Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise was composed by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II in 1928 for an operetta (a kind of light opera) called The New Moon. Artie Shaw’s recording of Softly (1938) brought the song into the jazz world and made it into the popular jazz standard it is today.

The New Moon

In this guitar lesson, you will learn how to play the melody and how to improvise over the chord changes of Softly.

Softly is 32 bars long and has a classic AABA structure.

The harmony of the tune is fairly simple:

  • The A parts are a repetition of minor II V I progressions in C.
  • The B part starts on Ebmaj7, the relative major of C minor. It then goes to Fm7 via C7b9 and ends on G7b9, the dominant of Cm7.

Recommended listening:

  • Emily Remler – East to Wes (1988)
  • Jim Hall – Alone Together (1973)
  • Chet Baker – Ballads for Two (1979)
  • John Coltrane – Live! at the Village Vanguard (1962)
  • Miles Davis – In Person Friday and Saturday Nights a the Blackhawk (2003)
  • Stan Getz and Kenny Barron – People Time (2010)
  • Sonny Rollins – A Night at the Village Vanguard (1958)


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Softly – The Melody

Here are the lead sheet and guitar tabs for Softly’s melody.

Most of the melody is in the C natural minor scale, besides a chromatic embellishment here and there. The natural minor scale is also known as the Aeolian mode, the sixth of the guitar modes.


Backing Track

Listen & Play Along

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise melody page 1

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise melody page 2

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise melody page 3


Jazz Guitar Patterns

Here are a couple of jazz patterns I lifted out of the solo and that are worth memorizing and working out in different keys and positions.


Pattern #1 (Bar 40) – Minor

The first pattern uses a G minor triad over Cm7.


Gm triadGBbD
Played over Cm75b79


Jazz guitar pattern 1


Pattern #2 (Bar 43) – Minor

Pattern 2 is based around a Bbmaj7 chord, including the classic 1235 pattern in bar 2.


Bbmaj7 arpeggioBbDFA
Played over Cm7b79116


Jazz guitar pattern 2


Pattern #3 (Bar 45) – Minor

Pattern 3 is a classic Wes Montgomery lick and uses the same substitution as the previous pattern, Bbmaj7 over Cm7.


Jazz guitar pattern 3


Pattern #4 (Bar 46) – Minor

Pattern 4 is based around the chord shape of an Ebmaj7 chord, which is a common substitution over minor chords.


Ebmaj7 arpeggioEbGBbD
Played over Cm7b35b79



Jazz guitar pattern 4


Pattern #5 (Bar 48) – Major II V I

Pattern 5 is a classic bebop lick that uses a 3 to b9 motif over the dominant chord.


Jazz guitar pattern 5


Pattern #6 (Bar 56) – Dominant

Pattern 6 uses a Bdim7 arpeggio over G7, bringing out the b9 sound.


Bdim7 arpeggioBDFAb
Played over G735b7b9


Jazz guitar pattern 6


Pattern #7 (Bar 58) – Minor

Pattern 7 uses two substitutions over Cm7 – Gm7 and Dm7.


Gm7 arpeggioGBbDF
Played over Cm75b7911
Dm7 arpeggioDFAC
Played over Cm791161


Jazz guitar pattern 7


Softly – The Solo

Here is the complete solo over Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise.


Listen & Play Along

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise solo page 1

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise solo page 2

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise solo page 3


Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise Guitar Pro FileGuitar Pro File


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  • Jhon says:

    Excelente las Tab y se me facilita el poder entender el método de estudio 😎👍

  • Ariel gustavo Pardo says:

    muy buena clase te agradezco muchísimas gracias!!!!

  • Giancarlo says:


  • Elias Baena says:

    Excelente la interpretación del tema y su improvisación.

  • John says:

    another fine arrangement

  • Les Richards says:

    Nice and smooth liked it very much,

  • Claude says:

    Thanks your spoiling us with all the songs you send .

  • Rob says:

    Another really good tutorial! Absolute beginner but attempting to play this makes me feel good! Thank you

  • Zee says:

    The A section gets quickly boring. I highly recommend the study of the Emily Remler arrangement and her solo. That is a little masterpiece. There is more drive in the harmony, although the scale material for improvising remains simple: beauty in simplicity.

  • Laurent FRATTINI says:

    Merci !!! C’est vraiment génial

  • Ronald A Torres says:

    Thanks! I’ll work on it later!

  • Geoff Menzer says:

    Interesting fact
    Walk Don’t Run was composed by Johnny Smith using the chords for Softly.It sounded rather like Bach
    Chet Atkins recorded it in his own style
    The Ventures who had never heard the original recording,changed the rhythm to an even quavers “scrubbing rhythm” and forced the melody over Amin G F E7
    In A section and altered the middle 8 a little.It was a big hit on the pop scene .That was the first versionI heard as a kid!

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