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Lesson 16: Standards

What Are the So-Called Standards?

  • Broadway show tunes
  • Tin Pan Alley popular songs
  • songs from Hollywood musicals
  • original compositions by jazz musicians
  • pop songs

The Importance of Learning Standards

It's very important to study the so-called Standards repertoire of jazz. Many of the standards are really great songs and you can learn a lot from them, including:

  • how to construct and develop a melody
  • chord progressions
  • a sense of form
  • playing over changes
  • how to write an immortal song, after all, a lot of these songs have been around for decades

The Giant Songwriters

You should study the works of the giant songwriters of the 20th century, including:

  • George and Ira Gershwin
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim
  • Cole Porter
as well as The Beatles, of course... :-)

So, Which Standards Do You Have to Learn?

If I had to choose the ten most important standards, these would be my choice:

  • All the Things You Are by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern
  • Footprints by Wayne Shorter
  • The Girl from Ipanema by Antonio Carlos Jobim
  • I Got Rhythm by George Gershwin
  • Manha de Carnaval by Luiz Bonfa
  • Night and Day by Cole Porter
  • On Green Dolphin Street by Bronislau Kaper and Ned Washington
  • 'Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams and Bernie Hanighen
  • So What by Miles Davis
  • Stella by Starlight by Victor Young and Ned Washington
In addition to these specific tunes you have to study the blues. I would like to let the 11th standard be a generic jazz blues in three different keys: C, F and Bb.

2004 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.