Jason (jcreed) wrote,

I've been trying to relearn "Giant Steps" on the piano. As hard as it is to play at tempo and improvise over, it's an astonishingly simple, beautiful, highly symmetric tune. Every chord is doing something; either leading directly towards one of the three tonal centers (B, G, Eb) or resting at one of them.

The song states one phrase, rotates it a third-octave down and repeats it, and then takes us down still another third-octave to Eb. The melody does something different here, though: it still carries the same sense of repeating the same idea along an augmented triad, but its period is tighter and its direction of motion is opposite. Where we started by drilling down from B to G to Eb, we finish by "winding back up", from Eb to G to B, in fact underflowing the stack, as it were, all the way past the original B to Eb, and at last there is a final turnaround to take us back to B.
       Bmaj7 D7→Gmaj7 Bb7→Ebmaj7 Am7→D7→
                Gmaj7 Bb7→Ebmaj7 F#7→Bmaj7 Fm7→Bb7→
                          Ebmaj7 Am7→D7→
                Gmaj7 C#m7→F#7→
       Bmaj7 Fm7→Bb7→
Ebmaj7 C#m7→F#7→

Another analysis:
6 | 1   2 | 9   10  11  0   1
2 | 9   10| 5   6   7   8   9
10  11  0   1   2   3   4   5
6   7   8   9   10  11| 4   5

0 Am7  1 D7  2,3   Gmaj7 
4 C#m7 5 F#7 6,7   Bmaj7 
8 Fm7  9 Bb7 10,11 Ebmaj7 

"|" indicates the only places where the chord progression doesn't go stepwise forward in the 12-bar pattern indicated. The first four breaks are all -5/+7, and the turnaround break is +5/-7. The other remarkable thing about the first four breaks is that they're essentially just digressions - the 1-2 could be replaced by 7-8, and the 9-10 by 3-4. Both digressions are really off by 6, "half way around the world".
Tags: jazz, music, piano

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