(by George Gershwin)

This is a big one: Summertime is probably amongst the “all-time top 5” Jazz standards in history. It’s a timeless tune, played and recorded over and over, that stood the test of time. It was composed by George Gershwin in 1935 for the American folk opera Porgy and Bess with lyrics by DuBose Heyward.

Note that this tune is dissected within the FREE 7-Day Beginning Chord Melody course. Highly recommended if you want to play Summertime like a “real” jazzer. 😉

It’s a very deep and meaningful piece of music. I often perform it in “cocktail” situations. It works very well with a backbeat on drums. Singers often call Summertime (unexpectedly) at jam sessions: Could you play it in the “singer’s key”… ?

Summertime PDF – EASY chord melody + chord sheet

…that’s like an unwritten rule of jazz! Accomodate the singer or sit this one out. (-:

So, my main suggestion for jazz guitarists here is: practice this tune in all 12 keys! It’s worth the effort and it’s not that hard! If you’re somewhat familiar with jazz harmony, you’ll notice that the two main focal points of this tune are Dm and Gm … towards the end there’s an Fmaj chord, which is in fact the *relative* major. So in very general terms: it’s in in a minor key, it goes to iv minor and then to the relative major.

Don’t memorize it “chord by chord”: see the big picture and think of it as 4 or 8 bar sections. Sing the melody along, you’ll be able to play it even in the “hardest” keys. Enjoy!

Chord Melody: EASY

Summertime: jazz guitar chord melody with TABS (easy) Summertime PDF – EASY chord melody + chord sheet

Here’s the chord melody PDF (a very easy version). The PDF also contains a basic chord sheet for accompaniment (comping.) And here’s a short audio performance of the arrangement in mp3.

Suggested Listening

Miles Davis’ album Porgy and Bess recorded in 1958. It features a brilliant orchestral arrangement of this tune (by Gil Evans.) Definitely in my top 50 jazz albums of all time!


8 thoughts on “Summertime

  1. I keep on clicking “Summertime PDF – EASY chord melody + chord sheet” (several times – lost track), but never get an email.

    • Hi Donald, were you asked to input your email address on the form on the website? If you gave your email address and you haven’t received an email yet, be sure to check your junk mail folder in case it went there by accident. Otherwise, please send an email to with the subject line “Summertime PDF – EASY chord melody + chord sheet” and I’ll be happy to send the .pdf your way.

  2. Thanks Marc, I like the scotch tape method, the playing 5 times in a row with the constraints before moving on… I was the type of guy to try and play the whole piece at once and get frustrated because it sucked. I started smiling as I started to actually here the tune unfold as I was playing it bit by bit, it really works for me. Thank you!

    • Hi Bob, I’m so glad to hear this has worked for you. You can use this method for all of your playing, too, not just for jazz.

  3. I have a question. On the leadsheet i’ve downloaded and I’ve been praticing it says it’s in the key of C or A min. But isn’t it in F or D min? When i tried to play it in different keys I got confused because on most leadsheets the song start in A minor and the first note of the melody is a E. So since this start on a D minor and the first note of the melody is an A wouldn’t it be in D minor? Thanks

    • Hi Filippo, you are correct: this version of Summertime is written so that it sounds in the key of Dm. However, in jazz, it’s sometimes easier to write an arrangement with NO key signature, because a lot of jazz tunes go back and forth between different keys. As a result, writing with a “C major” key signature oftentimes reduces the number accidentals that the musician has to read when reading the chart.

      With this in mind, it’s actually better to think of it as having “NO key signature” rather than being played in “C major”: if you need sharp or flat notes, we can write them in when we want to. Depending on whose charts you’re reading, this can be standard practice for how they write charts.

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