Body And Soul Analysis (Song Analysis Part 2)

In my last article I laid out some of the reasons why song analysis is so important for us musicians to practice.

I gave you a challenge in the last article to look at the jazz piano standard Body And Soul and try to quickly grab these three pieces of information:

  1. What key is this song in?
  2. How many measures long is this first A section?
  3. What are the MAIN chords (or patterns)?

So let’s answer these three questions…

1. What KEY is the song in?

A lot of the times you can look at the first chord and grab the key of the song. Not with Body And Soul. This song starts on the ii-7 chord (which is also a popular starting chord).

In this case I would look at the first and second endings. Notice the first chord in the endings is a Db chord?

The reason I look at the endings is because music naturally wants to come to a place of rest at the end of sections. It’s almost like adding a period to the end of a sentence before moving on to the next sentence.

Look for this pattern in other jazz piano standards.

So, the answer is the KEY OF Db.

2. How many MEASURES are in the first A section?

The 2 answers are either 8- or 16-measures. Or is it?

This is kind of a trick question. When I wrote the first part of the article, I noticed I wrote “in this first A section.” I meant to write “How many measures are in the A section?” So technically, the correct answer is 8 measures. The A section is 8-measures long then repeated.

The entire form of Body And Soul is AABA with each section being 8-measures long.

3. What are the MAIN chords (or patterns)?

This is one of the most important questions to answer.

When you are quickly looking at a new song you want to try to pick out some main patterns as fast as possible. Reason is, on a gig, a number of things can happen and you really want to commit the song to memory as fast as possible.

This is how I would look at the first 8-measures…in bullet form:

  • starts on ii-7 chord
  • moves to the I chord
  • chromatic motion back to ii-7 chord
  • ii-7 walk down to ii-V of vi
  • vi chord then ii-V of I
  • back to ii-7

Here’s my full analysis:

song analysis of body and soul jazz standards


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Willie President
Willie Myette is a pianist, serial entrepreneur and author of over a dozen books on piano and music education. He received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and graduated in under 4 years. Willie is the creator and president of online piano instruction sites Jazzedge® Academy, Jazz Piano Lessons and HomeSchool Piano.

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