Mr. Syms – Chord Melody

by | Chord Melody

Coltrane Plays The BluesIn this lesson I want to teach you a chord melody arrangement for a unique 12 bar blues by John Coltrane. It’s called Mr. Syms off the album “Coltrane Plays The Blues”…. And it’s unique in many ways! First of all the harmony is very hybrid. As a matter of fact, during the solos Coltrane plays over a minor blues progression while McCoy Tyner plays over the traditional dominant 7th based progression. The good news is that it is played very slow, so no matter what level you’re at, if you’re comfortable with the blues, you’ll be able to solo over it.

What might be a slight challenge for some is the melody. I’ve harmonized it using several triads in 4ths and other less ordinary chord structures. However, I think you’ll find the most interesting feature to be the turnaround. Many musicians haven’t caught on to what is going on here, but I will show you that the turnaround is actually a form of Coltrane Changes, as in Giant Steps, only that under a clever harmonic disguise!


The Mr. Syms Files can be downloaded for $7.50 (buy me a cup of coffee & a snack?). Your contribution is much appreciated, as it helps support the site and allows me to keep investing the long hours required to produce these lessons. The download includes: a  PDF with both regular notation and TAB, an MP3 of the arrangement, an MP3 backing track and a Band in a Box File.

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