Coltrane Changes & The Major 3rd Tonic Relationship

Check out Tuomo’s latest 5-min masterclass on the infamous “Coltrane Changes”.

What Are Coltrane Changes?

Coltrane changes, also known as the ‘Major Third Tonic relationship’ is a harmonic movement where instead of one tonic center, we have 3, which divide the octave into 3 equal parts, for example in the key of C, the other tonic centres would Ab, and E.

“Giant Steps” & “Countdown”

The tune “Giant Steps” is perhaps the most well-known tune to utilise this chord progression. “Giant Steps” is notoriously difficult to improvise over. This lesson will help you understand the harmonic foundation of the tune.

We also explore the tune “Countdown” which is based on the form of “Tune Up” which we covered in the following lesson:

This is a beginner level tutorial, but will be useful if you are new to “Tune Up”.

How To Practice The Coltrane Changes

As a practice exercise, take any 251 progression, and rehamonise with the Coltrane Changes.

At the end of the lesson Tuomo applies the Coltrane Changes to a 251 in F major, here’s the graphic:

Taking this exact progression around all 12 keys will be a challenging but rewarding exercise.