How to Play Take Five by Dave Brubeck

Music lovers and aspiring musicians, get ready to dive into the mesmerizing world of jazz with the iconic composition “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck. This masterpiece has enthralled audiences for decades with its unique time signature and captivating melodies. In this article, we will guide you step-by-step on how to play “Take Five” on your chosen instrument. Whether you’re a pianist, saxophonist, guitarist, or drummer, we’ve got you covered. Let’s embark on this musical journey together!

Sheet music for 'Take Five' by Dave Brubeck
Sheet music for ‘Take Five’ by Dave Brubeck

Understanding the Composition

Before we delve into playing “Take Five,” let’s gain a deeper understanding of this remarkable composition. Composed by the legendary jazz artist Dave Brubeck and released in 1959, “Take Five” quickly became an instant hit and an emblem of the jazz genre. Its distinctive 5/4 time signature, where each measure contains five beats, sets it apart from the usual 4/4 rhythm commonly found in many songs.

The structure of “Take Five” is a perfect example of Brubeck’s brilliance. It consists of a catchy melody and a memorable saxophone solo by Paul Desmond, accompanied by a captivating piano and drum arrangement. To truly appreciate this composition, it’s important to grasp the essence of its unique rhythm and melodic elements.

Digital sheet music and tabs for 'Take Five'
Digital sheet music and tabs for ‘Take Five’

Sheet Music and Tabs

Now that we understand the essence of “Take Five,” let’s find the right resources to help us learn and play this iconic composition. To begin, we recommend searching for authentic sheet music and tabs. Several online platforms and music stores offer reliable sources for acquiring official sheet music.

When exploring sheet music and tabs for “Take Five,” ensure that you choose accurate and authorized versions. This guarantees that you’re learning the composition as intended by the composer, maintaining the integrity of the piece.

Step-by-Step Guide: Playing “Take Five” on [chosen instrument]

Are you ready to start playing “Take Five” on your chosen instrument? Great! Below, we have tailored step-by-step guides for various instruments to help you master this jazz gem.


  1. Start by familiarizing yourself with the melody and rhythm of the composition.
  2. Break down the piece into smaller sections and practice each section individually.
  3. Focus on the left hand accompaniment to maintain the steady 5/4 rhythm while playing the melody with the right hand.
  4. Gradually combine the different sections and practice transitioning smoothly between them.
  5. Pay attention to dynamics, articulation, and phrasing to add expressiveness to your performance.


  1. Begin by listening to the saxophone solo in “Take Five” to understand the phrasing and style.
  2. Practice the solo section by section, gradually increasing the tempo as you become comfortable.
  3. Pay attention to the articulation, tone, and dynamics to capture the essence of Paul Desmond’s iconic performance.
  4. Once you’ve mastered the solo, try playing along with the recorded version or a backing track to enhance your sense of timing and ensemble skills.


  1. Familiarize yourself with the drum arrangement in “Take Five” by listening to the original recording.
  2. Start by practicing the basic 5/4 jazz swing pattern, emphasizing the snare drum on beats 2 and 4.
  3. Gradually incorporate the intricate drum fills and accents played throughout the song.
  4. Experiment with different cymbal patterns to add variation and dynamics to your performance.
  5. Practice playing in sync with other musicians to develop a solid sense of ensemble playing.


  1. Begin by learning the chords used in “Take Five” to accompany the melody.
  2. Practice strumming or fingerpicking the chords in a rhythmic pattern that complements the 5/4 time signature.
  3. Focus on accuracy and clarity while maintaining a consistent tempo.
  4. Once comfortable with the chord progression, try incorporating some melodic elements from the saxophone solo to add flair to your performance.

Remember, mastering “Take Five” on any instrument requires consistent practice, patience, and a genuine love for the music. Don’t be discouraged by the complexity; embrace the challenge and enjoy the journey of learning and playing this timeless composition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Let’s address some common questions that may arise when learning and playing “Take Five.”

1. Is “Take Five” difficult to play?

While “Take Five” may appear challenging at first due to its unique time signature and intricate melodies, with dedicated practice and patience, it can be mastered on any instrument. Break the composition down into smaller sections, practice at a comfortable pace, and gradually increase the tempo as you become more proficient.

2. What is the recommended practice routine for learning “Take Five”?

Consistency is key when learning any piece of music. Set aside regular practice sessions, starting with shorter durations and gradually increasing the time as you progress. Focus on specific sections that require extra attention and gradually merge them into the complete composition.

3. What are common mistakes to avoid when playing “Take Five”?

A common mistake is rushing through the composition without maintaining the steady 5/4 rhythm. Pay close attention to the timing and ensure that each beat is evenly spaced. Additionally, make sure to accurately reproduce the melodic nuances and dynamics to capture the essence of the composition.

For more in-depth guidance and additional resources, consult reputable music teachers, online tutorials, or join jazz communities where fellow musicians share their experiences and expertise in playing “Take Five.”


Congratulations! You’ve embarked on a musical journey to learn how to play “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck. With its unique time signature and captivating melodies, this composition has stood the test of time, mesmerizing jazz enthusiasts around the world. By following our step-by-step guides tailored to various instruments, you can now confidently approach this iconic composition on your chosen instrument.

Remember, mastering “Take Five” requires dedication, practice, and a genuine love for the music. Embrace the challenge, enjoy the process, and let the brilliance of Dave Brubeck’s composition shine through your own interpretation.

Now, grab your instrument, immerse yourself in the enchanting world of jazz, and let the rhythm of “Take Five” transport you to new musical heights!

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