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Remembering Chords on Saxophone – Blue Bossa

by Neal

Mr Battaglia. How do you remember all the chords..?? How do you do it..?? i mean, there are loads.

Hey Robert, you want to start simple. Learning the blues progression is a good step. Once you know the blues progression, you know the chords for a large number of songs already. There might be variations, but the basic progression is going to be the same.

Then there is the ii V7 I progression, that one comes up all the time in jazz. All those chords are in the same key. So you could just think, there’s a ii V7 I in the key of G or whatever coming up.

The song ‘Blue Bossa’ has the following chords (concert pitch)

| Cm7 | Cm7 | Fm7 | Fm7 |
| Dm7b5 | G7 | Cm7 | Cm7 |
| Ebm7 | Ab7 | Db | Db |
| Dm7b5 | G7 | Cm7 | Dm7b5  G7|
One pattern is a very slight variation of the simplest ii V I progression- in the minor key instead of major.
| Dm7b5 | G7 | Cm7 | is all in the key of C minor.  That pattern happens twice in the song.
| Ebm7 | Ab7 | Db | is all in the key of Db major.
So you could remember this entire harmony as
i iv,
minor ii V I in C minor
major ii V I in Db major
minor ii V I in C minor
Four different things:
minor ii V i pattern
major ii V I pattern
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick September 5, 2010 at 9:04 am

Good advice.

Two additional suggestions:

1. Play through the chords a lot. Start just with the roots, eventually working up t arpeggiations. The key to memorizing/internalizing them, though, is to play through the chord progressions in multiple keys

2. Play the chords on piano using simple 3-note voicings (root in bass register/left hand; 3d & 7th of chord in right hand in middle of keyboard).

~ Rick


Neal September 20, 2010 at 12:44 am

Thanks Rick,
Learning chords takes a bit of time and practice, knowing them in all keys is essential if you’re working on harmony! Playing the simple voicings on piano is another good idea.


angela August 7, 2013 at 10:29 pm

wouldnt the Fmin be the IV rather than the V?


Neal August 7, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Yes, thanks.


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