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Giant Steps

By John Coltrane, first appearing as the first track on the album of the same name (1960).

PUBLISHED: Oct 1, 2011 • UPDATED: Sep 13, 2019 • VIEWS: 34 • LESSON CODE: UL408

Instruments: ukulele Subjects: repertoirebebopjazz

Giant Steps is a jazz composition by John Coltrane, first appearing as the first track on the album of the same name (1960). The composition is a milestone in jazz, given the difficulty of improvising its rapid progression of chord changes that progress through three keys (see Coltrane changes) shifted by major thirds, creating an augmented triad.


The song title comes from the relatively giant leaps between the roots of consecutive chords. From a transcription, one can easily infer that many of these are upward leaps of minor thirds, but they can just as easily be inverted as descending major sixths, the latter approach best accentuating the disconcerting nature of the progression.

John Coltrane was a big fan of the ukulele and wrote this song on the ukulele. This is great song to play on the uke. OK - maybe he wasn't a fan and or wrote it on uke but this is a cool song to attempt on the ukulele.

This is not a song typically associated with the ukulele. And, all the reason to play it. It definitely gets a reaction from fellow musicians familiar with the song. Chord wise it is really not that hard to play. It is a bear to solo over - and I'm still working on that one.

Here is my take arranged for low "G" C tuning.

If you run out of frets on a smaller size ukulele for the Eb6/9 in measure 15 then lower it one octave to 0 0 1 1. Even measures 14 and 15 can be played one octave lower and still sound fine.

In jazz harmony, the Coltrane changes (Coltrane Matrix or cycle, also known as chromatic third relations and multi-tonic changes) are a harmonic progression variation using substitute chords over common jazz chord progressions.

Main Song Download(s)

The main downloads for this Song.

Giant Steps - Melody and Chord Ukulele Arrangement
Updated: Sep 13, 2019

A short version of the John Coltrane classic on a low G, C tuned ukulele.

Song Road Map

Tips and tricks for remembering a song.

Remembering songs is all about the form and harmonic content and movement with taking in the similarities between songs. And, just like a road map they're landmarks that will trigger memories of how to get through various sections, changes or parts of a song.

This section of a song's page presents some tips on how I try and remember a particular song.


No Road Map for Giant Steps check back soon.

Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Giant Steps at this time.

Core Chords - The Big Six - Building a Solid Chord Foundation • Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Core Chords is a series of lessons for building your core, essential 4-part chords. These chords commonly called jazz chords, are really just 4-part chords used in a wide range of musical styles.

The Big Six chords include: Seventh 7, Major Seventh maj7, Minor Seventh m7, Half Diminished Seventh or Minor Seven Flat Five diminished 7 m7b5, Diminished Seventh o7 and Augmented Seventh +7. These six chords form a core set of chords.

Related Books

Related Books for Giant Steps at this time.

A Guide to Advanced Ukulele Chords - Volume I
Updated: Feb 13, 2020

A highly organized and efficient approach to the mysterious subject of advanced chords.

Exploring Jazz Chords on Ukulele
Updated: Nov 24, 2009

Using a variety of common chord progressions based on songs from the standard jazz repertoire.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Giant Steps at this time.

Core Ukulele Chords - The Big Six
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

Core Chords for Ukulele, The Big Six - From four F7 chord voicings or shapes, your can build your massive 4-part, a.k.a., “jazz” chord vocabulary. Beyond basic open position chords, basic movable form chords and a core set of 4-part chords. There are just too many chords shapes too memorize. Learning the principles of how chords are constructed and the ukulele fingerboard are the way to go. Then you can create more advanced chords like 9#11, 7#5-9, 13b5, 7+9 on the fly as needed.

Solo Ukulele - Creating Melody and Chord Arrangements
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

In this series the focus is on creating solos melody and chord arrangements of songs from the standard and contemporary repertoire.

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