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Gershwin Sets The Standard


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They Can't Take That Away From Me

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In this tutorial we will learn a George and Ira Gershwin song that has become a jazz standard, "They Can't Take That Away From Me".

"They Can't Take That Away from Me" was written by George Gershwin (music) and his brother Ira Gershwin (words) in 1937 and sung first by Fred Astaire to Ginger Rogers in the film "Shall We Dance". It is a medium tempo ballad (110 BPM) in a swing rhythm.

This is a jazz standard, which means it is an important, well-known, widely played tune. Many jazz standards were originally from Broadway stage or Hollywood film musicals. Jazz musicians and performers often used the tunes of Tin Pan Alley songwriters (like Gershwin) as a way to showcase their skills in form of a popular song their listeners could understand.

The songs has been performed & recorded by a wide variety of singers and instrumental artists: Fred Astaire, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, Joe Pass, Tony Bennet, Diana Krall, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart.

In this tutorial we will perform the song as an instrumental jazz standard. We'll play the melody on jazz guitar as the lead part. We'll also comp the chord progression with a jazz guitar as the rhyhtm guitar part. In order to get the tone right it helps to have a hollowbody electric with a full, dark, rich tone. In this case, I'll be using my Joe Pass model Epiphone Emperor II played through a small tube amp with a very clean tone.

When playing the melody and lead guitar part I'll use the neck pickup to get a full bassy tone. I have the volume up all the way, but the tone knob turned down about half way in order to get a slightly bassy, muted sound typical of jazz guitar tone. When playing the rhythm chord part I'll use the neck pickup and dial the volume down to 7. I' ll dial the tone knob down even more; all the way down to 2 in order to play a little more quietly and with a slightly more bass or muted tone than the melody part.