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#2914640 - 03/13/18 07:14 AM Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory?
Dr88s Offline
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Having been trained with classical lessons for most of my music making life, I learned very little in the way of chord theory and I feel stunted as a musician for it.

When I accompany people, I tend to play the chords as written, inverted ergonomically or to taste. It often sounds boring to me, and I love how the professionals can add some colourful transition chords or altered chords. I try to make a note of these and understand what's going on so that I could try to apply it in my own situations, but it's hard without the theory context.

Take this nice little chord progression I heard at the end of Adele's live cover of Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love". (Start at ~3:44 of the linked video). Coming out of a Bb, the chords on the last line are C7 Eb/F Bb. On this rendition, the pianist adds, between the Bb and the rest of the phrase, what sounds like to my ears D7 Gm (or maybe Gm7) Bb7.

It's really nice, but I need to understand WHY this progression works before I can think about integrating it into my library of tricks.

I know that people can spend a lifetime learning theory and harmonic analysis, and I don't want to offend anyone by asking for a simple or quick solution. I'm just hoping that someone can point me toward resources to further my musical knowledge in areas like this.

Video of the particular song here:
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#2914654 - 03/13/18 08:20 AM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dr88s]
David Loving Offline
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Look at some of these: Mehegan
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#2914672 - 03/13/18 09:24 AM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: David Loving]
BbAltered Offline
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Funny: most of my early playing years were spent avoiding classical music, so I know a lot of theory, but feel stunted by bad technique.

So in the example you gave above, the C7 - Eb/F - Bb progression is a variation on ii-V-I (examine the roots of the chords to see why). If this pattern repeats, one can play a VI (Gm) to return smoothly to C7, making the progression a ii-V-I-vi. I can see that adding the D7 make the progression ii-V-I-III-vi. Bach was working changes like this in the 17th century, and over time our ears now recognize this progression as good and harmonious.
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#2914692 - 03/13/18 12:05 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: BbAltered]
MAJUSCULE Online   happy
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See if you can meet up with David R for a lesson or two smile
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#2914705 - 03/13/18 01:17 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dr88s]
Mjazz Offline
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Posts: 161
Loc: CA US
Originally Posted By: Dr88s
Take this nice little chord progression I heard at the end of Adele's live cover of Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love". (Start at ~3:44 of the linked video). Coming out of a Bb, the chords on the last line are C7 Eb/F Bb. On this rendition, the pianist adds, between the Bb and the rest of the phrase, what sounds like to my ears D7 Gm (or maybe Gm7) Bb7.

It's really nice, but I need to understand WHY this progression works before I can think about integrating it into my library of tricks.

I think the progression is:

| C7 - F7sus - | Bb D7b13 Gm7 Bb7 |

| C7 - F7sus - | F7susb9 - - - | Bb - - - ||

To my ear, what gives the progression its nice wrinkle is the Bb7-to-C7 movement. If you play the progression without the Bb7, it sounds much more plain:

| C7 - F7sus - | Bb D7b13 Gm7 - |

| C7 - F7sus - | F7susb9 - - - | Bb - - - ||

which in Roman numeral terms is basically just:

| V7/V - V7 - | I V7/vi vi7 - |

| V7/V - V7 - | V7 - - - | I - - - ||

The C7 (V7/V) and D7 (V7/vi) are secondary dominants, each resolving down a fifth to the chord that follows it, and they can be thought of as substitutions for the diatonic chords on the same roots (Cm7, which is ii7, and Dm7, which is iii7). If you change them back to Cm7 and Dm7, the progression works fine but doesn't have as much forward momentum.

Now, the Bb7 ...

There are a couple of ways of thinking about the Bb7, but a fairly straightforward one is that it is a secondary dominant, V7/IV, which you'd expect to resolve down a fifth to Ebmaj7 (the diatonic IV chord), but instead has a deceptive resolution up a whole step to C7. That deceptive resolution, to C7 instead of Ebmaj7, has a definite logic to it: C7 (functioning as a secondary dominant, V7/V) is a substitution for Cm7 (the diatonic ii7 chord). Ebmaj7 and Cm7 share three common tones and sound very similar, and both are subdominant-function chords in the key of Bb.

If you play the progression with Ebmaj7 instead of C7 after the Bb7, you can hear the same basic flavor:

| C7 - F7sus - | Bb D7b13 Gm7 Bb7 |

| Ebmaj7 - F7sus - | F7susb9 - - - | Bb - - - ||

Likewise if you play it with Cm7 instead:

| C7 - F7sus - | Bb D7b13 Gm7 Bb7 |

| Cm7 - F7sus - | F7susb9 - - - | Bb - - - ||

You can think of Ebmaj7, Cm7, and C7, generically, as all fitting this description: "a subdominant-function chord or a substitution for it". C7 has a brighter, more forward-leaning sound than the other two, I'd say.

Anyway, hope that helps. Others may view this differently.

Two books that I've found to be extremely useful on chord theory are:

Barrie Nettles & Richard Graf, The Chord Scale Theory and Jazz Harmony
Joe Mulholland & Tom Hojnacki, The Berklee Book of Jazz Harmony

Also very useful, on the logic of chord progressions and how they can be modified:

Randy Felts, Reharmonization Techniques
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#2914707 - 03/13/18 01:25 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Mjazz]
Dockeys Offline
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^
This

Will chime in When I get a chance. Just at a gig now.
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#2914714 - 03/13/18 01:43 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dockeys]
Dr88s Offline
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Registered: 05/12/13
Posts: 1258
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Wow. Wow. Wow.

Just wanted to post a thank you for the replies, especially the very detailed ones.

Reading it at work and not at the piano, I can't wrap my head around any of this, but rest assured I will give the replies careful reads while at the piano. One major shortcoming is that I can't even wrap my head around to some terms like 'subdominant'; I'd better pick up some of those recommended books.
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#2914717 - 03/13/18 01:55 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: MAJUSCULE]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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Individual chords... is one category... an ongoing learning / memorization process.

Another category is... Chord A connects beautifully with chord B. An endless state of discovery.

Then stretching this category.. I found ( and you likely already know some ) going beyond connecting 2 chords, can go to 3 or more chords.

As a practice, I would learn what this ( Adele ) pianist played ... A process that can fit the above model... namely, individual Chord...
connecting two chords. and finally
a string of chords.. that all sound satisfying to you... a steadily growing harmonic language.

I left out one discovery I made,,, and that is how these chords are precisely spelled or voiced.
And that category ( there are many ways to voice or spell even a triad on a piano with ten fingers! ) finally expands into the most amazing, beguiling sound.. Voice leading itself... the ultimate expression of harmony including a specific bass , tenor, alto and soprano part. SATB
This is the level that Bach and others in classical domain perfected. It is awesome to hear how a Tchaikovsky or Mozart etc. treated each VOICE in a so called chord, in the most inspiring ways. Mere chord symbols can easily remove that level of sophistication... but I digress!

The WHY part, why do they sound good?, is a great question.
I learned from the "Theory of Harmony" elements of theory that partially answer that great question.

The Why, relates to a number of concepts talked about in classical theory.
Incomplete list.

-Common tones.
-Theory of remotely related and closely related key centers - the study of modulation.
-Behavior of minor mode.
-The primacy of the 3 fundamental harmonies.. I IV and V
-And by extension.. the whole Roman numeral diatonic system, just sounds cool when intermixed.
-The contrapuntal element.. put ( over ) simply , two voices, when moving in opposite directions sound, well.. cool !
-Secondary Dominant theory
- Diminished chord as a Dominant chord with b9
-The primacy of up a fourth ... the most common chord movement ... eg C to F,
Fm to Bb7, E7 A7 .
And second in commonality, is down a third.. eg Cmajor to Am

-How to deal with 2nd inversion triads

-Cadences Perfect, Plagal Deceptive
-Dissonance and consonance ...
-how to deal with the tritone
-The dynamic tendency of tones in a melody eg 7 "likes to" resolve up a step.
4 "likes to" resolve down
- But contradictorily the Seventh in a chord, likes to resolve DOWN a step!

For me, Schoenberg gave me the most info about theory. And theory helps me understand why something sounds pleasing... the Why of harmonic progressions.

One of the most profound realizations I had about harmony and chords was that it is not just a "fat ( juicy ) chord" per se that makes a song sound cool... but the Progression that is the real key.
You cannot ( I cannot ) say this chord is so cool I will use it freely and it will sound cool. No, it is the chord progression that is the most cool sounding element.


Edited by I-missRichardTee (03/13/18 02:29 PM)
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#2914721 - 03/13/18 02:18 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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Mjazz contribution is excellent like

Here is an idea of my evolution, based on this piano part.

Let's say I learned Bb triad.
then one day I learned the Eb triad

Then I learned that Bb to Eb just sounds so right.

Then I learned that Holding the Bb in the bass through both chords, ( Pedal point or second inversion ) really works too.. Bb to Eb/Bb

Then I learned minor chords
And I discovered how cool Bb major to Eb minor was!

Then much later I learned that ( the second to the last chord in the Adele performance ) instead of a Plagal cadence ( IV to I ) I could make the IV chord MINOR
And by extension I could use an F in the bass of the Eb minor chord. Eb Minor/F
to Bb major. And that 2 chord progression, is the most basic at its root.. namely Dominant to Tonic.
You could make a study of how many second to the final chord... chords are possible.

Key of Bb

Eb to Bb
Ebm to Bb
F to Bb
Eb/F to Bb
Ebm/F to Bb
Cb to Bb
Cb7 to Bb

And so on.

The term classical theory uses for the second to the last is penultimate. That term helps me, understand music, just a tiny bit better. That term and all the other terms theory uses, all add a little bit into your understanding of harmony.
And harmony is based on past ( history of composers dating back to 1500 or so ) practices as well as more modern ones.


Edited by I-missRichardTee (03/13/18 02:25 PM)
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#2914724 - 03/13/18 02:26 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Mjazz]
Dave Ferris Offline
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Posts: 5899
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
Mike gave an excellent explanation. I'll just say echo what he posted in that, the reason we play turnarounds is to keep that sense of forward motion flow , as opposed to sitting on the Bb chord for 4 beats. It also injects interest and surprise. In addition to setting up the next section so it has more impact.

I'll just mention another thing, and you might have just said it in passing without giving it much thought, but I think it needs to be pointed out. Also because I just saw someone else make a reference to a "bag of tricks" in another recent thread and you mentioned "library of tricks".

Harmonic knowledge and how to integrate it into your playing and the music has nothing with being a trick. I've also seen reference to "hot licks". The same. People study harmony and technique for years. That painstaking work coupled with "street ears", in addition to knowing how and when to use it --It's not a trick or a hot lick.

Again, much study, thought, listening and experience has gone into the end result you're hearing. Devices like turnarounds, passing chords, reharms, b5 subs - all that stuff can be very subtle. Actually the more advanced and mature musicians don't make it stand out but tastefully blend into the music so it's seamless.

The next time Kenny Barron's in town if I were to go up to him on the break and ask -- hey out of which bag of tricks did you pull out those hot licks for that solo on "You'd be so nice to come home to" ?...I'm sure that would elicit an interesting look and response. wink
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#2914725 - 03/13/18 02:32 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Dockeys Offline
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Mjazz and the others have covered pretty much everything you asked for. When I listened to the Adele clip to me that progression from 3:44 onwards is just a simple extension of the original ii-V-I progression he has played throughout the song except he goes to the minor vi chord creating an unexpected cadence. It's like a mini turnaround which allows a repeat of the last line both lyrically and musically. Very common in jazz but also throughout classical music. Mozart was a master at this unexpected/false cadence for fooling the listener into a false sense of an ending.

The approach to the G minor via the D chord is just standard dominant to tonic (in G minor). He could have altered it even more and played | C7 - F7sus - | Bb/F-D7b13/F#- Gm7-Bb7 |

This creates an alternative bassline with the F moving chromatically up to the G minor chord via the F#. However as its occurring at the end of the tune it might have been too much to the listeners ears to introduce such chromatic movement.
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#2914753 - 03/13/18 04:16 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dave Ferris]
CowboyNQ Offline
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Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
Harmonic knowledge and how to integrate it into your playing and the music has nothing with being a trick. I've also seen reference to "hot licks". The same. People study harmony and technique for years. That painstaking work coupled with "street ears", in addition to knowing how and when to use it --It's not a trick or a hot lick.

Gee, that was a tough little "drive by", Dave! I thought OP's question was phrased very humbly and respectfully. To wit:

Originally Posted By: Dr88s
I know that people can spend a lifetime learning theory and harmonic analysis, and I don't want to offend anyone by asking for a simple or quick solution. I'm just hoping that someone can point me toward resources to further my musical knowledge in areas like this.

I'm quite certain the "bag of tricks" metaphor was not intended flippantly, read in the context of the entire post.

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#2914756 - 03/13/18 04:22 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: CowboyNQ]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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A little sensitive, are we? Dave is not only a tone poet with piano, but combines his extensive musical knowledge with well crafted words; a gift I sorely lack. The OP, was humble yes, and he received freely given wisdom. I say, that is worth preserving over tip toeing .
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#2914757 - 03/13/18 04:28 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
CowboyNQ Offline
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Loc: Adelaide, Australia
Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
A little sensitive, are we?

No.

Like Dave in his post above, I felt what I said was worth calling out in light of the fact that Dr88s ALWAYS takes great care to treat other forum members and their wisdom with great respect when making comment and asking questions. Many of us could learn from him.

I don't disagree with anything Dave said - however the timing and context felt "off" to me.

Happy to move on.

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#2914773 - 03/13/18 06:26 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dave Ferris]
Dave Ferris Offline
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Like I said
Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
I'll just mention another thing, and you might have just said it in passing without giving it much thought....


Not meant to come down hard in particular on Dr88s as I don't think he meant anything degrading by it. I probably could have used a different choice of words more strongly indicating so but I had a student walking up the driveway and was in a hurry. I was speaking more in a generality after seeing the other reference a few days ago. I apologize to Dr88s if he had his feeling hurt, wasn't my intention. smile
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#2914778 - 03/13/18 07:15 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dave Ferris]
waygetter Offline
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Registered: 03/11/07
Posts: 683
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Not to beat a dead horse, but does the term ‘bag of tricks’ imply that there isn’t a great deal of work put into it? A great magician probably works a lifetime and expends a great deal of effort, passion and care to fill his bag of tricks? Is it wrong for a piano player to use the same analogy?

I get it, that terms and phrases we’ve all grown up with, may be used and interpreted very differently. I find that it’s useful to understand and communicate in other people’s language, helps make a better connection. And some things transcend language barriers, like math, and great music! Like the kind of great music that Dave and Dr88s make!!
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#2914780 - 03/13/18 07:20 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dave Ferris]
CowboyNQ Offline
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Registered: 06/14/15
Posts: 893
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
Like I said
Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
I'll just mention another thing, and you might have just said it in passing without giving it much thought....
I apologize to Dr88s if he had his feeling hurt, wasn't my intention. smile

Hey Dave,

Dr88s may well not have been offended at all, it's certainly not my right to put words in his mouth. However I do have a great deal of respect for his demeanour on this forum and wanted to honestly express my viewpoint on what came across (to me) as a bit of a dressing down.

Had it come from a lot of folks I would have ignored it but your opinion carries significant weight, for all the right reasons - as IMRT already pointed out. I didn't type that note lightly.

What I said was intended without rancour; it was intended as a sitting-around-the-table style conversational "hey mate, don't you think that's a bit tough?" which I can see is exactly how you took it.

And I'm relieved and very happy to stand corrected on my perspective, so thanks for taking the time to do so!

Apologies to all for taking the thread off topic.




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#2914785 - 03/13/18 07:57 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dave Ferris]
Barryjam Offline
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Registered: 10/03/05
Posts: 396
Loc: Auburn, Northern CA
I know I'm not contradicting anyone's point of view, but perspective and experience matters greatly. When I hear "wonderful" reharms and "unexpected" ending progressions, as a LISTENER, my initial response is "wow," not entirely different from seeing a talented magic "trick." Later, through years of hard work as a PLAYER, my wonder of "what did the composer just do there" changes to a satisfying smile of "l see what (s)he did there." Still later, as a PERFORMER with other musicians, especially on tunes that are usually played "just like the record," I once again return to "wonderment" as three of us suddenly do a surprise progression together, each smiling inwardly as if the unspoken communication happened magically. I do realize that this inspiration is the residue of perspiration, but the quality of it being "miraculous" remains and brings great joy. (Yes , there are times when alternative progressions lead to the proverbial train wreck, but the risk and reward feeling is also kinda magical.)
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#2914788 - 03/13/18 08:29 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Barryjam]
GovernorSilver Offline
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I recently discovered Rick Beato's Youtube channel - might be worth checking out if you feel intimidated at the thought of trying to learn a bunch of theory in one sitting. He's got a bunch of videos, each that focuses on a specific topic. If you pace yourself, you can pick up some theory a bit at a time.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLW0NGgv1qnfyoar2YGLoCqzTnhzE3R61d
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#2914789 - 03/13/18 08:30 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: CowboyNQ]
Dr88s Offline
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Posts: 1258
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Wow. Lots happened while I was playing with my band tonight. Let me try to address everything.

Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
I'll just mention another thing, and you might have just said it in passing without giving it much thought ...


Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
I apologize to Dr88s if he had his feeling hurt, wasn't my intention. smile


Right off the bat, no offence taken.

And no offence intended on my part either, as I tried to indicate in my last paragraph (the one that CowboyNQ quoted.) Instead of 'bag of tricks', I could have called it a 'progression lexicon' or something like that and not elicited the same response.

For the record, I was trying to convey that I have no training or even any deep knowledge of the theory behind the harmonic logic in these chords. As a hobbyist, when I hear a song where there's a particular way of getting from chord X to chord Z that doesn't necessarily pass through chord Y that gives me the goosebumps, I take note of the song, try to figure out the progression, and take mental note to remember the progression so that I can 'steal' it (again, just terminology - maybe a better word is 'replicate') the next time I'm faced with chords X and Z. This happens a lot when I listen to Elton John, and indeed sometimes when I'm trying to interpret printed chords my choice of voicings and transitions reflect a certain EJ quality - because I have tried to mentally integrate the particular passages into my sphere of musical knowledge.

Calling it a bag of tricks indeed cheapens this process, but I had hoped to clarify by subsequently overtly acknowledging that this is a craft that takes years to develop.

Originally Posted By: CowboyNQ
I felt what I said was worth calling out in light of the fact that Dr88s ALWAYS takes great care to treat other forum members and their wisdom with great respect when making comment and asking questions. Many of us could learn from him.


Originally Posted By: CowboyNQ
Dr88s may well not have been offended at all, it's certainly not my right to put words in his mouth. However I do have a great deal of respect for his demeanour on this forum


CowboyNQ, thank you for the kind words about my character. They mean a lot to me. Despite my 1100+ posts here, I've never felt tremendously 'known' or 'noticed' here because my contributions are dwarfed by the immense knowledge and experience that the rest of you have. It's nice to know that other forum users notice!

As for the rest of you kind and knowledgeable forumites:

There is a great wealth of information in your replies.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not interpret a lack of individual responses as not having appreciated, understood, or cared for your efforts. I will have to go over these responses while sitting at the piano over the coming DAYS to get the most out of them and I really do value each and every one who takes the time out of their busy lives to try help a perplexed guy out.

I promise to update the thread once I've worked with some / all of your ideas.
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#2914801 - 03/13/18 09:59 PM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dr88s]
I-missRichardTee Offline
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Registered: 09/04/11
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I would kindly, respectfully, gently, "challenge" Dave on what he meant by his offense at the terms hot licks and I forgot the other....bag of tricks.
My aim, as usual, is NOT confrontational but educational.

I have a hint of what Dave means... but I would like clarification..
I have taken music seriously at different points in my life... and hot licks can come off like cheating somehow... like an illegitimate approach

Ok now here is another perspective:
I learned music at first completely on my own.
And though I do not like the phrase hot licks ( and my teacher even criticized the idea of licks ) I still want to place this before Dave, to see the subtle distinctions between licks and serious approach to musical growth.

I learned sounds before I even knew their names.. I suppose triads. And I confess
"bag of tricks" resonates with me when I think about how I developed.

This is the thrust of my seeing a connection to Bag of Tricks
I just kept adding more and more and yet more new ( new for me ) ideas to what I knew the previous week or month.
Triads got moved all over the piano... in a sense that is a trick... moving from triad to triad by intellect and ear.
Then I must have added notes to triads..
By teen, upper structure were naturally a part of my "bag of tricks "
Of course music is more than a bag of chord voicings
but I can see how it relates.
Just tonite Linwood Showed us a voicing that I took to... if I internalize it, and apply it to real music... it could be said the voicing he provided is another trick.

Thoughts?


Edited by I-missRichardTee (03/13/18 10:04 PM)
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#2914866 - 03/14/18 07:28 AM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Dr88s Offline
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Registered: 05/12/13
Posts: 1258
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Well, yes Tee. This is pretty much what I was referring to.

I think we all learn by hearing, finding something pleasing to the ear, and trying to internalize it. That's what I meant with my initial post, nothing more and nothing less.
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#2914905 - 03/14/18 09:06 AM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Dr88s]
Mjazz Offline
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Registered: 06/05/15
Posts: 161
Loc: CA US
Originally Posted By: Dr88s
One major shortcoming is that I can't even wrap my head around to some terms like 'subdominant' ..

The "essential" diatonic chords in a key are the I, IV, and V, called the tonic, subdominant, and dominant. They form the fundamental cadences:
I-V-I
I-IV-I
I-IV-V-I

The other diatonic chords in a key can be grouped with those three chords functionally:

Tonic-function chords: I, iii and vi
Subdominant-function chords: IV and ii
Dominant-function chords: V (vii*)

So, for example, when iii7 or vi7 (in Bb major: Dm7 or Gm7) are used with diatonic function in a chord progression, they typically have a tonic-like function ... they sound like "home", although not as "home-y" as the actual tonic chord itself (I: Bbmaj7) and each has its own flavor.

Likewise, when ii7 (in Bb major: Cm7) is used with diatonic function in a progression, it has a subdominant-like function ... it sounds very similar to the subdominant chord itself (IV: Ebmaj7) and performs the same function (often a pre-dominant function), although it has a flavor of its own.

In jazz, the ii-V-I cadence is ubiquitous. In certain other genres, IV-V-I might be more common. But functionally, they are exactly the same:

subdominant function -> dominant function -> tonic function

So that's what I meant when I referred to Ebmaj7 (IVmaj7 in the key of Bb major) and Cm7 (ii7) as both being subdominant-function chords. Sorry for all the jargon!

* Note: The vii chord is a special case; I won't bother with it here.
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#2914913 - 03/14/18 09:40 AM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: Mjazz]
I-missRichardTee Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 6971
Loc: S. Ca. USA
Originally Posted By: Mjazz
Originally Posted By: Dr88s
One major shortcoming is that I can't even wrap my head around to some terms like 'subdominant' ..

The "essential" diatonic chords in a key are the I, IV, and V, called the tonic, subdominant, and dominant. They form the fundamental cadences:
I-V-I
I-IV-I
I-IV-V-I

The other diatonic chords in a key can be grouped with those three chords functionally:

Tonic-function chords: I, iii and vi
Subdominant-function chords: IV and ii
Dominant-function chords: V (vii*)

So, for example, when iii7 or vi7 (in Bb major: Dm7 or Gm7) are used with diatonic function in a chord progression, they typically have a tonic-like function ... they sound like "home", although not as "home" as the actual tonic chord (I: Bbmaj7) itself, and each has its own flavor.

Likewise, when ii7 (in Bb major: Cm7) is used with diatonic function in a progression, it has a subdominant-like function ... it sounds very similar to the subdominant chord itself (IV: Ebmaj7) and performs the same function (often a pre-dominant function), although it has a flavor of its own.

In jazz, the ii-V-I cadence is ubiquitous. In certain other genres, IV-V-I might be more common. But functionally, they are exactly the same:

subdominant function -> dominant function -> tonic function

So that's what I meant when I referred to Ebmaj7 (IVmaj7 in the key of Bb major) and Cm7 (ii7) as both being subdominant-function chords. Sorry for all the jargon!

* Note: The vii chord is a special case; I won't bother with it here.


Mjazz, Admirable explanations. like
I have often thought the ability to teach or transmit or communicate knowledge is a highly valuable gift.. I wish I had it as well as you do.
I struggled in the past with Structural Functions of Harmony by Felix Saltzer.
I never fully got it... I see here your mentioning 'using the ii chord as a diatonic chord'
this reminds me of the Structural Function books' half understood points.

With peaked interest: I am guessing you understand this topic so well that you can show how a ii chord can function in a diatonic setting but also in other settings?
I am guessing some kind of modal function? And maybe even another?
Please elaborate when time avails.


Edited by I-missRichardTee (03/14/18 09:43 AM)
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#2914923 - 03/14/18 10:36 AM Re: Resources to help pad my shortcomings in theory? [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Dr88s Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 05/12/13
Posts: 1258
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Mjazz, without having had the time to sit down and explore what you and others had initially responded, this last answer makes a lot of sense - I appreciate you having broken it down for me further.
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