The most feared song in jazz, explained
The Greatest Jazz song of all time and its genius explained simply

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Making sense of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Follow Vox Earworm on Facebook for more: And be sure to check out Earworm's complete first season here: John Coltrane, one of jazz history’s most revered saxophonists, released “Giant Steps” in 1959. It’s known across the jazz world as one of the most challenging compositions to improvise over for two reasons - it’s fast and it’s in three keys. Braxton Cook and Adam Neely give me a crash course in music theory to help me understand this notoriously difficult song, and I’m bringing you along for the ride. Even if you don’t understand a lick of music theory, you’ll likely walk away with an appreciation for this musical puzzle. Braxton Cook: Adam Neely: Note: The headline for this video has been updated since publishing. Previous headline: Jazz Deconstructed: John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" Some songs don't just stick in your head, they change the music world forever. Join Estelle Caswell on a musical journey to discover the stories behind your favorite songs. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out Watch our full video catalog: Follow Vox on Facebook: Or Twitter:


Adam Neely : Thanks for having me!

Young Paderewski : " Coltrane was somethin.' " Miles Davis

W C : Today I learned I'm too dumb for jazz. Very interesting video.

MANU ALEX : Your presentation and graphics design is out of this world. Awesome stuff

Joanne Zo : Tommy Flanagan was told that this recording session was for a ballad and was instead handed this. Bamboozled.

B. Von Schnauser : I feel like I just got out of calculus class...

Brandon Gilbrech : I respectfully disagree with your conclusion about the piano solo. It seems to me that he decided, as the only chordal instrument, to continue to establish the chords in each bar, and then use passing tones to get to the next chord in the sequence. He could have easily chosen to not play the chords and just run from note to note, but that would have sounded too much like the saxophone run. I think where you see incompetence it was just a choice. Additionally, they were probably playing to a four track, if he had the opportunity to play just the chords, and a solo onto another track, he probably could or would have. I think you're doing the man a little dirty, unless he specifically has said that he was run around by the solo. Other pieces by Tommy Flanagan have a very similar style, Coltrane would have known, when he hired the dude, what he was going to get. Give the professional some credit.

Rhys Bees : LOL I love how everyones just angry about how the video did Flanagan dirty

Dwight Turner : The only keys I know about unlock my house and start my car.

Harvani Sumawijaya : Who else was pleasantly surprised to find adam neely

Legit Jester : Why does the animation and song remind me of the Monsters Inc. Intro

Mount Swervemore : Going from Spanish, to Arabic, then to Japanese very quickly is probably the best explanation you can give for this composition. Imagine using those 3 languages to create a sentence that makes sense. Utterly insane.

Anton K : I don't think you're giving Mr.Flannagan enough credit. I think he made a conscious choice with the style he played, the only other chordal instrument in the arrangement, he played his changes is stark contrast to Coltrane.

La Table Ronde airsoft : WoW. Not only is the content of this video essay incredible, BUT OMFG THE EDIT !!!!!!!!!

ktpinnacle : I've enjoyed music for many decades. I knew that jazz was complex and advanced, but I never knew why. It was a language I didn't understand. This video did a lot as an introduction and an appreciation.

pknm : 5:20 i’ve been playing tyler the creator’s “boredom” on piano and just noticed it has that progression, cool

Lakisha Toussaint : This was delicious!!!!! Musically speaking. ;-)

MisterTalkingMachine : There YouTube, I watched it. I was not expecting Adam Neely. Should have watched this earlier.

Agtronic : And the video is really well put together. Incredible work really.

The Bari Child : This is freaking amazing stuff I wish I knew about earlier. Man, this YouTube algorithm actually works!

Dennis DeRien : This was the best educational video I've seen during the past year or so, and I've come accross it at the most appropriate time in my life this year. Thanks for the excellent work and just lovely production. It brought a much needed smile to my heart.

Chau Nguyen : Great explanations. I have no background in music theory but I felt comfortable through the whole video.

Crowned : The G Major Triad does not have any tension in it as demonstrated in this video. If you put in the natural (Dominant) 7 - then it does have tension to resolve. Come on guys. Listen to it.

Arman Nobari : The motion design in this (and all of Earworm tbf) is absolute fire

Capture The Spirit : well, I can play the lick

Re Trend : why the thumbnail guy look like the "virgin" from those "chad vs the virgin x" memes?

Graham Kristensen : 5:20 the opening chords of Maroon 5's Sunday Morning.

Jim Heid : Another superb video! Though Flanagan's solo doesn't exactly sound like a "struggle". Besides, he was playing a polyphonic instrument, unlike Coltran's sax. :-)

mastershake9801 : Can we take a step back and talk about that record player for a moment.

Virginia Waller : YouTube/internet/people all coming together to improve human lives in the context of education. Admirable.

Stan Getz : loved it. I've been studying for three years. have not gotten to giant steps yet but his provides a great overview and framework and in so doing demystifies the tune a bit and makes it less scary, even though it is scary- and how about if it gets called in a different time signature lol! Thanks again!

Versaucey : *(jazz music stops)*

Volcomintality : Felt like I was driving through Liberty City when I heard this song play.

khhnator : how i learn more about music stuff like this?

Isaac Terrazas : Me: How did I get here and why am I still watching

jichoo : my brain cant handle. this is too much

Better than telly : 2 5 1s in Major and Minor keys Introduce new 2s to introduce a new key as you see fit. Good starting point for all jazz wannabes 2 D minor 5 G7 1 C major 2 D minor 7 flat 5 5 G7 Sharp 5 1 C Minor If you are a guitarist once you memorize the shapes repeat over the neck as you see fit. It'll get you on the road. Play Giant Steps chord progression at half speed or slower if need be and hear the tension or comfort of the notes you play over the chords and welcome to the beautiful world of sound and harmony!

Astrobum : What people think: Legendary, Greatest piece ever, the best, Playing this is crazy What John Coltrane thinks: I wrote it while taking a dump

Jeffro W/the Kung Fu Grip : Great video! Love jazz! Recommendation for a follow-up: show how this kind of "harmonic hopscotch" in jazz relates to the same (but much more complicated) kind of chordal progressions in classical music. Jazz, after all, was born of a blending of music style and theory from many cultures.

The anime persons .!? : "feared" that really the best word choice?

insaneintherainmusic : This is the best Earworm episode yet. Everything was explained so well and the visuals are top notch as well. Thanks for spreading Coltrane's innovations!

nemo227 : I don't understand the term "most feared song in jazz". Jazz musicians LOVE to play new tunes, new phrases, new musical structures. They love to live with certain chord changes, key changes, rhythms, instrument combinations. They love to live with it, play it fast, slow, play it forward or backward, and make it their own. I would never use the word "fear" when talking about music.

Nima Scolari : 3.1k thumbs down. Wow... the world needs a reset button.

Bruno Pereira da Silva : I'm not sure if I got all the theory, but I do love Giant Steps! And I'm in love of the editing of this video!! Thanks Vox

Koko Coco : 0:37 you dont hold a sax like that

hey its me jop : *me at the start of this video* "Oh, giant steps, haha - wouldn't if be funny if they brought in adam neely?"

Ygg No : It is العربية not عربي Arabic = العربية Arab = عربي However this is a grate video, thanks!

Riley Rainbow : This video was outstanding. I'm a musician and I really enjoyed it.

Pound ver Magnuson : I'm not much of a musician at all but I picked up on a lot of that from what I already know. "Giant Steps" is without a doubt one of the great jazz compositions of all time. And Tommy Flanagan is one of my favorite keyboardists. He was the king of comping to me.