Bird changes

The Blues for Alice changes, Bird changes, Bird Blues, or New York Blues changes, is a chord progression, often named after Charlie Parker ("Bird"), which is a variation of the twelve-bar blues.

The progression uses a series of sequential ii–V or secondary ii–V progressions, and has been used in pieces such as Parker's "Blues for Alice". Toots Thielemans's "Bluesette"[1] and Parker's "Confirmation"[2] also have similar progressions.


A simple blues progression, in C, is as follows:

A typical blues progression in jazz, in C, is as follows:[3]

The Bird Blues progression, in C, is as follows:[4]

In roman numeral analysis, this is represented by

IM7 viiø7   III7 vi7    II7 v7     I7
IV7iv7    VII7iii7    VI7iii7  VI7
ii7V7IM7   VI7ii7     V7

This can be viewed as a cycle of ii–V progressions leading to the IV chord (F7 in the key of C major), and the tritone substitution of the dominant chords leading by half-step to the V chord (G7 in C).[4]

C: Am: G(m): F:
IM7iiø7     V7ii7      V7ii7      V7
I7subii7 subV7subii7 subV7subii7 subV7
ii7V7IM7    VI7ii7     V7


  1. Hatfield, Ken (2005). Jazz and the Classical Guitar Theory and Applications, p.182. ISBN 0-7866-7236-6.
  2. Umble, Jay (2011). Mbgu Jazz Curriculum: Payin Your Dues with the Blues, p.62. ISBN 9781610653145.
  3. Jacobs, Sid (2011). The Changes, p.12. ISBN 9781610651684.
  4. Baerman, Noah (1998). Complete Jazz Keyboard Method: Intermediate Jazz Keyboard, p.63. ISBN 0-88284-911-5.
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