Go Back   UG Community @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com > Music > Musician Talk
User Name  

Old 03-20-2015, 12:38 PM   #1
Jet Penguin
Musical Chaos Theorist
Jet Penguin's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: MA
Harmonic Analysis 5: Humpty Dumpty

Back again!

Super Kid has requested that I do another tune real quick, Chick Corea's Humpty Dumpty.

Here's the track/lead sheet.

Now, as is typical for the modern jazz vocabulary, we are going to see a lot of third relationships and non functional progressions.

Luckily for us, this tune is actually easier than it looks. The real challenge is creating coherent lines across the progression at the blistering 256 BPM tempo.

The First Line

Ebmaj7 - Dmaj7 - F#maj7 - Fmaj7

What we have here is a constant structure progression. All the chords are the same type/quality and do not all share a key.

We have a maj7 going down a half step (Eb-D) and the pattern is repeated again a third higher (F# - F)

All these chords are most easily thought of as I chords in 4 different keys. So we would want Ionian or Lydian for each.

The Second Line

We have now moved from Fmaj7 to A7. At first glance, this appears to be V7/VI, but it resolves deceptively UP a half step (not down) to Bbmaj7. This signifies two things:

1. In case the Alt. wasn't obvious enough, we are going to need the A Altered scale, also known as Bb MM.

2. We have the option to treat Bbmaj7 as a I chord in its own key instead of IV in Fmaj7. Your call. I'd go Lydian either way.

We then wrap up the line with two bars of Bbm7. As this is a standalone minor chord (which looks a lot like IVm7 if you took the first option, we would want Bb Dorian.)

Cool. Moving on.

The Third and Fourth Lines

We have another constant structure relationship here. Bbm7 goes up a M3 to Dm7, and down a m3 to Bm7.

Again, these are all I chords (unless you still want that Bb to be IV, I don't...) and as such would require Dorian for maximum vanilla-ness.

This pattern continues down a M3 (or +2, sue me ) from Bm7 to Abm7, and a m3 down to Fm7. Again, these are all I chords.

The Two Bar Turnaround

Gbmaj7 - Fm7 - Bb7

That right there is bII - I in the key of Fm. We'd use Gb Lydian - F Phrygian (same thing) here.

However, our sense of F Phrygian is completely destroyed by the following Bb7, giving us (at last) a V in the key of Eb, bringing us back around top.

So, the Fm7 is first heard as I in Fm, but we can also think of it as part of a II-V with the Bb, allowing us to solo over Fm7 - Bb as a discreet unit .

The Coda

This is the most functional part of the song. A quick GLOBAL analysis (leaving out the chromatic approach chords)

Emaj7 - Db(C#, stupid real book)m7 - Bmaj7(#11) - Bb7 - Ebm7 - C7sus4 - G/A

IVmaj7 - IIm7 - Imaj7 but also IVmaj7 in F# - V7/Vi but also V7 in Ebm - V7/II - I BUT ACTUALLY V7/II in Cm which is also the key of Eb WTF

This gets tricky.

We hear the first two chords as I - VI. However, when we hear the Bmaj7, we can reinterpret those chords as IV-II.

The Bmaj7, which sounds like an unstable I at this point, is further confirmed to be IV in F# due to the #11 suggesting Lydian, as well as the next chord, a secondary dominant in F#.

The Bb7, which appears to be V7/VI, is not actually tonicizing Ebm, but modulating to it, making it V7.

We now arrive in I in Ebm, where the C7sus4 provides us with an unstable V7/II. We then, using the magic of constant structure & third relations, move to G/A, also expressed as A9sus4.

The A9sus4 is a I9sus4, due to its status as a member of a constant structure progression, where chords that leave the key are I. However, we can also globally relate this back to the first chord (Eb) by rationalizing it as a V7/II in Cm (BEAR WITH ME HERE . Cm is enharmonic to Eb, and this isn't so much a rational chord progression as simply a device to get back to the same collection of pitches, not necessarily the I chord.

If Corea wanted to be predictable and head right back to Eb he would have moved UP from C7 to D/E, making an E7 and thus SubV/I.

But that wouldn't be as cool, would it?

As far as surviving a guitar solo goes, this tune's fast as hell. Try and find thematic unity and move it around for each line. For example, use the same concept over multiple chords and sequence/move it around a little bit. My most recent post on triads/pentatonics would be a godsend here.

Ask away about that coda, it's crazy. But that's the tune. Game.

P.S. I am fully aware the Coda is actually the end of the piece, and does not loop around. However, many like to play the coda before/in between solos, and I have analyzed it as such.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Jet Penguin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-20-2015, 09:39 PM   #2
Registered User
SuperKid's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2007
nice, thanks!!
I thought maybe there was more to this song harmonically than I chords moving by different intervals. This tune really is a bitch to solo over I guess ill have to transcribe some material to get some ideas

some nice guitar versions of this tune :

SuperKid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-21-2015, 10:56 AM   #3
Which way's she spinning?
The4thHorsemen's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Louisiana
wow, that coda.

IVmaj7 - IIm7 - Imaj7 but also IVmaj7 in F# - V7/Vi but also V7 in Ebm - V7/II - I BUT ACTUALLY V7/II in Cm which is also the key of Eb WTF

I read this like 5 times and gave up understanding it - that section is a little over my head. Luckily you explained it pretty well right after that.
The4thHorsemen is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:49 AM.

Forum Archives / About / TOS / Advertise with us / Customer Support / Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2015
Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.