This article is an installment in my Anatomy of a Tune series, where I take famous Standards and break them down from a specific standpoint such as improvisation, chord melody, comping, arranging or phrasing/rhythm. In this article, we will be breaking down All the Things you Are on guitar from the perspective of a chord melody arrangement and comping with basic chord subs.
“All the Things You Are” is one of the most popular standards in jazz, and a must learn for any jazz guitarist.
Since most of our responsibility in any ensemble is to provide harmonic material for intros, chord melodies and comping, this is a great tune to dig into when exploring different aspects of these concepts.
In the following article we will analyze both the harmonic progression and intervallic structure of the melody, as well as use this information to build a simple counterpoint line, chord melody and comping approach to the tune.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s dig in to All The Things You Are on Guitar!
Have a question or comment on this lesson? Visit the ATTYA Analysis thread at the MWG Forum.
Before we dive in to building a chord melody and working with some comping on All The Things You Are, let’s check out the harmonic progression itself.
Because this tune moves into a number of different keys, I’ve labeled the keys on top of the staff, over the chord symbols, and then the Roman numeral analysis is below the staff, underneath the melody.
You will notice that the progression for the first 8 bars, in the keys of Ab major and C major, is the exact same progression as the second 8 bars, though this time, the chords are in the keys of Eb and G major.
You can use this information to help you memorize the chord progression, but also during your improvisation as you can create a line over the first 8 bars, and then transpose it to the new keys for the next 8 bars.
This will allow you to approach the first half of the tune in a melodic fashion, developing a motivic based phrase that you can later build into lines and more intricate soloing.
The tune is divided into 4 section, the first three have 8 bars each while the last section has 12 bars. Here are the sections:
A – Bars 1-8
A2 – Bars 9-16
B – Bars 17-24
A3 – Bars 25 to End
Some key moments to check out, as you will encounter these progressions in many other songs, are the first five bars, vi-ii-V-I-IV.
This progression, or parts of it, can be found in many other tunes in the Standard jazz repertoire, so you might want to spend some time and practice comping and improvising over this progression in 12 keys and at different tempos.
Besides the iim7-V7-Imaj7 progression that make up the entire B section, as well as the last three bars of each A section, there is a very interesting group of chords in bars 29-32.
Here, you have IVmaj7-ivm7-iiim7-biiidim7, which leads to the last iim7-V7-Imaj7 turnaround of the tune.
These chords, especially the first three, are very common in the jazz repertoire, so again, they would be worth practicing in 12 keys and in multiple tempos from both a comping and improvising standpoint.
With an understanding of how the chords and key centers work for All The Things You Are on Guitar, we’ll now dive into the melody line of the tune.
Here is where you are going to be able to identify patterns in the interval structure of the melody, as well as use this for the basis of any chord melody that you want to work out over All The Things You Are.
Notice how many times the melody line uses chord tones. Besides a few instances, mostly 2nds and 4ths, the melody is largely made up of 3rds and 7ths.
These two notes are often referred to as “guide tones” as they are used by compers and improvisers to outline the harmony of a given piece using voice leading.
Notice that, in many progressions, the 3rd from one chord will stay in place to become the 7th of the next chord, or the 7th of one chord will move down by a half-step to become the 3rd of the next chord.
You can see this in the melody line between bars 2 and 3, where the 7th of Bbm7, Ab, moves down by half-step to become the 3rd of Eb7, G.
As well, that same G, the 3rd of Eb7, stays in place to become the 7th of the next chord, Abmaj7.
This type of voice leading, using 3rd and 7ths to create melody lines and melodic phrases, is an important tool for any improviser.
So, when learning this, or any tune, it is always good practice to play the 3rds and 7ths of each chord, from memory, and when you can do that improvise lines using only those notes for each chord.
You will be surprised how clearly you can outline the harmonic progression while only using two notes in your lines.
Since the melody is largely made up of 3rds and 7ths, this also makes it easy to build a chord melody arrangement, as both of these intervals will be at the top of many common Drop 2 and Drop 3 chord shapes.
More on this later, but if you are ready to dig into developing your own chord melody for ATTYA, try starting with Drop2 and then Drop 3 chords, you’ll notice how naturally these shapes fit with the melody line, making it the perfect vehicle for a chord melody on the guitar.
One of the exercises that I love to do, and to teach to my students, to get ready for a chord melody is to add a simple bassline made up of tonic notes below the melody line.
By doing so, you can start to physically see how the melody notes relate to the root note of each chord, as well as begin to hear how the root and melody line sound against each other.
This exercise will also give you a framework for “filling in the blanks” in between the melody and bassline to form a nice-sounding chord melody arrangement that didn’t take a lot of struggle to work out.
I’ve written out the first part of the tune in this manner below, so once you have worked through this section and gotten the gist of the exercise, work through the rest of the tune on your own in this manner.
If you want to write out the melody with the bass notes below first, and then memorize it, that’s perfectly fine.
Or, if you want to challenge yourself further, you might want to try working out the bass-melody arrangement for the rest of the tune without looking at the lead sheet.
Both methods are perfectly acceptable, so go with whatever one feels more comfortable to you at this point in your development.
You will notice that there are times when two bass notes seem like legitimate fingerings, such as the Bb in bar 2 which is played on the 6th string in my example, but could also be played on the 4th string in that position.
When you come to moments like these, it’s best to at least explore both options, as one might work with just the bass and melody alone, but when you go to add in some extra notes to form a chord melody the stretch is too big, as is the case in this example, which you’ll see in the next section.
Now that you have learned the melody line, as well as the bass notes that fit below each chord in the tune, you can add in a few notes between these outer voices to form a simple, yet cool sounding chord melody arrangement.
You can do this in two different ways, both of which are valid depending on which one you chose.
As an example, I have written out the first part of the tune as a chord melody arrangement, check it out, and after you’ve explore the two options, use these concepts to create a chord melody of your own for the rest of the piece, or the whole tune if you are feeling ambitious.
The first approach is to look at the melody line and bass together, then simply insert a Drop 2, Drop 3 or Drop 2 and 4 chord that fits that position.
As we discussed earlier, Drop 2 chords work great with this melody, so when you look at my example you’ll notice that I pretty much just stuck to those for my arrangement.
The second way to work out the chord melody once you have the melody line and bass notes in place is to do it theoretically.
Look at what note is in the melody, say the Ab (3rd) in the first bar, and then add that to the bass note, the Root (F).
Then, figure out what notes are missing to build a chord, in this case it is C and Eb, the 5th and 7th.
Just find those two notes in that position, add them to the bass note and melody, and voila, you’ve got a chord shape that you can use in your arrangement.
This second way is a bit more in-depth as far as theory goes, so it’s not for everyone.
Eventually it would be good to be able to use both approaches, as they can be useful in different situations outside of AATYA, so having both under your fingers is a plus in the long run.
One of the ways I like to spice up the changes to All The Things You Are on Guitar is to add half-step approaches before each chord in the progression.
Now, this is for the purpose of learning the concept, so when you get to actually performing the tune you don’t have to include all of these subs in your playing, just the ones you think fit the moment and that can be used to add interest to your chord melody, comping or even improvising.
The concept is fairly simple, just approach each new chord with a chord of the same quality a half-step above the root of that chord.
So, the chords Fm7-Bbm7 will now become Fm7 Bm7-Bbm7.
You’ll find that when you do this for a few bars in a row, you start to get a cool Joe Pass vibe in your playing.
Joe liked this approach a lot, adding a half-step approach above the next chord, and it was a technique he used in his comping and soloing.
I’ve written out the melody line along with the bass notes, as we looked at earlier, only this time I’ve included the approach chords in there as well.
This is a good place to start, as for some people these notes can sound a bit outside the normal harmony, causing clashes with the melody that take time to get used to.
Try this approach out over the bassline in my example.
Then, try working out the rest of the tune using the same approach on your own.
When you can do that, and the notes start to settle in your ears a bit, then move on to the next exercise in the article.
As well as using the half-step approach with basslines, you can also do this with comping.
Here is how the first half of the tune would look from a comping perspective using this concept.
Again, this is just an exercise.
Work through the rest of the tune in this way, using half-step approaches before each chord, then when it comes time to take it to a jam session or gig, let you ears guide you as to when it is appropriate to insert these chords, and when it’s better to just stick to the original harmony.
The last thing we’ll look at with All The Things You Are is a very cool little turnaround progression that was shown to me by my first jazz guitar teacher Nick Di Tomasso.
The concept is fairly simple. Whenever you have a tonic chord, in this case Cmaj7, that moves to a tonic minor chord a few bars later, Cm7, you can insert a walk up and walk down between those two chords.
Here is how this progression fits into bars 7 and 8 of All The Things You Are.
After you have learned it here, try and find other tunes you know or are working on that you can insert these chords into.
It’s a great sounding way to add more movement to static tonic chords, and allows you to lead into the next chord rather than just jump there from the previous tonic major.
Check out the exercises above over this tune, then take them to other tunes you are working on.
Being able to analyze a harmonic progression, the interval structure of a melody, as well as create a simple bass-melody counterpoint and chord melody arrangement are all great skills to have for any jazz guitarist.
Do you have a question about All The Things You Are on Guitar? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Return to the Anatomy of a Tune Homepage
Click any link below for answers to the 10 most frequently asked questions that I receive from readers, students, workshop participants and Facebook followers about how to learn jazz guitar.
Do you have a question about playing jazz guitar? Post it in the comments section below.