Four Aspects of “Coltrane Changes”

Coltrane Changes by John Coltrane

John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” brought about a harmonic revolution in the pursuit of multitonic changes based on the notes of descending B (B-G-E♭/G-E♭-B) and ascending E♭ (E♭-G-B-E♭) augmented triads. During 1959 and 1960, Coltrane conducted experiments with the major thirds cycles on many other compositions. Coltrane’s exploration can be interpreted in four aspects: Original, Re-composed (with original melodies and his own harmonic formula), Re-harmonized and Superimposed. It can be best tabulated in Ex-1:

Coltrane employs superimposed technique during his solos on “Grand Central” (Ex-2*). It bears a close resemblance to the last two bars of Tadd Dameron’s “Lady Bird” <NOTE: In passing, the “turnarounds”of “Lady Bird” produces a microcosm of the whole key structures in the tune> (Ex-3):

t is also interesting to note that Coltrane created “Fifth House” by recomposing the idea of Tadd’s “Hot House.”

*For Ex-2, see my book John Coltrane Plays “Coltrane Changes” (Hal Leonard Corporation), p.65.

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Masaya Yamaguchi