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Discussion in 'Tab & Music Forum' started by dogletnoir, Oct 1, 2019.
Assuming that you are all hard at work learning the melody line to the tune,
we might as well put in a little time examining the functional harmony as well.
Let's start off by looking at the breakdown of each chord in the simplified progression:
Eb minor 7 = Eb G Bb Db
Bb minor 7 = Bb Db F Ab
Ab minor 7 = Ab Cb (enh. B) Eb Gb
Db 7 = Db F Ab Cb (enh. B)
Eb minor 7 = Eb G Bb Db
Ab minor 7 = Ab Cb (enh. B) Eb Gb
B7 = B D# F# A
Bb7 = Bb D F Ab
Notice that each chord usually has at least one tone in common with the one preceding and one
in common with the one following it (the common tones are underlined for emphasis).
The D# in the B7 chord is enharmonic to Eb, and Cb in Ab minor 7 is enharmonic to B.
(One notable exception: the Bb7 has no chord tones in common with the preceding 'out of key' B7,
but the root of Bb is the fifth scale degree of Eb minor.)
Our tonic (i) is Eb minor 7, and in any minor key the v is also minor, not dominant, so Bb minor 7 is the
This cycling between i and v takes care of the entire A section, 3 beats on i and 2 on v making up our 5/4.
As written, the B section features a modulation to the relative major key of Gb, but in our simplified version
we go directly to an Ab minor 7 chord.
In Gb Major, Ab minor would functionally be a ii chord, but Ab minor is also the diatonic iv chord in the key of
It can also be seen here as a i chord, and we can then treat the bridge as a type of i iv v.
That would make the Db7 a chord sub for the normally minor iv in that key, or a secondary dominant.
(A secondary dominant is any V7 chord which is not diatonic to the home key's sequence of chords built
on the harmonized scale; they are often used to either change tonal centers or to create some additional
harmonic interest in an otherwise static section of a piece.)
Of course, in Gb Major... Db7 is actually a straight V7.
So we can also see Abmi7 / Db7 as a typical ii V, with the final Gb Major (I) cadence being replaced by a
return to the relative minor key of Eb minor.
Until we get to the turnaround...
then, we have the Ab minor 7 followed by a secondary dominant B7 which then descends a half step into Bb7,
which becomes the V7 leading back to Eb minor 7. The V7 is a chord sub which is often used in minor keys
to provide a stronger pull back to the tonic.
Those of you that were following along with PMW #9 will also probably recognize that 'out of key secondary dominant
to V7 a half step down' move as similar in effect to the 'A minor 7 to Ab minor 7' shift we had going on last time around
(that 'tension and release' thing again).
Why does any of this matter, one might ask?
First off, this way of analyzing the makeup of the individual chords in a given progression
and knowing the correct pitches/intervals can be helpful in any style of music, not just in jazz.
Next, analysis in terms of chord function can assist in making sense of the progression as a
holistic entity, in figuring out why certain changes work, and in finding ways to vary them
(which can be useful for composers and/or songwriters).
Functional harmony explains why the modulation in this tune is to the key of Gb Major
rather than F# Major even though the 2 keys are enharmonically equivalent, for example.
Finally, different ways of looking at the harmonic framework of a tune will yield different approaches
to soloing over that underlying harmony.
While Desmond and Brubeck soloed over only the A section of the piece, we will be improvising over the bridge as well.
We can start the process by thinking about the common chord tones and using them to ease the transitions from chord
to chord, and from section to section.
Thanks, E! I will read, re-read and apply until I'm getting somewhere. I'm still at the "is that really the best chord voicing?" stage.
let me just say, that sucks! i'm keeping a candle lit for your arm!
Thanks Monte, much appreciated.
Since i usually like to give an example of what i'm talking about, here's a distinctly NON-JAZZ application
of how an understanding of harmony can enrich one's single note playing.
The tune is an old Velvet Underground piece written by Lou Reed, one which he played throughout his long career.
In this case, it's a live version from 1973 off of the 'Rock N Roll Animal' album which features an extended intro
section showcasing the band's two guitarists and bassist.
Anyone who had a heart would be moved by the performance; anyone who had a decent pair of ears would notice that
when the 2 guitars are playing single notes at the same time their parts sound different, and yet both work with the underlying
fairly basic harmony of a few non-extended major and minor chords, and also work together beautifully.
There's also the third element of a fairly busy and melodic bass part going on underneath them at times.
The question some might ask will be, "How is that possible?"... or even more to the point, "How can I achieve that same
effect if I wanted to?"
Both Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter were 'hired guns' with a solid history of studio session work and live performances,
and as such we've got to believe that they knew and understood functional harmony from at least a practical,
if not theoretical, standpoint, so they both knew which scales/modes would get the job done in a musically effective fashion.
i would also say that it's very likely that at least some of the intro parts were probably worked out in advance between the two guitarists
and the bass player rather than totally improvised on the spot.
Here's another example from Humble Pie (if you've got the time, it's well worth a listen):
You may not know which is which, but you should be able to hear a difference between Peter Frampton's guitar parts and
Steve Marriott's that isn't just due to their respective tone and touch, but also to their harmonic approach.
And now, back to our regular programme for this month:
As an exercise, you might compare and contrast Desmond's solo with Brubeck's in both this version and the one in the initial post.
Of course, you could also do the same with the guitar parts on the Lou Reed and Humble Pie tracks.
Many thanks E! I like your analysis; very clear and helpful.
If I understand you well, the V7 in the title is Db7, right? Because the key is Eb minor / Gb relative major and Db7 is Gb's V.
Another little doubt. I thought that secondary V7 is actually the V7 of I's V7. In our case, Eb minor's v7 is Bbm7, but both are minor chords. I don't know if I'm making sense here LOL
Anyway, thank you!
i called this PMW 'Take V7' because it is the first one i've done which features the dominant 7th chord
(and also because i like wordplay, so i was substituting the Roman numeral 'V' for the word Five).
In this instance, we have three V7s: Db7, B7, and Bb7.
While the V7 of a V7 is a frequent application, any V7 which is out of key can be considered as a 'secondary dominant'.
In the key of Eb minor (and in every other minor key as well, actually), the fifth 4 voice diatonic chord is a minor 7,
not a V7 (dominant 7th chord), so the Bbmi7 is correct in terms of the diatonic harmony, even if one will quite often see
a secondary dominant V7 in its place.
In jazz and popular music, the V7 is a common chord sub for the v which can be used in minor keys to provide a stronger pull back to the tonic;
however, in this case, the composition is asking for a more 'floating' modal effect in the soloing over the A section by avoiding that typical V7
substitution for the Bbmi7 until the turnaround.
Hope this helps to clarify things.
Sometimes my brain is thick
Now I get it. Thank you!
I like the tone of your lead guitar there. It's a step above the flute sound of a neck pickup.
Got some time to practise and recorded first bit with melody and rhythm, hope I am on right track.
Just the Classic Vibe 50s Tele neck pickup, tone and volume about 7, and Katana 50, clean, spot of reverb and a 3mm stubby pick.
That'll be £50+VAT...
@Raimonds, you are definitely on the right track there, so keep at it!
Thanks, I still need to work on timing, 5/4 is not something I am used to
You're doing fine.
Just count it as 3 + 2: ONE two three ONE TWO, ONE two three ONE TWO, etc etc.
Here's another example of 5/4 time you might be familiar with:
Lalo Schifrin's Mission Impossible Theme was the first use of odd meter in a TV show, or
so i've heard tell...
The theme is written in a 5/4 time signature which Schifrin has jokingly explained as being "for people who have five legs".
Schifrin started from the Morse Code for M.I. which is "_ _ .."; if a dot is one beat and a dash is one and a half beats, then
this gives a bar of five beats, exactly matching the underlying rhythm.
I cant count whilst playing I need to feel the rhythm
Being into fusion and prog music myself, i guess feeling/playing odd meters just comes kind of naturally to me by now.
The 3 + 2 5/4 feel is one of the easier ones to internalize, though.
It's like a truncated waltz time... keep at it!
I'll try to waltz