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petered1
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#1
hi why is it that dominant 7 chords are used over the blues scale? eg if playing the blues in A= A7 D7 E7 how does the A blues scale fit with this proggression? the A7 chord contains a C# where as there is no c# in the A blues scale, the D7 has an F# in it [there is no F# in A blues scale and finally the E7 has a G# and a B in it [the A blues scale doesnt]. Can any1 shed some light on the theory behind it please. I know it might sound right when playing but i just want to know how the scale fits with the chords. thanks.
chronowarp
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#2
Blues isn't diatonic.

The harmonic framework doesn't directly correlate to the typical melodic vocabulary.
The 3rd & 7th are variable and meant to be f'd with. It's integral to what makes it sound "bluesy"

Over the I chord, the m3 is meant to be bend to a blue 3rd (slightly between the m3 and M3) - infact that's the case over every chord, really. Over the IV chord the minor pent matches the chord, though it's not uncommon to incorporate the M6 (third of the IV). The V is a sandbox.

Start transcribing blues solos and you'll begin to understand that most good players incorporate a mixture of minor/major pentatonic, diminished ideas, and some dorian mode.

A lot of guitar players start out playing blues based music, and intuitively understand what makes sense, but when they start learning theory they get really confused, because theory is taught from a perspective of CPP, key based harmony. Blues doesn't fit that mold, it's a different beast entirely - you need to learn to hear and differentiate between the two.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 26, 2012,
mdc
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#3
I love how no one dare **** with you over something you said there. Brilliant!
MaggaraMarine
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#4
Quote by chronowarp
Blues isn't diatonic.

The harmonic framework doesn't directly correlate to the typical melodic vocabulary.
The 3rd & 7th are variable and meant to be f'd with. It's integral to what makes it sound "bluesy"

Over the I chord, the m3 is meant to be bend to a blue 3rd (slightly between the m3 and M3) - infact that's the case over every chord, really. Over the IV chord the minor pent matches the chord, though it's not uncommon to incorporate the M6 (third of the IV). The V is a sandbox.

Start transcribing blues solos and you'll begin to understand that most good players incorporate a mixture of minor/major pentatonic, diminished ideas, and some dorian mode.

A lot of guitar players start out playing blues based music, and intuitively understand what makes sense, but when they start learning theory they get really confused, because theory is taught from a perspective of CPP, key based harmony. Blues doesn't fit that mold, it's a different beast entirely - you need to learn to hear and differentiate between the two.

This.

But the question was really asked wrong. You don't play chords over a scale, you play a scale over chords. In that scale you don't need to have all the notes that the chords include (and in this case, you have both, major and minor 7th and major and minor third). The chords form the scale that fits them, not vice versa. You don't build chords to fit the scale. Because there are many chords that fit a scale. You can play E minor pentatonic over major chords. And this is used a lot in rock music. The b7 and b3 just give it that bluesy feeling. They have that kind of dissonance that sounds good.

EDIT: If you wanted to form a scale that fits all of the chords, first the chords: A7: A, C#, E, G; D7: D, F#, A, C; E7: E, G#, B, D

So the notes would be: A, B, C, C#, D, E, F#, G, G#. And what we have here? Nine notes out of the 12. So you've got a chromatic scale without flat 2nd, flat 5th and minor 6th. Also, the flat 5th is used in blues all the time so now there's only two notes of the chromatic scale that don't "fit" the chords. But actually you can play them too if you want. But these nine or ten notes (if you also include Eb) are what fit the best the chords in 12 bar blues. You choose which of them you use over different chords (some fit the chords better than others).

Remember: The chords don't fit the scale, the scale fits the chords.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Sep 26, 2012,
chronowarp
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#5
Ya, that's worth mentioning.

But I think the issue the OP needs to avoid is...if you play "per chord" in a blues, in the sense of trying to match a scale that fits all the notes in chords, you probably aren't going to get a bluesy result.

Playing mixolydian lines over a dom7 isn't bluesy at all, unless you're framing the lines in a way that sounds bluesy - IE thinking minor pent/blues, but filling in the gaps w/ the M2, M6, and sliding or bending into the M3.

I've seen that shift in consciousness really warp some beginners.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 26, 2012,
AlanHB
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#6
In keys you can use any notes you wish, they are called accidentals. Use of b3, b5 and b7 accidentals in a major key result in the typical blues sound.
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chronowarp
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#7
Quote by AlanHB
In keys you can use any notes you wish, they are called accidentals. Use of b3, b5 and b7 accidentals in a major key result in the typical blues sound.

I would be extremely hesitant to say that any blues tune is in a "key" - in the same way a music with functional harmony is. It's very nuanced, but I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. That may be pragmatic...but your description is what I'd say is part of the confusion a lot of players have when they start trying to learn the difference.
AlanHB
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#9
Quote by chronowarp
I would be extremely hesitant to say that any blues tune is in a "key" - in the same way a music with functional harmony is. It's very nuanced, but I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. That may be pragmatic...but your description is what I'd say is part of the confusion a lot of players have when they start trying to learn the difference.




Ok mate, here are your choices.

The standard blues progression is in a:

1. Key
2. Mode
3. Atonal

If you cannot find any functional harmony, you must be picking number 3. Would you like to revise your answer?
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wafflesyrup
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#10
I'm no where as good as the two above me, but chrono's key statement kind of tripped me up too lol.
chronowarp
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#11
Quote by AlanHB


Ok mate, here are your choices.

The standard blues progression is in a:

1. Key
2. Mode
3. Atonal

If you cannot find any functional harmony, you must be picking number 3. Would you like to revise your answer?

I'm pretty sure you and I have been through this multiple times in the past, so please save me the pedantic pandering to semantics.

Your description is completely dismissive of what needs to be considered when comparing a blues to a key based progression. While a blues may have a key center based on a major triad - it's based on a non-functioning dom7, and a melodic construct that isn't vertically congruent with the harmony...

Now if you want to call that "it's a key, and ****in all those notes are accidentals", I guess that's fine, but it misses the point, and doesn't really help the OP or anyone trying to understand the subtle yet distinct difference between functional harmony and the faux-modal function of blues music. Agreed,, mate? So please spare me the false dichotomy & haughty ****ing emoticons as if you're above me or taking me on a trip.

If you want to define a key as a tonal center based on a maj/min triad that is reinforced by the a functional sequence of chords that resolve to the aforementioned tonic, then blues isn't really a key, because the tonic chord is a non-functioning dom7 - as is the IV chord.

IF you want to define a mode as a diatonic series of notes accompanied by an absence of functional harmony with a tonic defined by the highly stringent melodic contour of the melody, possibly reinforced by clusters of notes (non-functioning chords)- then blues isn't really modal since the melodic vocabulary is drawn from, at minimum, more than 1 'scale'.

If you want to define atonal as the absence of a distinct tonal center, then that's not blues at all, because it clearly has a key center.

It's sad when these discussions spiral into a dick-slapping contest of semantics and snide-bullshit remarks, when the overarching goal is to just effectively explain a concept. The OP is clearly having an issue separating the more stringent harmonic/melodic construct of functional harmony from the quasi-modal and non-functional harmony of a blues. Saying a blues is a major key with accidentals isn't even a step in the right direction, it's just borderline wrong and not helpful or explanatory at all.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 27, 2012,
AlanHB
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#12
A blues is a "key based progression", by virtue of it being in a key. It resolves to a major chord, regardless of variations you employ whilst playing the I. So nothing quasi modal here, it's an I-IV-V progression, and that's about it.

The b3, b5 and b7 accidentals are not diatonic, they're accidentals and for that very reason they stand out when played over the key. This is the blues sound.
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chronowarp
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#13
Key based....in what respect?

The I chord is a dom7 - which isn't the same as a vanilla major triad.
The b3, b5, and b7 aren't the only available or common tones used in a blues.
the very nature of a blues is quasi-modal.

These blue notes aren't juxtapositions against a functional harmonic background...it doesn't work that way. You don't employ a blues vocabulary over a functional progression and then claim it is now "blues" and those notes are accidentals in a major key.

From the very core there is a distinct difference between a key-based piece of music that employs functional harmony, and a blues based piece of music. That's the point I'm trying to drive home to the OP, while you're so focused on boxing everything up that you're confusing the issues to the point of exhaustion.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 27, 2012,
AlanHB
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#14
It's key based in the respect that it's in a key. A major key. There's nothing particularly special happening here, variations to chords are employed, no worries, it's still going to resolve to that "plain vanilla" major chord even if you don't play it.
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chronowarp
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#15
Quote by AlanHB
It's key based in the respect that it's in a key. A major key. There's nothing particularly special happening here, variations to chords are employed, no worries, it's still going to resolve to that "plain vanilla" major chord even if you don't play it.

But it's not in a major key - it's a blues.

They are two completely separate tonalities and require two distinctly different approachs.

You notice on a lead sheet either from a fakebook...or for a musical, what have you. They typically distinctly label the tonality of a song "A blues" versus, "A major". I wonder why that is...

Probably because "A blues" has a vastly different connotation, and melodic/harmonic approach than a "A major" with a bunch of non-diatonic dom7 chords that aren't traditionally functional and play off of the tug & pull of the m3/M3 & septimal 7th, and other key "Blue notes"...
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 27, 2012,
AlanHB
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#16
I don't regard blues as a tonality, guess we''ll agree to disagree.
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Sleepy__Head
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#18
Quote by chronowarp
But it's not in a major key - it's a blues.

They are two completely separate tonalities and require two distinctly different approachs.


And that separate type of tonality would be the reason why I > IV > V > I is a popular progression in both blues and non-blues music?
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
chronowarp
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#19
Quote by Sleepy__Head
And that separate type of tonality would be the reason why I > IV > V > I is a popular progression in both blues and non-blues music?

I IV V in a functional harmonic context is not the same as
I7 IV7 V7 in a blues.

I'd really love to hear the results of you playing BLUEZ LIX over a functional I-IV-V that is clearly actually in a major key. You're gonna love them "accidentals" and you'll definitely add that "blues sound" in doing so!

You should start incorporating bluez licks in 4 part writings when you do a I IV6 I64 V7.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 27, 2012,
wolflen
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#21
Quote by chronowarp
I IV V in a functional harmonic context is not the same as
I7 IV7 V7 in a blues.

I'd really love to hear the results of you playing BLUEZ LIX over a functional I-IV-V that is clearly actually in a major key. You're gonna love them "accidentals" and you'll definitely add that "blues sound" in doing so!

You should start incorporating bluez licks in 4 part writings when you do a I IV6 I64 V7.


very strange argument...non-functional blues...i love it....did anyone tell miles...does gershwin know...

wolf
Last edited by wolflen at Sep 27, 2012,
chronowarp
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#22
Quote by wolflen
very strange argument...non-functional blues...i love it....did anyone tell miles...does gershwin know...

wolf

Whats strange about it? I mean it's a pretty clear distinction. Blues doesn't operate in the same manner as key based music - harmonically or melodically.

I've been forced to morph my argument to such a pragmatic, exclusive reduction purely for the case of making the distinction clear to the OP, since alanHB is equally fervent in claiming that a blues tonality is merely "accidentals in a major key". I think anyone here who understands the concept pretty clearly understands the message I'm trying to communicate, albeit not very eloquently.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 27, 2012,
mrkeka
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#23
Quote by chronowarp
Whats strange about it? I mean it's a pretty clear distinction. Blues doesn't operate in the same manner as key based music - harmonically or melodically.


chromatic notes, alterations, accidents, genre-specific melodic patterns... Indeed, no key based music has these.
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chronowarp
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#24
Quote by mrkeka
chromatic notes, alterations, accidents, genre-specific melodic patterns... Indeed, no key based music has these.


I'd love to hear some classical period music where the crux of the melodic vocabulary is a nuanced alteration of a variable 3rd/7th that eventually "resolves" to a stable dom7.

the devices you're talking about occur vertically in functionally driven key based music...none of that is happening in a blues. Find me a bach chorale where he lays a blue third over a dom7...I'm sure he'd use a m3 in a major key, but it'd be directly related to what was happening vertically at that metric moment in the piece, and that is the exact difference that's at the core of the issue.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 27, 2012,
griffRG7321
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#25
a #2 dissonance resolving to the major third is used all the time in classical music.

Blues is tonal, a lot of Debussy is tonal, even Berg's piano sonata is to an extent. Get over it.
chronowarp
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#26
it's not a dissonance in a blues...its a variable pitch. it's microtonal.

it's also not functioning as a #2, because the blues third and 7th aren't chromatic alterations that exist vertically in the music.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 27, 2012,
Hydra150
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#28
Quote by liampje
it's not a dissonance in a blues...its a variable pitch. it's microtonal.

it's also not functioning as a #2, because the blues third and 7th aren't chromatic alterations that exist vertically in the music.

cool
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that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
mrkeka
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#29
Quote by Hydra150
cool

You bastard!
You just made me laugh in the middle of my fiance's theatre class
Quote by Xiaoxi
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Sleepy__Head
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#30
Quote by chronowarp
I IV V in a functional harmonic context is not the same as I7 IV7 V7 in a blues.


Can you explain, clearly, how I7 IV7 V7 in a functional harmony context differs from I7 IV7 V7 in a blues? Don't just re-iterate the point; expand on it, add some flesh to the bones, substantiate your claim.

From what I've read so far I get the distinct impression you think functional harmony = classical music. Nothing could be further from the truth. Functional harmony has to do with how harmony functions in a tonal context, not how harmony functions in a classical context and in no other context.


Quote by chronowarp
I'd really love to hear the results of you playing BLUEZ LIX over a functional I-IV-V that is clearly actually in a major key.

You're gonna love them "accidentals" and you'll definitely add that "blues sound" in doing so!

You should start incorporating bluez licks in 4 part writings when you do a I IV6 I64 V7.


Who said anything about part writing?

You're confusing the scale with the genre. The blues genre possesses other characteristics besides the blues scale, such as lyrics, bass-lines, instruments, styles of performance and so on.

Play the chords I7, IV7, V7 on a guitar in a country style.
Now play a blues scale over them.
Hey presto! Hank Williams.

Play the chords I7, IV7, V7 in a big band style.
Now play a blues scale over them.
Hey presto! Glenn Miller.

Play the chords I7, IV7, V7 on a guitar in a rock style.
Now play a blues scale over them.
Hey presto! ZZ Top.

Play the chords I7, IV7, V7 on the piano in a rock 'n' roll style.
Now play a blues scale over them.
Hey presto! Chuck Berry.

The blues scale alone doesn't define the blues genre.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
Last edited by Sleepy__Head at Sep 28, 2012,
Sleepy__Head
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#31
Quote by chronowarp
I'd love to hear some classical period music where the crux of the melodic vocabulary is a nuanced alteration of a variable 3rd/7th that eventually "resolves" to a stable dom7.


Bach's Baroque period, not Classical period. Mozart, Haydn, early Beethoven are Classical period.

What do you mean by "a variable 3rd/7th"?

If the dom7 were stable the progression would resolve (finish on) the V7. But dom7 in the 8-, 12- & 24-bar blues progressions finish on the I, and blues music almost without exception finishes on the I:

"Too Broke To Spend The Night" (Buddy Guy)
"Little Red Rooster" (Howlin' Wolf)
"Got The Blues (Can't Be Satisfied)" (Mississippi John Hurt)
"Backwater Blues" (Bessie Smith)

And - top cap it all - the Axe-fall blues progression (I IV bIII) doesn't even have a dom7 in the progression and it's still a blues.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
mdc
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#32
Here's a Robben Ford blues that I transcribed. Is this functional?

6/8 time

Bb7 / F7♯9 / Bb7 / Am7 Ab7♯11

Gm7 / C9 / Gm7 / Dbdim7

Cm7 Dm7 / Ebmaj7 Em7b5 / F11 / F11

Very moody sounding, very nice.

Here are some voicings to use so you can play it.

Ab7♯11, Dbdim7, Em7b5, F11
-------
-3-5-8-8
-5-3-7-8
-4-5-8-8
---4-7-8
-4-----
Sleepy__Head
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#33
Yup

  Bb > F  > Bb > Am7
  I  > IV > I  > VII = II (in G)
= I  > IV > I  > V (= II in G) 

(the VII is a sub for V)

  G > C  > G > Db
  I > IV > I > VII
= I > IV > I > V

(the VII is a sub for V)

  C >  D  > Eb  > E >  F
  IV > VI > bII > II > I
= IV > VI > bII > V  > I
= IV > VI > II  > V  > I

(II is a sub for V and bII is a sub for II)


So you've got I IV I V, and IV VI II V I.

Looks like two standard progressions with a couple of substitutions and a fair amount of chord embellishment to me.

cf. Richard J. Scott's Chord Progressions for Songwriters
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
mdc
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#34
K, let's analyze this the right way.

Bars 1-3: I - V - I

Bar 4: ii-V (bII7) approach to VI

Bars 5-7: ii - V - ii hints at the dominant key but never resolves. (Another view is vi - V/V - vi)

Bar 8: TTS

Bars 9-12: All diatonic (ii - iii - IV - V) bar the Em7b5 which is a passing chord.

Well, fuck me. I guess blues is functional.
Last edited by mdc at Sep 28, 2012,
Sleepy__Head
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#35
1) Duh, yeah Bb > F = I V, not I IV. And all the rest is a crock of shit.

Sorry - I'm half asleep today

2) Well hey, who'da though it! Blues is functional, huh? I guess we all learned something today then!
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
Last edited by Sleepy__Head at Sep 28, 2012,
AlanHB
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#36
There's something very Twilight zone about this thread.
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Sleepy__Head
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#37
Maybe it's just me, but does anyone else keep having a recurring dream about non-functional blues harmony?
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
chronowarp
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#38
Quote by Sleepy__Head
Bach's Baroque period, not Classical period. Mozart, Haydn, early Beethoven are Classical period.

What do you mean by "a variable 3rd/7th"?

If the dom7 were stable the progression would resolve (finish on) the V7. But dom7 in the 8-, 12- & 24-bar blues progressions finish on the I, and blues music almost without exception finishes on the I:

"Too Broke To Spend The Night" (Buddy Guy)
"Little Red Rooster" (Howlin' Wolf)
"Got The Blues (Can't Be Satisfied)" (Mississippi John Hurt)
"Backwater Blues" (Bessie Smith)

And - top cap it all - the Axe-fall blues progression (I IV bIII) doesn't even have a dom7 in the progression and it's still a blues.

the I is a dom7...even if it's not played it's stylistically implied. You're 'resolving' to a dom7, because the I is a dom7...therefore...it's a stable dom7. Did you read what I wrote?

variable 3rd & 7th...you 3rd and 7th you're aiming for in a blues over the chord is microtonal. The point here is that someone saying that bending a the m3 microtonally over a chord is a "#2 accidental resolving to the M3" is completely inaccurate in terms of what's actually happening musically. It's not an issue of resolution - the pitch itself is variable...the third is flexible and malleable.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 28, 2012,
chronowarp
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#39
Quote by mdc
K, let's analyze this the right way.

Bars 1-3: I - V - I

Bar 4: ii-V (bII7) approach to VI

Bars 5-7: ii - V - ii hints at the dominant key but never resolves. (Another view is vi - V/V - vi)

Bar 8: TTS

Bars 9-12: All diatonic (ii - iii - IV - V) bar the Em7b5 which is a passing chord.

Well, fuck me. I guess blues is functional.

Ya, you're right, but I don't think that was the crux of my point even if I did say it. I forced myself to compartmentalize my argument in order to make a clear distinction between what's perceived as a blues tonality versus a "major key", because those two constructs are not the same - aurally, or functionally.

I thought it was very important for the OP to understand that, and alanhbs 'explanation' of "LOL ITS JUST ACCIDENTALS" was dangerously misleading, IMO.

I'm glad that we're all very interested in taking reductionist arguments to the extreme and nitpicking them to the point of missing the broader, more central point that I'm sure we all agree on 100%. Gotta love it.
Last edited by chronowarp at Sep 28, 2012,
wolflen
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#40
Ya, you're right, but I don't think that was the crux of my point even if I did say it. I forced myself to compartmentalize my argument in order to make a clear distinction between what's perceived as a blues tonality versus a "major key", because those two constructs are not the same - aurally, or functionally.

does charlie parker know this is a non functional blues progression...

Cmaj7 Bm7-5 E7-9 Am7 D7 Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 Fm7 Bb7
Em7 A7 Ebm7 Ab7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Am7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

blues does not have to be just dominate 7th based chords..for x#of measures each..but the tradional 3 chord version seems to upset your view of harmonic values..and you infer that these 3 chords are somehow not part of diatonic harmony..(lets say 20th century harmony..so we dont have to compare classical harmonic values with todays) the progression above is a classic parker approach to the blues...and a blues it is..it shows the "hidden chords" that are in a 3 chord version of the blues..

yep its diatonic harmony plus a kick in the ass...!!!!
Last edited by wolflen at Sep 28, 2012,