Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions

Posted by: Chris G

Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/10/11 10:58 PM

It seems that several times recently I've been at a jam and someone wants to play Summertime, and each time they have a slightly different variant of the chords. Is there a definitive version of the chords?
Posted by: Studio Joe

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/11/11 05:08 AM

I have the same problem, seems there are several ways to play the song.
Here is the way I think it should go:

Dm | Gm | Dm | Dm |


Gm | Gm | A7 | A7 |


Dm | Gm | Dm | Dm |


F | Gm | Dm | Dm |
Posted by: Exalted Wombat

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/11/11 08:14 AM

If you go to Gershwin's original score the nearest a chord chart is going to get is probably:

Am6 E7/B | ./. | ./. | Am6 E7/B Am6 | Dm F | F/A etc.

You can relish his harmonic detail, or you can simplify it. Whichever you choose, PLEASE look at the original so at least you KNOW what you're leaving out!
Posted by: jazztpt

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/11/11 09:42 AM

Yes every version of this I see seems to be different.

Here's the Vanilla book version:

Dm |A7 |Dm |Dm D7 |
Gm |Gm |A7 |A7 |
Dm |A7 |Dm |Gm7 C7 |
F |Em7b5 A7 | Dm |Dm (A7)|

And the iRealbook has:

Dm |//A7b13 |Dm |Dm D7b9|
Gm |Bb7 |E7#5 |A7b9 |
Dm |//A7b13|Dm |G7 C7b9 |
Fmaj7 Dm7 |Em7b5 A7b13|Dm |Em7b5 A7b13|

I much prefer the second version, bit more colour for my taste.
Posted by: chrisbell

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/11/11 12:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Whichever you choose, PLEASE look at the original so at least you KNOW what you're leaving out!

+1
I really detest those RealBook, Vanilla, iRealb, etc versions of Summertime
Gershwin's changes are the ones to use.
Posted by: Chris G

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/11/11 04:48 PM

Thanks for the responses - I'm going to work on playing around with different variants on the chords so I can get a feel for what is actually being played.
Posted by: mikf

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/20/11 03:07 PM

Best to think of it in terms of good harmony or bad harmony rather than right chords or wrong chords. The composers original chord progression is good (especially if its Gershwin!)but not the only way to get a sound and feel. Keith Jarret's beautiful version of Danny boy for example where the harmony is amazing, but probably never uses a single original chord as it is normally written. The problem though arises when playing in a combo, you neeed to know what the others are doing with the harmony to stay together - either rehearsal or a lead sheet. Otherwise you are just using your ear and guessing.
Posted by: Jazz+

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/23/11 12:43 AM

Jazz jam version: ( D dorian, medium - up tempo)

D- | D- | D- | D7 #9 |


G-7 | G-7 | E-7b5 | A7b9 |


D- | D- | D- | G-7 C7 |


Fmaj7 | E-7b5 A7b9 | D- | D- |
Posted by: Jazz+

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/23/11 12:45 AM

Les Paul's changes , similar to Gershwin's (vocal key, slow ):

| Am E7 | ./. | ./. | ./. |
| D-7 F7 | D-7 | E7 F7 | E7 |
| Am E7 | ./. | ./. | D-7 G7 |
| Cmaj7 Fmaj7 | B-7b5 E7 | Am E7 | ./. |
Posted by: Jazz+

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/23/11 12:54 AM

Jazz pianist Gene Harris changes:

| G-7 A-7/G | ./. | ./. | ./. |
| C-7 F7 | Bb7 Eb7| A7#11 (Eb7)|D7sus D7b9 |
| G-7 A-7/G | ./. | ./. | C-7 F7|
| Bbmaj7 Eb7 | A7 D7b9 | G-7 A-7/G | ./. |
Posted by: Eugene Portman

Re: Chords for Gershwin's Summertime - why so many versions - 06/23/11 10:15 AM

I find that a chord sequence evolves with time as I gradually change the chords. I then end up with a version which I can only use if the musicians are either used to working with me or have my chord chart. I frequently end up playing the chords the other musicians know rather than the ones I want to play.