Page 1 of 2
#1
I'm looking at some songs and they have chords that are usually not reserved for that particular key. Some examples are AJ Rafael's "We Could Happen" or James Morrison's "If You Dont Wanna Love Me." We Could Happen is in the key of G, but uses D minor in the verses and C minor in the choruses. From what I know, the G major scale doesn't have an F or an Eb, but D minor and C minor touches on both of these notes. Another example is If You Dont Wanna Love Me is in the key of D too (with a capo on guitar) but uses both F# and F#m.

I'm a bit confused. Can somebody explain the music theory behind this? Not too complex though as I'm not advanced yet in that area. I understand those "out of key" chords have a pretty mysterious / dark sound to them and specifically, I wanna learn when and how to apply these chords in songwriting, and how to construct these chords.

Background: I'm not a super musician, but I do a bit of singing, piano, guitar, songwriting as a home hobby. 90% of what I know is through the internet and I've never had lessons. 10% is the basic chords that my father taught me. So I know maybe elementary/intermediate level of music theory. Be kind
#2
You should read up on borrowing chords from other keys.

It is a very common thing, where you "borrow" a chord from the parallel major/minor key. So if you are playing in C major, you borrow chords from C minor, and vise versa. Very common in Baroque, Classical and Romantic era music, but it happens alot in popular music aswell. (The Beatles for example)

Yes, you can also play secondary dominants. Explained in a simplified way secondary dominants are dominants based from any of the chords in the key you are playing. So for example the most common secondary dominant is the dominants dominant, so in the key of C the dominant is G7, so the dominants dominant would be D7. (V/V, read as V of V) But you also have dominants from the other chords in the key. So we have A7 (V/ii, the dominant of the ii chord, Dm), B7 (V/iii, the dominant of the iii chord, Em), C7 (V/IV), D7 (V/V), E7 (V/vi).
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Last edited by Sickz at Jan 28, 2015,
#3
Another way to do this - you can play the dominant chord of dominant chord.

For example:
In C major key G7 is dominant chord. Now for moment think of G7 as tonic chord. Now play dominant chord - it will be D7, but you can play it also as Dm7. So you can use both D7 and Dm7 in both C major and C minor keys.
Last edited by GameSkate at Jan 28, 2015,
#4
Listening to music with only diatonic, "predictable" notes and chords would be like watching a movie with only "good guys" in it.

The dissonance and tension is the source of interest.
"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
#5
Thanks for the helpful comments above.

Quote by Jet Penguin
Listening to music with only diatonic, "predictable" notes and chords would be like watching a movie with only "good guys" in it.

The dissonance and tension is the source of interest.



But this one is just a terrible analogy AND was out of nowhere. Music is NOT about being complex and going beyond tonic modes and exes and os etc etc. Music is about the song and what is felt and learned from it. Some of the best songs ever are composed in a very simple way, like Imagine or Twist and Shout or Aint no Sunshine.

I know you are doing your best to be the cool sophisticated guy who likes to hate on mainstream music and listeners of mainstream music but f*ck off. Dont try to IMPOSE music on people. So what if majority of people listen to songs with diatonic predictable chords?? If those songs are what are pleasant and sad and joyful and exciting to their ears then it's none of your business belittling what they can relate to. I agree that there are tons of shitty music today, BUT to hate on music that isn't constructed with sophistication and deep music theory and shit, and correlating those types of music to "a movie with only good guys in it" is just plain ignorance.

I guarantee you if 99% of the world starts listening to songs with chords like G7#dim11aug99 or whatever the f*ck you use, you will not be satisfied and will start hating on that too like a "movie with only good guys" and will listen to other more "advanced" shit than that. Pathetic
Last edited by iceiecbb at Jan 28, 2015,
#6
Sheesh take it easy. I have nothing against mainstream music, and enjoy a well crafted pop tune as much as the next guy. I make no claims as to any method of writing being "The" Way.

All I meant was that tension makes interest. A G chord in the key of C is still tension. How far you run with that philosophy is up to you.

You asked why out of key chords work, and I told you. This has nothing to do with the philosophy of music.

Dissonance, even as simple dissonance as a V chord, creates tension. Tension creates interest. That's it. I didn't mean to start a fight or imply that simple music was invalid.

That's all I meant. Sometimes I suck at explaining things, my bad. Let's not blow things out of proportion and fight about it.
"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
#7
Chill dude, it was just some friendly banter from Jet's side. I don't see any reason to take offense from that statement.

No music is better or worse, regardless of its complexity. It's all subjective. I enjoy Jazz a lot, many people don't, i don't mind. I don't care that much for what is played on the radio nowadays, some people do, i don't mind.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#8
Exactly. All forms of musical expression, regardless of genre, style, or complexity are valid. Everything is fair game.
"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
#11
Quote by iceiecbb
I'm looking at some songs and they have chords that are usually not reserved for that particular key. Some examples are AJ Rafael's "We Could Happen" or James Morrison's "If You Dont Wanna Love Me." We Could Happen is in the key of G, but uses D minor in the verses and C minor in the choruses. From what I know, the G major scale doesn't have an F or an Eb, but D minor and C minor touches on both of these notes. Another example is If You Dont Wanna Love Me is in the key of D too (with a capo on guitar) but uses both F# and F#m.


Let's talk about "We Could Happen" first.
Verse Chords:
G Bm/D Em Bø7/D G7 C

(ø7 stands for half-diminished 7th, diminished chord B-D-F with minor 7th, A on top)

If we take the first half out, we get:
Bø7/D G7 C


Out of context, this seems to be a song in C-major, with the G7, a dominant (V chord) resolving to C like normal. Bø7, incidentally, shares three notes with G7 (B, D, and F) and one note with the preceding chord, Em (B), so it's acting as both a bridge and a pre-dominant chord here.
The C-major sound only lasts for a while, so you would call this phenomenon a secondary dominant, or applied chord.

The C-minor chord in the chorus (context: G Bm Em Cm G) is simply a borrowed chord from the parallel minor to G (G-minor). This is also meant as chord spicing!
--
Other song now. And I'm transposing it to G-major.

Chorus chords: C Bm7 B7 Em A7 G

The B7 is acting as a secondary dominant to push the song temporarily into Em. As for the A7, it could have served as a secondary dominant to the real dominant D, but instead, Morrison uses the common "G" tone to go back to his well-established G chord.

Edit: welp, there seems to be a helpful base already. Hope I added something anyways!
#12
^Nice look at his two examples. I don't know those songs so didn't look at them

I just focused on some various ways to incorporate non diatonic chords. This is a pretty big question. The following is just a jumble of ideas that I did try to explain as though you don't know much theory - kind of explaining some of the theory as I went. But it might be a bit much. Anyway see how you go, might be useful might not.

How can you incorporate non-diatonic chords into a progression and have them "make sense"?

I could literally spend the entire day writing on this one topic and still not exhaust all the possibilities regarding how to incorporate non-diatonic chords in a progression.

I'm not going to do that but I will give you some ideas to get you thinking...

Chain Progressions

The dominant-tonic root movement is the strongest root movement. This chord change alone is enough to give the second chord a tonic feel. However, we don't just hear progressively but also retrospectively. That is, when we hear a new chord it creates a relationship with the previous chord which colours how we interpret that previous chord.

If we hear an D chord on it's own then it sounds stable and at rest. However, if we follow that D chord with a G then the G chord sounds stable and at rest and with the introduction of the G chord we can hear (in retrospect) the tension that was inherent in the D chord. This is because we have created a relationship and the relationship affects how we hear BOTH chords. The previous chord did sound like the tonic but in light of the new tonic the previous chord sounds like a dominant.

We can exploit this by creating a chain of dominant tonic movement in which each chord sounds like the tonic but also acts as a dominant when we move to the next chord which then sounds like the tonic. Thus we create a sense of continuous movement toward a new home - until we decide to stop and rest on a chord thereby cementing IT as the final destination - the real tonic.

The way to achieve this is through a chain of dominant tonic chord movements in which each chord acts as a tonic to the chord before it and a dominant to the chord after it....by repetitive down a perfect fifth root movements.

E->A->D->G->C->F->Bb->Eb->Ab->Db(C#)->Gb(F#)->B->E...etc etc round and round we go on a never ending cycle of dominant->tonic root movements.

We can jump on this cycle anywhere follow it for as long as we want and stop on any chord. The chord we stop on will sound like the final destination, or the tonic chord. But the entire progression - though not diatonic - will sound like it makes sense because each chord moves so strongly to the next.

We can also do the same thing in reverse following down a perfect fourth root movements...

E->B->F#->C#->G#->D#(Eb)->A#(Bb)->F->C->G->D->A->E...etc etc

Again we can jump on this circle at any point follow it for as long as we want and stop anywhere and it will sound good because each chord makes sense with the chord before it and with the chord after it.

The song Hey Joe is a good example of this exact progression. The entire song is just
C->G->D->A->E repeated. The song is in E because he gets to that E and just stays there for a bit.

Not-Quite-Chain Progressions
Another way is to take any five notes that are next to each other in the chain of fifths. Then you can pretty much use any two, three, four, or five of them as major chords in almost any order and with a little tinkering make a progression that will work.

The reason for this is that the roots of the five chords will form a pentatonic scale. The harmonization of each of those roots using a full major scale will create parallel movement from chord to chord and you will lose the sense that there are independent voices in the thirds and fifths of the chord. The third and fifth of the chord will end up as nothing more than a reinforcement of the root and it becomes all about root movement and nothing else.

Try to see how many different ways you can rearrange the chords A C E G and still make them sound good. Try throwing in a D chord as well and see how many different ways you can make that work.

Another way to use the chain progression is to create patterns by repeating the same movement higher or lower.

For example...
Hotel California uses the chords...
Bm - F#
A - E
G - D
E
F#

The Bm-F# is a down a fourth root movement. This down a fourth root movement is then repeated a whole step lower with the A to E and then repeated again a whole step lower with the G to D.

The problem with using the chain of fifth to create a pattern like this is that following the pattern forever will create a long progression using all 12 chords and there will be no real sense of tonic because the cycle never stops.

So we have to have a plan or strategy to get back home. The V-I (dominant to tonic) root movement is the best way home so here the Eagles target their tonic Bm with the dominant F#. But how to get to that F#? Here they see that D in their pattern and go up to E then up to F#.

Any similar pattern progression will run into this problem...how to I get back home and the solution will require some thought, or at least a good intuition....
Si
#13
Voice Leading
Another way to have non diatonic chords in your progression is to use strong voice leading to introduce a non diatonic chord. Voice leading has to do with how the voices within a chord move to become a voice in the next chord.

Traditionally good voice leading has been when the voices within a chord (the individual notes in the chord) move sensibly to the nearest chord tone in the following chord.

The bass can follow the root movement and doesn't always follow the rules of voice leading. I'm not actually sure of the traditional treatment in that regard but I often treat the bass separately from the voice leading so please keep that in mind when you read this.

For example if we have an E-A chord movement then the individual chord tones in each chord would move to the nearest chord tone in the next chord.

E (E G# B) to A (A C# E)

So the E in the E chord stays to become the E in th A chord. The B in the E chord moves up a whole step to become C# in the A chord. The G# in the E chord moves up a half step to become A in the new chord.

E7 introduces further tension with the use of dissonance in that E7 chord.

The E7 is E G# B D. The distance between the G# and the D is a diminished fifth (also known as an augmented fourth or a tritone). Play a G# and D on your guitar and hear how it creates a dissonant sound. (low E string fourth fret and A string fifth fret)

When using this chord and then moving to the A chord there is the added D chord tone which moves down a half step to C#. At the same time the G# moves up a half step to A. This means that the dissonant diminished fifth between the G# and D is resolved to a consonant major third between the A and C#. (The G# moves up a half step to A and the D moves down a half step to C#). On your guitar try playing the G# on the fourth fret of the low E string and the D on the fifth fret of the A string then follow it with the fifth fret on the low E string and the fourth fret on the A string to play an A and C# respectively. You will hear how the tension of the tritone resolves.

This is just one example of how good voice leading can resolve tension in a chord. It can also create tension. This example is however entirely diatonic.

We can start introducing non diatonic chords by using chromatic lines in our voice leading. What I mean by this is that instead of changing chords and having one note change a whole step down we might introduce an intermediary chord that sees that note move down a half step before moving down another half step to complete the change.

An example would be if we were going from a IV - I. A root movement down a perfect fourth. An example would be if we went from F to C. This is a diatonic move in the key of C major. Nothing non diatonic about it.

But let's look at the voice leading and see if we can alter anything to make the change more interesting and less diatonic...

F is made up of the notes F A C (F is the root, A is the major third and C is the perfect fifth.
C is made up of the notes C E G (C is the root, E is the major third and G is the perfect fifth)

Good voice leading would see the C stay to become the root of the C chord. The F moves down a half step to become E in the C chord, and the A moves down a whole step to become G in the C chord.

But what if we drag that A down a whole step move out a bit by first moving it down a half step to Ab before getting to that G in the C chord.

As A is the major third in the F major chord then if we lower it by a half step then we would get an F minor chord (F Ab C).

Thus we could change our progression to F Fm C. Play this and listen to that A Ab G move and see how great it sounds. Here we are using a non diatonic chord (Fm) but it makes sense because we have created a smooth flowing line that makes sense. All the notes of the F chord stay the same except that A which is moving down to Ab in anticipation of then becoming G in the C chord.

We can do this with other chords too...

Am is A C E. C is C E G.

Here we see two notes of the Am stay the same and just one note changes (A moves down a whole step to G).

Now if you remember I treat the bass separately so in this case the bass would still go A - C. But I would find an A somewhere else in the voicing and move it down a half step to create an Am/Maj7 A minor with a major 7 (A C E G#) which would then see the G# resolve down to G.

So Am - Am/Maj7 - C

One voicing would be...

Am Am/M7 C
0    0   0
1    1   1
2    1   0
2    2   2
0    0   3
-    -   -


Again it has a very similar feel to the F Fm C with the same chromatic line. It is targeting the C chord and resolves well there but is non diatonic.

To hear both of these moves in action listen to the song Nobody Home by Pink Floyd. (For extra points when you listen to that song see if you can spot the chain of fifths progression hidden in there...

That song uses a lot non diatonic chords. The verse starts with C followed by E major. Normally in C the E chord would be minor. The E major works though because we haver already been exposed to the G# note with that Am/Maj7 move. And it acts like the same move in reverse...

If we want to get to our F to set up the F Fm C move then how do we get there?

One way would be to go to the iii chord then up to the IV. In C this would be C Em F.

This is a standard enough move...but in Nobody's Home the progression goes C to E major not E minor and then to F. If we have a look a the chord tones we can see that same A G# G line in REVERSE. The E major has a G# instead of a G and so we have that same chromatic line going back up.

Tension / Surprise
Sometimes non diatonic chords are added to give an unexpected jolt or surprise to an otherwise diatonic harmony. We have had diatonic harmonies presented to us for most of our lives, and for good reason...they work. But this lifetime of regularly hearing diatonic harmonies has created an kind of predictability or expectation. If done right a single non diatonic chord thrown into the mix can provide an unexpected jolt that adds depth and charm to a song.

Have a listen to When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars.

The song is in C. The Verse is
Am C Dm
G G7 C C/B
Am C Dm
G G7 C C/B

Followed by a prechorus...
Am Em
Bb (our non diatonic chord)

Then the chorus...
C F G
C F G...

When he gets to the part "mmmm too young too dumb to realize" he goes to Bb. Bb doesn't it in the key of C major. The line is a very flat melodically sticking almost entirely to one note (F). They could have harmonized this note with a diatonic Dm, Fmajor, or Bdim chord. But instead they went with a non diatonic Bb major.

Not only is it a non diatonic chord but the Bb comes right on the back of an Em as well. A root movement not of a perfect fifth, but of a diminished fifth. (Remember that dissonant G-D# we resolved to earlier? This is the same interval. Play an open E note and then a Bb (a string first fret). What a dissonant interval.

Here it balances out the sweet sound of the song with this surprising and unexpected non diatonic chord. And right after this chord we go to the verse where we find one of the most straight forward diatonic progressions imaginable a I IV V in C ( C F G).

Part of the charm here is that it is one note (the Bb) that is non diatonic. So it's not too far away from C major. But it's far enough away to give a jolt.

Further as in many great songs we see the music reflecting lyrical content. He doesn't just slip the Bb in there he hammers away at it on quarter note beats. It acts like a bold font for his words which present the pivotal reason as to why he is now singing this song - he was too young and too dumb.

See the verse sings about the present and how tormented he is for losing her, the chorus sings about the past and what he should have done to keep her...the Bb links them together with the reason he didn't do those things...he was too dumb and too dumb to realize.

Another example of some non diatonic chords appearing as an unexpected surprise that mirrors the lyrical content of the song is in the Beatles song "I'm So Tired".

Here we have a Dom7 chord built off the major seventh scale degree. The song starts...
A major down to G#7. The G#7 is on the word "tired". And the chord feels tired. The major chord drops down a half step as though it is fatigue that has caused the chord to drop down. The dissonance of the dom7 chord adds to this feeling of tiredness.

The chord is part of a very standard I ? IV V progression in A. Because the progression is so strong the ? in that progression can be filled in with pretty much any chord and still work. In this case it's a VII7.

The next line repeats but this time with an F#m which is entirely diatonic to A. (I vi IV V)

A G#7 D E
A F#m D E

The G7 here in this context is unexpected but hits us pretty quick off the bat. It's a tired sounding chord but as a G7 it also includes the F# which we hear in the second go around. So it's not too bad.

Unlike the Bruno Mars song this song has more surprises for us. The next line after those two contains an Eaug (E G# B#). This chord is non diatonic. It is jarring and dissonant with it's E to B# augmented fifth instead of a perfect fifth.

This time it almost sounds like he is playing and hit the wrong chord (but on purpose). Lyrically it occurs right when he hits on a bad idea. Which he then immediately writes off as a bad idea. Again an example of a non diatonic chord providing an unexpected twist to underline a lyrical message. (The Beatles catalogue is rife with this kind of thing).
Si
#14
Other non diatonic chords... This is barely scratching the surface on ways to include non diatonic chords into your progression in a way that makes sense.

Chord subsititution is another way to incorporate non diatonic chords in a way that makes sense. It's a massive topic in itself though but I'll provide one example - the tritone substitution. (Since we have talked so much about those tritones!!!)

The dom7 chord if you recall uses a tritone that resolves inward by a half step to become a major third in the next chord.

We used the example of the E7 to A chord change (V7-I).
In this example the E7 is E G# B D and the A is A C# E.
E -> E (stays the same)
G# -> A (moves up a half step)
B -> C# (moves up a whole step -alternatively ould also move down a whole step to A)
D -> C# (moves down a half step)

The E7 contains a tritone between G# and D which resolves each by moving toward each other by a half step to form a major third.

Now G# is enharmonic with Ab and move that to the top note then we have a tritone from D up to Ab. Now it's a nifty coincidence that Bb7 also happens to have that same tritone.

Bb7 = Bb D F Ab. Although the Ab is no longer named G# these notes that form the tritone in the Bb7 chord are the same two notes that also form the tritone in the E7 chord - just around the other way.

With this in mind we could use a Bb7 instead of an E7 to resolve to that A major chord.

Here we would have Bb7 - A
Again the D would move down a half step to C# and the Ab would move up a half step to A to create the major third in the a major chord...

Bb7 = Bb D F Ab; A = A C# E

Bb - A (down a half step)
D - C# (down a half step)
F - E (down a half step)
Ab - A (up a half step)

So in order to get to A major we could also use a Bb7 instead of an E7 and still get a relatively strong resolution. This is known as a tritone substitution.

If we plug this into a chain of fifths progression...

Bb7-A7-D7-G7-C7-F7-Bb7 (and we are back where we started).

Chord substitution is a pretty big topic though and requires at least a passable level of music theory.

There are so many other ways to get non diatonic chords into your progression as well, but ultimately they have to make sense. This can be achieved through root movement, voice leading, harmonization of a non diatonic melody or bassline, or through being used to reinforcing lyrical meaning.
Si
#15
Jeez 20T, that's alot of typing.

And yes, this is a massive topic. 20T's great dissertation here only scratches the surface. There's an entire iceberg waiting below.
"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
#16
I know. I lost track of time. Missed an appointment too. Oops. I get that way sometimes. I get so involved in what I'm doing that I forget time. Usually with better results than what's above too. But I wasn't not going to post it after putting that much time in. Not that anyone will read it but oh well.
Si
#17
Hey man I read it. Speed reader reporting in
"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
#18
Phew, that was a lot of text. Definitely a good read, though, coming from a classical background. A few nitpicks:

Quote by 20Tigers

Unlike the Bruno Mars song this song has more surprises for us. The next line after those two contains an Eaug (E G# B#). This chord is non diatonic. It is jarring and dissonant with [its] E to B# tritone (those [tritones] are everywhere huh?).

A tritone = A4 or D5. E-B# is A5, enharmonic with m6. It's still dissonant, but the manner of dissonance is not the same.


With this in mind we could use a Bb7 instead of an E7 to resolve to that A major chord.

Here we would have Bb7 - A
Again the D would move down a half step to C# and the Ab would move up a half step to A to create the major third in the a major chord...

Bb7 = Bb D F Ab; A = A C# E

Bb - A (down a half step)
D - C# (down a half step)
F - E (down a half step)
Ab - A (up a half step)

So in order to get to A major we could also use a Bb7 instead of an E7 and still get a relatively strong resolution. This is known as a tritone substitution.

If we plug this into a chain of fifths progression...

Bb7-A7-D7-G7-C7-F7-Bb7 (and we are back where we started).

Technically, in classical theory circles, a "Bb7" that resolves to A would be a German augmented sixth chord resolving to the dominant. (More chromatic fun - check the French aug6 chord out: Bb-D-E-G#. Yes. One flat, one sharp.) Augmented 6ths serve as predominant or altered-dominant chords, and it's perfectly possible to analyze Bird changes (and your tritone substitution) as augmented 6th substitutions (probably with added tones).

This could be a thesis topic too
#19
Quote by NeoMvsEu

Technically, in classical theory circles, a "Bb7" that resolves to A would be a German augmented sixth chord resolving to the dominant. (More chromatic fun - check the French aug6 chord out: Bb-D-E-G#. Yes. One flat, one sharp.) Augmented 6ths serve as predominant or altered-dominant chords, and it's perfectly possible to analyze Bird changes (and your tritone substitution) as augmented 6th substitutions (probably with added tones).:


Not quite. In 20Tigers' example, the A is the I (tonic), not the V. In this case, the Bb7 is the dominant (as a tritone substitution). You can find Gr6 chords resolving to the tonic in a major key but it's I64, which is considered a double-suspension of the V. So, a Gr6 is pre-dominant, and a tritone sub is the dominant. This may be a negligible distinction is some contexts but if you're going to call a chord a German augmented sixth, then it should behave as one.
#20
Don't feel bad about wasting your time writing that, Tigers. I read it all with guitar in hand, and probably learned more than I have in one sitting in a long time. Already writing a new tune with some of the ideas from your posts. Thanks a ton. Got this thread bookmarked.
#21
Quote by 20Tigers
I know. I lost track of time. Missed an appointment too. Oops. I get that way sometimes. I get so involved in what I'm doing that I forget time. Usually with better results than what's above too. But I wasn't not going to post it after putting that much time in. Not that anyone will read it but oh well.


More than you know will read it. In detail.
#22
Quote by NeoMvsEu
Phew, that was a lot of text. Definitely a good read, though, coming from a classical background. A few nitpicks:


A tritone = A4 or D5. E-B# is A5, enharmonic with m6. It's still dissonant, but the manner of dissonance is not the same.

Duh!! Of course it's an augmented fifth and not a diminished fifth. Fixed, thanks.


Quote by NeoMvsEu
Technically, in classical theory circles, a "Bb7" that resolves to A would be a German augmented sixth chord resolving to the dominant. (More chromatic fun - check the French aug6 chord out: Bb-D-E-G#. Yes. One flat, one sharp.) Augmented 6ths serve as predominant or altered-dominant chords, and it's perfectly possible to analyze Bird changes (and your tritone substitution) as augmented 6th substitutions (probably with added tones).

This could be a thesis topic too
Well that's classical theory circles for you. Tritone substitutions were much easier to explain though.
Si
#23
Quote by Harmosis
Not quite. In 20Tigers' example, the A is the I (tonic), not the V. In this case, the Bb7 is the dominant (as a tritone substitution). You can find Gr6 chords resolving to the tonic in a major key but it's I64, which is considered a double-suspension of the V. So, a Gr6 is pre-dominant, and a tritone sub is the dominant. This may be a negligible distinction is some contexts but if you're going to call a chord a German augmented sixth, then it should behave as one.

It seemed to me that while that section (Bb7-A7) could have made the "tonic" A-major, the whole progression it was plugged into,
Bb7 A7 D7 G7 C7 F7 Bb7

was a cluster of applied dominants, in which case it could have served very well as a pre-dominant function chord. Actually, they have been used as altered dominants in classical circles as well. Chords are not so inflexible as to only have one function!

To avoid parallel fifths in the Ge+6, one need only resolve one of the offending voices (the fifth) to ignore cadential V6/4-5/3 motion. Yes, this makes a passing Fr+6, but again, this is a way to avoid voice leading violations.

Nowadays, these "rules" do not rule (elisions abound, particularly in arpeggiation and other broken chords), and thus straight Ge+6->I/x (for x key) is a thing.

Quote by 20Tigers
Well that's classical theory circles for you. Tritone substitutions were much easier to explain though.

Agreed, honestly - it's easier to start where you did and go chronologically backwards
#24
20Tigers, I got a lot of use out of what you wrote. I think there are often a lot of questions about non-diatonic chords and you did a really good job giving me and others something to think about. Thank you for that!

Out of fun, I just can't resist pointing out the way that you started your dissertation above:

Quote by 20Tigers
I could literally spend the entire day writing on this one topic and still not exhaust all the possibilities regarding how to incorporate non-diatonic chords in a progression.

I'm not going to do that but I will give you some ideas to get you thinking...



#25
Without derailing this entire thing (this isn't really a thread about the intricacies of classical harmony)

I dunno how I feel about calling it any kind of +6 chord. Sure it looks and could possibly behave in a manner similar to one, but +6 don't really have roots or inversions, and (tend to) exist purely as voice-leading, polyphonic sonorities.

In a context of pop/contemporary "harmony is vertical not horizontal" music (which this is), it makes more sense to conceptualize it as a good ol' substitute dominant.

In the same way it is not entirely accurate to call a Ger+6 in D a Bb7, it is not entirely accurate to call Bb7 in the key of D a Ger+6.

It makes more sense to refer to it as a SubV/V or a bVI7, depending on resolution (20T's example is the former) in a pop/contemporary/vertical context. If this was a string quartet, Ger+6 all day.

Disclaimer: Not trying to start a classical vs. jazz war or claim anyone's wrong, just my 2 cents.
"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
#26
^^Agreed. I'll refrain from further argument unless we're going to look at a specific piece of music. Hypothetical progressions can too easily lead to unconstructive conflict
#27
Quote by Jet Penguin
Without derailing this entire thing (this isn't really a thread about the intricacies of classical harmony)

That's fine Maybe we could veer the discussion towards an interface between classical and pop/jazz theory!


I dunno how I feel about calling it any kind of +6 chord. Sure it looks and could possibly behave in a manner similar to one, but +6 don't really have roots or inversions, and (tend to) exist purely as voice-leading, polyphonic sonorities.

In a context of pop/contemporary "harmony is vertical not horizontal" music (which this is), it makes more sense to conceptualize it as a good ol' substitute dominant.

In the same way it is not entirely accurate to call a Ger+6 in D a Bb7, it is not entirely accurate to call Bb7 in the key of D a Ger+6.

It makes more sense to refer to it as a SubV/V or a bVI7, depending on resolution (20T's example is the former) in a pop/contemporary/vertical context. If this was a string quartet, Ger+6 all day.

I will ask you this: what does the subdominant function depend on? Can a chord outside of any notion horizontal context act as a subdominant?

Tchaikovsky, for one, was of the mind that these altered sixth chords should act as altered dominants and not as subdominant, so the thought that a Ge+6 could act as an altered dominant (as tritone substitution does) is not foreign, although still less often encountered than its predominant counterpart. The augmented sixth has not changed, but the scale degrees have changed.

As for resolution and inversions, there are only two, but this is because the bass is generally most stable if it ends up on the tonic afterwards. Here they are.




Disclaimer: Not trying to start a classical vs. jazz war or claim anyone's wrong, just my 2 cents.

Perfectly fine, it's just a difference of looking through different lenses. There's nothing wrong with either name! It's just a difference between theories. Thanks for the discussion, it really is good to have.
#28
^^Those examples are still resolving to V, no? Are you arguing for augmented sixth chords being derived from V/V rather than iv? I'm not sure what your angle is here.
#29
Neo:

To clarify, when I wrote SubV, I am referring to a Substitute dominant, not a Subdominant. I just now realize how those could look the same if notated as SubV to those unfamiliar with the shorthand...

In my mind, any harmony that is not dominant (contains a tritone) or the tonic chord has the potential to be subdominant. Now granted, there are dominant chords that do not have dominant function, but that's another story

Substitute dominants (of which tritone substitution is the obvious example) want to resolve down by half step, making their behavior similar to some Ger+6 chords.

As far as the Tchaikovsky thing goes (and I may be misunderstanding the question, so I apologize in advance), you can create a +6 sound off of any scale degree.

It is often assumed if we see the +6 symbol, that the +6 chord is going to V in whatever key we are in.

However, we can also have a +6 chord going to any scale degree, so we often see:

Ger+6/I or Fr+6/IV

Schubert did that often.

Same principle as secondary dominants, with +6 sonorities.

It's no problem at all. I love the discussion, I just want to make sure we don't drown OP in heavy theoretical discussion when they only asked for a crash course in non-diatonic harmony!

Harmosis:
I think his point is that a +6 chord doesn't HAVE to go to a V chord, and we could thus treat +6 chords like secondary dominants (It+6/VI)

But I may be misreading the question...

The other issue is IIRC, classicists tend to refer to any chromatically altered dominant chord as altered dominants, where as the pop/contemporary crowd saves that term for chords with altered 9s and 5s
"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
#32
Quote by Jet Penguin

Harmosis:
I think his point is that a +6 chord doesn't HAVE to go to a V chord, and we could thus treat +6 chords like secondary dominants (It+6/VI)


Hmm...example? I've only seen them go to V or I64 (or i64).
#33
Using spoilers to shorten this.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Neo:

To clarify, when I wrote SubV, I am referring to a Substitute dominant, not a Subdominant. I just now realize how those could look the same if notated as SubV to those unfamiliar with the shorthand...

In my mind, any harmony that is not dominant (contains a tritone) or the tonic chord has the potential to be subdominant. Now granted, there are dominant chords that do not have dominant function, but that's another story

Substitute dominants (of which tritone substitution is the obvious example) want to resolve down by half step, making their behavior similar to some Ger+6 chords.

As far as the Tchaikovsky thing goes (and I may be misunderstanding the question, so I apologize in advance), you can create a +6 sound off of any scale degree.

It is often assumed if we see the +6 symbol, that the +6 chord is going to V in whatever key we are in.

However, we can also have a +6 chord going to any scale degree, so we often see:

Ger+6/I or Fr+6/IV

Schubert did that often.

Same principle as secondary dominants, with +6 sonorities.


AH that shorthand now makes sense, thanks for clarifying about SUBSTITUTE dominants!

Harmonies and subdominant potentials: I agree with your statements, but the basis of calling X chord subdominant has to spawn from somewhere outside of X, and that's why I can't agree that good harmonic analysis in any form can be exclusively horizontal or exclusively vertical. That was my point.

For the second half (Tchaikovsky and Schubert), yes to making +6's from any scale degree. The Mm7 chord has a different resolution than the A6, anyways. To apply this in jazz, the A6 chord resolutions may be elided to get to another 7 chord sound (for other people, "Db7" would normally go to C, with the Cb/B in chord 1 going up to C-natural, but instead it's only implied).

I agree with everything except for the part where "Ger+6/I" becomes a secondary dominant, because the (primary) dominant is always that of I anyways. Basically, it can act as a dominant-function chord, whether that be secondary or substituted in nature.


It's no problem at all. I love the discussion, I just want to make sure we don't drown OP in heavy theoretical discussion when they only asked for a crash course in non-diatonic harmony!

@OP: sorry if you've drowned! I knew CPR before, and I hope that's enough to resuscitate you...

Harmosis:
I think his point is that a +6 chord doesn't HAVE to go to a V chord, and we could thus treat +6 chords like secondary dominants (It+6/VI)

But I may be misreading the question...

The other issue is IIRC, classicists tend to refer to any chromatically altered dominant chord as altered dominants, where as the pop/contemporary crowd saves that term for chords with altered 9s and 5s

And yes to all of this, with the caveat on top included (it can also work as a classical altered dominant). Thanks for mediating!

(By the way, I'm female )

@Harmosis: try this , it's Schubert. Sorry it's also long. Fast-forwarding to coda, 11:22. 11:22 is in tonic, 11:30 is the Ge+6 which eventually resolves back to tonic.

@JazzRockFeel (I do hope I looked long enough to get your S/N right): second year, second semester, with a bunch of self-study and correction by a dedicated TA. (I skipped into second year. Guess I'm not surprised many people didn't warm up to me.)
Last edited by NeoMvsEu at Jan 29, 2015,
#34
Trying to think of a good specific example form the literature.

I don't remember who did it but I recently saw a Fr+6/VI. I think like this: (key of C)

I - IV - Fr+6/vi - vi - Ger+6 - V

The inversions on the first two chords escape me...

Analyzing it the pop way we get:

C - F- Bb7#11 - Am - Ab7 - G
"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
#36
I'm in total agreement.

I didn't mean the Ger+6 was literally a secondary dominant; only that the principles of application are similar if not the same.

Where are you at school?

Also JRF has a point. A strange point but a point.
"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
#38
I'm out of undergrad. Didn't major or minor in music, but it's been with me most of my life. The nerd is strong.

My original point was that a dominant 7th X7, if it resolved to (X-1 semitone), could veritably have served as an augmented 6th in the context. It's pedantic to non-classicists, perhaps, but if it can explain anything about otherwise mysterious resolution or harmonic functions, more power to the theorist!
#39
Oh of course. The reverse is also true, but that one's meaningless in the pop world.....
"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
#40
Quote by NeoMvsEu


@Harmosis: try this , it's Schubert. Sorry it's also long. Fast-forwarding to coda, 11:22. 11:22 is in tonic, 11:30 is the Ge+6 which eventually resolves back to tonic.


What a cool piece. OK, I heard the tonic (A), then a big Bb chord which then came to rest on a Bb7, then back to the tonic. It seemed to me that this is more of an N6.

OK, then I pulled the score and I see that the "Bb7" is notated like an augmented 6th, but in the key of D (IV), not in A. So it's more like Gr6 - V in D (IV). So it's basically a Gr6 resolving to V, but the "V" is the I in the key. Very cool, but I don't think you can properly call that Gr6 resolving to I. It's not quite that simple Just more of Schubert's playing around with our expectations.
Page 1 of 2