some descending bass movement or something, it's all good, right?

  5. jorgemg1984

    yes, if everyone agrees on the changes play the tune instead of wondering it those are the right ones... and a lot of times people reharmonize on the spot and even the "right changes" have lot of variations - the thing about the real book is that sometimes is really wrong, like on the first four measures of "Four" (there are many more examples).

    The MD Quintet is a good source, Coltrane playing standards also, and Jim Hall and Paul Desmond is a 4 CD bible... The KJ Trio also a great source for good changes.

  6. JorgeRubiales

    Jorge, I read that about Bernstein too, and I thought: why the hell aren't the originals published?? I mean, if you have the right to publish a transription, how difficult would be to work out a license for the right changes?!

  7. jorgemg1984

    Yeah its true Jorge, there are a lot of songs I would like to have the original score and since most standards are from the 40s they should be public domain. But I would like to say there is a difference between "right changes" and "original changes"-

    Most of the times the original changes are very basic and simple, "All or Nothing at all" is a good example, then the jazz players arranged the songs and those became the "right changes". The problem with the real book is that this right changes are very often full of errors and are different from both the original changes and the changes played by jazz cats. Bernstein wanted the original scores to make his own arrangements instead of playing the changes jazz players usually play - that come from Miles or other players back in 40s or 50s.

  8. jazzbum

    Jorgemg - you have refined my point exactly. I am not so much concerned about the jazz changes per se, but the simplest version of the changes, so I can make my own arrangements of these tunes. It just seems frustrating to me that even playing out of the Real Book, we are often playing an interpretation that is someone else's. When a standard starts to sound stale to me if I do have one of those old piano/guitar sheets they always seem more open or interesting. I suppose that is because the simpler changes allow for me to come up with changes that sound new to me. They might end up being similar to Bill Evans changes but the point would be that I have discovered them for myself, thus making the tune sound fresh. I suppose I'll start searching for the original charts.

  9. JorgeRubiales

    Well, if they're going to give us mistaken changes, they may very well give us the originals well written lol

    jazzbum, for the people out of USA who cannot access these music, could you ask if they're public domain? It would be great to have some kind of scan of some of this charts.

    By the way, I was checking a song today, and I realized a phrase on Sher's new real book index: choice standards (including lyrics and correct changes). Does this mean that they're the original changes, or are they "double-checked" for mistakes? lol

    EDIT: After a coffe and a shower, I've read the thread again, and I don't even know if any of you are from NYC lol But seriously, it would be great to have access to those scores.

    Man, I need to stop posting too early in the morning or too late in the night. I consistently screw up on forums lol

  10. animitta

    For the standards i found this web-site quiet usefull:
    Select a tune from the index and scroll down the page to see the result. At least you can find some "original" version.

    For example this one is a version of Alone Together ( found with that web site ):

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Flash Video

    this one is another really nice version with Judy Garland:

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Flash Video

    Edit 2: This one another good one with Miles Davis:

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Flash Video
    Yes, i think that site is really cool : )

    All the Best

  11. jorgemg1984

    I think the Sher Real Books are very close to the original changes (as most aebersolds) but usually on a jam session the really good cat will plays the jazz changes not the original ones...

  12. JorgeRubiales

    Hey animitta, nice website!

    I believe that too Jorge, but I find it refreshing to be able to start from a simple tune and enrich it as I play it more and more. But if you start with an arrangement, it doesn't feel right to make changes, because it looks like "that's how the song is", you know?

  13. jorgemg1984

    Yes its true Jorge, its easier to arrange original versions than already arranged versions (and another advantage of having the original changes is to able to compare it to the changes jazz cats usually play and see how they arranged the song). This is where you can get the original scores for most standards I think (it would be great if they posted them online)

  14. jazznan

    What's wrong with "Four" in the RealBook? Curious, I've never played the tune....

  15. jorgemg1984

    The aebersold one is right, compare the first 8 measures on both and you will see the difference

  16. david6strings

    i've heard about a diminished chord in just friends and if i remember well is just a II V in the real book. yeah jam sesions can put you in trouble if you play what the composer wrote. fake books seems to follow a quick understandable way for musicians

  17. jazzbum

    To be clear, my interest in having the composer's chagnes is not for the sake of being able to play at jams. If I am going to a session I always bring my Real Book and read the notes and adapt as necessary. There'd be no cohesion if we all played different changes.

    My interest is understanding intent, power, emotion of these songs. I feel like so many people have covered "But Not For Me" e.g. and it just sounds dry and emotionless. Part of re-discovering the power these songs can have is listening to masters cover them, but the other part for me is understanding the composers original idea. I feel like we've somehow lost the rich drama in these songs as they have been played and played. Notice how the Real Book has no dynamic often do you go to a pickup gig where the leader gives dynamic cues?

    I suppose my theory is that each time someone covers a songs it changes, and it really helps to understand how it has changed. To be able to hear the composer perform would be ultimate, as would an original recording. Just listen to the stark differnce between how Ornette plays his compositions to how Pat Metheny plays them. Its an amazing study in musical aesthetics.

  18. JorgeRubiales

    Well, I think that to be able to play a piece coherently, we must be informed about the context of the piece.

    I study classical music, and for example, many Bach pieces for lute don't have any expression marking. You have to know how baroque music is supposed to be played first, and then to figure out what the intent of the phrase is.

    Ultimately there's no right or wrong, but through experiencing the music of a period or author we will be able to make an informed decision and shape our personal taste.


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