Autumn Leaves Guitar Melody for Beginners

A definite must-know standard, Autumn Leaves is one of the most commonly called tunes at jazz jam sessions. It can be played in Em or Gm, and therefore is an introduction to tunes that are commonly played in more than one key, forcing you to learn it in both keys. There are also major ii V I’s and minor ii V I’s to navigate in your comping and soloing, and the melody line is ripe for a chord melody arrangement.

Besides all of this technique material, Autumn Leaves is just a fun tune to play. It’s challenging, can be played at many different tempos, and sounds great in many ensemble settings. Because of this, Autumn Leaves should be one of the first jazz songs that you learn and study in the practice room.

To get you started with Autumn Leaves, here are 2 ways to play the melody of this great standard. We start with a simple single note version, then you’ll learn a version with some chords mixed in.

We opted to keep the arrangements simple so that it’s easy to play for beginners.

Autumn Leaves Melody – Single Note Version

Learn the melody as written, playing it along with the audio example. From there, play it along with the backing track and you work on memorizing this important jazz standard.


Backing Track

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Listen & Play Along

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Autumn Leaves Melody for Guitar 1


Autumn Leaves Melody for Guitar 2


Autumn Leaves Chord Melody

When you’ve got the single note version under your fingers, it’s time to learn this easy chord melody for Autumn Leaves.

The melody has been moved to mostly the top 2 strings, compared to the whole fretboard in the single-note example. This is to accommodate the chords played below the melody line in this arrangement.


Backing Track

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Listen & Play Along

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Autumn Leaves Chord Melody 1


Autumn Leaves Chord Melody 2



The Easy Guide to Chord Melody and Chord Solos

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40 thoughts on “Autumn Leaves Guitar Melody for Beginners”

  1. Dick Campbell

    At 82, I’ve able to play the tabs, thanks!

  2. Vince

    In the chord melody, in the 8th bar, the chord is labelled as Em7, however, the notes in the tab contains an ‘A’ note?

    1. goldfinch

      it’s the 8th fret = G note which is a minor 3rd. Anyway A note sounds great over Emi7 as well, it’s 11 which is a part of minor pentatonic. Cheers!

  3. Raymond Paskiewicz

    I just started listening to these tutorials and am truly enjoying them. I never realized how much I would enjoy Jazz. I’m hooked.

  4. Igor

    Great site. Congratulations on the idea and execution.
    Thank you very much.

  5. Paul

    I love this tutorials begining to get a grasp

  6. Dan

    I love this! Is there a version without tab?

    1. Ian Huntley

      Please offer a tabless version

  7. Les sawyer

    Thank you. I am just beginning my journey on guitar.

  8. Stuart Arnold

    Thanks for the lesson,very nice lovely to play with.

  9. Pablo Amado David Jimenez Ruiz

    Loved it! Thanks for the post! For the chord parts do you strum, pick or use 4 fingers?

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Hi Pablo, thanks for the feedback! The chords are played with 4 fingers.

  10. Geoff George

    Really excellent way of teaching learners of jazz guitar. Well thought out and very clear.

  11. Lou De Fusco

    A great book for beginners and a wonderful refresher for advanced guitarists. Lou De Fusco

  12. John Wilcox

    How do you print this?

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Hi John, Use the print and PDF button at the bottom of the lesson.

  13. Alexander

    if write the key at begin (F#) coul be more understood that is Em key… but so many thanks… its a beautiful melody

  14. Álvaro

    More printable lessons would be mucho appreciated. Thanks anyways.

  15. Frant Germain

    This is fabulous. I really do enjoy the lesson

  16. Raymond Coad

    A really smooth arrangement and one I will love to play in the future.
    Many thanks as I have played other versions and they never sounded right.
    I am new to playing jazz, but I am well and trully hooked.
    Thank You for keeping my enthusiasm going.

  17. john hartley

    Dear sir
    The 8th last bar chord is a diminished 7th, followed by the same 4 frets below. The min 7th b5 chord is wrong.
    john hartley

    1. Jos

      You are right. The Em7 chord in the 6th bar from the end is also wrong: note c should be a d. Unless the effect of c is intended.

    2. Jonzy

      Yes i’ve been wondering why the notes and tab show a Dim7, but the text above shows F#m7b5. I’ll go with the Dim…

  18. CJC

    Prior to following you guys a few weeks ago and buying the book shortly after, I had no jazz guitar knowledge. I’m having so much fun playing both of these patterns! Thank you for the quality lessons. Can’t wait to play more.

  19. Ays

    What key is this arrangement written in?

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Hi Ays, this arrangement is in E minor.

        1. Dirk Laukens

          Autumn Leaves is a minor song. G major is the relative major of E minor.

  20. lifeisabbitch

    I will now pursue my musical side playing jew harp, aka mouth harp, no note thingys to worry about, might smear my lipstick, but who cares right?

  21. lifeisabbitch

    After trying to play this, I realized I am a failure in life, and so through away my guitar and started wearing women’s clothes, and find it much easier to play crossword puzzles in drag. So long guitar!!!

  22. jean

    merci beaucoup!
    super tuto pour un debutant

    many thanks
    great for a beginner as i am

  23. Rob Lominski

    So I’m an existing guitar player but new to jazz. Would you recommend playing with a pick or should I learn to use my fingers instead. I assume from the sound that you are playing fingerstyle.

  24. JOEL - DF - Brazil

    Thanks! Excellent Job. Here from Brazil.

  25. Michael H

    Will enjoy working through your excellent outline. Bought the rest ithis was so fun

  26. Antonio Carvalho

    Thank you for this arrangement, very smooth 😉

  27. John Lennox

    This arrangement is pretty smooth and easy to embellish on; and soloing on it is very easy to do. Fun to play.



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