Autumn Leaves (1945 song)

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"Les feuilles mortes"
Song by Yves Montand and Irène Joachim
English title "Autumn Leaves"
Written 1945
Released 1946
Composer(s) Joseph Kosma
Lyricist(s) Jacques Prévert (French), Johnny Mercer (English)

"Autumn Leaves" is a popular song. Originally it was a 1945 French song, "Les Feuilles mortes" (literally "The Dead Leaves"), with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma - derived from a ballet piece of music (Rendez-vous, written for Roland Petit), itself partly borrowed from Poème d'octobre by Jules Massenet - and lyrics by French poet Jacques Prévert. The Hungarian title is "Hulló levelek" (Falling Leaves). Yves Montand (with Irène Joachim) introduced "Les feuilles mortes" in the film Les Portes de la nuit (1946).[1]

Structure and chord progression[edit]

The song is in AABC form.[2] "Autumn Leaves" offers a popular way for beginning jazz musicians to become acquainted with jazz harmony as the chord progression consists almost solely of ii–V–I and ii–V sequences which are typical of jazz. It was originally, and is most commonly, performed in the key of G minor, but is also played in E minor and other keys. Eva Cassidy's version (clip on the right) is played in B-flat minor.

Its iv7 – VII7 – IIImaj7 – VImaj7 – iiø7 – V7 – i chord progression is an example of the circle-of-fourths progression.[3]

\relative c' { 
\partial 2.
\new ChordNames { 
\set chordChanges = ##t
\chordmode { r2. a1:m7 d:7 g:maj7 c:maj7 fis:m7.5- b:7 e:m}

\new Staff {
\tempo "Medium jazz"
\key e \minor
e4 fis g | c1~ | c4 d, e fis | b2 b2~ | b4 c, d e | a1~ | a4 b, cis dis g1

Recordings and covers[edit]







Chart appearances[edit]

In 1955, Roger Williams made the song a number-one hit in the United States, with the only piano instrumental to reach number one.[16] Billboard ranked this version as the No. 4 song of 1955.[17]


  1. ^ Massin B. (1999). Les Joachim – Une famille de musiciens. Paris: Fayard. 
  2. ^ Spitzer, Peter (2001). Jazz Theory Handbook, p.81. ISBN 0-7866-5328-0.
  3. ^ Kostka, Stefan; Payne, Dorothy; Almén, Byron (2013). Tonal harmony with an introduction to twentieth-century music (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 46, 238. ISBN 978-0-07-131828-0. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4. 
  5. ^ The Big Show. "BigShow-02". BigShow. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-25. As carried on Internet radio at 
  6. ^ The Coasters, One by One Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  7. ^ François, Corinne (2000). Jacques Prévert, Paroles. Editions Bréal. p. 109. ISBN 978-2-84291-702-9. 
  8. ^ "As Is". 
  9. ^ "Sergio Franchi". 
  10. ^ Cf. Miles Davis discography by Peter Losin.
  11. ^ "Ben Webster: Autumn Leaves - Digipak - Futura Et Marge". Jazz Messengers. Retrieved 2016-08-22. 
  12. ^ "Autumn leaves : Ben Webster et le Trio Georges Arvanitas (Music)". 2016-06-29. Retrieved 2016-08-22. 
  13. ^ Anonymous. "1987 Programs & Ticket Stubs". The Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2006-11-07. As listed in 1987 program 
  14. ^ Jerry Lee Lewis, The Jerry Lee Lewis Show Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  15. ^ damiimVEVO (2018-02-15), Dami Im - Autumn Leaves (Audio), retrieved 2018-06-16 
  16. ^ Anonymous. "Roger Williams". Nebraska Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2006-11-07. In 1965, Williams added a chorus and charted it again at no. 10 Billboard Easy Listening as "Autumn Leaves - 1965." 
  17. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1955

External links[edit]