Blue Monk - Chord Melody, Single-Note Solo & Chord Shapes

chord melody jazz guitar standards Nov 10, 2014

Composed by Thelonious Monk

Tune's History

"Blue Monk" is a popular blues composed by the great Thelonious Monk. It was first recorded in 1954 for his Thelonious Monk Trio album and is a must-have for any jazz repertoire.

The Nuts and Bolts

It's always nice to have a few of Thelonious Monk's compositions in your jazz repertoire. This tune is a great little blues piece for jazz players of all levels, but be careful with the melody. As with most Monk tunes, there is always something subtle to trip you up. In this case, the phrasing of the melody tends to confuse players a good bit. 

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Once you can phrase the melody correctly, the rest is fairly straightforward. The tune is a standard jazz blues, so as long as you can handle that, you should have no trouble here.

Blue Monk: Comping Ideas

In this section, we have provided you with some chords you can use to comp over "Blue Monk." Since this is a standard jazz blues, learning to comp over it will be very beneficial. It is important that you are able to handle the blues in any key!

Blue Monk: Chord Melody

This chord melody can be a bit tricky to handle at first. Take your time and make sure you get everything right. There's no rush here.

Once you are able to get it, it will be well worth it. This is a really fun head to be able to harmonize on guitar!


Blue Monk: Single-Note Solo

Once again, it is important to be able to handle the blues effectively and in any key! Here are some ideas to get you started.

The #9 to major 3rd - otherwise known as b3 to natural 3 - is a big thing in the blues, so be sure to absorb some of that in your own vocabulary. We see it a lot in this solo against the Bb7 chord.

Blue Monk: Backing Track

Here is a nice little backing track for you to practice some of the material covered here!

Blue Monk: Chord Reference Sheet

In addition to all this content, you also get some good chord shapes to get you started on comping over the blues!

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Suggested Listening

-Thelonious Monk's Thelonious Monk Trio album recorded in 1954. Check out the way Monk irreverently lays into 2nds and any dissonance he finds useful on a chord.

-Thelonious Monk's Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall album recorded in 1957.  This particular recording was lost in the vault for many years and released in 2005.

-McCoy Tyner's Nights of Ballads and Blues recorded and released in 1963. I am partial to any of Tyner's versions on anything. The way he uses 4ths is just incredible.

-Chick Corea's Trilogy album recorded in 2013. This version is nice and laid back. It's definitely a good one to check out!



For intermediate guitarists ready to "crack the code" in jazz


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