Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Kinda OT: Just what is it about the v-minor?


MathOfInsects

Recommended Posts

This is a conversation that I've had with musician-friends from time to time, and thought I'd toss it out to the board for thoughts as well: What makes the sound of a I moving to a minor v so compelling? It's a reliably interesting change whenever it comes up. It's functionally just a sub for the bVII chord, which also sounds interesting. But that's not all of it. It's compelling in itself, as a v-chord, and as a place for harmony to go as it leaves the tonic.

 

Why is it so cool-sounding?

 

To hear it, go to the piano and play a C chord. Then play a Gm chord. That's the sound. Way hipper than C-Bb, and completely different.

 

Some examples:

James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" ("Just yesterday MORNING...")

The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" ("Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going TO...)

Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" ("....well aNOTHER crazy day") (Come to think of it....this song has a really interesting ambiguous tonic. Never realized it until right now. The verse starts in one tonic, then, based on that v, switches to ii-IV-I to a tonic a 4th up. Clever songwriting.)

 

(I know those are all old--funny enough, some older than ME--but they are the first that came to mind.)

 

Other examples? Thoughts about what makes that sound so interesting?

"
Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 38
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I think is creates a subtle tension, so to speak, that then resolves itself very satisfactorily to the listener's ear.

 

Adds a bit of color, or as you say, "hipper," sound to the standard progression.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Arturia Keylab 61MK2 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a conversation that I've had with musician-friends from time to time, and thought I'd toss it out to the board for thoughts as well: What makes the sound of a I moving to a minor v so compelling? It's a reliably interesting change whenever it comes up. It's functionally just a sub for the bVII chord, which also sounds interesting. But that's not all of it. It's compelling in itself, as a v-chord, and as a place for harmony to go as it leaves the tonic.

 

Why is it so cool-sounding?

 

To hear it, go to the piano and play a C chord. Then play a Gm chord. That's the sound. Way hipper than C-Bb, and completely different.

 

Some examples:

James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" ("Just yesterday MORNING...")

The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" ("Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going TO...)

Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" ("....well aNOTHER crazy day") (Come to think of it....this song has a really interesting ambiguous tonic. Never realized it until right now. The verse starts in one tonic, then, based on that v, switches to ii-IV-I to a tonic a 4th up. Clever songwriting.)

 

(I know those are all old--funny enough, some older than ME--but they are the first that came to mind.)

 

Other examples? Thoughts about what makes that sound so interesting?

Good idea and very helpful to include song examples for those of us not sitting at a (musical) keyboard. At first glance my imagination had the vm acting as the beginning of a iim / V turnaround relative to the IV. as in C Gm/C F. Thinking of Fire and Rain cleared all that out of my head.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been drawn to the v-minor for quite a while. It's a great tool for writing, and free improvisation. Sometimes entire pieces are written reflecting the major key with a b7 in the scale - which causes the v-minor. In high school / college music theory I learned that was Mixolydian mode. Beginning to learn about modes opened a big door in my music education process.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I saw the thread title, I assumed that Roland released a mini-keys version of the V-Synth. Then I clicked and read it and remembered, oh yeah, music.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think of the v- as a borrowed chord from the parallel natural minor mode. In C, G minor is a member of the parallel C natural minor mode.

Thus we get the surprising resolution to C major (I) after the borrowed G minor (v-).

 

A little different, but Cole Porter like to set up a minor key type (ii V) and then resolve it to a happy C Major. (That's like the effect of a cloudy day suddenly becoming a sunny day, imo)

 

"A borrowed chord (also called mode mixture and modal interchange) is a chord borrowed from the parallel key (minor or major scale with the same tonic). Borrowed chords are typically used as "color chords", providing variety through contrasting scale forms, major and the three forms of minor."

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, I've had out-of-town gigs every weekend, and this one was no different. (Tropical MN this time...)

 

THANK YOU for thoughtful responses. It is indeed technically Mixo, and is (therefore, and also additionally) a borrowed chord from several related keys.

 

As most discerned, I mean specifically the movement of a I as an opening chord, to the v-minor next. (So resolving to I FROM the v-minor, which is also a nifty sound, isn't quite what I mean.)

 

I remember reading an interview with McCartney where he talked about this progression as something he and Lennon "knew" would always sound cool. And for anyone who writes music, it's a very familiar bit of harmonic temptation.

 

Yet....I'm still not quite sure the "why" part is on the table here. What is the INSTANT fascination that two-chord progression sets up? Certainly, the MEANS of it is the borrowed-harmony and tension-against-tonic bit. But lots of chords might fill that bill. What makes this one so reliably compelling?

 

Thanks for the additional examples. Come to think of it, I do mentally associate this progression with the Dead.

 

And stellar move with the "Do You Hear...." example. That was ninja.

 

 

"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me Easy To Love is my fave use of Vm maybe because it is more a surprise when

in key of G it goes Am to Dm to Am to D7 ( or Am to Ebm7 Ab7 ) such a pleasant surprise.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Ferry Cross the Mercy did the I vm. Loved that from my youth.

 

Funny...what was that instrumental song (60s?) that did I vm bVII and had a bunch of bird calls in the background? Seems like it had some exotic scale choices also???????? It had a baseline that went (for example in key of C) G C G Bb . G C Bb .

 

Watermelon Man is I bVII, but On Broadway might be I vm (and then goes up to IV Im so it minors the tonic.

 

Another one that does this on the tonic and fourth beautifully and dramatically is the bridge on (You make me Feel like) a Natural Woman.

 

 

 

 

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

Gigs: Yamaha CP88, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a conversation that I've had with musician-friends from time to time, and thought I'd toss it out to the board for thoughts as well: What makes the sound of a I moving to a minor v so compelling? It's a reliably interesting change whenever it comes up. It's functionally just a sub for the bVII chord, which also sounds interesting. But that's not all of it. It's compelling in itself, as a v-chord, and as a place for harmony to go as it leaves the tonic.

 

Why is it so cool-sounding?

 

To hear it, go to the piano and play a C chord. Then play a Gm chord. That's the sound. Way hipper than C-Bb, and completely different.

 

Some examples:

James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" ("Just yesterday MORNING...")

The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" ("Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going TO...)

Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" ("....well aNOTHER crazy day") (Come to think of it....this song has a really interesting ambiguous tonic. Never realized it until right now. The verse starts in one tonic, then, based on that v, switches to ii-IV-I to a tonic a 4th up. Clever songwriting.)

 

(I know those are all old--funny enough, some older than ME--but they are the first that came to mind.)

 

Other examples? Thoughts about what makes that sound so interesting?

 

I have spoken here before with an air of authority, but in this case I am not. Math brings up one of those aspects of theory that slipped through my fingers.

 

"Fire and Rain", is a song I have in my ear... Somehow C to Bb/C does not encompass the flavour of Vm for me. Or for that matter "On Broadway" "Tequila" ( sax song from 50's ) or a montuno.

All of those have a similar vibe for me... but even though the notes are similar or the same, and theoretical discussion about Mixo mode can be brought in, still, there is something about Vm that FUNCTIONS differently.

Can anyone address this distinction I am feeling? I do not have a theoretical answer, just my gut.

Easy to Love embraces Vm more so for me. And I suspect there is an even stronger more illustrative musical example perhaps from the classical repertoire?

I am very happy that this topic was brought up.. I always want to learn.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, Eyes of the World (Grateful Dead) is a cool example.

 

That's the one that springs to mind for me. There's just enough tension / resolution in this progression that makes it so you (or they) can jam it for 15 minutes straight.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, my all time favorite use of this is in one my all time fave songs! It creates a vibe I can only describe as bittersweet.

 

[video:youtube]

 

Major I, minor v, minor ii, minor iv. Rinse repeat. And do it in 3 or 4 different keys depending on what section of the song you are in.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think part of what makes it compelling is the root movement ie, 5-1 which is a very strong, if not the strongest, root movement. Being so close to a V-I chord movement (different by one note, basically) reinforces that suggestion. It's also suggesting the ii-V to the subdominant, which gives it added complexity.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Wanted to bring this post back to life because it's been percolating in my brain since it first started. This morning, my wife asks me to play at a concert this afternoon and the song is Wexford Carol. And it's got minor v's in it. Written in the 12th century, and it's got 'that' sound.

 

When I first thought about this post, I was thinking about songs I heard back in the early 60's like 'On Broadway'. Maybe some of the African and Celt influences on jazz and folk during that time had brought something back that we had earlier lost.

 

And what about the overtone series? Here it is:

https://cdn.tutsplus.com/audio/uploads/legacy/qt_006_overtone/OvertoneSeries.jpg

 

The gigantic elephant in the room is that the overtone on the seventh step first occurs as a flat-seven and then later occurs as a natural-seven an octave higher and much quieter.

 

Here's my hypothesis: the flatted seventh is completely organic and correct, but western musical tradition left it behind in the dust during the Baroque period. This was a time when the technology of tempering became good enough for Bach to write pieces in all 12 keys for a 'well-tempered' clavier. And the leading-tone of the 'natural' seventh became the primary tool for establishing keys and for changing them. Virtually all of our popular tunes of the first half of the 20th century use the third and seventh as the ways to establish the key we are (temporarily) in. Think of how we educate new jazz pianists, with emphasis on the third and sevenths.

 

So, 'Just what is it about the v-minor?' It's an older harmonic usage that was abandoned centuries ago to gain the ability to easily change keys. But if we put aside our desire to change keys during a song, then this is a beautiful harmony that connotes an older western musical heritage, or perhaps non-western heritage, depending on the listener. And it helps make some sense of all those blues songs where the song starts and ends on a flat-seventh chord.

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a conversation that I've had with musician-friends from time to time, and thought I'd toss it out to the board for thoughts as well: What makes the sound of a I moving to a minor v so compelling? It's a reliably interesting change whenever it comes up. It's functionally just a sub for the bVII chord, which also sounds interesting. But that's not all of it. It's compelling in itself, as a v-chord, and as a place for harmony to go as it leaves the tonic.

 

Why is it so cool-sounding?

 

To hear it, go to the piano and play a C chord. Then play a Gm chord. That's the sound. Way hipper than C-Bb, and completely different.

 

[... examples ...]

 

 

 

 

At first, I was willing to buy this notion, that C to Bb is less hip than C to Gm. I tried it both mentally and at a physical keyboard and almost concluded C to Bb is duller.

 

Yet I then remembered I've had some very happening moments by kicking off a vamp of just these 2 chords for others to solo over. It was "Killer Joe." (Granted the chords are more adorned than straight majors, yet sometimes we can start with those 2, then build them up.)

 

Another one I'm into with its I to bVII neighbor is Steely Dan's "Your Gold Teeth II" after the intro, prior to singing. (It does have Fagen's signature 2nd added, yet we can try it without the "mu" too.)

 

Not trying to be controversial, I've found the I to bVII cool too in some settings.

L.A. Woman has something similar at "I see your hair is burning."

 

To reconcile both ideas, we could play Tequila as I to bVII

or I to v as this talk inspires.

I've heard bands do it both ways, and have gotten into both.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...