How to Play Blue Monk

Blue Monk is a bebop blues written in 1954 by the great pianist, Thelonious Monk. Below is a video of the first iteration of this tune as released on his Thelonious Monk Trio album.

This website his several resources for you on how to play this tune.

First and foremost, I encourage you to learn the melody from the recording. You can use a real book, but sometimes the chords are wrong, so I advise to use the recording first.

Once you’ve learned the melody and play along, I would advise you to start learning the chords.

After learning the chords, I would advise to learn the two note voicings for piano proficiency and for use as guidetones. I would also recommend practicing a bass line, which you can play while others are soloing if you are in an educational setting.

Once you have internalized the chords and you can play the bass line, practice the two note voicings on the piano with the recording. Listen to the pianists comping for ideas about rhythm.

Backing track:

Blue Monk Chords

Below you will find the chords for the bebop blues tune, Blue Monk, as played by Thelonious Monk. Please note that these chords are different than the real book changes by design in order to match his initial recording from 1954 off his Thelonious Monk Trio album. Note that the real book includes an E diminished chord in measure six, which could be added in and still match the melody (but that’s not how he played it on the recording.) Also note that the Real Book includes an F7 in measures 9 and 10, but he plays an F7 to an Eb7 on his recording. He also tends to play different turnarounds in measure 8 and 12.