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Watch the Rhythm Changes Forever online guitar lesson by John Goldsby from Upright Bass Handbook

Let's play rhythm! That's a phrase jazz musicians often hear at jam sessions or on the bandstand. It means, let's improvise on the harmonic structure of the great American classic song, "I Got Rhythm." When a jazz player calls "Rhythm Changes," this refers to the chord progression to the Gershwin standard "I Got Rhythm." Jazz musicians have used the form and harmony of rhythm changes derived from "I Got Rhythm" for years as the basis for new jazz melodies and improvisations. The most durable and often played jazz forms are the 12-bar blues and rhythm changes.

"I Got Rhythm" was written by George and Ira Gershwin in 1930 and thousands of jazz songs use this or similar chord progressions. If you can walk a line on rhythm changes, then you've got a lot of jazz music covered. The chord progression is characterized by a user-friendly harmony that lends itself to swing and experimentation. This etude takes us through a chorus of "Rhythm Changes" using typical chord changes. Note that you can analyze any of the notes as either a chord tone, scale tone, or chromatic leading tone.