Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Lawn, Richard, and Jeffrey Hellmer. "Rhythm Changes: The Classic Jazz Model." In Jazz Theory and Practice, 203-19. Los Angeles: Alfred Publishing, 1993.

Jazz performers and composers adopted the chord structure of George Gershwin's 1930 song I Got Rhythm both as a useful improvisational vehicle and as supporting harmony for newly composed melodies. Gershwin's chord structure, known as "the Rhythm Changes," was subjected to a variety of harmonic alterations by subsequent users, including adding chords between two original chords, changing minor chords into major, and substituting new chords for selected originals. The resulting variety of versions of "the Rhythm Changes" is so great that there is no "standard" version used by a large number of jazz performers or arrangers. Sonny Rollins's Oleo, and J. J. Johnson's Turnpike (both included here in notated versions) are two frequently played examples of the many new melodies composed to "the Rhythm Changes." They include extensive alterations to Gershwin's original chords. A partial list of other compositions based on "the Rhythm Changes" is included, as well as a list of recordings of these compositions.

Works: Johnson: Turnpike (216-17); Rollins: Oleo (217-18).

Sources: Gershwin: I Got Rhythm (203-19).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Jazz

Contributed by: Scott Grieb

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