3 Autumn Leaves Chord Progression Studies
Learning the Autumn Leaves chord progression is an important part of learning jazz guitar. Besides being one of the most commonly played standards at jam sessions, the Autumn Leaves chord progression is a great study for major and minor ii V I chords.
90% of the Autumn Leaves chord progression alternates between major and minor ii-V-I progressions.
The examples in this article only cover these two ii V I progressions. But you could play through each example twice and then play the minor ii V I followed by the major ii V I to get the B section which would give you three quarters of the Autumn Leaves chord progression.
For a full and detailed analysis of Autumn Leaves, check out this in depth article that I published.
To play through each of these Autumn Leaves chord progression studies you will need to know the following techniques:
- Drop 2 and 3 Chords
- Dominant 7b9 Chords
- Shell Voicings
- Comping With Bass Lines
- Jazz Guitar Comping Rhythms
Having the Autumn Leaves chord progression memorized is also important.
Try playing through chords using whole notes rhythms at first and eventually quarter notes while humming or whistling the melody to memorize the chords.
Many jazz standards modulate from the major to the relative minor and vice versa.
Because of this it is worth taking each of these studies into all 12 keys.
For further chordal study I recommend creating a melody arrangement using the chords from the Autumn Leaves chord progression.
Autumn Leaves Chord Progression
Autumn Leaves Chord Progression Study 1
As mentioned earlier, the first rhythm to explore when practicing the autumn leaves chord progression or any set of new chords is the whole note rhythm.
Practicing using whole note rhythms ensures that there is enough time to switch between each chord which is particularly useful if you are working on new jazz guitar chords.
Take note of the voice leading in each chord too. Rather than jumping across the fretboard, each of the chord moves to the nearest available chord which only requires moving a few frets.
This example uses drop 2 chord inversions for the minor 7th and major chords and dominant7b9 chords for the dominant 7ths.
Once you can fluently play this study, use the same chords on the same string set, but start with a different C-7 voicing.
Doing this will ensure that you cover all the possible inversions using drop 2 chords and dom7b9 chords on the top four strings.
You can also start with a C-7 higher up the neck and descend through inversions rather than ascend, like in this example.
Autumn Leaves Chord Progression Study 2
Learning to play walking bass lines is an important part of developing good comping skills. This next autumn leaves chord progression study demonstrates the comping with bass lines technique.
Drop 3 chord inversions are used in the last two bars to create movement and interest. Try to create your own bass lines starting in different areas of the neck that go in different directions.
Autumn Leaves Chord Progression Study 3
Here is an etude that features modern jazz guitar voicings to finish off this autumn leaves chord progression study.
The chords in this example are more advanced than the previous studies so they might require more practice to play proficiently if you are new to jazz guitar.
Most of the chords is in this example feature clusters which are two intervals that are close together usually resulting in a dissonant effect.
I hope that you have enjoyed playing and working through each of these Autumn Leaves chord progression studies.
Check out this link to a FREE Autumn Leaves backing track without piano to practice these chords over.
What do you think of each of these studies? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.