Finding The Guide Tone Lines: “All The Things You Are”

Now that we’ve picked this tune apart in terms of structure, it’s time to find the actual guide tone lines. Now, granted  we could have done this from the get-go – our analysis of the piece was not completely necessary. However, an thorough understanding of how the piece was constructed is very handing when it comes to  jazz performance and arranging.

Guide tone lines should follow natural voice-leading principles and move vertically as little as possible – preferably only by step. In identifying guide tone lines for a specific song, I prefer to start out with four voices as if I were writing a chorale:

These would be an excellent basis for some string section writing – although if you were trying to do something in the style of Nelson Riddle, you would want to go beyond whole notes and following a single voice. In this case, Kern himself provided some very nice counterpoint in his original:

Using some parallel movement, we could add to this very nicely:

Now, I’ve done the first four measures: what can you come up with for the next four? (Considering the fact that Kern has set this up very nicely with the use of patterns, it shudn’t be difficult – in  fact, it should almost do itself.)

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About KJ at Guide Tone Lines

KJ McElrath earned his Masters degree in Music Theory and Composition from Central Washington University. Composer of several works for big band, wind ensemble and orchestra, which can be heard at I perform a cabaret act with Athena McElrath as McElrath Cabaret, which you can find at
This entry was posted in canon, chord progression, common tones, counterpoint, Great American Songbook, guide tone lines, harmonic structures, mathematics, music theory, nelson riddle, Orchestration, string section writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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