Sei sulla pagina 1di 504

vii INTRODUCTION

I. REVIEW of BASIC THEORY MATERIALS

1 Chromatic Scale
2 Intervals and Inversions
3 Major Scale Construction
4 Minor Scale Construction
5 Circle of Fifths
6 Scale Degree Names
Key Signatures and Order of Accidentals
7 Common Notation Errors

II. RHYTHM in JAZZ PERFORMANCE

10 Polyrhythms
11 Swing Eighth Note
12 Accents and Articulations
15 Rhythmic Roles
18 Harmonic Rhythm in Jazz Performance
19 The Larger View: Form as Rhythmic Structure
21 Placement of the Notes
22 Syncopation Studies
28 Syncopation in the Jazz Waltz
29 Polyrhythms in Performance
38 Clave Beat
41 Odd Meters
Mixed Meters
42 Rhythmic Reading and Dictation Exercises
47 Other Suggested Exercises
48 Reading Exercises

III. BASIC TONAL MATERIALS

52 Tonality
55 Pitch Hierarchy
56 Ear Training
Beginning Singing Exercises
60 Beginning Writing Exercises
60 Beginning Tunes for Ear Training
64 Application

IV. TRIADIC GENERALIZATION

69 Tertian Triad
Triadic Generalization
70 Elaboration Devices
Passing Tones
72 Neighbor Tones
74 Neighbor Tone Combinations
78 Arpeggiated Tones
Chromatic Approaches
79 Octave Displacement and Leaps
80 Pedal Point and Pivot Tones
80 Triadic Musical Examples
84 Triad Motive Developed
86 Triadic Embellishment of C Major Triad
87 Triadic Embellishment of C Minor Triad
88 Pentatonic Scale
Blues Scales
90 Blue Notes
91 Blues Scale Musical Examples
Major Blues Scale
92 Minor Blues Scale
Combinations of Major and Minor Blues Scales
93 Generalization Examples Applied

V. DIATONIC HARMONY

95 Diatonic Harmony: Major


Inversions
96 Functional Harmony
98 Determining the Key
99 Chord Identification Practice
100 Diatonic Harmony: Minor
104 Determining the Key
106 Chord Identification Practice Solved

VI. HARMONIC PROGRESSIONS

108 Common Root Movement


Common Progressions in Major
109 Common Progressions in Minor
110 Application of Harmonic Analysis
Hierarchy of Chords
112 Closely Related Keys
114 Secondary Dominants
121 Deceptive Resolutions
122 Dominant Seventh Chords and Deceptive Resolutions
Diminished Seventh Chords and Deceptive Resolutions
126 Value and Limits of Roman Numeral Analysis (RNA)
127 Dominant Chord Exceptions
Tritone Substitution
129 Traditional Augmented Sixth Chords
132 Backdoor Dominants

VII. HARMONIC ANALYSIS

135 Roman Numeral Analysis with Common Jazz Progressions


Progressions that Modulate to Closely Related Keys
136 Turnaround Tunes
137 Progresses to IV with Secondary ii7/IV - V7/IV
Progresses to vi with Secondary iiø7/vi - V7/vi
138 Uses Secondary viio7 Chords
Uses Cycle of Secondary Dominants
139 Chords Borrowed From Parallel Minor
140 Tunes With Similar A Sections
Modulates to Remote Keys
141 Progressions Shown With RNA
151 VIII. HARMONIC SUBSTITUTIONS and TURNAROUNDS

152 Turnaround Progressions


156 Application to Standard Progressions
164 Harmonic Substitutions for Blues in F Major
169 Harmonic Substitutions for Blues in F Minor
170 Harmonic Substitutions for Rhythm Changes
177 Standard Tune Application

IX. HARMONIC SPECIFICITY

179 Specificity and Generalization


180 Guide Tones
181 Bass Lines as Guide Tone Lines
182 Ten Basic Patterns for Bass Lines
184 244,140,625 Bass Lines for Blues
188 Guide Tones Applied to Melodic Lines
189 Linear Implications of Harmony
193 Guide Tones for F Major Blues
197 Blues Etude Guide Tones
Guide Tone Line Applications to Standard Progressions
203 Step Progression
206 Other Voices as Guide Tones
221 Avoid Notes?

X. COMMON MELODIC OUTLINES

224 Linear Harmony


226 Constructing the Three Basic Outlines
229 Outline Examples
Examples of Outline No. 1
239 Examples of Outline No. 2
243 Examples of Outline No. 3
247 Combination of Outlines
250 Outline Applications
Applications to Standard Progressions
255 Outline Embellishment and Development Ideas
259 Outline Etude
260 Ear Training

XI. HARMONY: OVERVIEW of VOICINGS

264 Four Part Voice Leading


265 Five Part Voice Leading
276 Piano Overview
281 Accompaniment Classifications
284 Arranging Voicings in Brief
Sax Soli Voicings
286 Non-Harmonic Tones
292 Brass Voicings
297 Brass and Saxophone Combination Voicings
299 Special Case and Clusters Voicings
300 Vocal Voicings
String Ensemble Voicings
302 XII. MODES and MODAL FRAMEWORKS

305 Modes Bright to Dark


306 Major, Minor or Modal?
308 Modal Melodic Examples
312 When is it Modal and When is it Functional Harmony?
313 Chord Symbols and Modes
Tunes with Modal and Functional Harmony Combinations
314 Tunes with Modal Mixture
Modal Planing
Modal Progressions
318 Motivic Development
Compositional Devices for Motivic Development
322 Motivic Development in Modal Improvisation

323 XIII. QUARTAL HARMONY

331 XIV. OTHER SCALES and COLORS

332 Scales for Jazz Improvisation


Chord/Scale Equivalency
333 Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale
336 Relationship Between 7th and 4th Modes of Melodic Minor
340 Modes of the Major Scale with b6
345 Applications of Major Scale with a b6 in a Composition
348 Scales of Limited Transposition
353 Chord/Scale Relationships Review
358 Hexatonic Options358
359 Determining the Appropriate Sound
Chord Symbol and Context
Melodic Implications and Chord Symbol
365 Impositions over Traditional Frameworks

XV. EXTENDED TERTIAN STRUCTURES and TRIADIC SUPERIMPOSITION

370 Notation Shorthand


382 Triadic Superimpositions Formulas and Examples

XVI. PENTATONIC APPLICATIONS

388 Pentatonic Applications


389 Pentatonic Superimposition Formulas
393 Pentatonic Superimposition Formulas

XVII. COLORING "OUTSIDE" the LINES and BEYOND

394 Approaches to Coloring Outside the Lines


403 and Beyond

XVIII. ANALYSIS: the BIG PICTURE

405 Transcription
406 Analysis
409 So What: Miles Davis
415 All Blues: Cannonball Adderley
426 Blue In Green: John Coltrane
427 Freddie Freeloader: Wynton Kelly
435 Billiei's Bounce: Charlie Parker

XIX. EXPANDING HARMONIC VOCABULARY

441 Introduction
447 Voice Leading
Harmonic Rhythm
448 Mixture of Harmonic Colors
450 Types of Motion
451 Creating with New Vocabulary
Possible Harmonizations of the Pitch "C"

455 XX. CODA

456 Appendix I: Reference for Chord/Scale Relationships

458 Chord/Scale Relationships


Scales
459 Chords with Scale Sources
462 Scales with Derived Chords

Appendix II: Elaborations of Static Harmony

467 Elaborations of ii7-V7 progressions


468 Elaborations of a C Major Chord usually as Tonic (I)
471 Elaborations of a D Minor Chord as i, vi, or i

Appendix III: Endings

473 Endings to Blues


474 Endings to Standard Tunes
476 Tag Extensions
479 Ballad Endings

Appendix IV: Composing Tips

481 Composing Tips


Music Theory Rules
Rewriting
Getting Started
482 Rewriting by Asking Questions
Contrasts
483 Consistencies
Compositional Devices for Motivic Development
Listening

Appendix V: Theory Applications

484 General Concepts


Applied to a Standard Progression
Introduction vii

INTRODUCTION
PURPOSE

Jazz is an aural tradition. The music is passed from one teacher to a student, from one generation to the
next, not from written books, but from the tradition of personal interaction, listening and imitation. The
success of this method is proven world wide. There are no etude books for Indian classical music; a stu-
dent of African drumming does not run to the store to buy a copy of the well-tempered drum book.
Most of the great jazz artists we listen to learned from the aural traditions and not from written text-
books. Why write one? This book is meant to be a supplement to and not a substitute for the aural musi-
cal education. This book is a resource to augment the learning experience of listening, transcribing clas-
sic jazz performances, and performing the music with peers.

The book has been developed over the last ten years of teaching. I want to extend thanks to the hun-
dreds of students who helped me determine areas that needed clarification and allowed me to formulate
answers. Thanks also to Reed Kotler whose internet discussion group offered me the opportunity to offer
my answers to many common questions. I appreciated the opportunity to try out parts of chapters in
those electronic chats, honing my opinions in some productive (and sometimes heated) discussions.

ORGANIZATION

It is my contention that jazz music theory should not be separated from traditional tonal music theory.
C major is C major. Music of many different styles still share fundamental building blocks. Jazz shares
tonal principles, harmonic frameworks, forms, and melodic construction with tonal music from the
Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, and with ancient folk and contemporary popular music.

The book is divided into two volumes that correspond with two levels of jazz theory classes at the uni-
versity level. Volume I deals with the relationship of jazz improvisation to the traditional major/minor
system (Chapters 1-11). This section includes a lengthy chapter on rhythms in jazz performance.
Volume II examines additions to and extensions beyond the major/minor systems (Chapters 12-17).
Many of the concepts in the second section are best understood in relation to the foundation of the ma-
jor/minor system. After study of the component parts of jazz, a student should be prepared to recognize
how pieces fit into the whole of a jazz improvisation and be able to transcribe and analyze complete
jazz improvisations. Chapter 18 provides analyses models of five well-known improvisations. Chapter 18
could be used as a graduate level jazz theory class using the transcriptions included here as a beginning.
There are five appendices included at the end of Volume II which should be valuable resources for stu-
dents of jazz: Reference for Chord/Scale Relationships, Elaborations of Static Harmony, Endings,
Composing Tips, and Theory Applications. Students are encouraged to supplement this book by consult-
ing the many available sources for the history of jazz, lists of representative musicians and recordings,
and lists of standard jazz tunes for performance.

Good music theory should describe how the music sounds. And music theory has only two rules: (1)
does it sound good? and (2) does it sound good? All else is a discussion of principles: “if I do this, it
sounds good; if I do that, it doesn’t.” I have tried to keep all discussions relative to the aural experience.

Jazz Theory Resources


viii Introduction

There are no mathematical charts that are irrelevant to practical applications. The book’s concepts were
based on personal research of jazz improvisation by outstanding jazz artists and the study of great musi-
cians from all eras. The book includes musical examples from a wide range of sources including Bach,
Mozart, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Tom Harrell and Mike Stern. It is these artists who are the ulti-
mate authority and who have determined the fundamental laws of music theory. I have never liked the
distinction between an “ear player” and a “theory player.” It implies that one who knows theory is sepa-
rated from the aural, and implies that one who plays by ear knows nothing of what he plays. A good
player (“ear” or “theory”) knows what it is that he hears, plays by ear, and understands the concepts of
what he plays. Whether he is able to articulate what it is that he does is another matter. A “theory
player” who does not sound good has not used music theory well. I based this book on music theory
that describes how the music sounds never loosing sight of the two rules.

What about those students who define jazz as “playing what you feel” and often shun theory discussions?
Art can express feelings. Without some knowledge these students wander about musically and conse-
quently express very little. There are many skills to be mastered. I am reminded of something said by
the great baseball philosopher, Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up
someplace else.” Learning theory can give these students some direction and goals so they wind up
playing what they feel instead of winding up someplace else. As a writer studies grammar and vocabu-
lary, an improviser and composer studies music theory: to find and master the tools necessary for the
goal of personal expression. Any young improviser who wants to “play what he hears” or “play what he
feels” has an idea about some notes that sound good in a context. That idea is music theory.

Those who do not improvise often wonder what it is that we do. This is the simplest answer to the ques-
tion, “on what do we improvise?”—We improvise on the melody (paraphrasing), or improvise on the
harmony (being either specific or general). A dictionary defines improvisation as “inventing with little
or no preparation.” Few improvise on the melody or harmony without a great deal of preparation.
Preparation for jazz improvisation can occupy a lifetime. The study of music is a never ending puzzle.
One piece may be solved, but in doing so one finds it connects to a larger piece of the puzzle. When we
are done with the Sunday crossword puzzle we tossed it aside; but, thankfully, music is a puzzle that can
entertain and fascinate an artist for a lifetime.

When I began to play, improvise and compose music, I was confronted with twelve pitches and no pat-
terns or preconceived notions about structure. I spent years practicing and studying patterns of scales,
arpeggios, melodic shapes, embellishment figurations, harmonic possibilities, and rhythms. I find I get
closer to completing a circle and returning to the point where I am confronted with twelve pitches and
no patterns or preconceived notions about structure.

LANGUAGE & MUSIC

There are numerous analogies between the musical and verbal languages. Some similarities are relevant
to the music learning process. Anyone who has tried to learn a spoken language as an adult can only
marvel at the ease at which extremely young children learn a language. Children begin learning lan-
guage in the womb. Studies in music education have also found the best time to develop the musical
language is at an early age, and that the chances for developing complete musical skills diminish with
each passing year.

Babies only four days old can distinguish one language from another by noticing the general rhythms
and melodies. This confirms the relationship between musical perceptions and language. A child will
imitate distinctive sounds, words and phrases before linking them to any meaning. Around age one,
meanings are associated with words and single words appear in their speech. By age three they are ana-
lyzing grammar and recognize that sentences are constructed from noun phrases (“The big bad wolf”)
and verb phrases (“ate the grandmother”). As they advance and mature, they construct sentences using
this common grammar to express independent and individual thoughts. At the point when the child be-

Jazz Theory Resources


Introduction ix

gins reading, the reading material is much more elementary than the child’s aural languages skills, and
they work to balance the two skills.

This is the opposite of the musical learning experience for so many children. The first day with an in-
strument is often spent looking at whole notes on a page. By the time many students attempt to under-
stand the aural significance (the real musical language!) they are past their prime learning period. While
their reading skills may be quite advanced, many of these students attach little actual musical meaning
to what they have been trained to reproduce. At the age when training the ear is finally stressed, it is of-
ten more difficult to ever achieve any balance.

Children can distinguish noun and verb phrases and individual words even though language is not spo-
ken one . . . word . . . at . . . a . . . time. Language, like a musical line, is often a nonstopstreamofsound. So
often a musical student will attempt melodic dictation trying to hear each individual note of a phrase
rather than trying to hear groups of notes analogous to noun and verb phrases. A child can perceive the
basic meaning of “The big bad wolf ate the grandmother,” to be “wolf ate grandmother.” A music stu-
dent should learn to distinguish groups of pitches in a phrase as pointing to a single pitch that is more
important than the surrounded pitches. The phrase below includes all twelve chromatic pitches, yet the
bracketed groups of pitches point to the three notes of the C major triad. The line is not heard as ran-
dom chromaticism, but as an embellished tonal idea in the key of C major. We can hear the bracketed
groups of pitches in the same way we hear noun and verb phrases.

C ↓
j n œ b
3
œ œ
↓ ↓
&c Ó ‰ #œ œ #œ œ bœ œ nœ œ #œ œ

Identifying each pitch by its vertical alignment with the given chord provides no insight and serves no
real purpose. We do not hear separate words or letters in a sentence, nor would we analyze a sentence in
this way.

C ↓
j n œ b
3
œ œ
↓ ↓
&c Ó ‰ #œ œ #œ œ b œ œ nœ œ #œ œ
#6 M7 M9 m9 1 #4 M6 m6 P5 P4 M2 A2 M3

One of the characteristics of music and jazz music in particular is that the musical ideas may not be
contained within the measure lines. The measure lines do not exist in music; they exist only in music no-
tation. If melodies are highly polyrhythmic, as they are in many jazz compositions and improvisations,
the melodies will often overlap the measure lines, and the notes will not align vertically with the written
chord symbols. It is extremely important when listening or analyzing to realize that music is linear and
not vertical. If we analyze music vertically confining the notes to neat groups of four eighth notes it
makes as much sense as trying to read the sentence “The big bad wolf ate the grandmother,” as “Theb
igba dwol fate theg rand moth er.”

A valuable tool for teaching language is the use of memorization of common phrases. All language
courses teach basic conversational, useful phrases: “how are you?” “which way to the [train station]
[bathroom] [theater]?” “will you accept my credit card?” At the more advanced level, a student of lan-
guage may memorize portions of great literature or important documents. (“Shall I compare thee to a
summer’s day? . . ,” “We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .”) The value of this exercise is obvious:
the student learns to appreciate the sound, structure and finer use of the language. The musical analogy

Jazz Theory Resources


x Introduction

is also obvious: students wishing to learn the jazz language should memorize short and long phrases
from important jazz improvisations in order to appreciate the sound, structure and finer use of the mu-
sical language.

We diagram and analyze sentences to determine the noun and verb phrases and identify the modifiers.
We diagram sentences to learn to use the basic structures to construct our own sentences. Different mod-
ifiers can be used, the sentences reordered and the potential for expression is infinite. Musical analysis
can parallel this grammar exercise. Analyzing well constructed musical lines can teach us how to play
our own individual lines. We can borrow the fundamental principles and shapes of a well constructed
line, add or subtract decorative chromaticism and embellishments (modifiers), change the rhythmic
character and create infinite lines of individual expression.

Pat Metheny responded to a question about jazz improvisation and echoed the language analogy:

Improvising on chord changes is a lot like giving a speech about a fairly complex sub-
ject using fairly complex grammar—there is no way you can just wing it, you have to
have done a lot of research into the subject and have a pretty wide ranging vocabulary
that makes the language in all its potential available to you. much in the same way that
all of us are capable of kind of “improvising” our sentences without really thinking too
much about verbs, adjectives, pronouns, etc. A really good improviser who has studied
harmony and its implications for years can sort of just “play.” There is no getting
around it, if you are serious about playing on a tune like Giant Steps or even Phase
Dance for that matter, you will have to know everything there is to know about particular
chords, series of chords, key changes, etc. The only way to get past the problems . . . is to
practice a lot for many years and to learn all you can about music. There are no short
cuts or quick fixes. (3.24.99)

CONCLUSION

I have written three books with the goal of making it easier for students to learn all they can about jazz
music. The books are certainly not short cuts or quick fixes, but companions for many years of practice
and study. This theory book was to have been the first that I published, but I spent so much time on
Chapter 10 on common melodic outlines that it became a book itself, Connecting Chords with Linear
Harmony. Comprehensive Technique for Jazz Musicians is meant to be the practice room companion
to this theory book, though published first. Jazz Theory Resources can provide theoretical explanations
and suggestions that may be pursued in the practice room and provide insight into the organization of
jazz improvisation and composition. Music is more than the sum of the parts. This book is just about
“some” of the parts.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 1 Review of Basic Theory Materials 1

I. REVIEW of BASIC THEORY MATERIALS


This book assumes the student is more than familiar with the basics of music theory: the notes of the
staves, intervals and inversions, tertian chord construction, notation principles, key signatures and the
order of accidentals. There are a number of good books which were designed to teach these basics. This
chapter reviews a few of the fundamentals in the interest of clarity.

CHROMATIC SCALE

The one scale that all jazz musicians use is the chromatic scale. It is shown below written ascending and
descending. Altered notes want to continue in the direction in which they have been altered. Sharps in-
dicate a raised note and the direction it wants to resolve. Flats indicate a lowered note and the direction
it wants to resolve. Accidentals, when written correctly, make lines easier to read. The note above Cn is
not always a C#. It may be a Db under certain circumstances. If a line moves up from C to D through a
chromatic note, that note is C# , indicating the alteration and the direction of the resolution. If a line
moves down from D to C through a chromatic note, that note would be Db, indicating the alteration and
the direction of the resolution.

˙ œ bœ
&œ #œ ˙

Chromatic Scale: Difference in ascending and descending

& ˙ #˙ ˙ #˙ ˙ ˙ #˙ ˙ #˙ ˙ #˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙
˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙
? ˙ #˙ ˙ #˙ ˙ ˙ #˙ ˙ #˙ ˙ #˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙
˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


2 Chapter 1 Review of Basic Theory Materials

INTERVALS & INVERSIONS


Intervals, the distance between two pitches in a melody line or in a chord, are primary musical building
blocks. It is important to understand their construction and their individual sounds. Intervals are easier
to understand and hear in the context of actual music, but a review of the principles here will expedite
understanding material presented in this book.

To find the intervals between two pitches count the first as one and continue to the second pitch. For
example, the interval from D up to F is a third: D (1) - E (2) - F (3). If the interval is inverted, D down to
F or F up to D, the interval is a sixth: D (1) - E (2) - F (3) - D (4) - E (5) - F (6), or F (1) - G (2) - A (3) - B
(4) - C (5) - D (6).

The presence of accidentals does not change the numeric value of intervals. Db to F and Dn to F are
both separated by the interval of a third: Db to F is made of four half steps and is a major third; and Dn
to F is made of three half steps and is a minor third.

Intervals will have different qualities depending on the number of half steps. Seconds can be minor, ma-
jor or augmented. Thirds are usually either minor or major. Octaves, fourths and fifths are diminished,
perfect or augmented. Sixths can be minor, major, and sometimes augmented. Sevenths are usually mi-
nor or major.

All intervals can be inverted as shown below. Inverted intervals added together equal 9:

Unison (1) Octave (8)


Second (2) Seventh (7)
Third (3) Sixth (6)
Fourth (4) Fifth (5)

Interval qualities are inverted as shown below:

Major Minor
Perfect Perfect
Augmented Diminished

An inverted third becomes a sixth and a major becomes a minor, so a major third inverts to a minor
sixth. Spelling makes an considerable difference in analyzing intervals. The pair of intervals and their
inversions below will sound the same, but are spelled and should be analyzed distinctly. An augmented
second has the same number of half steps as a minor third, but the letter names of the pitches decide
the numerical interval. Any C to any D is the interval of a second and therefore inverts to a seventh; any
C to any E is a third and therefore inverts to a sixth.

A2 d7 m3 M6

& ˙ #˙ #˙ ˙ ˙
˙ b˙ b˙

Intervals and spelling will be easier to understand with discussion of scales. Scales are made of intervals,
and intervals come from scales.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 1 Review of Basic Theory Materials 3

MAJOR SCALE CONSTRUCTION


There are two ways of understanding the construction of a major scale. The major scale can be defined
as intervals relating to tonic or intervals relating to adjacent pitches.

C major scale shown with intervals relating to tonic pitch:

P8
M7
M6
P5
P4
M3

˙
M2

&˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
?˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

C major scale shown with intervals relating to adjacent pitches:

W W H W W W H
M2 M2 m2 M2 M2 M2 m2

&˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
?˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

In order to create the same order of intervals starting on F, it is necessary to lower the Bn to Bb.

Most scales have one pitch for each letter, so there are only seven pitches in the scale. It is for this rea-
son that Bb is used instead of A# in the F major scale regardless of ascending or descending. This avoids
having an An and an A# in the same scale. Any additional chromatic pitches that might occur it the key
of F would follow the principle that altered notes want to continue in the direction in which they have
been altered.

W W H W W W H
M2 M2 m2 M2
˙
M2
˙
M2
˙
m2
˙
&˙ ˙ ˙ b˙

? ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙ b˙

Jazz Theory Resources


4 Chapter 1 Review of Basic Theory Materials

In order to create the same scale starting on G,. it is necessary to raise the Fn to F#.

W W H W W W H
M2 M2 m2 M2
˙
M2
˙ #˙
M2 m2
˙
&˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

? ˙ ˙ #˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

MINOR SCALE CONSTRUCTION


Natural or pure minor is found on the sixth degree of a major scale. A natural minor scale is related
to a major scale in the sense that they share the same pitches and therefore the same key signature. An
minor is the relative minor of C major . A natural minor scale can be parallel to a major key if they
share the same tonic. C minor is the parallel minor to C major. Parallel minor can be created by
lowering the third, sixth and seventh degrees of the major scale.

C Natural Minor - Parallel Minor to C major A Natural Minor - Relative Minor to C major

&˙ ˙ b˙ b˙ ˙ & ˙ ˙
˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
˙ ˙
˙ b˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
?˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ ? ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
˙ ˙

The natural minor scale does not have a leading tone. In order to create a dominant chord and harmo-
nize minor keys, the seventh degree must be raised. This creates the leading tone and the interval of an
augmented second between the sixth and seventh degrees. The augmented second has the same number
of half steps as a minor third, but will not sound like a minor third in the scales below. The altered lead-
ing tone is added in order to create harmony with a dominant chord, and the scale is therefore called
harmonic minor.

C Harmonic Minor: A Harmonic Minor:


A2 A2

&˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ & ˙
˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ #˙
˙ ˙
˙ b˙
A2
˙ ˙ A2
˙
?˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ ? ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ #˙
˙ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 1 Review of Basic Theory Materials 5

It is a natural tendency to raise the sixth and seventh degrees when ascending from the dominant to the
tonic and lower them when descending. This principle was addressed concerning chromatic scales:
raised pitches want to ascend, lowered pitches want to descend.

A Melodic Minor:

& ˙ #˙ #˙ ˙ ˙ n˙ n˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
? ˙ #˙ #˙ ˙ ˙ n˙ n˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

C Melodic Minor:

&˙ ˙ n˙ n˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ b˙ ˙
˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ ˙
˙ n˙ n˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ b˙ ˙
?˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ ˙

CIRCLE of FIFTHS
Review of the circle of fifths with key signatures. There are other possible keys. Continuing around the
circle would yield the keys of C# major with seven sharps and Cb major with seven flats. Using the paral-
lel keys is advisable whenever possible. Most would prefer Db (5bs) to C# (7#s) and B (5#s) to Cb (7bs).

C major/A minor

F major/D minor G major/E minor

b
0
0 #
1 b 1 #
B b major/G minor D major/B minor

2 b 2 #

E b major/C minor
3 b 3 # #
A major/F minor

4 b 4 #
# minor
A b major/F minor Emajor/C

5 b 5 #
b #
6 6
b b
D major/B minor B major/G
# minor

G b major/Eb minor
# #
F major/D minor

Jazz Theory Resources


6 Chapter 1 Review of Basic Theory Materials

SCALE DEGREE NAMES


Commonly used names for the steps of any scale:

Tonic Supertonic Mediant Subdominant Dominant Submediant Subtonic Leading Tone

&˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ n˙
˙ ˙
?˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ n˙
˙ ˙

The names were derived from their relationship to tonic. This is important to understand as it shows the
importance of learning pitches as they relate to the home pitch, and not as they relate to adjacent
pitches. This principle will have great significance regarding hearing tonal music. A subdominant is not
named for being the pitch below the dominant, rather it is named for because it is the pitch a fifth be-
low the tonic.

Dominant Mediant Supertonic

&˙ œ̇œ
œ̇ œ˙
˙ Tonic
œ̇ œ̇œ b ˙œ n ˙œ
?
Subdominant Submediant Subtonic Leading Tone

KEY SIGNATURES & ORDER of ACCIDENTALS


Key signatures and the order of accidentals should be memorized.

C major/A minor No #s/Nobs


F major/D minor 1b Bb
B b major/G minor 2b Bb, Eb
E b major/C minor 3b Bb, Eb, Ab
A b major/F minor 4b Bb, Eb, Ab, Db
D b major/Bb minor 5b Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb
G b major/Eb minor 6b Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb
F # major/D# minor 6# F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#
B major/G# minor 5# F#, C#, G#, D#, A#
E major/C# minor 4# F#, C#, G#, D#
A major/F# minor 3# F#, C#, G#
D major/B minor 2# F#, C#
G major/E minor 1# F#

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 1 Review of Basic Theory Materials 7

COMMON NOTATION ERRORS


The principles and rules of notation are designed to make the music easier to read. Here are a few
common errors. Correcting them will make homework assignments, solo transcriptions, arrangements
and compositions easier to read.

STEMS

Notes above the middle line of any clef have stems down, below middle line have stems up.

Correct stems: Incorrect stems:

&cœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

?c œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ

NOTE ALIGNMENT

Check the vertical alignment of notes. If two notes occur at the same rhythmic place, it should be visu-
ally reflected on the page. The notes in the second measure below are not aligned vertically as they are
in the first measure, making it difficult to tell which notes are to be played together.

Correct vertical alignment: Incorrect vertical alignment:

&cœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

?c œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ

ACCIDENTALS

Accidentals should precede the notes in the corresponding space or on the line as in the first measure.
If they are placed arbitrarily before the note, as in the second measure, it makes reading difficult. The
accidental should never follow the note: in a paragraph we may write “Bb,” but in the staff it should be
written “bB.”

Alignment of Accidentals:

& œ bœ bœ œ œ bœ œb œ

Jazz Theory Resources


8 Chapter 1 Review of Basic Theory Materials

Accidentals should follow the logic of the chromatic scale. For raised notes: use sharps, for lowered
notes: use flats. Accidentals that indicate modulations should be used when appropriate rather than their
enharmonic equivalents.

The first two measures of the example below are drawn from a published transcription of a Charlie
Parker improvisation. The second two measures is a preferable version. The change in the first measure
from Dn to Db might seem correct since the flat lowers D. However, the C# is preferable to the Db. The C#
is a tone that indicates the modulation from the key of F to the key of D minor, is the leading tone to D
minor, and is the third of the indicated A7 chord. A Db is meaningless in this context. Would it be the
diminished fourth of the A7 chord and the lowered tonic of D minor? The Ab, as a lowered note, wants
to move down. It slows down reading when the Ab is followed by an An: the Ab indicated downward mo-
tion which was contradicted by the An. The An should have had a courtesy accidental in the first two
measures. The courtesy accidental is unnecessary with the use of G#. A Gn followed by a G# indicates up-
ward resolution, and allows anticipation of the An. Using the C# and G# also avoids having repeated
pitches of the same letter name: Dn to Db and Ab to An.

Ambiguous Accidentals: Preferred Notation:


Eø7 A7 Dm7 Eø7 A7 Dm 7

& b œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ
œ œ œ #œ œ œ #œ œ œ

BEAMING

For instrumental writing in common time, beam eighth notes in groups of two or four, and beam six-
teenth notes in groups of four.

or:
cÛ Û Û Û Û Û Û Û ÛÛÛÛÛÛÛÛÛÛÛÛÛÛÛÛ

Beam eighth notes in groups of two, and sixteenth notes in groups of four, when writing for instruments
in triple meter.

34 Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û

The time signature 68 has the same number of eighth notes as 34, but the subdivisions should be grouped
differently to indicate the pulse difference. 68 indicates two beats per measure so eighth notes should be
grouped in threes and sixteenth notes in groups of six.

68 Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 1 Review of Basic Theory Materials 9

IMAGINARY MEASURE LINE

Observe an imaginary measure line between beats two and three in common time when subdivided by
eighth notes, between every beat when subdivided by sixteenth notes.

The top line notation is preferred to that on the bottom in the following examples. The notation on the
bottom line while mathematically correct is more difficult to read because the imaginary measure line
principle is not observed, making it difficult to see the separate beats in the measure. Make the notation
as easy to read as possible. If musicians have to stop a rehearsal and to count out the notes in the mea-
sure, then there was probably a more logical way to notate the rhythms.

Top line preferred to the bottom line:

Û. Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Œ Û Û Û.
J J
Û. Û. Û Û Û Û Û Û Œ Û. Û.
J J
Top line preferred to the bottom line:

Û. Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û Û ‰ Û Û Û.
J
Û. Û. Û Û Û Û Û Û ‰ Û. Û.

Jazz Theory Resources


10 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

II. RHYTHM in JAZZ PERFORMANCE


The rhythmic language is the main element that distinguishes jazz from the European musical traditions.
Jazz music borrowed many things from European musical traditions (major/minor harmonic systems,
scales and pitch sets, instruments) but jazz has drawn much of its rhythmic heritage from the African
culture.

A single chapter could never begin to cover all the aspects of rhythm in musical performance. This
chapter will touch on rhythmic concepts that are unique and prevalent in improvised and composed
jazz performances. A basic understanding of rhythmic notation, relationships of note values, ability to
accurately read and write simple rhythms is assumed. For more background, there are many other
sources for basic rhythmic concepts and notation.

POLYRHYTHMS
No attempt will be made here to thoroughly explain the inner workings of an African drum ensemble,
but some generalizations will be helpful for understanding certain aspects of jazz rhythm. In an African
drum ensemble there are many different pulses occurring at once, making the music polyrhythmic. One
role in the band may be to play a primary pulse on a cowbell, something we could write in Western no-
tation as quarter notes. These quarter notes can be subdivided into two eighth notes. Another role is to
suggest a second pulse which could be notated as a dotted quarter, which can be divided into three
eighth notes. The two pulses will continue throughout the piece. There will probably be other pulses in-
troduced including half note triplets, and their subdivisions of quarter note and eighth note triplets.

2.1 Polyrhythms

œ œ. œ œ. œ. œ œ. œ. œ. œ
Soloist c >œ œ >œ œ œ >œ œ >œ œ œ >œ œ œ >œ œ >œ œ œ >œ œ œ >œ œ œ >œ Œ Ó

Pulse #3 c ˙ ˙3 ˙ ˙ ˙3 ˙ ˙ ˙3 ˙ >œ Œ Ó

c >œ . >œ œ >œ œ >œ . >œ . >œ œ >œ . >œ . >œ Œ Ó


J J J
Pulse #2

Pulse #1 c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ >œ Œ Ó

As a piece progresses, individuals may improvise rhythms suggesting combinations of the pulse; for
awhile suggesting the quarter note pulse, and other times suggesting the dotted quarter pulse. The em-
phasis of one or the other pulse is suggested by the use of accents. These polyrhythms are probably

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 11

recognized now as being a part of more than just jazz, as they have permeated the American and World
pop music.

SWING EIGHTH NOTE


Defining a swing eighth note is to define the indefinable. As with all the material written about jazz, the
real meaning is in the playing, listening and the experience. Nowhere is this more true than understand-
ing the eighth note feel.

In the European tradition, the pulse can be divided into two or into three. Quarter notes are usually di-
vided into two even eighth notes, or three eighth notes as in a triplet. When dividing a quarter note in a
swing feel into a subdivision of two, the two notes are rarely of equal value. The first eighth note in a
swing feel typically has a longer duration than the second eighth note. Even eighth notes have the ratio
1:1. A dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note has a ratio of 3:1 and this is too much of a differ-
ence to create a convincing pair of swinging eighth notes. The jazz eighth note ratio is more commonly
explained as a ratio of 2:1, as in a triplet figure with the first two eighths tied.

2.2 Different ratios of subdivision:

1:1 3:1 2:1

œ œ œ. œ œœœ
3

Some research has been done using a computer system to time the relationship between the first and
second notes in the improvisations of artists like Oscar Peterson, Sonny Stitt, John Coltrane, Miles Davis
and many others. The results were tabulated and the average ratio was in the neighborhood of 58:42.
This ratio can be rounded to 60:40 and then reduced to 3:2. 3:2 can be conventionally notated:

2.3 Subdivision with 3:2 ratio:

3:2 3:2

œœœœœ œ. œ
5 5

This study was fascinating but it offered little help for the aspiring young jazz musician. The 3:2 ratio is
difficult to read and even more difficult to teach. The best way to understand the jazz swing feel is to lis-
ten to hours of great musicians playing jazz. A close examination reveals many different concepts from
one player to the next and even from one player within a single performance. There will be times when
the eighths notes are perfectly even, others where they will be more like the dotted rhythms, others may
fall in that indefinable area between the 3:2 and 2:1 ratios. What makes the music swing is not just the ra-
tio of eighth notes, but the combination of forward drive, swing eighth notes, well placed accents and ar-
ticulations.

The best way to understand the jazz swing feel is to listen to hours
of great musicians playing jazz. What makes the music swing is not
just the ratio of eighth notes, but the combination of forward drive,
swing eighth notes, well placed accents and articulations.

Jazz Theory Resources


12 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

ACCENTS & ARTICULATIONS


Anyone who has practiced European art music has at one time practiced scales, being careful not to ac-
cent any notes, making long, smooth legato lines up and down their instruments. Classical music per-
formance demands the refined, lyrical, legato line be performed with no accents so musicians must
practice in order to perform it correctly. Part of the African music tradition is the use of irregular and
sometimes unpredictable accents. The accents are a way of bringing out the polyrhythmic character of
the music. The irregular accents should not be mistaken for haphazard. The music may be in march
time, while the accents played by the improviser may suggest a meter or combinations of meters that
actually extend over the measure line. If a line of eighth notes is played with no accents, the polyrhyth-
mic character is lost. I heard a pianist complimenting another pianist saying he could play all the Oscar
Peterson lines, but without the accents, and this, to him made him the better player. I think they both
missed the point. Heavy irregular accents are part of the tapestry of jazz music. In order to play Mozart,
the objective is to play smooth lines without accents. To play jazz convincingly, you must learn to con-
trol accents, not randomly, but as a part of suggesting the polyrhythmic nature of jazz.

In the European model of a common time measure, beats one and three are the strong beats with beat
one being the stronger of the two. Beats three and four are the weaker beats. From the influence of
African rhythmic traditions, in some music, the opposite is true: beats two and four get more of an em-
phasis. A traditional jazz band will play four quarter notes in a row and beats two and four will get
slightly more of an accent than beats one and three. Quarter notes will usually be played short regard-
less of their location in the measure.

2.4 Short quarter notes:

c œ. œ^ œ. œ^ ‰ œ^ œ œ œ^ œ^
J J J

Watch a jazz musician count off a tune. Usually he will snap his fingers on beats two and four to establish
the tempo and then count, “One - (snap) - two - (snap) - one - TWO - three - FOUR.” This emphasizes
the back beat rather than the traditional strong downbeats one and three. Many jazz musicians set their
metronome to click on two and four to simulate this accent. Try this rhythmic test. Sing the tune Hit the
Road Jack while clapping your hands. You are probably clapping on beats two and four, and not on
beats one and three. “Hit the Road (clap) Jack (clap)...”

The accented upbeats are not limited to the pulse but also effect the subdivisions of the pulse. Eighth
notes will get a slight accent on the upbeat rather than the downbeat. Players will achieve this by slurring
the upbeat to the downbeat. Horn players will tongue the upbeats and slur to the downbeats. Guitarists
may pick the upbeat and hammer the finger or slide to the downbeat. String players must change the
bow on an upbeat rather than the downbeat as they may have been accustomed.

2.5 Accented upbeats:

> > > >œ ˙


&c œ œ œ œ œ œ Ó
œ
Many jazz lines end on an upbeat and these notes should be accented. Remember, that to accent a note
it must be louder than the surrounding notes. Often this means playing the surrounding notes softer. It is
hard to play a line with all loud notes and then play a note with an accent. Making the surrounding
notes softer will help the accented note stand out.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 13

be notated with a “^” symbol.


Lines that end on short notes on the upbeat should are usually played short and accented and will often

2.6 End on short accent:

^ ^ ^
c œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ œ œ
do ba do DAHT do ba do DAHT do ba do DAHT

Long notes on the upbeat at the end of lines should also be played with an accent.

2.7 End on long accent:

> > >


c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ Ó
do ba do DAH do ba do DAH do ba do DAH

Upbeat dotted quarter notes lead to a downbeat and should be accented.

2.8 Accented upbeat:

>œ . . . .œ . œ b >œ . ^œ
&c ‰ œ œ œ J Œ Ó
DAH dot dot dot dot do DAH DAHT

The upbeats of a jazz line generally get accented, but the shape of the line is the most important thing to
consider when determining accents. The top notes of a line and any changes of direction call for an ac-
cent. The resulting accents will often suggest another pulse and help create the polyrhythms inherent in
jazz. In the following example (which is closely related to a favorite line of Charlie Parker) the top notes
of the line should receive an accent. These accents create a counter-rhythm to the four quarter notes per
measure. The resulting rhythm is a series of dotted quarter notes. This kind of accenting is often called
“bopping the top” of the lines.

The shape of the line is the most important thing to


consider when determining accents.

2.9 “Bopping the top:”

j
œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ
> 3 > > > > > ^
&c ‰ # œj œ b œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ # œ n œ b œ œ œ # œ œ b œ œ œ œ

Many of the tunes used for jazz improvisations are show tunes, and are often written with very simple
melodic rhythms. Jazz improvisers will almost never play the melody the way it is written in sheet music.
Often, the first “improvements” made by a jazz improviser are to the melodic rhythms. Important notes

Jazz Theory Resources


14 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

which typically land on the downbeat will be moved ahead to the upbeat. The anticipation pushes the
melody forward, and calls attention to the more common upbeat accents. While some notes are played
earlier, others are delayed, and others may be hurried along to make up for differences.

Here is a five-note melodic idea as it may appear on sheet music.

2.10a “Square melody”

&c œ œ œ œ Ó
˙
And here are a number of ways a jazz musician may alter the rhythms to “jazz them up.”

2.10b Delaying the first note, 2.10c Anticipating beats three and one.
anticipating the final note.

j. . > . > >


& c ‰ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ Ó c
& œ œ œ œ œ Ó
œ ˙
2.10d More anticipation. 2.10e Downbeat followed by upbeats.

>j > . >


c ‰
& œ œ œ œ œ Ó c ‰ j
& œ œ œ œ j‰ Ó
œ ˙ œ ˙
2.10f 3 down, 2 up. 2.10g Starting with upbeat.

. . > . > - ^
c ‰
& œ œ œ œ j Ó &c Ó Œ ‰ œj ‰ œ . œ
œ ˙ œ œ
2.10h Using a repeated note (iteration). 2.10c Delayed by a beat and the rest
hurried along.

>j > > ^ ^ ^


&c ‰œ œœœœœ ∑ & c Œ œ œ œ œ œ ∑
œ
2.10j Ending on a downbeat preceded by an accented dotted quarter.

. . > ^
c j
& œ œ œ œ. Œ Ó
œ
Long notes, any value from a dotted quarter note and above, are usually played forte-piano (Í ). There
may be a slight crescendo at the end of the note into either the cut-off or the next melodic pitch. This is

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 15

more prevalent in ensemble work than in improvisation and will vary in intensity depending on the en-
semble.

In early baroque music, articulations and phrase markings were not included. The player was expected to
know how to phrase and articulate in the style. The same is true for much of the music written for jazz
bands. The jazz musicians were expected to see the notes and interpret them in a jazz style. Probably few
of the earlier jazz musicians thought a great deal of exactly what things went in to making the music
sound like jazz, relying on their ears to imitate and govern their decisions. In a rehearsal recently, a sea-
soned professional was reluctant to provide verbal details on how to articulate certain unmarked pas-
sages. He then played the passages for the younger players. He expressed surprise at playing quarter
notes short and playing all the long notes forte-piano. For him this was just part of how to make it sound
like jazz. Historically, this and many other aspects of jazz have been learned and passed on aurally:
learning by imitating the master. This underscores another major difference in the European and
African cultures. The European tradition of learning involves the written page. The African oral tradition
depends on the master/apprentice approach. There are no African drumming etude books in the
African drum tradition.

Most contemporary music published for jazz ensembles includes all articulation markings, in part due to
the large education market. While this might insure a more accurate performance of the composer’s
ideas, there is still no substitute for listening to the style and imitating. One disadvantage to reading
charts with all articulations written in is the students never develop the critical skills to make the appro-
priate articulations and phrasing decisions themselves. There is no substitute for the aural experience.

There is no substitute for the aural experience.

RHYTHMIC ROLES

For a basketball, baseball or soccer team to be successful, each member must understand their role and
its relationship to the rest of the team. This is also true in the African drum ensemble and the jazz
rhythm section. What follows is some general guidelines for the roles and responsibilities within the jazz
rhythm section. With any jazz performance, depending on the players, the historical period and the
time of night, these lines of demarcation may be clear or deliberately obscured. Determining the basic
roles will help in understanding the foundation and help to understand the deviations from the norm.

The pulse is generated from two parts of the rhythm section: the ride cymbal and the bass. The ride
cymbal pattern can be many variations of quarter and eighth note combinations, but fundamentally has
to supply the quarter note pulse. Without the solid pulse as a foundation there can be no subdivision of
that pulse. The bass player locks in to that quarter note pulse and “walks” a quarter note accompani-
ment. The backbeat is emphasized by the drummer’s hi-hat closing on beats two and four. The bass
player may slightly emphasize the backbeat by accenting two and four with the hi-hat. Once these roles
are established, the subdivisions can be easily felt.

The drummer may add a pair of eighth notes on the back beats creating what is generally considered
the jazz “ride” pattern. This may be only a point of departure for many great jazz drummers. The pair of
eighth notes may shift and in doing so imply time signatures other than 44 . Within an eight measure
phrase you may hear:

Jazz Theory Resources


16 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.11 Ride cymbal pattern implying multiple mixed meters:

c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

The bass player adds to this by playing subdivisions between his quarter notes. Often these notes are
muffled or ghosted. These little spit notes have more importance as rhythm than pitch.

2.12 Bass line with ghosted “spit” notes:

?
b c œ œ ¿ œ nœ ¿ œ œ bœ ¿ nœ œ ¿ ¿ œ œ bœ ¿ œ bœ œ ¿ nœ bœ Œ Ó

In a rock beat, the bass drum has the role of providing the pulse while the snare has the backbeat. In a
swing feel, the pulse is played by the ride cymbal while the hi-hat plays the backbeat. That leaves the
snare drum to accent other rhythmic figures. Some possible snare drum combinations include:

2.13 “Charleston” rhythm:

c œ. œ Ó
J
Anticipation of beats one and three:

2.14 Anticipated accompaniment rhythm:

c Œ ‰ œ Œ ‰ œ
J J
A combination of “Charleston” rhythm displaced and on the beat:

2.15 Combination accompaniment rhythm:

c ‰ œ Œ œ Œ œ ‰ œ Ó
J J
The guitarist and pianist can reinforce the snare drum rhythms shown in 2.13-2.15. The use of combina-
tions of quarter note and dotted quarter rhythms add to the polyrhythmic character. Listen to some of
the great jazz rhythm sections and how they develop the rhythmic interplay while accompanying
(“comping” for) a soloist. The rhythm sections of the Miles Davis Quintet from the 1950’s with Philly

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 17

Joe Jones on drums, Paul Chambers on bass, and either Red Garland or Wynton Kelly on piano provide
excellent listening models. Ex. 2.16 represents possible accompaniment figures which could be played
by the guitarist or pianist and maybe also the snare drum using rhythms from ex. 2.13-2.15. It is unlikely
that all would decide to play the same figures without prior planning. The structural places in a piece will
usually be anticipated with an upbeat of four accent. In the blues, this may occur at the end of four mea-
sure phrases as shown below.

2.16 Possible “comping” patterns for Blues:

F7 b
B 7 F7 Cm7 F7 b B 7

& c Û. Û Ó Û. Û Ó ‰ Û Œ Û Œ Û. Û ‰ Û ‰ Û
J J J J J J
1 b
B 7 #
G °7/B F7 Aø7 D7 Gm 7

& Û. Û Ó ‰ Û Œ Û. Û Œ ‰ Û Œ ‰ Û Œ ‰ Û ‰ Û ‰ Û
5
J J J J J J J J
Gm7 C7 F7 D7 Gm7 C7

& Û. Û Ó ‰ Û Œ Û Û ‰ Û | ‰ Û. Û. Û |
9
J J J J
There are times when long streams of dotted quarter notes may be superimposed over the common
time groove. Listen particularly to the rhythm sections of the John Coltrane Quartet where Elvin Jones
on drums and McCoy Tyner on piano play streams of dotted quarter rhythms over the steady common
time bass lines. Ex. 2.17 illustrates the dotted quarter rhythm over the last four measure of the blues.

2.17 Last four measures of Blues:

#
b b b9 b
j
Gm9 D 13 C9sus4 C13
j
G 13 Fm aj7 D7 13
j
Gm9 C13 G 13 F13

& b c Œ œœœœ œœœ b b œœœœ ...


œ œœœ .. œœœ œœœ b b b œœœ ‰ œœ Œ n œ . œj œœœ ‰ b b b œœœ ... b œœ Œ Ó
. œ .. œ œ œ œœ œœ ... œœ
#œ nœ
œœœ
œ œ œ . œœ
?b c œ œ b œ œ bœ œ Œ Ó
œ œ œ nœ œ bœ œ œ œ bœ œ

The Miles Davis Quintet rhythm sections of the early 1960’s with Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on
drums and Herbie Hancock on piano stretched the boundaries of polyrhythms more than ever before,
creating great waves of rhythmic dissonance between the drums and piano and the steady pulse from
the bass. This group has recorded some trio and quintet material together in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
When listening to them stretch rhythmic boundaries, note how often the eight measure phrase served as
a guidepost for resolving rhythmic dissonances.

The bass drum in contemporary jazz is usually used to accent major structural points or strong accents
in the music. It is rare in modern playing to hear the bass drum play the “four on the floor” four beats
per measure on a swing feel.

The jazz improviser, as the improviser in the African drum ensemble, plays a variety of rhythms over
the top of the rhythm section. The basic rhythmic currency for swing improvisation is the swing eighth,
but rhythmic variety is created in a number of ways. Accent groupings of two eighth notes correspond to
the quarter pulse while accent groupings of three eighth notes refers to the secondary dotted quarter

Jazz Theory Resources


18 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

pulse. A jazz improviser, having established the eighth note, will use any combination of other subdivi-
sions and rhythmic units.

I often ask, when standing in front of a student band, “Who keeps the time in the band.” Almost every-
one in the band will point at the drummer. It is everyone’s job to keep the time. A drummer cannot fix
the bad time played by one, much less sixteen other musicians. When I was a young novice player, I sat
in with an outstanding bass player and drummer. They did not swing nearly as well when I played with
them. It was clearly not them, but me. It was a valuable learning experience. A saxophone student in an
improvisation class once complained that the rhythm section was not keeping good time and would oc-
casionally play wrong chords. The next time through the tune I stopped the rhythm section and allowed
the saxophone to play an unaccompanied chorus. He could not keep the time or the changes by him-
self. It pointed out something to all of the class: keeping time and the chords was everyone’s responsibil-
ity. We practiced a drill for a few rehearsals to gain control of these elements. Every one played one
chorus with accompaniment and one without until we all could make it through the form keeping the
time and playing the chord changes convincingly. Drummers learned to play the tune and keep the
form on their solos.

HARMONIC RHYTHM in JAZZ PERFORMANCE


Harmonic rhythm is the rhythm of the harmonic changes. If chords change every two beats, the har-
monic rhythm is half-notes. If chords change every four beats, the harmonic rhythm is whole notes.
There is a variety of harmonic rhythm in jazz performances and not all of it corresponds to the meter
or to where it is written on the page.

If there is one chord per measure in 44, we expect the bass to play the root of the chord on beat one,
corresponding to where the chord symbol is notated on the page. The pianist or guitarist may anticipate
each chord symbol playing the changes on the upbeat of four. This is part of the polyrhythmic energy
of a jazz rhythm section. The melody or improvised solo may play with the bass, with the accompani-
ment instruments, anticipate the changes even more, or delay the resolution into the next measure. It is
important to remember this when analyzing written solos. We confine the written notes of a line to mea-
sures for reading ease, but the harmonic implications are not always confined to those measures. The
vertical alignment of notes may often seem senseless, but when viewed in the larger harmonic scheme
the soloists may have anticipated or suspended the melodic material of one chord over another chord.
This is not unique to jazz; church hymnals and music from all style periods are full of suspensions and
anticipations. Jazz suspensions may involve several notes. Do not fall into the trap of labeling everything
by its vertical arrangement. Music is heard and conceived in a linear manner and should be studied in
the same way.

Music is heard and conceived in a linear manner and


should be studied in the same way.

Below is an example of how different harmonic rhythms may be suggested in a jazz performance. The
discrepancy created by the different players making the chord changes occur at different times is a large
part of what makes the jazz performance interesting. The rhythmic and melodic pieces sometimes agree
and sometimes clash, creating waves of consonance and dissonance.

A chord chart may show the harmonic rhythm as whole notes: Dm7 for four beats, G7 for four beats and
C major 7 for eight beats. The bass player may directly follow the chord chart playing the roots of the
chords on the downbeats as shown. The pianist or guitarist may anticipate or delay the changes. In the
example below, the pianist anticipates the Dm7, delays the G7, and anticipates the C major 7. A soloist
has more freedom and may anticipate or delay a great deal when creating his lines. The trumpet line
begins the Dm7 on the upbeat, and the 3-5-7-9 arpeggio of the Dm7 begins on the fourth beat and spills
over into the G7 measure. G7 is clearly heard on the third beat with a 3-5-7-b9 arpeggio and again the

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 19

line spills into the next measure before coming to rest on the C major, a half note later than the chord
chart suggests. Being aware that all music is experienced in linear time will help in understanding the
necessity of linear and not strictly vertical analysis of music.

2.18 Harmonic rhythm discrepancies in jazz performance:

œ œ œ œ bœ œ
Dm7
œ œ
G7 Cmaj7

&c ‰ J œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ
Trumpet
œ œ #œ ˙
Dm7 G7 Cm aj7
Piano &c Û Û ‰Û| ‰ÛŒ Û . Û Û. ÛÓ
J J J J J
?c œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ ˙
Dm7 G7 Cmaj7
Bass

THE LARGER VIEW: FORM as RHYTHMIC STRUCTURE


Many music theory books include a rhythmic subdivision chart showing the whole note subdivided into
two halves, the halves into quarters, and so on down to sixteenths or maybe thirty-second notes. It is bet-
ter to begin with something larger than the whole note for an overview of rhythmic subdivision. A whole
note is a small unit of time in relationship to the entire piece, so a better place to begin may be with the
entire piece.

The first line (1.) of the graph below, represents entire piece from beginning to end, Imagine that the
entire piece represents one unit of time, which will be five minutes for the sake of this discussion. The
second line (2.) shows the piece divided into five choruses or repetitions of an AABA form. Each chorus
represents a subdivision of the original time unit. Most of the jazz standard tunes used as vehicles for
improvisation fall into one of the following forms:

BLUES: usually 12 measures, sometimes 16 or 24 measures.

AABA: all usually 8 measures in length. The second and last A section may be slightly different
than the first. The second A may lead to the B, and the last A provides some closing mate-
rial. (Example AABA tune: I Got Rhythm)

ABAB 1 : all usually 8 measures in length. The second B may be slightly different than the first.
The first B leads back down to the second A, where the second B provides some closing ma-
terial. (Example ABAB tune: Just Friends)

(More will be discussed regarding form and its relationship to


harmonic analysis in a later chapter.)

By zooming in on one chorus (3.), a subdivision of the original unit, its own subdivision is revealed.
Each chorus is further subdivided into four eight measure phrases labeled AABA. Zooming in another
power at (4.) reveals the A section further subdivided into eight different measures. This eight measure
phrase can be heard as four two measure phrases or two four measure phrases. It is important to be able
to hear and respond musically within these larger units of time, not just the smaller units of note values
within a measure.

Jazz Theory Resources


20 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.19 Large form rhythmic subdivision:

1. ENTIRE PIECE

2.
CHORUS I CHORUS II CHORUS III CHORUS IV CHORUS V
(AABA form) (AABA form) (AABA form) (AABA form) (AABA form)

3.
A A B A
8 measure phrase 8 measure phrase 8 measure phrase 8 measure phrase

4.
2 measure phrase 2 measure phrase 4 measure phrase

The eight measure fragment (4.) from the previous graph can be divided into one-measure segments.
The single measure is represented by the whole note in the graph below. This single measure in 2.20
must be viewed in the larger scope as a subdivision of an eight measure phrase (4.) which is a part of a
thirty-two measure AABA form (3.) which may repeat several times to create the entire piece (1. & 2.)
With this larger perspective, the discussion of the whole note chart showing the note values and rela-
tionships is appropriate.

2.20 Single measure rhythmic subdivision

˙ ˙

œ œ œ œ

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
3 3 3 3

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 21

Seasoned improvisers and composers sense and feel larger units of time. An improviser learns to feel
an entire thirty two measure form. Sometimes a musician will improvise several times through the form,
sensing one hundred and twenty eight measures, building his ideas to a logical conclusion. A improviser
may learn to feel a thirty-two measure form as one unit of a four-chorus improvisation. Within each
form, the eight measure phrase is shaped by all members of the band. In fact, just as a beginning musi-
cian can tell the difference between beats one and four, an experienced jazz musician senses the differ-
ence between the first A and the last A of an AABA form. With this perspective knowing where beat
three is in a measure is analogous to knowing where the B section is in an AABA form. The B is the
third beat of the form, the form being an augmentation of the measure. This takes some time to master,
as any beginning improviser who has lost the form will attest.

To continue this example, say the jazz performance of this piece lasts for five minutes (the Entire Piece).
The band plays the melody of the song for the first minute (Chorus I: AABA). The alto sax improvises
over the form for a minute (Chorus II), followed by the trumpet (Chorus III), and the piano (Chorus IV).
The band plays the melody again at the end (Chorus V). The entire piece being subdivided into five
parts makes the jazz performance very much like the five paragraph paper form as shown below:

Jazz Performance Five Paragraph Paper


Statement of the melody: Introduces the form and Introductory paragraph: Tell them what you are
themes on which the band will improvise. going to tell them.
Alto solo: The alto player expresses his version of Paragraph One: Discuss one aspect of the subject.
the melody and harmony.
Trumpet solo: The trumpet player expresses his Paragraph Two: Discuss another aspect of the sub-
version of the melody and harmony. ject.
Piano solo: The piano player expresses his ver- Paragraph Three: Discuss another aspect of the
sion of the melody and harmony. subject.
Restatement of the melody: Reminds the listener Closing paragraph: Tell them what you told them.
of original themes.

PLACEMENT of the NOTES


One deficiency of the standard notation system is its inability to show minute variances in placement of
individual notes. A simple line composed of eighth notes can be played in different ways depending on
the placement of those notes in relationship to the pulse. Different players will, in varied musical set-
tings, play slightly ahead of, right on top of, or slightly behind the actual pulse. These variances in the
hands of mature players give life to the performance. In younger players it may be an underdeveloped
sense of time, and they actually may be rushing or dragging the pulse.

There are some players who consistently play slightly ahead of the beat which can give the music a for-
ward drive. They are not necessarily rushing the beat, but just pushing it ahead by playing “on top” of
the beat. There are other players who, no matter how the rhythm section is playing around them seem
to play their notes squarely in the middle of the pulse. Others can artfully play just behind the band,
creating at once a laid-back feeling and a tension from the pull created by the rhythmic discrepancy be-
tween the soloist and the rest of the band. Anyone who has heard music created on computers and
quantized to “perfect” rhythmic units knows how inhuman perfection sounds. The push-pull inaccuracies
are part of the life-blood of the music. But do not throw your metronomes away quite yet. Mature play-
ers gain a great sense of where the pulse is and adapt to musical situations. They can shift from playing
ahead to playing behind, always knowing where the actual pulse is. To be able to play around the pulse
effectively and convincingly, one has to know where that pulse is. A beginning improviser should prac-
tice playing with a metronome and develop a strong sense of pulse before attempting to play around
that pulse.

Jazz Theory Resources


22 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

A beginning improviser should practice playing with a


metronome and develop a strong sense of pulse before
attempting to play around that pulse.

SYNCOPATION STUDIES
The eighth note is the basic unit of currency for jazz, but it is the groupings of the eighth notes that cre-
ate the rhythmic business. Syncopation is created by a shift of the accent in a musical passage, where
beats that were normally weak may now be accented. Typically in the European model, within a quarter
note pulse, every other eighth note is on an accented down beat. By accenting every third eighth note, a
shift will occur contradicting the basic pulse. This is the most fundamental type of syncopation used in
jazz: the dotted quarter pulse (grouping of three eighth notes) against the quarter note pulse (grouping
of two eighth notes). This is one of the many rhythmic characteristics borrowed from African culture. In
jazz performances, the polyrhythms usually fit into the eight bar phrases defined by the forms of many
show and pop tunes which are the basis for so much of the jazz literature. Much of the syncopated dis-
sonance with the primary pulse is resolved after four or eight measures. There are thirty-two eighth notes
in a four measure phrase which divides into sixteen even quarter note beats. Thirty-two is not divisible
by three (the dotted quarter pulse) without a remainder of two. The jazz improviser/composer uses mix-
tures of threes (dotted quarter pulse) and twos (quarter pulse) to create the cross-rhythms associated
with jazz.

The dotted quarter note imposition can occur anywhere in the measure and can be articulated in many
ways. In the following example, the dotted quarter rhythm occurs on beat one. It is shown with four dif-
ferent articulations: long-long, long-short, short-long, and short-short. This rhythm is typically called the
“Charleston Rhythm.”

2.21 Different articulations of the “Charleston Rhythm”

c œ. œ ˙ œ. œ Ó œ ‰ œ ˙ œ ‰ œ Ó
J J J J

A dotted quarter note is equal to three eighth notes, and three can be expressed as 3, 2 + 1, 1 + 2 and 1
+ 1 + 1. In musical notation that would be a dotted quarter (3), a quarter and an eighth (2 + 1), and
eighth and a quarter (1 + 2), and three individual eighth notes (1 + 1 + 1). In many musical passages
where the dotted quarter pulse “Charleston Rhythm” is implied, it may be divided into any of these
combinations:

2.22 Variations of the “Charleston Rhythm”

(3) (2 + 1) (1 + 2) (1 + 1 + 1)
c œ. œ ˙ œ œ œ ˙ œ œ ‰ œ ˙ œ œ œ œ ˙
J J

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 23

Negative space is implied space created by a positive image. Below are four black boxes (positive
space). The negative space, a white cross, is also clearly visible and important to the image.

2.23 Negative space

Visual artists depend on the recognition of negative space. The concept of negative space is also impor-
tant in music. Any pitches that are played (positive space) may imply other pitches that are not played.
A certain pitch may be stressed by playing a number of pitches around that pitch that point to that
pitch, while never actually playing the pitch. This type of manipulation is one thing that creates dra-
matic interest in the music. As with pitches, any rhythm that is played (positive space) may imply a
rhythm not played (negative space).

The dotted quarter “Charleston Rhythm” is shown on the top line repeated over a four measure phrase,
creating a constant dotted quarter pulse against the quarter note pulse. The bottom line in the following
examples shows the rhythm of the notes that are not being played by the top line. The bottom line is
then the negative space of the top line.

Try dividing the class into two sections. Have one section tap the top lines and the other tap the bottom
lines on this and following examples. Switch every four measures.

2.24 Dotted quarter “Charleston Rhythm” extended over four measure phrase shown with
implied negative space rhythms:

c œ. œœ œ œ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ. œ. œœ œ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J
c ‰œœ œœ‰œ œ œœ‰œœ œœ‰œœ œœ ‰œœ œœ‰œ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J J

This may sound like a mathematical game, and it can be, but here are some musical examples that occur
frequently and naturally. Dexter Gordon, in a blues improvisation, and Dave Brubeck both used the
negative space rhythm from ex. 2.24.

2.25

œ. œ. œ. œ. ˙ œ. œ. œ. œ. ˙
b . ‰ œj œ. œ b œ Œ
& b c ‰ œj œ œ b œ ‰ œj œ œ bœ Ó
b Xœ
œ œ Ó

Jazz Theory Resources


24 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.26

œ. œ. œ. œ. ˙
œ œ œ œ
&c ‰ J ‰ Jœ œ œ œ Ó

The dotted quarter rhythm from ex. 2.24 can be displaced by an eighth note creating the following line
shown with positive and negative rhythms.

2.27 Dotted quarter rhythm displaced and extended over four measure phrase shown with
implied negative space rhythms:

c ‰ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ. œ. œœ œ ‰ œ. œ. œ œ Œ Ó
J J J J
c œ œœ‰œœ œœ‰œœ œœ ‰œœ œœ‰œ œ œœ‰œœ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J

Duke used the negative rhythm from ex. 2.27 in the piece It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That
Swing.

2.28
j j j
‰ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ. œ. œ œ œ ∑
b
& b c Œ œ œ ‰ œJ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ Œ Ó
J J J

It appears at this point that if you use these syncopated


rhythms, you will be playing either The Charleston, or It Don’t
Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing!

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 25

The dotted quarter rhythm from ex. 2.24 can be displaced by a quarter note creating the following line
shown with positive and negative rhythms.

2.29 Dotted quarter rhythm displaced and extended over four measure phrase shown with
implied negative space rhythms:

c Œ œ œ œ. œ. œœ œ ‰ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ Ó
J J J J
c œœ‰œœ œœ ‰œœ œœ‰œ œ œœ‰œœ œœ‰œœ œœ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J

You can see the negative rhythm from ex. 2.29 in the following melody composed by Sonny Rollins.

2.30

œ œ ‰ œ bœ œ nœ ‰ œ bœ œ nœ ‰ œ ˙ j
& c ‰ œj œ # œ œ œ œ œ J J J bœ . œ

The next stage in developing a sense for these rhythms involves understanding the subdivision of the
dotted quarter notes. As discussed previously and shown below, the dotted quarter note equals three
eighth notes which can be expressed as 3, 2 + 1, 1 + 2 and 1 + 1 + 1.

2.31 Variations of the dotted eighth note “Charleston Rhythm”

(3) (2 + 1) (1 + 2) (1 + 1 + 1)
c œ. œ ˙ œ œ œ ˙ œ œ ‰ œ ˙ œ œ œ œ ˙
J J
More musical rhythmic material can be created by substituting combinations of the variations to the
dotted quarters in ex. 2.24, 2.27, 2.29. In the following several examples, every other dotted quarter value
is substituted with another combination of a quarter and an eighth (2 + 1), and eighth and a quarter (1 +
2), or three individual eighth notes (1 + 1 + 1). Changing the rhythm will also change the implied nega-
tive space rhythm.

2.32 Ex. 2.24 with the pattern: (2 + 1), 3, (2 + 1), 3, etc.

c œ œœœ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œœœ œ œ Œ Ó
J J
c ‰œŒ œœ‰œ Œ œœ‰œŒ œœ‰œŒ œœ ‰œŒ œœ‰œ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J J

Jazz Theory Resources


26 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.33 Ex. 2.27 with the pattern: (2 + 1), 3, (2 + 1), 3, etc.

c ‰ œ ‰ œ œ. œ ‰ œ œ ‰ œ ‰ œ œ. œ‰œœ ‰ œ ‰ œ œ. œ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J J J J J J J
c œ œ ‰œœ œ ‰œœ œ ‰œœ œ ‰œ œ œ ‰œœ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J

2.34 Ex. 2.29 with the pattern: (2 + 1), 3, (2 + 1), 3, etc.

c Œ œ œ œ. œ œœœ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ Ó
J J J
c œœ‰œŒ œœ ‰œŒ œœ‰œ Œ œœ‰œŒ œœ‰œŒ œœ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J
2.35 Ex. 2.24 with the pattern: (1 + 2), 3, (1 + 2), 3, etc.

c œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ. œœ‰œœ œœ œ Œ Ó
J J J
c Œ œ œœŒ œ œœŒ œ œœŒ œ œœ Œ œ œœŒ œ Œ Ó

If you are singing along, you probably noticed that the negative
space to ex 2.35 resembles the Dizzy Gillespie tune Salt Peanuts.

2.36

j
œ. œ. œ. œ

&c Œ bœ Œ bœ Ó
bœ œ bœ œ
Salt Pea nuts Salt Pea nuts

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 27

2.37 Ex. 2.27 with the pattern: (1 + 2), 3, (1 + 2), 3, etc.

c ‰ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œœœ œ. œœ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ Œ Ó
J J J J
c œ ‰œ‰œœ ‰œ‰œœ ‰œ ‰œœ ‰œ‰œ œ ‰œ‰œœ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J J J J J J

2.38 Ex. 2.29 with the pattern: (1 + 2), 3, (1 + 2), 3, etc.

c Œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ Œ Ó
J J
c œœŒ œ œœ Œ œ œœŒ œ œœŒ œ œœŒ œ œœ œ Œ Ó

2.39 Ex. 2.24 with the pattern: (1 + 1 + 1), 3, (1 + 1 + 1), 3, etc.

c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œœœœœ œœ œ Œ Ó
J J
c Ó œœŒ Œ œœÓ œœŒ Œ œœ Ó œœŒ œ Œ Ó

2.40 Ex. 2.27 with the pattern: (1 + 1 + 1), 3, (1 + 1 + 1), 3, etc.

c ‰ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œœœœ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ Œ Ó
J J J J
c œ Œ ‰œœ Œ ‰œœ Œ ‰œœ Œ ‰œ œ Œ ‰œœ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J

Jazz Theory Resources


28 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.41 Ex. 2.29 with the pattern: (1 + 1 + 1), 3, (1 + 1 + 1), 3, etc.

c Œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ Ó
J J J
c œœŒ Œ œœ Ó œœŒ Œ œœÓ œœŒ Œ œœ œ Œ Ó

A musician involved in the creation of music needs several rhythmic skills including:
• a strong sense of pulse and its subdivision
• a strong sense of any secondary polyrhythmic pulses and their subdivisions
• the ability to aurally recognize and create music using rhythmic material
• the ability to visually recognize and interpret rhythmic material in written music

Singing and tapping the rhythmic examples in this chapter will help develop the rhythmic indepen-
dence, the aural and visual recognition needed to read, invent and interpret rhythmic musical material.

SYNCOPATION in the JAZZ WALTZ


The majority of the music played by jazz musicians is in common time, four beats to the measure. Jazz
musicians do have a version of the waltz that goes beyond “oom-pah-pah.” The syncopation principle is
the same. If the primary pulse is a quarter note, the secondary pulse is a dotted quarter. Three quarter
notes per measure defines the waltz. A superimposition of two dotted quarters creates the feeling of 68
meter with the first dotted quarter on beat one, the second on the upbeat of two. Displacing the two dot-
ted quarters by and eighth note puts a dotted quarter on the upbeat of beat one and another on beat
three. All three rhythms are shown in ex. 2.42. It may help to hear the combination of dotted quarter
rhythms by singing “Who parked the car?” as shown.

2.42 Jazz Waltz

3
& 4 ‰ œœœœ .... œœœ
œ
‰ œœ ..
œœ .. œœœ ..
parked car? parked
œ
car?
? 34 œ . œ. œ. ..
œ.
34 Who
œ œ the
œ œ
Who
œ the œ ..

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 29

POLYRHYTHMS in PERFORMANCE
All of the discussion of possible rhythmic variations and superimpositions are meaningless and merely
mathematical games without understanding and recognizing their place in musical performance. Many
ask, after studying the previous material, how to get these ideas into their own playing. It is beneficial to
study several examples from jazz performances to see how great jazz artists incorporate polyrhythms in
their improvisations and compositions. Several examples have already been shown from Dexter
Gordon (ex. 2.25), Dave Brubeck (ex. 2.26), Duke Ellington (ex. 2.28) and Sonny Rollins (ex. 2.30).

To learn language or a craft of any kind, the proven method is to study the masters. To develop individ-
ual vocabulary within that craft one must borrow from the vocabulary of those masters. This may seem
contradictory to develop individual vocabulary by borrowing from others. What one does with the bor-
rowed material is what separates mimicking and parroting from true personal development.

I composed a blues that used nothing but Parker lines, stolen to show students ways to develop ideas
from borrowed material. I called the piece Ornithelestes which means literally “Bird-stealer.” Anyone
who plays jazz is just that, whether they intended to or not, as Parker, the “Bird,” has influenced so many
jazz improvisers.

The following example is created with a line borrowed from Parker that has a different conclusion
added. Beginning with the pick-up notes, the melodic accents are based on the dotted quarter pulse
shown creating a secondary pulse to the primary quarter note pulse of the bass line.

2.43 Line similar to Charlie Parker line:

j
œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ
>j 3 œ >œ œ # œ >œ n >œ
&c ‰ #œ œ bœ œ # œ b œ œ >œ # œ œ b>œ œ œ ^œ

?c œ bœ nœ œ
Gm7 C7 F
∑ œ bœ nœ œ
œ
The superimposed dotted quarter note pulse need not be constant. Shifting between combinations of
quarter and dotted quarter groupings makes this improvised line by Miles Davis interesting. The implied
divisions are shown above the line for reference.

2.44

˙ œ. œ. œ. œ. œ œ. œ.
> . > .
& b c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œJ œ œ œ. ‰ œ >œ œ œ œ œ Œ
J

Clifford Brown used the dotted quarter note pulse to break up an otherwise straight forward eighth note
line. The idea began in the second complete measure and for the two measures Brown implied 3, (2 +
1), 3, (2 + 1), 3, and 2 before continuing the line with eighth notes. This idea recurred in many forms
throughout this solo.

Jazz Theory Resources


30 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.45

œ bœ œ bœ j
œ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ . œ œ œ œ œ œ œj b œ . œJ
3

&b c Ó Œ
J

& b œ œ bœ œ nœ œ œ bœ bœ œ Œ Ó

Displaced accents are created by odd combinations of twos and threes and give the music the excite-
ment and unpredictability that makes listening challenging and interesting. Parker, in the melody to Au
Privave began with suggested dotted quarter groupings and slipped in a pair of displaced quarter notes
in the ex 2.46 below. Parker continued the play on the dotted quarter note in mm.5-6 of the same piece,
shown in ex. 2.47.

2.46

œ. œ. œ. œ œ œ.
j
& b c œ œ œ Œ œ # œ œ ‰ œj ‰ œ œ œ
œ œ

2.47

œ. œ. œ. œ. œ œ
œ
& b c n œ . J ‰ Jœ b œ ˙ bœ œ œ œ

A pair of superimposed dotted quarter rhythms are sequenced in this improvised example from Charlie
Parker.

2.48

‰ œ. œ. œ. œ Ó ‰ œ. œ. œ. œ Ó
b b c ‰ j œ œ3 œ œ ‰ j œœœœ Ó
3 3 œ
‰ b œj œ œ œ ‰ œj œœœœ Ó
3

& œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 31

In the first two measures of this improvisation, Parker emphasized the downbeats one and three by com-
ing to rest on chord tones and using notes with longer values. The second two measures had no melodic
motion as Parker just drew attention to the rhythmic superimposition of dotted quarter values.

2.49

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ œ. œ. œ. œ. ˙

& b c œ œ #œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ j j
œ œ . œ œ œ œ œ. ˙

Parker achieved a balance between on the beat and off the


beat material, with a sense of when to give the listener the
expected and when to give the unexpected.

In the melody to the blues tune Billie’s Bounce, Parker imposed a long passage of dotted quarter dis-
placed accents. Ex. 2.50 shows the first three measures of the melody. Ex. 2.51 shows the accents implied
by the entire melody. Parker was inventive and dramatic in the development of his rhythmic ideas.
Parker achieved a balance between on the beat and off the beat material, with a sense of when to give
the listener the expected and when to give the unexpected. Reducing the melody of Billie’s Bounce to
rhythmic notation alone helps to focus on the rhythmic development. Parker used strings of dotted
quarter note superimpositions beginning on beat three of m.1, labeled (a). It occurred in the exposition
of this idea in mm.1-3, (a) overlapped itself several times. After so many dotted quarter notes, one would
expect the first note of m.6 to be on beat two, but instead, Parker played it earlier on the upbeat of beat
one creating a second motive (b) which is really a variation of motive (a). Parker then returned to the
first rhythmic motive beginning on the third beat of m.6. Motive (a) returned beginning on the upbeat
of beat three in m.8. Motive (b) returned on the downbeat of m.10 followed by the overlapping motive
(a) in mm.11-12. The chart in ex. 2.51 does not show all the notes of the melody, simply the accents sug-
gested by the melody.

2.50

œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ

&b c Ó Œ ‰ j j
œ
œ nœ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ ‰ œ œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


32 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.51 Rhythmic outline of implied melodic accents:

a. a. a.
c œ Œ œ. œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ ‰ œ œ œ œ Œ œ. œ
J J J
1 2 a. 3 4
b. a.
Ó œ. œ ‰ œ. œ. œ Œ œ Œ ‰ œ œ Œ ‰ œ.
J J J
5 6 7 a. 8
b. a.
œ ‰ œ ˙ œ ‰ œ œ œ. œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ Œ
J J J J
9 10 11 12

A sense of mixed meter is created in ex. 2.52 by the assortment of irregular accents. These three mea-
sures could have been notated as one measure of 68 followed by a measure of 44, another measure of 68,
and finally a measure of 24. Of course, Parker was not thinking of notational questions when he conceived
of this line.

2.52

œ. œ. œ œ ˙ œ. œ. ˙
b œ œ
& b c œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ #œ œ bœ
œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ
Œ

Wes Montgomery’s live recording of Impression is a lesson in creating rhythmic expectations, develop-
ing them, and adding surprising twists and turns. On the recording you can hear members of the band
laugh at the way Montgomery set up a rhythmic idea only to turn it upside down or sideways just when
they had it figured out. Ex. 2.53 is essentially a 34 idea played over the 44 measures. The idea was com-
pleted and reset at the end of the eight measure phrase, where he began again.

2.53 Dotted half-note accents:

>œ >œ
fast swing
>œ >œ >œ >œ
& c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
>œ >œ >œ >œ >œ . œ œ œetc.
&œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰

3
Montgomery used the dotted quarter note implying 8 over 44. Again the conflict of the two pulses was
resolved at the end of the eight measure phrase.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 33

2.54 Dotted quarter-note accents:

œ. œ. œ œ œ j j
œ œ . œ . œ œ œ œj œ .
fast swing

&c Ó ‰ J œ . œj œ œ
j j œ . Jœ œ œ ˙ œ. œ œ
& j œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ. J
œ

The repeated notes of ex. 2.55 make the focus of this idea clearly rhythmic. It is related to the rhythm in
ex. 2.53 but resolved the conflict at the end of every four rather than eight measure phrase. In the solo,
Montgomery developed this idea over an AABA form and eventually developed the four quarter note
measure and elicited a surprised response from the band.

2.55

>
fast swing
k > k > k > k k k k k
c
& œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ
> k > k > k > k k k k k > ketc.
& œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œœœœœ

Groupings of notes implying other pulses do not have to last for several measures to be interesting.
There are countless examples of steady eighth note lines interrupted briefly with groupings like the ones
from this Carl Fontana improvisation.

2.56 Dotted quarter-note accents:


j
œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ œ œ
j j
&c #œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ ‰ b œ ‰ œ

Subdivision of a quarter note is not limited to a pair of eighth notes. Any number of combinations oc-
cur. Dividing the pulse into three or triplets provides another opportunity for cross rhythms. Any com-
bination of triplets divided evenly or unevenly in relationship to the pulse may be found in jazz impro-
visations.

Jazz Theory Resources


34 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.57 Groupings of triplet subdivision

cœœœ œœœ œœœ œ œœœ œœœ œœ


3 3 3 3

c œ œ3 œ œ œ3 œ œ œ3 œ œ œ3 œ œ œ3 œ œ œ3 œ œ œ3 œ œ œ3 œ
cœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
This is a common blues idea played by thousands of guitarists in blues bars. It may be wickedly difficult
to try to read figures like this but once heard, they are easily recognized.

2.58 Blues triplet cliché

F7

c b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ bœ Ó
3 3 3

& bœ œ
3
In 44, the metrical division is typically pairs or groups of four eighth notes. Ordering those eighth notes
into groups of three can create the cross rhythms and syncopated polyrhythms. When the pulse is sub-
divided into triplets, notes are grouped into threes. In order to create the rhythmic dissonance and
cross rhythms with triplets, then the notes must be grouped into pairs or fours.

Herbie Hancock’s groupings of triplets into sets of four in ex. 2.59 suggested half-note triplets or a 32
measure imposed in the space of a 44 measure. Freddie Hubbard, on the same recording used similar
rhythmic ideas at this point in Dolphin Dance.

2.59 Polyrhythms

3 3 3
b b ˙œ œ ˙œ œ
œ b œ œ ˙œ œ ˙œ œ œ b ˙œ œ ˙œ
˙ ˙ ˙
B pedal

b œ œœ œ œ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ œœ œ #œ œ œ nœ bœ
& c œ œ
3 3 3 3 3 3
3 3 3 3
3 3
3
˙ ˙ ˙ Cm
œ bœ
G7

& œ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ œ œ Œ Ó
3 3 3
nœ œ œ œ
3 3

Grouping eighths into three note sets in 34 time may suggest an imposition of 68 over the 34 meter as shown
on the top line of ex. 2.60. Grouping the eighths into four note groupings takes the syncopation over the
measure line into the next measure, and may suggest 32 meter over the 34 . This is traditionally called
“hemiola” and is shown on the second line of ex. 2.60. A common misconception is that all syn-
copation is hemiola, but traditionally it is the implication of a 32 measure over two 34 measures, particu-

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 35

larly at cadential points. This idea was used frequently in Baroque music. Ex. 2.61 is an example of
hemiola at a cadential point from a piano sonata from the classical period composed by Mozart.
6 3 3
2.60 Metric equivalents: 8 over 2 over 4

34 œ . œ. œ. œ.
34 ˙ œ œ ˙
34 œ œ œ œ œ œ

2.61 Mozart: Piano Sonata in G major, K.283


œ
# 3 œœœ œœœ œ œœœ œ œœœœœœœ œ
& 4 Ò Ò œœ œœ œ
œ
? # 34 œœ Œ
Ò œœ
Œ
Ҝ
˙
œ
Ò Ò

Three different divisions of 34 time are suggested in the melodic excerpt below, In mm.1-2, 3
4 time is sug-
gested, mm.3-4 suggests 23 time and mm.5-6 suggests 68 time.

2.62 Bert Ligon: View From the Bridge

Fø7 b b
B 13 9 b
E maj7
j j
& 34 œ bœ bœ b˙ ‰ œJ bœ . bœ œ œ bœ œ . œ
1
Dø7
b
G13 9 Cmaj7

bœ . nœ . Œ
& nœ . œ œ œ ˙
5

Bill Evans was an artist who could play a waltz, make it swing and yet never suggest 34 time. In ex. 2.63,
Evans used hemiola, the half note implied over the 34 meter. Later in the same solo, Evans suggested 68
meter as in ex. 2.64.

2.63 Hemiola:

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
j œ œ œ
& 34 #œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ
Gm7 A7 Dm7

Jazz Theory Resources


36 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.64 Dotted Quarter Superimposition

œ œ . œ œ . . .
B bmaj7
3 œ
E7
œ Am 7
œœœ œ
& 4 œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ J
œ œ

Many jazz waltzes are played fast; much faster than the dancers would want at a wedding party. A fast
waltz can transform itself into a slower medium swing by something called metric modulation. In ex. 2.65
the relationships are shown between the two meters. In 34 meter, the rhythm section may begin to play
series of dotted quarters and the rhythmic pattern shown on the top line. At the beginning of a new sec-
tion or new eight bar phrase, they may switch to 44 meter where the dotted quarter becomes the new
quarter note, the top line rhythm becomes the typical ride pattern. Two measures of the 34 becomes one
measure of the 44. In order to get back to 34, the band may suggest quarter note triplets which, at the mod-
ulation point, become the quarter note of the original 34 meter.
3 4
2.65 Metric modulations between 4 and 4

q.»q
34 œ . œ œ œ. œ œ cœ œ œ œ œ œ
J J
34 œ . œ. œ. œ. cœ œ œ œ
34 œ œ œ œ œ œ c œ œ3 œ œ œ3 œ

Michael Brecker used another modulation idea on his piece Escher Sketch, a Tale of Two Rhythms.
The ride pattern (shown in 12 8 ) began the piece and4 remained constant. What changed was the other
rhythmic parts which alternately suggested 128 or the 4 meter. When the snare entered it played on two
and four of the 44 meter, making the original ride pattern the syncopated figure shown in the 44 measures.
The syncopated figure was created by groupings of 3, (2 + 1) repeated, and began again every three
measures.

2.66 Metric Modulation

12 x»x
16 Jœ . œ œ Jœ . œ œ Jœ . œ œ Jœ . œ œ c œ . œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ . œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ . œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ . œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

Herbie Hancock is an artist with an amazing command of cross rhythms and over the bar-line phrasing.
In ex. 2.67, Hancock began with the rhythm shown in ex. 2.27 (in sixteenths rather than eight notes), em-
phasizing dotted eighth notes over the quarter note pulse. In mm.4-8, the emphasis changed to quarter
notes with groupings of four sixteenth notes. In mm.9-11, every fourth sixteenth was accented, but the ac-
cent was displaced, making the quarter note accent displaced by one sixteenth note. In mm.11-12,
Hancock accented two then three sixteenth notes and managed to come out, resolving the rhythmic
conflict on the downbeat of m.13. The accents (shown above mm.11-12) created the 3:2 type rhythm dis-
cussed in ex. 2.3, expanded and played over the measure line.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 37

2.67 Extensive Cross-rhythms


j j j j j j j j j j j j j
œ . œ . œ . œ . œ . œ . œ . œ . œ . œ . œ . œ . œ . œ œ œ
r
&c œ œ œ œ œ œœœœœ œœ œœ œœ œœœ œœ œœ œœœœœ œœ œœ œœœœœœœœœœ
1

>
œœ œ œ œœœœ œ# œœœ œ œœ
œ œ œœ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œœœ œ œ œœœœ œ# œ œ œ ≈
& œœ œ
œœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œœ œ
`
5

` ` ` ` ` `
j j j j j j j
œ œ . œ œ . œ œ . œ
>œ œ >œ œ œ √
œ œœ >œ œ #>œ œ >œ b œ œ # >œ n œ# œ >œ œ œn œb >œ b œb œ >œ œ >œ œ œ >œ # œ >œ œ œ >œ œ >œ œ œ >œ
& œ œ œ œ œ bœ nœ
9

j j j j j j
œ . œ œ . œ œ . œ
√ >
# >
œ >
œ >
œ > >
& œ œ œ œœ œ œœ œœœ œ œ Œ Ó
œ
12

Not all cross rhythms are created by groupings of three eighth notes over the 44 measures. Combinations
of two and three note groupings create interesting cross rhythms. Hancock divided two 44 measure into 2
+ 3 + (3 + 3) + 3 + 2 in the rhythmic ostinato foundation for Maiden Voyage.

2.68

œ œ. œ. œ. œ. œ
?c œ
D9sus4
œ œ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ
J J

What is the drummer doing with his ride cymbal while the soloists are playing so many polyrhythms?
Other polyrhythms may be implied that correspond or contradict the metric implications of the tune
and the soloist. If played with sensitivity, while never losing sight of the actual pulse and meter, it can
create a swirling, intense forward drive while actually involving fewer notes. Less can be more. Jack
DeJohnnette never played the textbook ride pattern over the first chorus of Keith Jarrett’s solo on the
standard from which this was transcribed. He did play four quarters in a row later in the first chorus, but

Jazz Theory Resources


38 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

not until m.18. Here is the first eight measure phrase with some of the polyrhythmic implications indi-
cated by the smaller notes above the staff. These patterns can be found in ex. 2.27, 2.33 and 2.37.

2.69 Polyrhythmic Ride Pattern:

‰ œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. ˙. ˙.
÷c ‰ œ ‰ œ œ ‰ œ Œ œ ‰ œ Œ œ ‰ œ Œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ
J J
1
J 2
J 3
J 4
J J

˙. ˙. ˙ ˙. ˙ ˙.
÷œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ Œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ
5
J 6
J J 7 8
J 9

CLAVE BEAT
The Clave beat is a rhythm which uses combinations of two and three eighth note groupings to create a
syncopated pattern. The clave beat and its variations are extremely significant to the structure of some
Latin music. The clave may not be as structurally significant as it is in some Latin music, but occurs fre-
quently in jazz, pop, and funk styles.

There are two basic clave beats (3-2 clave and a 2-3 clave) and then several variations. The 3 and 2 do
not refer to groupings of eighth notes, but to the number of notes played in a measure. The 3-2 clave has
three notes played in the first measure and two in the second. The 2-3 clave is the reverse of the 3-2.

2.70 3-2 Clave: 2-3 Clave:

c .. œ . œ œ œ Œ œ œ Œ .. .. Œ œ œ Œ œ. œ œ œ ..
J J
A good way to get the feel of the clave beat is to play the clave beat with one hand, the negative space
rhythms in the other. Try reversing the hands and alternating four measure phrases after a few times.
Playing in the holes, or the negative space helps to space the notes correctly.

2.71 3-2 Clave with two hands: 2-3 Clave with two hands:

. j ΠΠΠΠ. j
c . ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ ‰ œ œ œ . . œ œ ‰ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œœ œ œ‰ œ ..
. œ œ œ œ œ œ . . œ œ œ œ
RH

LH J J J J J J J J
Another good way to practice the clave beat (or any of the rhythms discussed) is to alternate the right
and left hand playing the clave beat with accents. Again, playing all the notes in the measure helps rein-
force the steady subdivision and helps sense the correct spacing.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 39

2.72 3-2 Clave with two alternating hands: 2-3 Clave with two alternating hands:

c .. >œ œ œ >œ œ œ >œ œ œ œ >œ œ >œ œ œ œ .. .. œ œ >œ œ >œ œ œ œ >œ œ œ >œ œ œ >œ œ ..
RH

LH

There are several variations of the basic 3-2 and 2-3 clave beats. One or more of the notes may be
shifted forward or backward by an eighth note. As with the original version, practicing playing with two
hands will help integration and precision in playing these rhythms. In ex. 2.73, the second of the notes
on the “2” side is shifted by an eighth note. The subdivisions of the two measures is 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 3
for the 3-2 clave and 2 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 2 for the 2-3 clave.

2.73 3-2 Clave variation a: 2-3 Clave variation a:

c .. œ . œ œ œ Œ œ œ œ. .. .. Œ œ œ œ. œ. œ œ œ ..
J J J J
Ex. 2.74 shifts the first of the notes on the two side forward by on eighth note. The subdivision of the two
measures is 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 for the 3-2 clave, and 1 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 2 for the 2-3 clave.

2.74 3-2 Clave variation b: 2-3 Clave variation b:

c .. œ . œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ Œ .. .. ‰ œ . œ Œ œ. œ œ œ ..
J J
The following variations are created by delaying the last note on the “3” side combined with all three
versions of the “2” side.

2.75 3-2 Clave variations c, d, & e: 2-3 Clave variations c, d, & e:

c .. œ . œ œ. œ Œ œ œ Œ .. .. Œ œ œ Œ œ. œ œ. œ ..
J J J J
.. œ . œ œ. œ Œ œ œ œ. .. .. Œ œ œ œ. œ. œ œ. œ ..
J J J J J J
.. œ . œ œ. œ ‰ œ. œ Œ .. .. ‰ œ . œ Œ œ. œ œ. œ ..
J J J J

The clave is a structural building block of many Latin styles of music, and while not structurally as signif-
icant, does occur frequently in swing and jazz styles. Charlie Parker used the 3-2 variation b several times
on Moose the Mooch. Ex. 2.76 shows the opening two measures establishing the clave. Ex. 2.77 shows
mm.15-16, the two measures preceding the bridge, and ex. 2.78 show the last two measures of the piece.

Jazz Theory Resources


40 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

2.76 3-2 Clave

œ. œ. œ. œ. ˙
b œ œ
& b c œ ‰ J ‰ œJ ‰ œ œ œ œ #œ œ
3

J œœ

2.77 3-2 Clave

œ. œ. œ. œ. ˙
b
&b c ‰ œj ‰ œj œ ‰ œj ‰ Jœ œ
œ œ #œ nœ

2.78 3-2 Clave

œ. œ. œ. œ. œ Œ
b œ
& b c œ ‰ b œJ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œœœœ œ Œ
J 3
3

The 2-3 clave with the same variation b can be heard in the next two quite different examples. Ex. 2.79 is
the pre-Jay Leno theme for the Tonight Show, Here’s Johnny, written by Paul Anka and Johnny Carson.
The second is the bass ostinato from Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon. Chameleon may not look like the
same rhythm as it is written with sixteenths and eighths rather than eighths and quarters.

2.79 TV theme:

j
‰ œ. œ Œ œ. œ œ œ

& c ‰ œ. bœ bœ j Œ
œ. œ œ

2.80 Classic Funk Bass line:

.
?c >j . . . . b œ. b œ. >j . . b œ. . b œ. b œJ >j . . .
œ . bœ nœ . bœ . ‰ J ≈ œ .
bœ nœ ‰ ≈ œ . bœ nœ .

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 41

ODD METERS
Odd meters have occasionally become fashionable, but the majority of the music played when jazz mu-
sicians get together is still in 44 and 34. Hank Levy, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, and others have
come up with music in a variety of meters including 54, 47 and 78 , 11 15 21
8 , 16 , and even 8 . As odd as these me-
ters seem, they are all created by different combinations of twos and threes in a measure. One of the
more famous odd time signature jazz compositions is Paul Desmond’s Take Five, played by the Dave
Brubeck Quartet. The 45 measure is much like a jazz waltz with an extra two beat answer. If you sing “who
parked the car?” for a jazz waltz, add the answer “I did” to hear a 45 groove like Take Five.

2.81 Ostinato

b j ‰ œœj Œ
& b b b b b 45 .. ‰ œœœ Œ œœœ Œ œœ œœ œœœ Œ œœ ..
œ œ œ œ œ
E bm 7 B bm7 E bm7 B bm7

? b b b 5 .. œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ..
bb b 4 J J

MIXED METERS
Some jazz compositions are created using a variety of meters within phrases, and others where the me-
ters may shift at different structural points in the form. Few of these compositions work their way into the
mainstream of jazz literature and are rarely called casually at jam sessions. This is more a reflection of
their complexity and intricacy rather than any lack of musical merit. The following is an example of a
mixed meter piece. The piece floats on an ostinato moving from 34 to 44 to 24. The ostinato could have
been written in 94 but the mixed meter notation assists visualizing the metric subdivision. The piece shifts
from this ostinato to other meters including: 34 and 44, 83 and 68.

2.82 Bert Ligon: River Journey

44 œ . œœj ˙˙
& 34 .. Œ ‰ œœœœ ... 24 ˙˙˙ ..
. œœœ ... # œœ ˙˙ ˙
? 34 .. œ œ œ 44 œ œ ‰ œ ‰ œJ 24 # œ œ ..
œœ œœ J

What has endured more than the practice of improvising in mixed meters is the practice of playing in 34
and 44 which allows the soloist and the rhythm section the freedom to imply all combinations of mixed
meters over the top. Syncopation is not confined to a predetermined grouping or mixed meter.

Jazz Theory Resources


42 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

RHYTHMIC READING & DICTATION EXERCISES


Most of the rhythms discussed in this chapter probably sound familiar. They occur naturally in the im-
provisation of most students. The beginning student, however, will not be in control of the development
of these rhythms or possibly even recognize their possibilities upon hearing them. I have heard several
young rhythm sections experiment with polyrhythms intuitively and fail. Possibly a drummer will suggest
the dotted quarter pulse over the quarter note, another may go with him and before they know it, the
have lost the fundamental pulse and cannot get back. They should continue to experiment, but some-
times a little understanding, knowledge and practice can greatly help the intuition. Many beginning stu-
dents have trouble notating and reading the notation of these complicated rhythms. Practicing singing,
tapping and correctly writing these rhythms will help insure success when confronted with complicated
rhythms appearing on the page or in improvisations. Practicing and understanding the rhythms will
help with visual and aural recognition, and help the musician reach the true meaning of the perfor-
mance of the music.

The following exercises look at a simple polyrhythms and their variations. They should be practiced in
several ways:

• Read them in time with a metronome either tapping or singing “do” or “dot” with
the figures.

• Tap the lines with one hand and tap the negative space with another

• Tap your hands alternating RLRL and use accents to play the rhythm exercises

• Compose one-part rhythm pieces using excerpts from the rhythm exercises and
have class perform

• Compose two-part rhythm pieces using excerpts from the rhythm exercises and
have class perform

• Sing or tap the rhythms and have individuals improvise in the two measure rests

• Use the rhythm exercises for class dictation

• For understanding and recognizing sixteenth note rhythms, transpose selected or all
exercises to sixteenths and practice as before

Exercise 2.1 begins with a dotted quarter pulse imposed over two measures of 44. The first and alternating
dotted quarter notes are replaced with a quarter and eighth note creating a (2 + 1) + 3 rhythm in the
second line. The first and alternating dotted quarter notes are replaced with an eighth and a quarter
creating a (1 + 2) + 3 rhythm in the third line. The first and alternating dotted quarter notes are re-
placed with three eighth notes creating a (1 + 1 + 1) + 3 rhythm in the fourth line.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 43

Exercise 2.1

÷ c œ. œ œ œ œ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ
J J J J

÷ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ
J J J

Exercise 2.2: Exercise 2.1 displaced by one eighth note.

÷ ‰ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ Ó ‰ œ ‰ œ œ. œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ Œ Ó
J J J J J J J

÷ ‰ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ Ó ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ. ‰ œ œ œ
J J J J J J

Exercise 2.3: Exercise 2.1 displaced by two eighth notes.

÷ c Œ œ œ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ Œ Ó Œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ Ó
J J J

÷ Œ œ œ ‰ œ. œœ‰œ œ œœ ∑ Œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
J J

Exercise 2.4: Exercise 2.1 displaced by a half note.

÷Ó œ. œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ Ó Ó œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ Ó
J J J

÷ Ó œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ Œ Ó Ó œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ Ó
J J

Jazz Theory Resources


44 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

Exercise 2.1 was based on replacing the first and every other dotted quarter by another combination
equal to three. Exercise 2.5 replaces the second dotted quarter value and every other one with another
combination. The first line begins 3 + (2 + 1), the second 3 + (1 + 2), and the third, 3 + (1 + 1+ 1).

Exercise 2.5

c œ. œ ‰ œ œ ‰ œ ‰ œ œ. œ ∑ ∑
J J J J J

œ. œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ. œ ∑ ∑
J J J

œ. œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ. œ ∑ ∑
J J J

Exercise 2.6: Exercise 2.5 displaced by one eighth note.

c ‰ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ Ó ∑
J

‰ œ. œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ Œ Ó ∑
J

‰ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ Ó ∑
J

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 45

Exercise 2.7: Exercise 2.5 displaced by two eighth notes.

c Œ œ ‰ œ ‰ œ œ. œ ‰ œ œ œ Œ Ó ∑
J J J J

Œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ ∑ ∑
J

Exercise 2.8 is based on exercise 2.1. In this exercise every dotted quarter note is replaced by a combi-
nation of 2 + 1. The second line is displaced by an eighth note and the third by a quarter note.

Exercise 2.8

c œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ∑ ∑
J J
‰ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ ∑ ∑
J J J J
Œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ Œ Ó ∑
J J

Exercise 2.9 is also based on exercise 2.1. In this exercise every dotted quarter note is replaced by a
combination of 1 + 2. The second line is displaced by an eighth note and the third by a quarter note.

Exercise 2.9

c œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ ∑ ∑
J J J
‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ Œ Ó ∑
J J J
Œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ∑ ∑
J J

The possible combinations of 3 for a dotted quarter note (2 +1, 1 + 2, and 1 + 1 + 1), the possible dis-
placements on any beat or upbeat in the measure, and combinations with quarter note values create a
nearly infinite number of rhythms. Familiarization with these exercises will help create rhythmic confi-
dence and inspire more experimentation.

Jazz Theory Resources


46 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

These rhythms in exercise 2.10 are found in many funk, pop, Latin and jazz tunes. The eighth note pairs
are placed every three beats. The three beat rhythm shown above the eighth note line is the augmenta-
tion of the dotted quarter notes in exercise 2.1.

Exercise 2.10

˙. œ ˙ ˙ œ ˙. ˙. œ
c œ œ Œ Œ œ œ Ó œ œ Œ Œ œ œ Ó œ œ Œ Œ œ œ
˙. ˙. œ
Œ œ œ Ó œ œ Œ Œ œ œ ∑ ∑

Much of the music written in pop, funk and Latin styles is written with sixteenth note subdivision. Well
rounded musicians need to be adept at reading and writing these rhythms. The dotted quarter superim-
position becomes a dotted sixteenth in the following exercise. Exercise 2.11 is the rhythmic diminution
of exercise 2.1. It is recommended that all of the previous rhythmic reading and dictation exercises be
rewritten in their diminished form to facilitate the reading of sixteenth note subdivisions.

Exercise 2.11

c œ. œ œ œ œ œ. œ. œ ∑ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ ∑

œ œ œ œ œ œ ≈ œ. œ œ œ ∑ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ ∑
J

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 47

The first set of exercises was based on the superimposition of dotted quarter notes over 44 time. The
clave beat is another rhythm pattern to which combinations of 2 + 1, 1 + 2, and 1 + 1 + 1 can be substi-
tuted for the dotted quarter notes. Some variations are shown below.

Exercise 2.12: Variations of the 3-2 & 2-3 clave.

÷c œ œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ œ. œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ ‰ œ.
J J

÷ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ ‰ œ œ Œ œ œ œ ‰ œ
J J J

÷Œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ
J J

÷ Œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ
J J J

OTHER SUGGESTED EXERCISES

• Transcribe rhythms from jazz performances, Latin and pop music. Analyze the
combinations of twos and threes. Experiment with displacement by eighth notes
and quarter notes.

• Take simple rhythms from speech patterns and notate. Experiment with displace-
ment by eighth notes and quarter notes.

• Take simple rhythms created with quarter and eighth notes and rewrite using eighth
and sixteenth notes. Practice reading and recognizing the same rhythms written in
any form.

• Take the previous exercises and rewrite using sixteenths and eighth notes.

• Take the previous exercises and notate and practice reading the negative space
rhythms.

Jazz Theory Resources


48 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

READING EXERCISES
Here are several exercises using a mixture of rhythms. Try singing or tapping these rhythms while tap-
ping a steady beat with your other hand or foot. Be sure to practice with the metronome and practice a
variety of tempos.

Reading Exercise 2.1

c Œ œ œ œ Œ œ. œ œ œ œ ‰ œ ˙ ‰ œ. œ œ
J J

œ œ œ œ ˙ ‰ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ˙. Œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ
J J J J

˙. Œ Œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ œ ‰ œ ˙. Œ
J

‰ œ Œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ w ∑
J J

Reading Exercise 2.2

c Œ ˙ œ ˙ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ Œ œ Œ œ ‰ œ ˙
J J

‰ œ. œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ ˙ œ. œ ∑
J J

Œ ˙ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ ˙ œ œ ‰ œ ˙. Œ
J J

Œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ Œ Œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ ˙
J J J J

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 49

Reading Exercise 2.3

c Œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ œ Œ œ ˙ œ œ œ ˙. Œ

‰ œ Œ œ. œ Œ œ œ œ Œ œ. œ Œ œ ˙. Œ
J J J

œ. œ Ó Œ œ œ œ Œ œ. œ Ó ∑
J J

‰ œ Œ œ Œ œ. œ Ó ‰ œ. œ œ œ. œ Ó
J J J

Reading Exercise 2.4

c ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ ˙. Œ Œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ. œ ˙
J J J J

œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ œ œ ˙ ‰ œ Œ œ. œ Ó
J J J

‰ œ. œ œ ‰ œ ˙. Œ Œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ œ ‰ œ ˙
J J

œ œ Œ Œ œ œ Ó œ œ Œ Œ œ œ ‰ œ. œ. œ Ó
J

Jazz Theory Resources


50 Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance

Reading Exercise 2.5

c ‰ œ. œ. œ Œ œ ‰ œ. œ. œ Ó Œ œ œ œ.
J J J

œ Œ ‰ œ. œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ Ó ‰ œ.
J

œ Œ Œ œ ˙ œ Œ œ œ œ ˙ ‰ œ. œ œ

œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ∑ ∑
J

Reading Exercise 2.6

÷ c ‰ œ œ œ . œ . œ œ œ œ . œ œ ≈ œ . œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ≈ œ. œ œ œ œ ˙ ≈ œ œ œ œ. œ
J J
÷˙ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ ˙ ≈ œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ Ó
J J

Reading Exercise 2.7

÷c Ó ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ Œ ≈ œ. œ œ œ œ œ ≈ œ œ
J J
÷ œ œ. œ Ó ‰ œ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ œ˙ ‰ œœ≈œœ œœ œœ ‰ œœ≈œœ œ ≈œœ
J

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 2 Rhythm in Jazz Performance 51

Reading Exercise 2.8

÷c ‰ œ œœ‰ œ œœ‰ œ œ œ œœ˙ ≈ œ. œ. œ ‰ œ œ œ. œ. œ ‰ œ ˙


J J J J J
÷ œ. œ Œ ‰ œ œ œ. œ. œ Œ Ó ≈ œ. œ œ. œ Œ ≈ œ. œ œ œ. œ Œ
J J J

Reading Exercise 2.9

÷ c ≈œœ œœ œ˙ ‰ œ œ ≈ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ≈ œ. œ. œ œ
J
÷ ≈ œ. œ œ œ ˙ ‰ œ œ ≈ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ ‰ œ œ Œ œ œ ‰ ‰ œ œ ≈ œ. œ. œ Œ
J J J

Reading Exercise 2.10

÷ c ≈ œ. œ. œ ‰ œ ≈ œ. œ. œ Œ ‰ œ œ œ. œ ≈ œ. œ ≈ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ ≈ œ.
J J J J J J
÷œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ≈ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ∑
J J

Jazz Theory Resources


52 Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials

III. BASIC TONAL MATERIALS


TONALITY
What is and what creates tonality? How can C major and A minor share the same pitches and what
makes one hear C as the tonic of C major and A as the tonic of A minor? Tonality is created when one
pitch sounds more important and more stable than all the surrounding pitches. This pitch is called
tonic. It is the center of the musical organization and the other pitches often seem to progress towards
this pitch. The tonic is not always the first pitch sounded in the musical setting, but is often the last. It
may not be the pitch that occurs with the most frequency, but it will occur at significant rhythmic and
structural points, which not only establishes its importance, but also facilitates the establishment of me-
ter.

A second pitch, a perfect fifth above or perfect fourth below the tonic pitch is often used to establish the
tonic as the primary center. This pitch, called the dominant, may occur more often in the piece than
the tonic, but often occurs in a rhythmic position which points to the tonic pitch. This dominant pitch
is the second overtone or the third note of the harmonic series, and its relationship to acoustics may be
why the dominant–tonic relationship is universal and not limited to the European major/minor system.
The dominant is the third pitch of the harmonic series and the first pitch of the series that is not the
fundamental pitch, and within the series, is bordered above and below by the fundamental pitch.

3.1 Harmonic series

˙ œ bœ n˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙ #œ
& ˙ ˙ bœ
˙
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

? ˙
˙
˙1 œ = approximate pitch
2 3

The tonic is established in the example below, by the repeated B rising and falling to the E. The rhyth-
mic placement suggests a three beat meter. The B, the dominant pitch, occurs more often than the E,
but the E has a sense of finality and stability. The meter is not determined by what is written on the staff,
but rather, how we experience the placement of the important notes determines how it is written on the
staff. Here the two important notes occur every three beats, and the music—the aural experience, not
just the notation, suggests the meter.

3.2 Tonic established using Dominant pitch

œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ ˙. œ œ œœœœ œ œœœ .
3 3 3

& ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials 53

Ex. 3.2 established E as tonic, but is it E major or E minor? Most people tend to identify it as being in E
major even though no pitch that would determine either major or minor has been sounded. The reason
may be related to the overtone series in that the fifth note of the series is a major third and is often
heard even when absent. This example needs a third pitch to definitively establish the modality as ei-
ther major or minor. The pitch that determines the modality is the mediant, the middle note between
dominant and tonic.

Tonality, by definition, indicates a hierarchy of pitches, where one pitch is more stable than all the oth-
ers. This means that not all pitches have the same importance in a tonal musical setting. What are the
three most important pitches? Students with some training in European harmonic theory are quick to
inaccurately respond I, IV, and V, referring to the triads on the first, fourth and fifth degrees of a major
scale. Some wrongly list a leading tone pitch, but a leading tone pitch is not present in all modes. Tonal
music existed long before any system of harmonic progression was developed. The three most impor-
tant pitches are the tonic (the home pitch), the dominant (a perfect fifth above the tonic), and the me-
diant (which determines modality, either major or minor). A piece may be tonal and not necessarily in
the major/minor system. There are pieces that may be in other major and minor modes or highly
chromatic implying major or minor, but still imply one pitch as the center of the musical structure.

Tonality is established in the selection below by the initial dominant to tonic statement. E sounds like
the home pitch because it is preceded by its dominant and it is held for a longer duration. The E occurs
two more times in the first full measure and begins the second measure. B, the dominant pitch, occurs
three times in the second measure and begins the third. The mediant is heard for the first time in the
third measure establishing the modality as minor and not major. The line ends tonic-dominant-tonic,
reinforcing E as the primary pitch. The meter (not shown) is clearly audible due to the placement of the
tonic and dominant and their relative durations. A glance at this melody with no sharps or flats might
suggest C major or its relative minor A. The melody itself suggests E as the tonal center. No chords
needed to hear E as the tonic. This melody is in the key of E phrygian, one of the minor modes that will
be discussed in chapter 12.

3.3 E as Tonic of a phrygian melody

& œ ˙ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙.
R œ
D T T D D M T T D T

C would not be heard as tonic in the first phrase of Amazing Grace, shown below, even though it begins
and ends with C. The first C sounds like a pickup note to the F. C to F is the dominant to tonic relation-
ship and makes the F sound like the home pitch. The establishment of F as tonic is reinforced by hold-
ing the F for two counts. The A in the second measure indicates this melody is in a major mode. The
four half notes in the example are the tonic, dominant and mediant. The G and D occur on weaker beats
and for shorter durations. This melody is in an F major mode, not because of key signatures or har-
monic progressions, but because of placement of the three important pitches.

3.4 Amazing Grace: first phrase

& ˙ œ œ ˙ œ ˙
œ œ ˙
D T M M T D

The three important pitches were placed in rhythmically significant places in these two examples from
Charlie Parker. In both, the underlying structure implied T-M-D-M-T, 1-3-5-3-1, or Do-Mi-So-Mi-Do. In
the first example, a G major tonality was clearly indicated using strictly melodic principles. G was estab-
lished without depending on a harmonic progression, chordal instrument, or a written key signature. The
first one used only diatonic notes the second included some chromatic passing tones. Below each
melody are letters indicating the tonic, dominant and mediant pitches.

Jazz Theory Resources


54 Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials

3.5 Diatonic notes

& j œœœœœœœœ œ œ
œ
D T M D M D M T

& j œ œ œ œ w
œ
3.6 Diatonic and Chromatic tones
3

œ œ bœ œ œ œ
œ œ #œ œ bœ nœ
3

& œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ ˙
T M D M M D T T

&c ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ w

Here are two examples from Bach and one from Mozart to further illustrate how the rhythmic place-
ment of the tonic, dominant and mediant pitches aid the establishment of tonality and meter.

3.7 J. S. Bach: Sonata VI, Preludio, for solo violin

œT œ œT Dœ M Dœ T T M D T D M M D T T T D
#### 3 ‰ œ œœœœœ D œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œ œr
D T

& 4
3.8 J. S. Bach: Suite No. 1 in G major, for solo cello

œ œ œ œ œ œ œD
?# c œ œ œ œ œ r
M M

œ œ
T D T

œ œ œ

3.9 Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K.525, First Movement

#
& c œ ‰ œj œ ‰ œj œ œ œ œ œ Œ

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials 55

PITCH HIERARCHY
There are twelve pitches available within the European tuning system. Tonality, by definition, indicates
that all twelve pitches are not of equal importance. Here is a hierarchical list of the twelve pitches.

Primary Level
1. TONIC: the home pitch. In tonal music, all other pitches ultimately point back to tonic.

2. DOMINANT: This pitch a perfect fifth above the tonic is the primary pointer to the tonic.

3. MEDIANT: If it is a major third above the tonic determines a major mode; a minor third above
the tonic determines minor.

Secondary Level
4. All other diatonic pitches. The four remaining pitches in a typical seven note scale. These would
be the second, fourth, sixth and seventh degrees. They are defined by their relationship to the
three pitches above.

SUPERTONIC: The second note of the seven tone scale is above the tonic. It points back down
to the tonic and may occur in passing between the tonic and mediant.

SUBDOMINANT: The fourth note of a seven tone scale is a fifth below the tonic. It is not always
a perfect fifth below. It often occurs connecting the mediant and the dominant in ascending and
descending patterns.

The sixth and seventh are the connectors between the dominant and the tonic.

SUBMEDIANT: The sixth degree is the middle note between the tonic and the subdominant.

The seventh degree may be a half step or a whole step below the tonic.

SUBTONIC: Seventh scale tone, a whole step below the tonic.

LEADING TONE: Seventh scale tone, a half step below the tonic.

Tertiary Level

5. The five remaining chromatic tones. These tones point to the seven tones above. The remaining
chromatic tones depend on the original diatonic mode. There are five, but with enharmonic
spelling there appears to be more. For example: in the key of C major, the five remaining
chromatic tones are easily visualized by imagining the five black keys on the piano. Careful use
of enharmonics may suggest ten chromatic tones. The pitch between C and D may be a C# when
ascending (C-C#-D) or a Db when descending (D-Db-C).

The most important reason to understand the pitch hierarchy is that it will aid in aural training and
recognition. Trying to hear and understand tonal melodies will be easier knowing that the pitches are
arranged naturally in a classifiable order. Learn the pitches in order of their importance and in rela-
tionship to tonic. The primary pitches will be the most prominent pitches in a line in both frequency of
occurrence and rhythmic placement. The secondary and tertiary pitches point back to the primary
pitches and will often occur on weaker beats and with lesser durations.

Jazz Theory Resources


56 Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials

EAR TRAINING
Ear training can be accomplished with three tasks: singing, writing, and reading. Sing in order to learn
the pitches and their relationships; write melodies by listening to an outside source or memory, identify-
ing and writing the pitches on paper; and read and reproduce written music. Writing the pitches down
without the “hunting and pecking” at notes on your instrument requires that one really knows and rec-
ognizes the pitches. Systematically singing of the pitches prepares one for melodic dictation. Writing
simple melodies will help make the associations between the notation and the written that will aid with
accurate reading in musical performance. These are the three areas that all musicians strive to master.
Practice making the connections between all three skills. When looking at written music, imagine how it
sounds and how it physically feels to play it; when hearing music imagine what it looks like on the page
and how it would physically feel; and when playing, listen intently and imagine what it looks like on the
page.

There is always some discussion as to what syllables to sing. Some advocate the use of solfége with a
movable “DO” which for a major scale would be: Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do; and for a minor scale: La Ti
Do Re Mi Fa So La. This solfége system keeps the half steps between Mi and Fa and Ti and Do for all
circumstances.

Others prefer singing numbers. Advocates of using numbers make a good point that in all other
discussions of music theory we refer to numbers. Scale degrees and diatonic scale chords are number in
relationship to tonic which is labeled “one.” All intervals are described by numbers. The argument is, if
so much of theory discussion is based on numbers then it should be reinforced during ear training. The
major drawback is that getting the syllables out can be cumbersome, especially with the two syllable
word “seven.”

I advocate using something simple to sing and while singing imagine the numerical relationships. So in-
stead of a movable “DO,” I advocate the use of a movable “Doo,” using “Doo” for all pitches, and for
faster passages “Doo-be doo-be doo,” of course. The important thing is to be able to hear the pitches
correctly not whether you sing the proper syllable. If syllables or numbers are used to strengthen the
comprehension of pitches, then I support the process. If too much emphasis gets put on the learning of
syllables and not the learning of pitch relations, then it is a waste of time. I once visited an ear training
class where a student was asked to sight sing a particular passage. The student actually sang the correct
pitches, but stumbled trying to remember the solfége syllables. He was told by his teacher that he per-
formed incorrectly and the next student was called on. The instructor lost the focus of the exercise by
correcting the solfége syllables and not praising the accurately sung pitches. The solfége system is a tool
to aid in the learning of the pitches.

BEGINNING SINGING EXERCISES:


Sound the pitches on an instrument or pitch pipe, then try to sing the exercises keeping the tonic pitch
in memory and finding the others as they relate back to the tonic. Occasionally in the beginning the
notes should be checked until a reasonable amount of independent pitch retention is confirmed.

MAJOR KEYS

Tonal ear training begins by identifying the tonic pitch. Begin to establish the C (or any tone) as tonic
by singing the tonic and the dominant, 1 & 5.

&c œ œ œ œ œ
œ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials 57

Sing the 3rd (major) along with 1 & 5. Sing scale passages from the tonic to the dominant and return.

&œ œ œ œ ˙ œ
œœœ œœ˙ ˙ œ œ œ ˙ œ œ œ ˙

Be able to hear and sing the 5 & 3 above or below the tonic pitch.

&˙ œ œ œ ˙ ˙ œ œ œ œ ˙ ˙ œ œ œ ˙ ˙ œœ œœœ˙
œ

Find the supertonic (2) above the tonic: between the 1 & 3, and below 3.

&˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙

Find the subdominant (4) above the 3: between the 3 & 5. Hear the 2 and 4 in the scale between 1 & 5.

& ˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙ ˙œ ˙œ˙œ ˙œ˙œ ˙œ˙

Find the submediant (6) as it relates to the 5th.

&˙ ˙ œ ˙ ˙ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙ œ œ œ
˙ œ œ œ ˙ ˙

Hear the 6 & 7 passing between the tonic and dominant.

&˙ ˙ ˙ œ œ ˙ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ ˙

MINOR KEYS

Begin to establish the C (or any tone) as tonic by singing the tonic and the dominant, 1 & 5.

&c œ œ œ œ œ
œ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


58 Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials

Sing the 3rd (minor) along with 1 & 5. Sing scale passages from the tonic to the dominant and return.

& œ bœ œ œ ˙ œ
œb œ œ œb œ ˙ ˙ œ bœ œ ˙ œ bœ œ ˙

Be able to hear and sing the 5 & 3 above or below the tonic pitch.

& ˙ œ bœ œ ˙ ˙ œ œ œ bœ ˙ ˙ bœ œ œ ˙ ˙ œ œbœ œbœ ˙


Find the supertonic (2) above the tonic: between the 1 & 3, and below 3.

&˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ b˙ œ ˙ b˙ œ b˙ b˙ œ ˙ œ b˙

Find the subdominant (4) above the 3: between the 3 & 5. Hear the 2 and 4 in the scale between 1 & 5.

& b˙ œ b˙ b˙ œ ˙ œ b˙ ˙ œb˙ œ ˙ œb˙ œ ˙ œb˙ œ ˙

Find the submediant (b6) above the 5.

& ˙ ˙ bœ ˙ ˙ ˙ bœ ˙ bœ ˙ œbœ œ
˙ œbœ œ ˙ ˙

Hear the 6 & 7 passing between the tonic and dominant. What are your initial instincts? Do you hear a
different version when ascending and descending? Sing the way you hear it first and learn other patterns
based on what you normally hear.

&˙ ˙ ˙ nœ nœ ˙ ˙ bœ bœ ˙ nœ nœ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials 59

BEGINNING WRITING EXERCISES:


As a complete musician you will be expected to be competent in three areas: to physical be able to play
your instrument; to be able to recognize the written symbols and understand the musical meaning be-
hind them; and to hear music and be able to write the appropriate symbols or be able to physically
play your instrument recreating the music you hear. All of these skills interact. When you are physically
playing you should be connected to the aural recognition of what you play and be able to visually rec-
ognize or notate what you play. When you see music in the written form, you should be able to imagine
the music for which the symbols stand. When listening to music you should be able to imagine what it
feels like physically to play it and have the skills to accurately notate what you hear. These are lifelong
goals of musicians. These skills can be developed separately, but at the same time the connections be-
tween these skills should be developed. Integrate these skills in your practice schedule.

These beginning writing exercises will address the fundamental skills of recognizing the primary pitches
(tonic, dominant and mediant), the basic meter, and rhythmic vocabulary. Develop a routine of writing
melodies from memory or taking dictation from someone or a recording. What is difficult in the begin-
ning will become easier with honest, diligent practice.

Use your ears, but do not forget to use your intellect. Some think that hearing and thinking about the
music are separate activities. Some notes may come to you with ease and with little thought. Another
note or set of notes may cause you trouble. Stop and think about the possibilities. Use some deductive
reasoning. Process of elimination will reveal some pitches that are at first difficult to aurally identify.

For example:

• If a note sounds stable, chances are it belongs to the primary level of pitches. That narrows
the choice to one of three notes.

• If the note sounds a little less stable or transient, is probably is from the secondary level of
pitches. The choices are narrowed to four pitches. This pitch probably moves to a pitch
from the primary level, so listen ahead and then work back. If the note resolves down a step
to the dominant, then the note in question must have been the sixth degree.

The deductive reasoning will lead to familiarity. With practice, longer lines of transient and stable
pitches will be easier to hear and notate.

Here is a list of tunes for transcription practice. The list is comprised of folk, childhood, holiday, and
patriotic songs. The list is from my middle America background. You may want to amplify the list with
tunes from your own region, nation, holidays and childhood if they differ greatly from this list. Consult
the National Endowment for the Arts “Songs of the Century” list for additional melodies. These are
tunes memorized from childhood so musical dictation from an outside source is not necessary. Work
can be done anywhere without electrical devices or computers. You will need a pencil, paper, and until
your skills get better, an eraser. This is an activity you could do with colleagues or alone. Your work can
be easily checked after writing by playing them on your instruments.

Since the most important pitch in tonal music is the tonic, aurally identify the tonic first. Without the
tonic, the other notes are meaningless. Not all tunes begin on tonic. These beginning level writing tunes
usually begin on one of the three primary pitches and usually gravitate towards the tonic very soon. Sing
the melody until you can identify the tonic pitch. Return to the beginning of the piece and determine if
the first pitch is the tonic or another pitch. You may have to sing with numbers up or down the scale un-
til you identify the first pitch. Does the first note begin on the downbeat or does it begin with a pickup?
Is the meter in two, three or four? Finish the melody listening to the intervals related to the tonic pitch
in the piece.

These exercises may seem simple, but you may be surprised at how much practice is needed to write
these tunes quickly and accurately. It requires the command of all fundamental music skills, the most
important being recognition of tonic and basic meter. If any skill area is weak, these exercises provide
some necessary drilling and training.

Jazz Theory Resources


60 Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials

Practice writing and sight singing every day. Make yourself work quickly and accurately when writing
melodies. Find weaknesses and work out the problems. If these tunes are too easy, there is plenty of
recorded music to transcribe for ear training. These tunes are a much easier place to start than a five
minute blistering improvisation by John Coltrane, Clifford Brown or Michael Brecker.

BEGINNING TUNES for EAR TRAINING:

1. Folk Songs (any) 61. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 116. Oh, Susanna
2. Holiday Music (any) 62. Good King Wenceslas 117. Oh, Where, Oh Where Has My
3. Patriotic Songs (any) 63. Good Night Ladies Little Dog Gone?
4. Religious Music (any) 64. Greensleeves 118. Old MacDonald Had a Farm
5. TV/Movie theme songs (any) 65. Happy Birthday 119. Old Rugged Cross
6. Alouette 66. Hark The Sound 120. On Top of Old Smokey
7. Alphabet Song 67. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! 121. Onward Christian Soldiers
8. Amazing Grace 68. Havanagila 122. Polly Wolly Doodle
9. America (My Country ‘tis of 69. Have Yourself a Merry Little 123. Pop! Goes the Weasel!
Thee...) Christmas 124. Puff The Magic Dragon
10. America the Beautiful 70. Holly & Ivy 125. Rain Barrel
11. Angels We Have Heard on 71. Home on the Range 126. Rakes of Mallow
High 72. Hush Little Baby 127. Red River Valley
12. Are You Sleeping? 73. I Ain’t Gonna Study War No 128. Rock My Soul (In The Bosom
13. Auld Lang Syne More of Abraham)
14. Aura Lee 74. I Dream of Jeanie with the 129. Rock-A-Bye Baby
15. Away in A Manger Light Brown Hair 130. Row, Row, Row, Your Boat
16. Baa! Baa! Black Sheep 75. I Love Lucy Theme Song 131. Rudolf The Red-Nosed
17. Battle Hymn of The Republic 76. I Saw Three Ships Reindeer
18. Bicycle Built For Two 77. I’ll be Home for Christmas 132. Sail Navy
19. Billy Boy 78. I’m Popeye Sailor Man 133. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
20. Blue Bells of Scotland 79. I’ve Been Working On The 134. Scarborough Fair
21. Brahm’s Lullaby Railroad 135. Scotland’s Burning
22. Bring a Torch 80. In Southern Port of France 136. Sentimental Journey
23. Caissons 81. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear 137. Shall We Gather At The River
24. Camptown Races 82. Jesus Loves Me 138. She’ll Be Comin’ Round The
25. Can Can 83. Jimmie Crack Corn Mountain
26. Carry Me Back To Old Virginny 84. Jingle Bells 139. Shoo Fly
27. Christmas Song 85. Jolly Old St. Nicholas 140. Shortnin’ Bread
28. Circus Song 86. Joshua Fit the Battle of 141. Silent Night
29. Clementine Jericho 142. Skip To My Lou
30. Columbia, The Gem of the 87. Joy to the World 143. Sleigh Ride
Ocean 88. Joyful, Joyful 144. Star Spangled Banner
31. Come Ye Thankful People 89. Kumbaya 145. Stars And Stripes Forever
32. Crusaders Hymn 90. Let It Snow 146. Streets of Laredo
33. Daisy 91. Let Me Call You Sweetheart 147. Swanee River
34. Danny Boy 92. Lightly Row 148. Sweet Betsy From Pike.
35. Dark Eyes 93. Little Pierrot 149. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
36. Deck the Halls 94. Lo How a Rose 150. Take Me Out to the Ballgame
37. Deep in the Heart of Texas 95. Loch Lomond 151. This Old Man
38. Dixie 96. London Bridge is Falling 152. Three Blind Mice
39. Do You Know the Muffin Man? Down 153. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
40. Doe, A Deer (Sound of Music) 97. Long Long Ago 154. Voluntary
41. Don’t Sit Under the Apple 98. Man on the Flying Trapeze, 155. Wayfaring Stranger
Tree The 156. We Three Kings
42. Down by Mill Stream 99. Marine’s Hymn 157. We Wish You a Merry
43. Down in The Valley 100. Mary Had a Little Lamb Christmas
44. Doxology 101. Merrily We Roll Along 158. What a Friend We Have in
45. Dradle Song (Hanukah) 102. Mulberry Bush Jesus
46. Edelweiss 103. My Bonnie 159. What Child Is This?
47. Eeensy Weensy Spider 104. My Old Kentucky Home 160. When Irish Eyes are Smiling
48. Eyes of Texas are Upon You 105. Nobody Knows the Trouble 161. When Johnny Comes Marching
49. Fairest Lord Jesus I’ve Seen Home
50. Faith of Our Fathers 106. O Christmas Tree 162. When The Saints Go Marching
51. Farmer in the Dell 107. O Come, All Ye Faithful In
52. First Noel 108. O Come, O Come Emmanuel 163. Where Has My Little Dog
53. First Noel, The 109. O Dear, What Can The Matter Gone?
54. For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow Be? 164. While Strolling Through The
55. Frere Jacques (Are You 110. O Hanukah Park One Day
Sleeping, Brother John?) 111. O Holy Night 165. White Christmas
56. Frog Went-a-Courtin’ 112. O Little Town of Bethlehem 166. Winter Wonderland
57. Funiculi, Funicula 113. O My Darlin’ Clementine 167. Yankee Doodle
58. Go Down Moses 114. O What Beautiful Morning 168. You Are My Sunshine
59. Go Tell Aunt Rhodie 115. Ode To Joy (Theme From 169. Zip-A-Di-Doo-Dah
60. Go Tell it on the Mountain Beethoven’s Ninth)

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials 61

Every semester I begin the first jazz theory class asking students to write a simple melody such as the one
that is sung on birthdays or “O Tannenbaum.” Looks around the class suggest they wonder how this
connects to the study of jazz. A surprising number of music majors have trouble with these basic skills. If
the student is unable to hear and notate simple melodies they have sung all their lives, it suggests they
will have trouble hearing more complicated jazz lines from the literature and from their own imagina-
tions. If it takes five minutes to pick out one of these simple tunes, how long will it take to imagine four
chorus of blues in Bb? How well equipped are they to transcribe from memory if the quarter note was
around 240+?

Here is an example of how the exercise might work if we picked “O Tannenbaum” as the first tune to
transcribe and notate in the key of F major. Sing the phrase through and identify the pitch that sounds
like the stable home pitch. The last pitch in this phrase feels like the tonic. Sing the opening again. Is it
the same pitch? No, it sounds lower. The first guess is that the pickup note should be either the domi-
nant or the mediant because they are the most common remaining primary pitches. If you have trouble
immediately identifying the opening pitch as the dominant, then try starting at the tonic and sing down
until you find the correct pitch: 1-7-6-5-6-7-1, 1-5-1.

Does the melody begin on the beat? How many beats in each measure? It begins with a quarter note
pickup and the meter is three beats per measure. Learn to hear the rest of the melody as intervals re-
lated to the tonic. Do not concentrate on hearing the intervals between adjacent pitches. The A in m.2
should be heard as a major 3rd above the tonic, not a second above the preceding note. The last four
notes should be heard as 4-7-2-1, all notes related to the tonic; not as the intervals diminished fifth, mi-
nor third, major second.

3.10 Correct

j
& b 34 œ. œ œ œ œ. œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ

Here are some common mistakes when getting started.

This version sounds correct if played, but the rhythm is incorrectly notated. Do not assume that all
melodies start on the downbeat and have four beats per measure.

3.11 Incorrect

& b c œ œ. œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

This melody also sounds correct, but it is notated in the key of Bb major, regardless of what the key
signature suggests. Do not assume that all tunes begin on tonic.

3.12 Incorrect

& b 34 œ œ . œ œ œ œ . œ œ . œJ œ œ b œ œ œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


62 Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials

There are two ways to analyze melodic intervals.

Intervals related to tonic.


Intervals related to adjacent pitches.

There are those who advocate learning intervals independently first, then trying to hear melodies listen-
ing to the intervals related to adjacent pitches. This is not the way tonal music works and trying to learn
to hear this way will only cause frustration and waste time.

Tonal music is based on the premise that all pitches relate to tonic. It reasons that we should learn to
hear melodies based on the same principle. Hearing a melody as intervals related to adjacent pitches
calls for ignoring the tonic relationship, dividing the melody into unrelated pairs of pitches. This is not
the way one usually experiences a melody. It is unmusical, and anything unmusical should not be
practiced. Composers expect a listener to remember a tonic center and play off of those expectations to
tell their story or paint their picture. They use the stability of the primary pitches and the instability of
the remaining pitches, and play off those expectations. As you will learn with many of these simple
melodies, the tonic pitch status is established early before the melody moves away only to return at the
end of the piece. In large works, such as sonata allegro forms, composers expected the audiences to
remember the tonic key area, recognize its return after remote modulations, and recognize the second
theme returning to the tonic key in the recapitulation.

Some educators have put together lists of tunes to expedite the learning of intervals. These lists may
help learn intervals by themselves but will not help with learning intervals in musical contexts. Some
common tunes that are suggested to learn the perfect fourth interval are: “Here Comes the Bride” and
“O Tannenbaum.” Within the major scale there are six different perfect fourth intervals. Which of these
six perfect fourth intervals begin those tunes? Both of the tunes begin with the perfect fourth interval be-
tween the dominant and tonic. How then are the other perfect fourth intervals learned? They are
learned by hearing them as intervals related to the tonic.

Perfect Fourth Intervals in C Major Scale:

P4 P4 P4

˙
P4
˙
P4
˙ ˙
P4
˙
&˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

Everyone seems to remember the major sixth interval with “NBC,” “My Bonnie,” or “Take the ‘A’
Train.” There are four major sixth intervals within the major scale. Which ones correspond to these
tunes? These melodies use the major sixth interval from the dominant to the mediant, 5 up to 3. Those
tunes do not help anyone to hear the other major sixth intervals found in the major scale.

Major Sixth Intervals in C Major Scale:

M6 M6
˙
M6
˙ M6
˙
&˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

In another visit to an ear training class, I witnessed a teacher who played a C and asked a student to sing
a major sixth interval. The teacher wanted the student to sing C then a major sixth above, A. The student
sang a G and then an E. Clearly the student heard the C as tonic, remembered tunes for recalling a ma-
jor sixth, and promptly and correctly sang the dominant and the mediant in the key of C. The teacher
told him he was wrong with no explanation, and went on to the next student. The student learned noth-
ing. He had actually sung the correct interval according to the way he was taught and should have been
rewarded.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials 63

Examine the intervals in the familiar melody below. The numbers below each note represent the inter-
vallic relationship to the tonic note C. Great confusion can arise from trying to imagine the intervals be-
tween adjacent pitches independent of the tonic key.

The melody begins with a major sixth interval (a.) from 5 to 1, and since this is one of the tunes used to
illustrate that interval, it should be easy to hear.

Two tunes are commonly used to learn the descending minor third: “America the Beautiful,” and “The
Star Spangled Banner.” Both of these tunes begin with the minor third interval between 5 and 3. The de-
scending minor third interval at (b.) is between the tonic and the submediant. In order to imagine ei-
ther of the helper tunes, one would have to imagine F as the tonic in the middle of this passage in C ma-
jor.

The perfect fifth is often remembered from “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” At (c.), one would have to hear
G as tonic in order to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to find the perfect fifth.

All of the tunes used to remember a perfect fourth use the perfect fourth between tonic and dominant
(5-1). At (d.), the perfect fourth interval is from submediant to supertonic (6-2). One would have to hear
D major as the tonic key to find the perfect fourth interval at (d.).

The B section begins with a perfect fourth followed by a minor third and another perfect fourth. Using
the tunes as reference, one would have to imagine C major, F major and D major in order to find the
correct intervals if one is thinking only intervals between adjacent pitches.

To hear intervals between adjacent pitches in this very short and simple piece requires thinking not
only in the actual key of C major, but also in F major. D major and in G major. It is no wonder that stu-
dents have trouble with melodic dictation when trying to use this method. It defies the logic of tonal
music, the very music they are trying to master by the exercise.

3.13
a.
j œ . œ œ œ œ œ œj
c.
j œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ. j
b.

& 68 œ
œ œ œ œ œ

œ. œ œ œ œ œ j j
5 3 2 1 2 1 6 6 5 d. 5 3 2 1 1 7 1 2 5

& œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙.

œ.
3 2 1 2 1 6 6 5 5 6 2 1 7 6 7 1
e.
œ.
g.
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
& œ. œ. J J
f.
5 1 6 2 1 7 7 7 7 6 7 1 2 3

œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ.
& œ. œ. J
5 1 6 2 1 7 7 7 7 6 7 1

There are endless examples proving how ineffective trying to hear melodies by relating intervals be-
tween adjacent pitches. It may be fun to make up a mnemonic list of tunes to remember the individual
intervals, but it would be more useful to remember how those intervals relate to the tonic.

Jazz Theory Resources


64 Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials

Here is a simple folk song that could have been included on the list. The simple structure is shown on
the bottom line. It might be easier to hear just the downbeats and then fill in the other pitches that lead
to the downbeats. Learn to hear the melody as intervals (as shown) related to the tonic pitch.

3.14 Basic framework and melody to Wildwood

&c Ó ˙ œ œ
œ œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ
M3 P4 P5 M6 T M3 P4 M3 M2 M3 M2 T M3 P4

&c ∑ w w w w
&˙ œ œ œ
˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ
P5 M6 T M3 P4 M3 M2 M3 M2 T M3 P5

&w w w w
˙ œ œ ˙ œ
& œ œ ˙ œ ˙ œ œ
w w
M3 M3 M2 T P5 P5 M6 T M6 P5 T T

& w w
0

&˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ ˙
M3 M3 M3 P5 P5 M3 M2 M3 M2 T

&w w w w
4

APPLICATION
It is important to learn to apply the principles of tonal melodies to improvisations and composing.
Before attempting to address the intricacies of melodic writing involving harmonic implications, it
would be beneficial to gain some expertise and confidence with simple melodies based on the tonic,
dominant and mediant pitches.

Have you seen an artist draw a portrait of someone? They do not begin with the intricate details of the
eyelashes. A series of decisions are made before beginning. The first decision is how big the canvas will
be and how much space the face will cover on the canvas. They plan the space first so that later they do
not wish for a larger canvas or find they have 80% blank space left. The most general shapes are
sketched out lightly; an oval for the face and simple lines for neck and shoulders. From this basic
framework, the artist begins to fine tune and pay closer attention to the details and unique features.

Inventing a melody can be a similar process to the portrait painting example. How long should the
melody be? What are its high and low points and do they fit on the canvas (instrument)? What is the
simplest framework for the line? How can the simple framework be elaborated to create an interesting
melody.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials 65

“Amazing Grace” is a simply constructed melody that can be used as a model for this discussion. The
melody is shown on the top line in ex. 3.15 and a simple framework is shown on the bottom line. All of
the important notes have long rhythmic values, occur on strong beats, and consist of the three primary
pitches: tonic, dominant and mediant. This melody immediately makes F sound like tonic with the
dominant note used as a pickup and the long rhythmic value given to F. The question of major or minor
is settled by the third beat of the first measure. The line is sixteen measures long. At the halfway point,
the resting note is the dominant, creating a sense that while relatively stable, there is more to come. The
melody winds down to the lower dominant before resolving back to the tonic. The general shape shown
on the bottom line creates an interesting palindrome*. It rises from the tonic to the dominant and
returns in the same way in reverse:

1-3-1-5-1-3-5 then 5-3-1-5-1-3-1.

The notes that make up the framework for this tune, and so many others on the list above, are adjacent
pitches (3, 4, 5 & 6) in the harmonic series.

*Palindrome: A word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward. For ex-
ample: Ada, Civic, Deified, Mum, Otto, Radar, Rotator, Live Devil, Ergo ogre, Madam I’m Adam,
Able was ere I saw Elba, Poor Dan is in a droop, A man a plan a canal: Panama, Lewd did I live &
evil did I dwel, Lid off a Daffodil

3.15

& b 34 ˙ œ œ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙ œ œ
œ ˙ œ

& b 34 ∑ ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙.
˙.
&b ˙ œ œ ˙. ˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ ˙ œ

& b ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙.

&b ˙ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ ˙. ˙
œ

&b . ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙
˙
If the fundamental structure is strong then the results of melodically connecting the principal tones has
a strong chance for musical success. In addition to the three primary pitches, only two other pitches are
used to create Amazing Grace. G (2, or supertonic) is used in passing between tonic and the mediant; D
(6, or submediant) is used between the tonic and dominant. There is no leading tone or fourth degree of
the scale. These five tones make up one of the pentatonic scales.

Jazz Theory Resources


66 Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials

Try composing your own melody based on the “Amazing Grace” three note structure. Use the other four
diatonic pitches from the F major scale. Compose lines that have rhythmic character. Be aware of
phrasing: do not write sixteen measures of notes with no points of repose. In the beginning, try compos-
ing smooth motion throughout. With more experience, try some leaps and listen carefully to where the
leaps want to resolve. You may find that the leaps should happen after the main notes and that the main
notes should be approached by steps from above or below.

3.16

& b 34

& b 34 ˙ . ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙.
˙.
&b

& b ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙.
˙.
Compose a completely new version in a different meter:

3.17

&b c

&b c w w w w w w
w w

&b

&b w w w w w w w
w

A simple structure like this would work if transposed to minor. Compose versions in F minor in three
and in four beats per measure. When you compose in minor you have to decide the character of the
fifth and sixth degrees of the scale. It is perfectly musical to use the Db and Eb from the key signature. Do
you hear other pitches? Do they change depending on the direction of the melodic lines? Often the
fifth and sixth degrees of the minor scale are raised when ascending between the dominant and the
tonic and lowered when descending.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials 67

3.18 Framework in F minor:

b
& b b b 34

b
& b b b 34 ˙ . ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙.
˙.
b
& b bb

b
& b bb ˙ . ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙. ˙.

3.19 Framework in F minor:

b
& b bb c

b
& b bb c w w w w w w w w

b
& b bb

b
& b bb w w w w w w w
w

Jazz Theory Resources


68 Chapter 3 Basic Tonal Materials

Compose several simple frameworks for melodies using only the three primary pitches as shown below.
These pitches are the 3-6 and 8th pitches in the harmonic series in the first measure. The second set has
been transposed to the parallel minor. The primary melodic area should be within the perfect fifth be-
tween tonic and dominant. The higher tonic and the lower dominant then can be used for climactic or
dramatic reaches above and below the bracketed areas.

˙ ˙
&b c ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ bbbb ˙ ˙ ˙
˙
Limit your lines to four or eight measures in length. Within the short phrase try to achieve a rise and fall
with a logical conclusion. Work on the framework until the simple shape is as pleasing as it can be with-
out the aid of any elaborations. Many times when having difficulty composing melodies, composers try
more notes and more exciting elaborate rhythms in attempting to make the pieces more interesting.
Often times the flaw is not with the embellishments, it is with a weak underlying structure that no amount
of decoration can disguise. This is why the previous composing exercise was based on a proven frame-
work from an existing melody.

Using the simple frameworks, compose several short melodies four to eight measures in length. In the
beginning, use only the diatonic pitches shown below. There are ten remaining chromatic pitches that
can be added to the assignments as skills progress.

˙ œ œ ˙ bbbb ˙ œ œ ˙
&b c ˙ œ ˙ œ
˙ œ œ ˙ œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 69

IV. TRIADIC GENERALIZATION


This chapter will examine and analyze the use of the triad notes as linear melodic material that may be
used over harmonic progressions in a way that generalizes the harmony rather than specifically address-
ing each chord.

T ERTIAN T RIAD

A triad is often defined as three pitches sounding simultaneously (a chord) with the adjacent intervals
being separated by the interval of a major or minor third. This definition works well for a great deal of
music created in the nineteenth century and before, but does not explain many kinds of triads available
to composers from the twentieth century and beyond. A triad would be better defined as three simulta-
neously sounding pitches constructed using any variety of intervals. The most common would be the
triad whose adjacent intervals are separated by thirds called tertian triads. In chapter 13, there is a dis-
cussion of quartal triads constructed using intervals of fourths.

There are four types of tertian triads: major, minor, augmented and diminished. The diminished triad
has a diminished fifth, the augmented triad an augmented fifth. Only the major and minor triads have
perfect fifths and are therefore the only two triads considered stable in the tonal system. The notes of
these two triads are the primary pitches that create tonality and define modality: the tonic, dominant
and mediant. In the last chapter these notes were used to create melodies that defined the tonal center
and modality (major or minor) without consideration for harmonic conditions. These same notes are
the primary melodic pitches in most traditional harmonic settings.

TRIADIC GENERALIZATION
Jazz improvisers use these fundamental pitches to create melodies over the harmonic progressions even
when many of the notes contradict the vertical alignment of the chords and melodies. These vertical
contradictions are rarely heard as intolerable dissonances because music is performed and heard in a
linear form. Any vertical dissonances and contradictions tend to resolve through linear aspects of the
melodic lines.

The essence of a harmonic progression creates the stability of a tonal center, moves away forming vary-
ing degrees of tension, and then returns and re-establishes the primacy of the original tonic key area.
This is not very different from the function of a simple tonal melody. In a tonal melody the tonic is es-
tablished by placement on strong structural beats and relationship to the dominant pitch. The melody
then moves away to less stable tones and ultimately returns to the tonic. Many jazz improvisers use simi-
lar concepts basing improvisations on the primary triadic tones and sometimes ignore the exact har-
monic implications. Why does it work? The melodies and the harmonies function in similar manners by
creating, moving away and returning to the stable tonic area. Any vertical contradiction will just be a
part of the instability that ultimately is, in a linear fashion, resolved by the end of the phrase.

There is a tendency with many jazz improvisation students and some jazz educators to overemphasize
the vertical relationships of each melodic pitch to the specific chords. Playing melodies that specifically

Jazz Theory Resources


70 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

address each chord in a harmonic progression is certainly a great part of jazz improvisation. Harmonic
specificity or harmonic generalization should not be chosen at the exclusion of the other. Both ap-
proaches are found throughout the history of jazz performance. Both approaches may be found in a
single improvisation, or within a single phrase.

Melodies can be harmonically specific or general. The primary pitches of the tertian triad are com-
monly used for linear melodic material in a way that generalizes the harmony. The intricacies of har-
monic progressions and the relationships to harmonically specific lines will be covered in detail in sub-
sequent chapters.

ELABORATION DEVICES
Triadic generalization does not mean that only three notes are being used, just that these three notes are
more important than the other diatonic and chromatic pitches. The same hierarchy of pitches dis-
cussed in the previous chapter is relevant to this discussion. If a triadic melody is to include more than
just the three triadic tones, some discussion of elaborating the basic three pitches is necessary.

There are many terms for auxiliary tones. Tones which elaborate the basic triadic tones are often called
non-essential tones to distinguish them from the essential triadic tones. This is an unfortunate designa-
tion as these tones are essential to the creation of an interesting melody. They are also known as auxil-
iary tones or non-harmonic tones. In traditional music, some auxiliary tones may be labeled as ac-
cented or unaccented depending on their rhythmic placement on or off the downbeat. In the
polyrhythmic settings common to jazz, this distinction is unnecessary and may prove confusing.
Auxiliary tones embellish the basic triadic tones and will be revisited in following chapters as they apply
to embellishing harmonically specific lines.

P ASSING T ONES

Passing tones (PT) are the diatonic and chromatic steps between the essential tones. In a chord, passing
tones are the diatonic notes between the chord members: C major triad = C (d) E (f) G (a b) C. In a
scale, the chromatic tones between the adjacent scale steps may be chromatic passing tones. A chro-
matic passing tone can be placed between adjacent diatonic tones a whole step apart. Any diatonic tone
can have a chromatic leading tone. C# is the chromatic leading tone to D and the chromatic passing
tone between Cn and D. Db is the chromatic passing tone between Dn and Cn. The difference between C#
and Db is the direction implied by the accidental. Chromatically altered tones tend to continue in the
direction in which they have been altered. Flatted notes are lowered and therefore tend to resolve
downward, sharped notes are raised and tend to resolve upward.. The chromatic scale is written two dif-
ferent ways to indicate the direction of the accidentals. Sharps are used when ascending and flats when
descending. Keep this principal in mind when writing music and the lines will be easier to read.

After identifying the primary triad pitches, a scale may be viewed as a triad with passing tones between
the primary pitches and a chromatic scale may be viewed as a diatonic scale with chromatic passing
tones.

& ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙ œ œ ˙ ˙ #œ ˙ #œ ˙ ˙ #œ ˙ #œ ˙ #œ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ bœ ˙ bœ ˙ bœ ˙ ˙ bœ ˙ bœ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 71

Passing tones between Tonic (1) and Mediant (3) of a C major triad:
1-3 Diatonic PT Diatonic and Chromatic PTs
C C C

&˙ ˙ ˙
œ œ œ œ #œ œ ˙
1 3 1 PT 3 1 PT PT 3

Passing tones between Mediant (3) and Dominant (5) of a C major triad:
3-5 Diatonic PT Diatonic and Chromatic PTs
C C C

&˙ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ #œ œ ˙
3 5 3 PT 5 3 PT PT 5

Passing tones between Dominant (5) and Tonic (1) of a C major triad:
5-1 Diatonic PTs
C C

&˙ ˙ œ œ œ ˙
5 1 5 PT PT 1

Passing tones between Tonic (1) and Mediant (3) of a C Minor triad:
1-3 Diatonic PT Diatonic and Chromatic PTs
Cm Cm Cm

&˙ b˙ œ b˙
œ œ #œ œ bœ ˙
1 3 1 PT 3 1 PT PT 3

Passing tones between Mediant (3) and Dominant (5) of a C Minor triad:
3-5 Diatonic PT Diatonic and Chromatic PTs
Cm Cm Cm

& b˙ ˙ bœ œ ˙ bœ œ #œ œ ˙
3 5 3 PT 5 3 PT PT 5

Passing tones between Dominant (5) and Tonic (1) of a C Minor triad:
5-1 Diatonic PTs Diatonic PTs
Cm Cm Cm

&˙ ˙ œ bœ bœ ˙ œ nœ nœ ˙
5 1 5 PT PT 1 5 PT PT 1

Jazz Theory Resources


72 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

Diatonic passing tones can be illustrated in this excerpt from a Charlie Parker line. The notes of the G
triad are clearly delineated as they occur on the strong beats of the measure. The passing tones on the
up beats move the line to the next chord tones.

4.1 Diatonic passing tones

#
& c j œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ
CT PT CT PT CT CT PT CT

This excerpt from a Charlie Parker blues improvisation illustrates the combinations of diatonic and
chromatic passing tones between adjacent chord tones. The Gn is a diatonic passing tone between F and
A, followed by the chromatic passing tone G#. The chromatic G# creates more pull to the chord tone An.
The G# is not heard as a minor third of F (Ab), but as a raised pitch which wants to continue in the direc-
tion in which it has been altered. The Bb is a diatonic passing tone between An and C. The addition of
the Bn reverses the tendency of the Bb to point down as an upper neighbor tone to the A, and propels
the line up to the C.

4.2 Chromatic passing tones

& b c œ œ # œ œ œ n œ œJ
CT PT PT CT PT PT CT

N EIGHBOR T ONES

Tones on either side of a primary pitch are called neighbor tones (NT). The common practice in most
music from the Baroque period to the present is to use the diatonic (from the scale or mode) upper
neighbor tone (UNT) and the chromatic lower neighbor tone (LNT). In some situations, the LNT may be
labeled a chromatic leading tone (LT). A diatonic instead of chromatic LNT may be found in some folk
and ethnic music which is often due to chromatic limitations of the instruments and not musical prefer-
ences.

It is easy to determine the LNT since it is chromatic. It will always be a half step below the tone to which
it points. It should be written with a different letter name and with either a sharp or a natural sign. F#, not
Gb is the LNT to Gn. A#, not Bb, is the LNT to Bn.

The UNT may be harder to determine and will change depending on the key signature, mode or scale. A
simple C major triad (C-E-G) will have different UNTs depending on the key signature and context. A C
major triad can be found as the tonic (I) in the key or C major, as the subdominant (IV) in the key of G
major, and as the dominant (V) in the key of F major or F minor.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 73

A C major triad will have the same UNTs and LNTs in the key of C major or F major.

C as I in C C as V in F
UNTs LNTs UNTs LNTs
C C C C

&œ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙ #œ ˙ &b œ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙ #œ ˙
nœ ˙ #œ ˙ nœ ˙ #œ ˙

The LNTs for the C major triad remain chromatic in the key of G major, but the UNT to E is an F# from
the key signature.

C as IV in G
UNTs LNTs
C C
#
& œ ˙ #œ ˙ œ ˙ #œ ˙
nœ ˙ #œ ˙

If the C major triad is in the key of F minor, all of the diatonic UNTs are also chromatic.

C as V in F minor
C C

b
& b bb bœ ˙ œ n˙ bœ ˙ #œ ˙
nœ ˙ #œ n˙

The distinction is evident in Chopin’s choice of UNTs in this excerpt. The C7 chord is the dominant of
F minor and yields the Db, F and Ab as UNTs to the C, E and G. Note how the Bn, a chromatic LT, points
up to the Cn. The use of a Bb would have made the line want to move down to the Ab. Listen to how the
penultimate Bb points down to and finally resolves to the Ab.

4.3 Chopin: Nocturne in Eb major, Op. 9, No. 2

œ bœ œ œ œ. œ
b œ œ n œ œ
& b b 128 n œ œ b œ œ
œœ
n œ œœœ œ œ b œ œœœ œœ œœœ
? b 128 œ œ œ œ œ
bb œ œ

A C minor triad can be found as the supertonic chord (ii) in Bb major, the mediant (iii) in the key of Ab
major, and as the submediant (vi) of Eb major or the tonic of C minor (i). Notice how the UNTs change
according to the context. The UNT to the tonic is a whole step above when C minor is a ii, vi or i chord,

Jazz Theory Resources


74 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

but as a iii chord the UNT is a half step above tonic. When C minor is a ii chord, the UNT to the G is An,
a whole step above, but when C minor is a vi, i or iii chord, the UNT is Ab.

Cm as ii in Bb Cm as vi in Eb or i in C minor
Cm Cm Cm Cm

b bb
& b œ ˙ œ b˙ nœ ˙ ˙ # œ ˙ & b œ b˙ bœ ˙ #œ ˙
nœ ˙ œ œ ˙ nœ ˙ œ ˙

Cm as iii in Ab
Cm Cm

b
& b bb bœ ˙ œ b˙ bœ ˙ #œ ˙
nœ ˙ nœ ˙

N EIGHBOR T ONE C OMBINATIONS

Neighbor tones are often found in combinations. These combination neighbor tone patterns have been
called double neighbor tones, changing tones, encircling, or enclosing tones. There are a limited num-
ber of possible patterns that involve the basic chord tone (CT) and both the upper neighbor tones
(UNT) and lower neighbor tones (LNT). The possible combinations are:

Combination Inverse
UNT–LNT–CT LNT–UNT–CT
CT–UNT–LNT–CT CT–LNT–UNT–CT
UNT–CT–LNT–CT LNT–CT–UNT–CT

UNT–LNT–CT LNT–UNT–CT
C C

&œ œ #œ ˙ œ #œ ˙ #œ œ ˙
œ ˙ #œ nœ ˙ œ nœ ˙
UNT–LNT–CT LNT–UNT–CT
Cm Cm

&œ nœ œ b˙ bœ #œ ˙ #œ bœ ˙
nœ ˙ œ nœ ˙ nœ œ ˙
CT–UNT–LNT–CT CT–LNT–UNT–CT
C C

&œ œ œ œ #œ ˙ œ #œ œ ˙ œ #œ nœ ˙ œ
œ ˙ œ œ #œ ˙ œ nœ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 75

CT–UNT–LNT–CT CT–LNT–UNT–CT
Cm Cm

&œ œ b œ n œ œ b ˙ œ bœ #œ ˙ œ #œ bœ ˙ bœ œ nœ b˙ œ
nœ ˙ nœ œ ˙
UNT–CT–LNT–CT LNT–CT–UNT–CT
C C

&œ œ ˙ œ œ #œ ˙ œ œ #œ ˙ #œ œ œ ˙ #œ œ nœ ˙ œ œ nœ ˙
œ
UNT–CT–LNT–CT LNT–CT–UNT–CT
Cm Cm

&œ œ ˙ nœ bœ œ b˙ bœ œ #œ ˙ #œ œ bœ ˙ œ bœ nœ b˙ nœ œ œ ˙

Charlie Parker and Oscar Peterson ignored the individual harmonic details and generalized the tonic
triad in the following examples. The four note neighbor tone pattern follows the arpeggio. The first note
of the pattern is the UNT followed by the chord tone (CT), the LNT and the CT again, then a jump is
made to the next chord tone’s UNT.

4.4 Tonic triad encircled with UNT-CT-LNT-CT pattern


C A7 Dm7 G7 C

œ œ œ # œ œ œ #œ œ
& c ‰ j œ œ #œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ


4.5 Tonic triad encircled with UNT-CT-LNT-CT pattern
œ
b b cœ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ nœ œ
& œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ

As you can see from the following Beethoven example, this encircling idea is not new or unique to jazz.
The pattern is the same one used by Parker and Peterson: UNT-CT-LNT-CT.

4.6 Beethoven: Symphony no. 9, third movement

b œ œ œœ
&b c œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ #œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ nœ Œ

Chopin’s Etude No. 2, Op. 25 is an excellent study in the use of neighbor tones over simple triads.
Shown below are two short excerpts illustrating the simple F minor and Ab major triads embellished
identically in parallel phrases. The circled notes indicate the pitches of the triad. The chord tones, even

Jazz Theory Resources


76 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

though surrounded by chromatic and diatonic neighbors are stressed due to their location on the
strong beats, and because all surrounding notes point back directly to the chord tones. If all the neigh-
bor tones were removed, what remains is a quarter note triplet melody of the chord tones: 5-5-5-3-3-3-1.

4.7 Chopin: Etude No. 2, Op. 25 (F minor)

b
& b bb c œ
J
œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ
nœ œ
j

4.8 Chopin: Etude No. 2, Op. 25 (Ab relative major to the F Minor)

b œ œ œ œ n œ œ n œ œ b œ œ œ œ œj
& b bb c J œ

Mozart used the pattern found in the Beethoven, Parker and Peterson examples, but added a leap away
to a chord tone and back to the original chord tone before continuing the sequence in the following two
examples. Leaping away to another chord tone is called an arpeggiated tone.

œ nœ œ œ œ bœ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
4.9 Mozart: Piano Sonata in F major, K.332, Allegro Assai

6 œ œ œœ œ
b
& 8 ≈ œ n œ œ œ # œ œ œ œ œj

4.10 Mozart: Sonata in F major, K.547a, Allegro

3 œ . œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ œ
&b 4 nœ œ . œ œ #œ œ œ œ
œ
Lee Morgan made this line interesting with the use of chromatic encircling of an F minor triad. Like the
Chopin example, the chord tones 5-3-1 occur on the downbeats so that not only do the chromatic notes
resolve to the chord tones, but do so at significant rhythmic locations.

4.11 F minor triad with NTs


Fm

& c œ # œ œ b œ b œ œ œ œ n œj

Tete Montoliu displaced the rhythmic accent in this syncopated example. He used a three note pattern
of UNT-LNT-CT.

4.12 Triad with NTs on the Blues


œœœ œœ œ
œ œ œ œ œœ
& b c œ œ #œ œ œ œ nœ œ
F
Ó
3 3 3
3

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 77

Tom Harrell makes a case for practicing in all twelve keys in the next two examples. These are from dif-
ferent tunes, different tempos and a half-step apart. The melodic material is identical with the exception
of rhythmic displacement. These examples should inspire trying rhythmic displacement as a develop-
mental tool in improvisation and practice. The encircling pattern is LNT-UNT-CT. Harrell encircled the
third and root of the chords in two octaves, but played the fifth of the chords without any embellish-
ment.

4.13 E minor triad with NT elaboration

#œ œ œ #œ #œ œ œ
Em9
3

&c J #œ œ œ #œ œ ˙

4.14 Eb minor triad with NT elaboration


b
E m9
œ bœ bœ œ œ bœ bœ 3

&c J œ bœ bœ œ œ œ b˙ Ó

Joe Pass often used encircling patterns. In the following excerpt, Pass began a scale in the first measure,
but relied on the encircling pattern CT-LNT-UNT-CT for the rest of the passage.

4.15 Encircling patterns


Dm7 G7 C C7 F

& œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ #œ nœ œ œ œ œ Ó
œ bœ #œ œ

If the folk-ethnic sound is desired, then a combination of all diatonic neighbor tones may be called for
as in this modal melody.

4.16 Diatonic upper and lower neighbor tones

& 128 Ó . Œ œJ b œ œJ œ œj œ œj œ j œj j
œ œ œ œj b œ œ ˙ .

? 128 #œ
r ˙˙ .. œr ˙˙ .. #œ
r ˙˙ .. œ
r ˙˙ .. #œ
r ˙˙ .. œ
r ˙˙ ..

The same neighbor tone pattern (CT-LNT-UNT-CT) used in the previous melody is used by Gluck in this
example using the notes from a major scale.

4.17 Gluck: Orfeo

&c œ œ œ œ œœœœ œœœœœ


œœ œœœ œ
j
œ

Jazz Theory Resources


78 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

A RPEGGIATED T ONES

A simple stepwise line may be elaborated by leaping to other chord tones. The leap disrupts the calm of
the stepwise line providing angularity and dramatic interest. Arpeggiated tones can replace the upper or
lower neighbor tones as shown below.

4.18
Simple melody: with PTs: with UNTs & PTs Arpeggiated tones replace UNTs:

&˙ ˙ Ó œœœœ ˙ Ó œœœœœœœœ ˙ Ó œœœœœœœœ ˙ Ó


˙

CHROMATIC APPROACHES

Chromatic approaches involve a diatonic note and a chromatically altered note leading to an essential
tone. It may begin with the diatonic tone followed by the chromatic tone as a passing tone into the es-
sential tone, or it may begin with the chromatic tone then a diatonic neighbor tone leading to the es-
sential tone. The chromaticism adds color to the lines and the additional pitches often add rhythmic
interest. The essential chord tones often occur on strong beats in the measure and may be chromati-
cally approached from above or below.

4.19 Notes of the C major Triad approached chromatically:

& nœ #œ ˙ œ bœ ˙
œ bœ ˙ œ #œ ˙

4.20 Notes of the C minor Triad approached chromatically:

& œ nœ b˙ œ #œ ˙
bœ nœ ˙ œ bœ ˙ #œ œ b˙

A chromatic approach may be used in conjunction with other devices. In the example below, the simple
melodic fragment (G–E) can be elaborated with the F as a passing tone. The D# can be added after the
passing tone to create a combination neighbor tone pattern. The chromatic approach (D–D#) can be
added following the passing tone F to create one of the most common chromatic approaches.

4.21 Elaborated simple fragment


C

&˙ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ #œ ˙ œ œ œ #œ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 79

O CTAVE D ISPLACEMENT & LEAPS

One or more tones of a simple line can be transposed to another octave. The leaps disrupt the smooth
line and can add a dramatic element. Sometimes octave displacement may be a result of the range limi-
tations of an instrument. An improviser may leap to a lower or higher register as the melodic lines
reach the extremities of the instrument. The example below shows how a descending line from chord
tones changes when the target tone is transposed to the upper octave. The octave displacement involves
skipping over a chord tone (shown with the “¿”). Leaps usually occur from a strong beat to a weak beat
and rarely occur over a measure line or from a weak to a strong beat.

4.22

& ˙ ˙ ¿
˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ¿ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙ ¿ ˙ ˙
3 1 3 1 5 3 5 3 1 5 1 5

The simple triadic line shown in the first three measures may be transformed with octave displacement
shown in the last three measures. The octave displacement adds range to the original idea and the leaps
allow for more dramatic expression.

4.23

˙ ˙ ˙
&c ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
˙ ˙
3 1 5 3 1 3 1 5 3 1

Leaps and octave displacement may be accompanied by other devices. The line below was created using
the triadic line from above with the octave displaced notes. The first chord tone is chromatically ap-
proached from below. The line jumps up to the upper octave for the second chord tone, leaps past it
and is chromatically approached . The next chord tones, the fifth and the third, are approached using
an identical pair of upper and lower neighbor tones. The octave displacement of basic pitches and the
addition of several chromatic approaches and neighbor tones has created a much more elaborate line,
but at the same time, the line retains an uncomplicated understructure. The reduction of the line shown
below illustrates the pure diatonic step construction of the elaborate line.

4.24

œ bœ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ nœ œ
&c œ #œ œ # œ œ œ

(œ) œ
3 1 5 3 1

&c (œ) œ œ œ
œ œœ
œ

Jazz Theory Resources


80 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

P EDAL P OINT & PIVOT T ONES

Pedal point is traditionally the term for a sustained note in the lowest register (as in the pedals of an or-
gan), usually the dominant setting up a return to the tonic. The motion against the pedal point is
oblique as one part remains stationary and the other moves. Pedal point may occur internally with the
structure of the music and may be termed a pivot note. The pivot note remains stationary while other
notes move. A simple descending step line can take on a sawtooth appearance when interrupted by a
pivot note. In the first example, the descending 5-4-3-2-1 line is made more angular by the pivot note C
and the chromatic leading tone to the A.. The second example shows an ascending 3-4-5 line made an-
gular and interesting using the tonic pitch as a pivot tone and using the B as chromatic passing tone
leading to the C.

4.25 Simple line enhanced using pivot tones


F

&b c œ œ œ œ ˙ Ó œ œ #œ œ nœ œ
œ œ

4.26 Simple line enhanced using pivot tones


F F

˙ œ œ œ
&b c ˙ ˙ Œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ
3 3 3

TRIADIC MUSICAL EXAMPLES

Jazz improvisers do not limit themselves to one elaboration approach within their melodic lines. Here
are some excerpts from selected jazz improvisations to illustrate some of the devices described above.

Clifford Brown used passing tones and chord tones in the first two measures below. In the last complete
measure, Brown used a combination of neighbor tones (UNT-LNT) to approach the root, and chromatic
approaches to arrive at the third and finally the fifth of the Bb triad.

4.27 Chord tones and passing tones

b
&b c ‰ ˙j œ œ ˙ ˙ œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ # œ ˙ œ n œ ˙
˙

Brown chromatically approached the third (D), encircled the fifth (F) and root (Bb) with upper and
lower neighbor tones in this excerpt. The melodic fragment is based on the Bb major triad as Brown
seemed to ignore the specifics of the harmony. It would be misleading to analyze these tones according
to their vertical positions relating to the chords. The C# should not be analyzed as the raised root of
Cm, and the En as the major seventh of the F7 chord. They are better described as two chromatic lead-
ing tones to the third and fifth of the Bb triad.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 81

4.28 Chromatic approaches to triad

b
Cm7 F7 Dm7 G7

&b c Œ ‰ œ œ œ œ Œ
œ #œ œ n œ œ

It is doubtful that Clifford Brown conceived of the notes in this line as pitches related vertically to the
shown chords. Analyzing the tones vertically, the Bn and G# over a Gm, or a Bn over a C7 are senseless. It
is more likely that Brown used the tones from an F major triad as a generalization of the harmony and
approached each F major chord tone with its lower neighbor or leading tone.

4.29 Leading tones


Gm7 C7 F

& b c nœ œ #œ œ œ œ
nœ œ œ
Here are two more examples of Bb triad generalization. In the first, Charlie Parker used leading tones
similarly to Brown’s previous example. In the second, Brown elaborated the triad with a few grace notes.

4.30 Triadic generalization with leading tones


Bb
b n œ œ #œ
Gm 7
œ
Cm 7 F7

&b c Œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

4.31 Triadic generalization


b
b œœœ Œ œ œ œ œ
Cm7 F7 B

&b c Ó Œ ˙
j

Charlie Parker used a number of elaborative devices on an F major triad in the following excerpt. At a.,
Parker used a lower neighbor tone which is mirrored at b. with the use of an upper neighbor tone. The
primary pitches at c. and d. are the leap from C up to A. At c., the Cn was approached from its leading
tone Bn. The leap took the line past the target A, and sounded the Bb and G#, encircled the A with its up-
per and lower neighbor tones. Passing tones were played at e. between the descending chord tones.

4.32 Triadic generalization with several elaborative devices


a. b. c. d. e.
œ
& b c œ n œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ j œ œ # œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ n œ œj

Jazz Theory Resources


82 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

Kenny Dorham began this phrase using the Bb triad pitches to generalize the harmony. In a subsequent
phrase, Dorham began with the identical pitches, but as the line continued, addressed more of the spe-
cific chord tones from the progression. It is important to note that there is rarely one single approach
used by any individual throughout an improvisation.

4.33 Harmonic Generalization


b B G7 Cm7 F7 Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7
b œ nœ œ #œ œ
3

œ # œ œ œ œ œ œ j œ.
&b c Ó œ œ œ
œ œ
˙ Ó

4.34 Harmonic Specificity


Bb G7 b œ
b
G7 Cm7
œ # œ n œ œ
F7
n œ b œ œ
Dm7
œ œ œ œ Cm7
œ œ
F7

&b c Ó œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ
B b7 Eb Bb
b b œ
E°7 3 Cm7 F7

&b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ nœ œ œ
œ œ Œ
œ œ bœ œ œ #œ œ œ

At the core of this line from a blues improvisation by Tete Montoliu is a simple line shown in the staff
below the excerpt. Montoliu used F as a pivot tone in the first measure. The D is an upper neighbor to
the C which was octave displacement in the second measure. The A in m.3 was preceded by its upper
and lower neighbor tone. The A in m.4 was approached from above and below finally through the G#.

4.35 F triadic Generalization

œ œ œ œ nœ œ
C7 F œ. œ œ œ bœ œ
&b c ‰ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ œJ
6 3

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
&b c œ œ ˙

Tete Montoliu encircled the primary pitches of the F triad in ex. 4.36 from a blues improvisation. In ex.
4.37 Montoliu ignored the specific implications of the C7 chord and concentrated on chord tones from
the F triad. The A was chromatically approached from below, and after a descending F arpeggio, the A
was preceded by its upper and lower neighbor tone, followed by the chromatic encircling of the C.

4.36 F triadic Generalization


œœœ œœ œ
œ œ œ œ œœ
& b c œ œ #œ œ œ œ nœ œ
F
Ó
3 3 3
3

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 83

4.37 F triadic Generalization


C7 3 F

&b c œ #œ œ œ œ œ b œ
j
œ #œ œ nœ œ œ.

Examining this next example may lead one to conclude that anything goes since all twelve pitches are
present in the line. All twelve pitches are used, but the chromaticism is not random. Each group of
chromatic tones points to a chord tone of the C triad. Each chord tone of the C triad occurs in strong
metric positions. The chromatic clusters create tension on the weaker beats which is resolved before
moving to the next chromatic cluster. Clarity exists from the metric placement of the triad pitches and
from the symmetry of the bracketed notes. The first two bracketed groups have identical intervals and
the third is an exact inversion.

4.38 C Triad with chromatic embellishment


C ↓
j n œ
3
b œ œ

&c Ó ‰ #œ œ

#œ œ b œ œ nœ œ #œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


84 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

TRIAD MOTIVE DEVELOPED

The triad shape by itself may produce interesting melodic lines, but imaginative manipulation of the
triad may make the melodic lines more interesting.

The simple arpeggio below is hardly enough to make an interesting theme. With the addition of simple
developmental devices, Bach used this basic structure to create a memorable and workable theme for
the Two-part Invention No. 8. The ascending arpeggio is transformed into a broken chord with the
addition of the F as a pivot or pedal tone giving the first measure interesting angularity. The descending
arpeggio is transformed into a smoother line with the use of passing and upper neighbor tones. The
angular and smooth parts of the theme provide a contrast of musical ideas for development.

4.39 Simple arpeggio idea Transformed to a theme by J. S. Bach

œ œ œ
& b 34 œ œ œ œ ˙. ‰ œj œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Ó

The last nine pitches of the Bach theme can be changed to eighth note values and would be useful to
any jazz improviser:

4.40

&b c œ œœ œ œœ œœ ˙

Listen to what happens when the direction is changed. Upper neighbor tones are changed to lower
neighbor tones. The line is still clear and musical, and works in major or when transposed to the
parallel minor.

4.41 Opposite motion with LNTs In minor

& c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ ˙ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ ˙

Arpeggio tones could be inserted in place of the UNT tones, and the motive remains musical. This idea
is found in a John Coltrane improvisation.

4.42
Bach theme with arpeggio tones: line with arpeggiated tones:

œ œœœœœœ œ
& b 34 œ œœ œ Ó &c œœœœœœœœ Ó
˙
If the idea works in major will it work in minor? Below are three more variations of the idea: the
Coltrane line in minor, inverted in minor and in major. Listen to the Coltrane/Bach idea inverted and
in a major key: it begins to sound like the Shaker tune Simple Gifts.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 85

4.43
in minor inverted in minor inverted in major

& c œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ Ó œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ ˙ Ó œ œ œ œ œ œ œbœ ˙ Ó
˙
Parker (a.) used chromatic passing tones to outline the F major triad in this excerpt from a blues impro-
visation. The F major triad pitches occurred on the strong beats. Lou Donaldson (b.) used almost the ex-
act Parker line, adding only arpeggio tones. With the arpeggiated tones added to the Donaldson idea,
the result is a jazzy version of Simple Gifts.

4.44 a. b.

& c œ œ #œ œ bœ nœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ bœ nœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ
œ œ
œ œ
Shapes related to the Bach theme can be found in these Cannonball Adderley improvisation excerpts:

4.45 Descending using UNTs and PTs


D7 G

& c Œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ œj
4.46 Ascending idea using LNTs
Gm7
œ
& b c œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

The previous line echoes this familiar melody:

4.47 Joshua Fought the Battle of Jerico

b œœ œ˙
& b c œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ J J œ œ œ˙
J J œœ œœ Œ
J J
The following pages illustrate several of the many possible elaborations of the basic triad pitches
referenced to the C major and C minor tonic triads.

Jazz Theory Resources


86 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

TRIADIC EMBELLISHMENT of C MAJOR TRIAD:


Tonic Mediant Dominant

& w w
w
Leading tones (LT) and Lower Neighbor Tones (LNT) & Chord Tone (CT)

j j j
&
œ ˙ œ œ ˙ #œ ˙ œ œ ˙ #œ ˙ œ œ ˙
Upper Neighbor tones (UNT)

j j
& j œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ ˙ œ œ ˙
œ ˙ œ œ ˙
Encircled with UNT-LNT-CT patterns

& œ œ œ #œ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ #œ ˙ œ œ ˙
œ ˙ œ ˙
Encircled with UNT-CT-LNT-CT & LNT-CT-UNT-CT patterns

& œ œ œ #œ ˙ #œ œ œ ˙ œ œ #œ ˙ #œ œ œ ˙
œ œ ˙ œ œ œ ˙
Encircled with CT-UNT-LNT-CT & CT-LNT-UNT-CT patterns

& œ œ #œ ˙ œ #œ œ ˙ œ œ #œ ˙ œ #œ œ ˙
œ œ œ ˙ œ œ œ ˙
Chromatic Approach from UNT or LNT through a Chromatic Passing Tone (PT)

& œ bœ œ #œ ˙ nœ #œ ˙ œ bœ ˙
˙
Encircled with combinations of UNTs, LNTs & Chromatic PTs

& œ œ #œ ˙ œ œ nœ #œ ˙ #œ œ bœ ˙ œ #œ nœ bœ ˙
œ œ bœ ˙ œ œ nœ bœ ˙
Approached with arpeggio leaping from other chord tones above or below

˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ
& œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ ˙ œ ˙
˙ œ
Using PTs to pass between two chord tones

& ˙ ˙ œ œ ˙ œ œ ˙
˙ œ ˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ œ ˙
Leaping from one chord tone to a note above or below another, resolving in opposite direction of leap.
œ ˙ œ ˙ œ œ
& œ
œ ˙ œ ˙ œ
œ œ #œ ˙ #œ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 87

TRIADIC EMBELLISHMENT of C MINOR TRIAD:


Tonic Mediant Dominant

& bw w
w
Leading tones (LT) and Lower Neighbor Tones (LNT) & Chord Tone (CT)

j j j
&
nœ ˙ œ nœ ˙ œ b˙ œ œ ˙ #œ ˙ œ œ ˙
Upper Neighbor tones (UNT)

j j
& j œ b˙ œ œ ˙ bœ ˙ œ œ ˙
œ ˙ œ œ ˙
Encircled with UNT-LNT-CT patterns

& œ œ œ œ b˙ œ œ ˙ bœ #œ ˙ œ œ ˙
nœ ˙ nœ ˙
Encircled with UNT-CT-LNT-CT & LNT-CT-UNT-CT patterns

& œ œ bœ œ b˙ nœ œ œ b˙ bœ œ #œ ˙ #œ œ œ ˙
œ nœ ˙ nœ œ œ ˙
Encircled with CT-UNT-LNT-CT & CT-LNT-UNT-CT patterns

& bœ œ œ b˙ bœ nœ œ b˙ œ bœ #œ ˙ œ #œ œ ˙
œ œ nœ ˙ œ nœ œ ˙
Chromatic Approach from UNT or LNT through a Chromatic Passing Tone (PT)

&
˙ œ bœ ˙ #œ œ b˙ œ nœ b˙ œ #œ ˙
bœ nœ
Encircled with combinations of UNTs, LNTs & Chromatic PTs

& œ œ nœ b˙ bœ œ #œ ˙ œ bœ nœ #œ ˙
nœ œ bœ ˙ bœ nœ nœ bœ ˙ #œ œ nœ nœ b˙
Approached with arpeggio leaping from other chord tones above or below

& œ bœ œ ˙ œ œ b˙ œ œ b˙ bœ œ ˙ ˙
˙ œ œ bœ
Using PTs to pass between two chord tones

& ˙ ˙ nœ nœ ˙ bœ bœ ˙
˙ œ b˙ œ ˙ b˙ œ œ ˙
Leaping from one chord tone to a note above or below another, resolving in opposite direction of leap.
bœ ˙ œ b˙ œ bœ
& œ
œ ˙ nœ ˙ œ
œ bœ #œ ˙ œ b˙

Jazz Theory Resources


88 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

PENTATONIC SCALE
One of the most common groups of notes or scales in universal music is the pentatonic scale. As the
name implies, a pentatonic scale is a five tone scale. The most typical pentatonic scale is really nothing
more than a major triad with two auxiliary tones. Pentatonic melodies are often merely triadic melodies
using only the two additional pitches for elaboration. Amazing Grace contains only these five pitches:
the tonic triad (primary pitches) and two additional tones (the second and sixth degrees). The major
pentatonic scale is two notes shy of the major scale; the missing notes being the fourth and seventh de-
grees. With the absence of those two most dissonant notes of the major scale, the tritone, the remaining
five notes are quite consonant. The relative consonance of the pentatonic scale may help to explain its
ubiquitous melodic use.

In the same way that major scales are related to minor scales, the major and minor pentatonic scales
are related. An F major pentatonic shares the pitches with D minor pentatonic.

4.48 F Major Pentatonic D Minor Pentatonic

˙ œ ˙ œ ˙
&b c ˙ œ ˙
˙ ˙ œ ˙

There are many modes and applications of pentatonic scales that go beyond triadic generalization that
are discussed in chapter 16.

BLUES SCALES
Is there really a blues scale? They, like many aspects of music theory may be the result of academic la-
beling and codification. There is a certain grain of truth to the existence of blues scales. A blues impro-
visation by Parker, Clifford Brown or Wynton Kelly may contain elements of what could be labeled a
blues scale, but the improvisations also draw on many other elements in the course of the improvisa-
tions. Also, many phrases that we would without a doubt call a blues lick may not be constructed strictly
using notes from the labeled blues scale. These blues licks would probably have elements found in blues
scales and triadic generalization. Blues scales are another form of triadic generalization.

What is commonly called the blues scale would be better labeled the minor blues scale. The example
below shows that an F minor blues scale is constructed from an F minor pentatonic scale with one
added chromatic tone. This means the minor blues scale is just as useful as the minor pentatonic for use
as triadic generalization material.

4.49 F Minor Pentatonic F Minor Blues Scale

b œ ˙ œ ˙
& b bb c ˙ ˙ bœ ˙
˙ ˙ œ nœ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 89

Every high school jazz band member seems to know the minor blues scale. This may be because many
of their band directors know little else to teach them about jazz improvisation. Students are usually in-
structed to use this scale to improvise over Blues in F major. Up to a point, students will have fun play-
ing this over a major blues, but after a while, the students intuitively begin to realize there is more to jazz
than just the minor blues scale. They also begin to sense the missing major third. After playing the mi-
nor third and fourth over and over they are ready to hear it resolve to the major third, but alas, it is not
in the scale given to them by their teacher. Knowing a major blues scale would help them play over F
major blues.

The major blues scale is nothing more than a major pentatonic with a chromatic tone added. The
chromatic tone will sound like a chromatic approach tone to the major third, or in another context, will
sound like a minor third. The two blues scales are related in the same way major and minor are related.
An F major blues scale has the same notes as an D minor blues scale. An F minor blues scale is related
to an Ab major blues scale. F major and F minor are parallel.

4.50 F Major Pentatonic F Major Blues Scale

˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ ˙
&b c ˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ #œ ˙
4.51 D Minor Pentatonic D Minor Blues Scale

œ ˙ œ ˙
&b c ˙ ˙ œ ˙
˙ ˙ œ #œ ˙
4.52 F Minor Pentatonic F Minor Blues Scale

b œ ˙ œ ˙
& b bb c ˙ ˙ bœ ˙ ˙ ˙ œ nœ ˙

4.53 A b Major Pentatonic A b Major Blues Scale

b ˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ ˙
& b bb c ˙ œ ˙ ˙ œ nœ ˙

Jazz artists will use the major and minor blues scales as colors but will mix them in with other concepts
and sounds.

Aside from the obvious application (minor blues for minor tunes, major blues for major tunes) a minor
blues scale can often be used in a major key, but it would be hard to find an example of major blues
played in a minor key setting. In a major context both blues scales are often called upon, so that in an F
major tune, F major or F minor blues scale may be heard. The imposition of the flatted third, flatted
fifth and flatted seventh from the minor blues scale, notes often labeled “blue notes,” creates a nice ten-
sion over the major harmony, which is often resolved to the major triad notes. One can tell quite a
good story just going back and forth between the woeful, gritty minor blues scale and the major blues
scale with the “pretty notes,” and still be relying on the basic triads for the underlying structure of the
improvisation.

Jazz Theory Resources


90 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

BLUE NOTES
Blue notes can be more than just chromatic altered tones; they may be bent tones finding the in-be-
tween pitches not available in European equal tempered twelve tone chromatic scales. The easiest and
most common definition for blue notes includes the flatted third, seventh and fifth tones of a major
scale. You must listen to singers to understand the elastic quality of these pitches. Singers, guitarist, string
players, and many horn players can find the blue notes more easily than a pianist who is stuck with the
twelve keys on the piano. A blue note will not necessarily be a constant pitch: it may be approached and
departed by a slide and when held, the intonation may vary by a few cents for expression. There are
some outstanding R&B recordings that, depending on your perspective, are in either major or minor
keys. One guitarist may have played a dominant seventh chord with a major third in the left channel; in
the right channel another guitarist played a C minor seventh chord with a minor third; and the singer
sang a blue note third that was in between the major and minor third. Limited by the notation system,
the blue notes in the following examples will be labeled as b3, b7, and #4 or b5.

A blue third may occur in place of a major third. The occurrence of a blue flatted third over the major
chord creates a conflict with the major third that allows the expression of things not available with
equal tempered scales.

4.54 3-1 Blue note replacement 3-2-1 Blue note replacement


F F F F
X
j X
&b c ˙ ˙ bœ . œ ˙ nœ œ ˙ bœ œ œ œ ˙

These same pitches occur in D minor, the relative minor to F major. The Ab is now the flatted fifth.

4.55 5-3 Blue note replacement 5-4-3 Blue note replacement


Dm Dm Dm Dm
X
j X
&b c ˙ ˙ bœ . œ ˙ nœ œ ˙ bœ œ œ œ ˙

The above example shown in the parallel key of F minor

4.56 5-3 Blue note replacement 5-4-3 Blue note replacement


Fm Fm Fm Fm
b j
& b bb c ˙ bœ . nœ b œX œ œ œ ˙
X
˙ œ ˙ œ ˙

The flat seventh may be used over a major chord. It often mirrors the kinds of motion of the blue third.
The blue seventh and the blue third often point to the primary pitches tonic and dominant.

4.57 Lowered third and seventh Blue Notes


F F F F

j bœ . œ ˙ bœ œ œ œ ˙
& b c bœ . œ ˙ J bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 91

The flatted fifth can point down the third or as a raised fourth up to the fifth. In this way they behave as
chromatic passing or leading tones, but in performance with vocal inflections may be appropriately de-
tuned.

4.58 Flatted fifth and raised fourth Blue Notes

X >
X
>œ . b œ > . X
b œ .
& b c J œ bœ œ œ Jn œ J bœ bœ œ œ œ Ó œ bœ œ nœ œ œ œ œ
3 3
Pianist may use grace notes to compensate for the inability of the piano to bend notes.

4.59 Blue Grace notes

&b c n œœ b œœ b œœ œœ n œœ
œ
œ
J œ #œ
j
œ

BLUES SCALE MUSICAL EXAMPLES

Here is a brief collection of major and minor blues scale ideas and a few examples with combinations
of the two scales. Add to this list from your own search and create some of your own triadic generaliza-
tion lines based on these blues scales.

MAJOR BLUES SCALE

Below are several straight forward and familiar examples of the major blues scale used in compositions
and improvisations. The third note of the major blues scale can sound like a raised second or a lowered
third depending on the context. In ex. 4.60, it sounds like a flatted third. In ex. 4.61 and 4.62, the note is a
raised second leading into the major third. In ex. 4.63 the same pitch is used twice in two different ways:
the first as a leading tone (G#) to the third, the second time as the minor third (Ab).

4.60 Major Blues Scale

b ‰ œJ ‰ b œj œ œ ‰ œJ ‰ b œj œ œ
&b b c œ œ Œ œ Œ œ Œ œ Œ
œ œ œ œ œ
4.61 Major Blues Scale

b œ ‰ œJ # œ œ Ó
&b c Ó Œ
œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ #œ
4.62 Major Blues Scale

œ œ ˙
F
œ œ œ œ
&b c œ œ #œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


92 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

4.63 Major Blues Scale


‰ # œj œ œ œ œ Œ Œ œ Œ ‰ Jœ œ œ œ
F

&b c
3

MINOR BLUES SCALE

Wynton Kelly used the minor blues scale in this emphatic climax to this Bb major blues improvisation.

4.64 Minor Blues Scale

œ œœ n œ bœ bœ œ 3 bœ œb œ œ bb œœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ
bœ bœ œ œ œ
B 7
b nœ
& b c ‰ œJ œ œ ‰ J œ ‰ J œ bœ œ
n œ 3b œ b œ œ b œ3
b nœ bœ bœ œ nœ bœ
&b ‰ J
Adderley also made the minor blues scale work over the Bb major blues progression.

4.65 Minor Blues Scale

‰ b Jœ œ b œ b œ œj n œ œ
3 3 3

&c bœ bœ bœ œ œ œ bœ b˙

Carl Fontana ignored the indicated chord progression and drove this minor blues scale through to an
exciting conclusion in this improvisation. Notice that at the end, the minor third is finally resolved to a
major third. It would be foolish to analyze each note in relationship to the chords above them. It would
be better to recognize the strength of the melodic line through the use of the minor blues scale as a
generalization, and the use of a repeated sequential idea that led to a logical conclusion.

4.66 Minor Blues Scale

bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ œ
D9 C A7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

?c œ œ œ œ nœ

COMBINATIONS of MAJOR & MINOR BLUES SCALES

These Charlie Parker and Wynton Kelly examples show how the two scales, although different in charac-
ter, can be used side by side for a expressive blues line. Both are from a blues in C, both begin with a
major and end with a minor blues scale idea.

4.67 Major & Minor Blues Scales


C 3 F 3 C

& c œ Œ ‰ œj œ œ œ œ œ Œ b œ œ b œ œ n œ œj

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization 93

4.68 Major & Minor Blues Scales


# œ œ œ √œ
œ
œ œ #œ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ
œ # œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ
3

&c bœ œ

GENERALIZATION EXAMPLES APPLIED


An improviser may approach any given harmonic context using harmonic specificity or harmonic
generalization (or may choose to ignore the implications entirely). These next examples illustrate how
a simple triad, embellished with only upper and lower neighbor tones can be used to create melodies
over traditional harmonic progressions.

Cm7 - F7 - Bb (ii7 - V7 - I) is the most common progression in the key of Bb major. The circled notes il-
lustrate the primary target triad notes to which all of the other notes point. All of the secondary pitches
should be analyzed by their linear relationship to the Bb triad and not their vertical relationship to the
actual chords. The C# is not the raised root of Cm7, but the leading tone pointing to D, the third of Bb.
The En is not the major third of Cm7, but a lower neighbor tone to the F. Any vertical dissonances are
resolved by logical linear conclusions. There are those who analyze melodic lines like this where each
note is shown with a number below it representing its relationship to each chord symbol. There are
times when analysis of direct chord-tone relationships is useful, but it is important to recognize the dif-
ference between harmonically specific and general melodic lines and one should always be aware of the
linear nature of music.

4.69 Triadic generalization over ii7 - V7 - I progression


Cm7 F7 B b
b
& b c #œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ #œ œ nœ
1.
œ œ
2. 3. 4. 5.

The primary pitches in this line are the root, third and fifth of the Bb triad: Bb - D - F.

1. D is approached through its leading tone C#


2. Bb is preceded by its lower and upper neighbor tones (A & Cn)
3. F is sounded, then its upper and lower neighbor tones (G & E), then F returns
4. D is approached by its upper neighbor tone (Eb) and chromatically from below through
the chromatic passing tone C#
5. Bb is preceded by its lower and upper neighbor tones (A & Cn)

The same triadic generalization principles are can be effectivly applied when the progression is in a
minor key. The line below corresponds directly to the Bb major line above transposed to its relative mi-
nor. The progression in G minor is Aø7 - D7 - Gm (iiø7 - V7 - i). The line is created generalizing the G
minor triad. As before, any vertical dissonances should be analyzed and by their linear relationships to
the basic G minor triad pitches.

Jazz Theory Resources


94 Chapter 4 Triadic Generalization

4.70 Triadic generalization over iiø7 - V7 - i progression

œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ
Aø7 D7 Gm

b #œ œ œ œ nœ bœ #œ œ œ
&b c
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

The primary pitches in this line are the root, third and fifth of the G minor triad: G - Bb - D.

1. Bb is approached through its leading tone A


2. G is preceded by its lower and upper neighbor tones (F# & A)
3. D is sounded, then its upper and lower neighbor tones (Eb & C#), then D returns
4. Bb is approached by its lower neighbor tone (A) and from above through the chromatic
passing tone Bn . The chromatic approach is different here than in the preceding
example. (This approach is to a minor third, the previous was to a major third, so the
shapes must be inverted.)
5. G is preceded by its lower and upper neighbor tones (F# & A)

Sometimes the linear and vertical analysis will agree. Most of the notes in the second measure above
could be labeled as chord tones of the D7 chord: Root - 5th - 7th - PT or n13 - b13 - 3rd - 5th. But when
examining the melodic line as a whole, the analysis as tones related to the G minor triad proves more
significant.

It seems an impossible task to improvise melodic lines at any tempo by thinking of each individual
pitch. Successful lines would be difficult to achieve. This would be analogous to conceiving of a sentence
thinking of individual syllables. It would probably lead to incomprehensible results. A better strategy
would be to conceive melodic shapes of single pitches with larger rhythmic units (basic triad pitches)
and the tones that surround and point to those pitches (neighbor tones). This would mirror the creation
of sentences out of noun and verb groups and their modifiers. In your analysis of melodic material, be
prepared to encounter many types of melodic lines. Be careful not to lose sight of the larger picture: if
one looks too closely at the vertical structures, the larger linear dimensions may be missed.

Triadic generalization as a tool for melodic invention requires the ability to recognize larger key areas
aurally and by written chord symbols. Many tunes used for improvisation by jazz musicians stay close
enough to the tonic key area that very large sections may be generalized. Other tunes shift and modulate
rapidly to remote keys areas before returning to the original key thus making generalization with a single
triad impossible, but may be possible to generalize within each of the remote keys. A study of harmonic
progressions is necessary to understand its impact on harmonically specific melodic develop
ment.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

• Return the simple triadic forms in Chapter 3 and create new melodies incorporating
non-harmonic tones as illustrated in this chapter.

• Transcribe examples of triadic generalization. Analyze specific devices used to


elaborate the simple triadic shapes. Apply to improvisation.

• Practice exercises and study examples found in Comprehensive Technique for Jazz
Musicians, Chapter 3, Triads & Generalization.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony 95

V. DIATONIC HARMONY
DIATONIC HARMONY: MAJOR
There are only seven basic spellings for all tertian triads. The seven pitches may be altered chromati-
cally depending on the key signature. The basic triad spellings are created using every other letter in the
seven letter musical alphabet. It is important to memorize them to correctly identify and notate the tri-
ads. In jazz and modern music, the chord is usually extended beyond the triad by adding intervals of a
third. A tertian triad is spelled 1-3-5; a seventh chord adds a third beyond the fifth and is spelled 1-3-5-7;
a ninth chord is spelled 1-3-5-7-9; extended to the limit using seven diatonic pitches: 1-3-5-7-9-11-13. All
of these chords can theoretically be built on any degree of any scale, although some, as will be discov-
ered, will be impractical.

ALL TERTIAN CHORD SPELLINGS

TRIAD SEVENTH CHORD EXTENDED TERTIAN


1 3 5 1 3 5 7 1 3 5 7 9 11 13
A C E A C E G A C E G B D F
B D F B D F A B D F A C E G
C E G C E G B C E G B D F A
D F A D F A C D F A C E G B
E G B E G B D E G B D F A C
F A C F A C E F A C E G B D
G B D G B D F G B D F A C E

INVERSIONS

To determine the root of a tertian triad, the notes should be arranged as shown above. If the pitches C,
A and F are found, rearrange them in the order of thirds to produce FAC, an F triad. Often the triads will
not have the root as the lowest tone. When arranged with the third or fifth in the bass, the triads are said
to be inverted. With the third in the bass, the triad is in first inversion; with the fifth in the bass, the triad
is in second inversion.

5.1 Triads and inversions

˙˙ ˙˙
C Cm

˙˙ ˙˙ ˙ ˙ b ˙˙ ˙
& ˙˙˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ b ˙˙˙ b ˙˙ ˙ b˙ b˙
˙ ˙
Root 1st 2nd 1st 2nd Root 1st 2nd 1st 2nd

Jazz Theory Resources


96 Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony

Seventh chords may be in third inversion where the seventh is in the bass.

5.2 Seventh chords and inversions

& b ˙˙˙ b ˙˙˙˙ b ˙˙˙˙ ˙


˙ b ˙˙˙
Root 1st 2nd 3rd

It is extremely important to spell the triads correctly. A misspelled chord in a melody line or harmony
part will be harder to read and understand. It might sound exactly the same with alternate spellings, but
proper spellings should be adhered to. I call this the “Ghoti” principle. It is doubtful that any two peo-
ple would pronounce “Ghoti” the same way, yet the sounds are commonly found in the English lan-
guage. Pronounce “Ghoti” using the “gh” sound from enough, the “o” sound from women, and the “ti”
sound from motion. “Ghoti” would be more easily read if written as “Fish.” The triads below may sound
like C minor chords, but they are confusing to read as they are misspelled. A C triad must contain the
letters C, E and G. A C minor triad should be spelled C - Eb - G, not C - D# - G.

5.3 Violation of the “Ghoti” Principle

˙˙
Cm ?

& ˙ # ˙˙˙ ˙
# ˙˙˙ # ˙˙ #˙ # ˙˙

FUNCTIONAL HARMONY

From the definition of tonal music, it is understood that melodic pitches tend to gravitate towards a sin-
gle pitch, the tonic, which is the center of the musical organization. If chords built from major and mi-
nor scales are combined in harmonic progressions, they typically progress towards the chord built on
the tonic. When progression of this kind are present, the harmony is said to function. Functional har-
mony is the chords working together in a progression pointing towards the tonic.

Most European music since the early Baroque has been based on a concept called the major/minor
system. This system depends on the tertian chords built on pitches from the major and harmonic mi-
nor scales in progressions of functional harmony. Roman numerals are associated with the seven differ-
ent chords found in each key. This author prefers the custom of using upper case for chords with major
thirds, and lower case for chords with minor thirds. The series of available seventh chords diatonic to
the key of C major is shown below.

5.4 Diatonic seventh chords in key of C

˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙


˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ ˙ ˙
& ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
˙
I(maj7) ii7 iii7 IV(maj7)

˙˙˙ ˙˙˙
V7
˙˙˙
vi7
˙˙˙
viiø7

˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ ˙ ˙


? ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony 97

The common shorthand method for labeling the chords from the key of C are shown below.

Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 Bø7


I (maj7) ii7 iii7 IV (maj7) V7 vi7 viiø7

If the music is in the key of C, then the chords are spelled and sound as shown above. Just as the inter-
vals of major scales, the chords and their roman numerals remain constant when transposing to new
keys. A chord built on the first degree of any major scale is a major seventh chord; a chord built on the
second degree is always a minor seventh chord, and so on. If other chords occur on the same C major
scale degrees, but are different than what is shown above, then they are not in the key of C. A dominant
seventh chord could be built on the second degree of the C major scale: D - F# - A - C. This cannot be a
II7 chord in the key of C, as it contradicts the no sharps or flats definition of C major. Chords on the
second degree must be minor seventh chords (ii7). This D7 chord would be from the key of G major.
This can be determined by examining the chart above where the only scale degree that yields a domi-
nant seventh chord is the fifth degree. The fifth degree of G is D, so a dominant chord built on D must
be from the key of G. The key can also be deduced by the F# from the key signature of G major. A minor
seventh chord could be built on the fifth note of a C major scale, but this Gm7 chord could not be in
the key of C as its third, Bb, contradicts the no sharps or flats definition C major. The Gm7 could be a ii7
chord in F, a iii7 chord in Eb, or a vi7 chord in the key of Bb.

Fill in the chart below in order to become more familiar with the specific chords in the thirteen major
keys. There are only twelve pitches in the chromatic scale, but the enharmonic equivalents Gb (6bs) and
F# (6#s) are listed below. The keys of Cb major (7bs) and C# major (7#s) have been omitted in favor of the
enharmonic equivalents of B major (5# s) and Db major (5b s). Be sure that the chords are spelled
correctly, and not with an incorrect enharmonic spelling. The V7 chord in Db major will be Ab7, not G#7.
The V7 chord of Gb and F# should be spelled with different roots even though they sound the same. After
filling out the chart, write out each of these chords in the thirteen major keys on staff paper. Do not
write the key signatures at the beginning of each line, instead, place each accidental in front of notes to
gain familiarity with the spelling of each chord.

KEY Imaj7 ii7 iii7 IVmaj7 V7 vi7 viiø7


C Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 Bø7
F
Bb
Eb
Ab
Db
Gb
F#
B
E
A
D
G

Looking at the chart above, you will notice that several chords function differently depending on their
key origins. A C major seventh chord may function as the I chord in C major, but also functions as the
IV chord in the key of G. Minor seventh chords occur as ii7, iii7 or vi7 chords. Dominant seventh
chords can only be found on the dominant (V7) pitch in each key. These are the most important
pointer chords to the key area and the tonic chord. This makes perfect sense as the dominant pitch
points to tonic, and the other pitches of a dominant seventh chord point to the other pitches of a tonic
triad.

Jazz Theory Resources


98 Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony

The half-diminished chord occurs only on the seventh degree of major keys. It is called half-diminished
because the basic triad is diminished (m3-m3) but the seventh is the interval of a minor seventh and
not a diminished seventh. This chord is sometimes called a minor 7 b5. This is a terribly ambiguous des-
ignation. A minor chord must have a perfect fifth in order to be minor, so it cannot be minor with a b5.
The b5 also implies that this chord is somehow altered from its natural state, yet it is found quite natu-
rally on the seventh degree of every major scale. The “ø” symbol, meaning half-diminished, suggests the
chord has a 7th, so using “ø7” is redundant, but common.

DETERMINING THE KEY

There are four types of seventh chords available from any major scale:

CHORD TYPE INTERVAL CONSTRUCTION PLACE IN MAJOR KEY


Major 7th M3 - m3 - M3 I or IV
Minor 7th m3 - M3 - m3 ii7, ii7, or vi7
Dominant 7th M3 - m3 - M3 V7
Half-Diminished 7th M3 - m3 - M3 viiø7

This chart can be used to identify the key when examining a set of chords from music. If the chord is a
V7 or viiø7, the key will be easy to identify as they only occur on one degree of the scale. If a chord is a
major 7th, it could be the I or IV from two possible keys. If it is a minor seventh, it is from one of three
possible keys as a ii7, iii7 or vi7. The key can be determined when encountering major seventh or minor
seventh chords by examining the chords that surround them.

A Dm7 chord can be found as the ii7 chord of C major, the iii7 of Bb major and the vi7 of F major.
Chords occur by themselves only in theory classes; in a harmonic progression, there will be other
chords that will help identify the function and the indicated tonic. The dominant chord is the most use-
ful for identification as there is only one per key. To determine the function of the Dm7 chord, look first
for the V7 of C (G7), the V7 of Bb (F7), and the V7 of F (C7) as they will clearly identify the key. If they
are not present, the other surrounding chords will help. Contrast the three types of chords built on E in
these three keys. In C = Em7 (iii7); in F = Eø7 (viiø7); and in Bb = Ebmaj7 (IV). All are distinctly different
quality chords. The key should be easily determined by the combination of the Dm7 and whatever E
chord is present in the surrounding musical context.

An F major 7 chord could be the I of F or the IV of C. Dm7 chord could be the ii7 of C major, the iii7
of Bb major or the vi7 of F major. An Am7 chord might be the ii7 of G major, the iii7 of F major or the
vi7 of C major. What if they are all in one progression? Which of these four keys (F, C, Bb and G) is im-
plied?

The Fmaj7 and Dm7 chords rule out the key of G. The Am7 and Fmaj7 rule out the key of Bb. That leaves
the keys of C and F. Without further chords, a single key cannot be determined. It could be either key as
shown below.

Am7 Fmaj7 Dm7


Key of C: vi7 IV ii7

Key of F: iii7 I vi7

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony 99

At least one more chord is needed in the progression to narrow the choice to just one key. What chords
are different between the two keys of F and C major? The difference between the two keys is the Bn in the
key of C, and the Bb in the key of F. One of the four seventh chords that contain a B is needed to make
the determination: BDFA, GBDF, EGBD or CEGB. In the key of F those chords would be Bbmaj7 (IV),
Gm7 (ii7), Eø7 (viiø7), and C7 (V7). In C they would be Bø7 (viiø7), G7 (V7), Em7 (iii), and Cmaj7 (I).
Anyone of these chords in combination with the three shown above would narrow the choice to only
one key.

CHORD IDENTIFICATION PRACTICE

I. Practice the identification of chords by their relationship to home keys by quickly filling in the
blanks in the following exercises. (solutions shown on pages 114-115)

CHORD FUNCTION KEY CHORD FUNCTION KEY


ii7 F Dmaj7 D
C #7 V7 A b7 V7
b
E maj7 Bb iii7 C
Eø7 viiø7 Dm7 F
V7 G ii7 Db
Fm7 Db Dm7 iii7
B b7 Eb V7 Gb
Fmaj7 IVmaj7 Gm7 Bb
iii7 G B bmaj7 IVmaj7
A bm7 Gb C #7 V7
Imaj7 A b
D maj7 Db
Cm7 vi7 ii7 Ab

CHORD FUNCTION KEY CHORD FUNCTION KEY


ii7 Bb F7 V7
D bmaj7 Ab b
A ma7 Eb
Dø7 viiø7 Imaj7 Ab
A7 V7 ii7 G
Fmaj7 F E7 A
iii7 D Bm7 vi7
vi7 Ab C7 F
F#ø7 viiø7 ii7 C
Am7 C Gmaj7 IVmaj7
Cmaj7 IVmaj7 Bm7 A
V7 C Fm7 ii7
Cø7 Db iii7 Ab

Jazz Theory Resources


100 Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony

CHORD FUNCTION KEY CHORD FUNCTION KEY


Cmaj7 Imaj7 Em7 D
V7 Ab V7 Bb
Em7 G Am7 ii7
ii7 F# C7 F
E bmaj7 Imaj7 G7 V7
Gm7 Eb ii7 F
Fm7 vi7 D7 V7
B bmaj7 I ii7 Bb
ii7 Ab Dm7 C
iii7 A V7 D
G bmaj7 Db Gmaj7 Imaj7
F#m7 vi7 Dmaj7 A

II. Identify the key that is home to the following combination of chords. Some combinations are
written more than once because they could be from more than one key.

CHORDS FUNCTION KEY CHORDS FUNCTION KEY


Dm7 - Em7 ii7 - iii7 C Amaj7 - Dmaj7
F#m7 - G#m7 D bmaj7 - Bbm7
Am7 - Bbmaj7 D bmaj7 - Bbm7
Gmaj7 - A7 Ebmaj7 - Dm7
Dm7 - Bø7 Ebmaj7 - Dø7
Ebmaj7 - Gm7 Cm7 - F7
Ebmaj7 - Gm7 Gm7 - C7

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony 101

DIATONIC HARMONY: MINOR


Lowering the third, sixth and seventh degrees of a major scale creates a parallel minor scale. This minor
scale is known by several names including natural or pure minor, and aeolian mode. The natural minor
scale has no leading tone and is therefore not used to derive the minor harmony in the major/minor
system. In order to create a major/minor seventh chord (M3-m3-m3) on the dominant scale degree, the
subtonic (seventh degree) of the natural minor scale must be raised to create a leading tone. This cre-
ates an exotic sounding interval of an augmented second between the sixth and seventh degrees of the
scale. This scale, with its raised seventh degree, is appropriately named the harmonic minor scale and
allows for the creation of two very important harmonic pointers: the V7 and vii°7 chords. Though de-
signed for harmonic reasons, it is also quite useful for melodic construction.

5.5 Natural or Pure Minor Harmonic Minor


A2

&˙ ˙ b˙ b˙ ˙ &˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ ˙
˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ b˙ ˙
˙ b˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ b˙
A2
˙ ˙
?˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ ?˙ ˙ b˙ ˙

These chords are created from the C harmonic minor scale and are shown with the appropriate Roman
numerals. The chord built on the third degree of the scale is shown in parentheses as it is not a func-
tional chord.

5.6 Diatonic chords in key of C Minor

˙˙˙ ˙
b
&b b n ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ n ˙˙˙˙ ˙˙˙
˙ n ˙˙˙˙ ˙ n ˙˙˙
˙ ˙
( bIIImaj7 #5) bVI(maj7)
˙˙˙ ˙
˙˙˙ n ˙˙˙˙ n ˙˙˙
i(maj7) iiø7 iv7 V7 vii°7

? bb n ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ n ˙˙˙˙ ˙ ˙


b ˙ ˙

The common shorthand method for labeling the chords from the key of C minor is shown below. These
listed chords are derived from the harmonic minor scale only. The chord built on the third degree of
the harmonic minor scale is not functional and is not used in the major/minor system. It does occur a
great deal in contemporary compositions. Remember that functional chords point towards the tonic.
This chord and many others may be ambiguous, and therefore they cannot point to the tonic. This does
not mean that they are not musically useful, in fact they are useful for the purpose of ambiguity.

Cm maj7 Dø7 (Ebmaj7#5) Fm7 G7 A bmaj7 B°7


i (maj7) iiø7 (bIIImaj7#5) iv7 V7 bVImaj7 vii°7

Some theory books may list up to fifteen possible chords using the natural, harmonic and melodic mi-
nor scales as sources. All of those chords do not function in the sense that they all do not point to the
tonic minor. Without the leading tone, all of the chords would be identical to the chords in the relative
key of Eb major. The chords on the third, fifth and seventh degrees of the scale would be: Ebmaj7, Gm7,
and Bb7. These chords no longer would function to point to the tonic C minor. The Gm7 is not a domi-
nant seventh chord and therefore points away from rather than towards C minor. The Bb7 and Eb chords

Jazz Theory Resources


102 Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony

will be heard as the dominant and tonic in the key of Eb. These chords point away from and so cannot
function as pointers to C minor.

The other chord affected by the raised leading tone is the tonic chord. In traditional music, a tonic
chord cannot have a seventh. In jazz, where unresolved dissonance is more common, a seventh can be
accepted. The minor/major seventh chord can be found in minor jazz progressions, but more often,
when the resolution to the tonic minor occurs, it is either a simple triad with no seventh, or has a minor
seventh. When a minor progression resolves to a minor seventh chord, it will sound less like a tonic
chord and more like a ii7 or vi7 chord that signals a modulation to a new key. There will be more ex-
amples of this when harmonic progressions and modulations are discussed. It could be argued that
within the major/minor system, only major tonality is stable, as the major third is found in the har-
monic series and not the minor third. This may explain the tierce de Picardie, or Picardy third, the
Renaissance and Baroque practice of ending pieces in minor with a major third.

There are fewer stable chords in minor keys than in major. In major, I, ii, iii, IV, V and vi are stable, with
viiø7 being unstable. The instability of the tonic minor chord was discussed above. The iiø7 and the
vii°7 chords are not stable because of their diminished fifth and the III chord from harmonic minor is
unstable because of its augmented fifth. A iv7 chord is stable and often becomes a pivot chord in
modulating to the relative major. A pivot chord is shared by two keys signatures and may function
relative to each in a modulation A iv7 chord in C minor, Fm7, is also the ii7 of Eb, the relative major key
to C minor. The iv chord often begins a modulation to the relative major as in: Fm7 - Bb7 - Eb. The bVI
chord is stable and often acts as a pivot chord between a minor key and its relative major. A bVI chord
in minor becomes the IV chord in the relative major.

For the purposes of discussing functional harmony in minor, only six chords will be discussed:

5.7 Diatonic chords in key of C minor (harmonic minor)

˙˙˙ ˙
b
&b b ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙
˙ n ˙˙˙˙ ˙ n ˙˙˙
˙
i iiø7 iv7 V7 bVI(maj7) vii°7

Three chords shown above do not include the leading tone: the supertonic, subdominant and submedi-
ant. Melodically these chords are often treated using the notes of pure or natural minor to avoid the
awkward augmented second degree. Since the tonic chord in minor is often a pivot chord to other keys,
it too will often be treated with natural or pure minor, and in some instances with melodic minor. Other
melodic substitutions will be discussed in chapter 14.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony 103

Fill in the chart below in order to become more familiar with the specific chords in the thirteen minor
keys. After filling out the chart, write out each of these chords on staff paper. These are listed in the same
order of key signatures as the chart shown for major keys. This chart lists thirteen keys again using the
equivalents of Eb minor (6bs) and D# minor (6#s). The keys of Ab minor (7bs) and A# minor (7#s) have
been omitted in favor of the enharmonic equivalents of G# minor (5#s) and Bb minor (5bs). Be sure to
use the correct spelling and not mix accidentals.

KEY i iiø7 bIII maj 7 #5 iv7 V7 bVImaj7 vii°7


A minor Am Bø7 Cmaj7 #5 Dm7 E7 Fmaj7 G#°7
D minor
G minor
C minor
F minor
B b minor
E b minor
D # minor
G # minor
C # minor
F# minor
B minor
E minor

There were four types of seventh chords derived from the major scale: major/major seventh, mi-
nor/minor seventh, major/minor, and half diminished seventh. All four of these chords found in major
keys have a place in minor keys. The harmonic minor scale adds three new seventh chords to the list:
the minor/major seventh and the fully diminished seventh.

Chords available from the Major and Harmonic Minor Scales

CHORD TYPE PLACE IN MAJOR KEY PLACE IN MINOR KEY


Major 7th Imaj7, IVmaj7 bVImaj7
Minor 7th ii7, iii7, vi7 iv7
Dominant 7th V7 V7
Half-diminished 7th viiø7 iiø7
Minor Major 7th n/a i (major 7th)
Major 7th # 5 n/a bIII major 7# 5
Diminished 7th n/a vii°7

It cannot be assumed that a major seventh chord is always a I chord (it could be a I, IV or bVI) or that a
minor seventh chord is always a ii7 chord (it could be a ii, iii, vi, or iv). These assumptions get many
beginning improvisers into trouble. Groups of chords within the progression must be analyzed in order
to determine the key for a particular passage.

The chart above shows that the only occurrence of a major/minor seventh chord in major or minor
keys, is on the dominant pitch. This is why a major/minor seventh chord is called the dominant seventh
chord. That means that for now in this discussion, all dominant chord symbols are, in fact, dominant
chords: a G7 is the V7 of C major or C minor, a D7 is the dominant of G major or G minor. In later
chapters dealing with substitutions, chords that sound like dominant chords but do not function as dom-
inant chords will be discussed. But for now a V7 is a V7 of major or minor.

Jazz Theory Resources


104 Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony

DETERMINING the KEY

HALF DIMINISHED CHORDS

A half diminished chord is found on the second degree (iiø7) of a harmonic minor scale and from the
seventh degree (viiø7) of a major scale. The half diminished chord is more often used as a iiø7 chord
in minor than as a viiø7 in major. The fact that relative major and minor keys share the same half di-
minished chord is significant. This chord is often used as the common or pivot chord when modulating
from the major to its relative minor. It is often accurate to assume that a half diminished chord is a
pointer to a minor key, so that Eø7 is more likely the iiø7 of D minor than the viiø7 of its relative F ma-
jor.

FULLY DIMINISHED CHORDS

The only place within the major/minor system that a fully diminished seventh chord can be found is on
the seventh degree (vii°7) of harmonic minor. This is an often misunderstood chord. It can be spelled
in many different ways and still sound the same when heard out of context. It is the chord sound that is
most often violated by the “Ghoti” principle. The vii°7 chord, B°7, must be spelled: B-D-F-Ab in order to
be from the key of C minor. Play these notes on the keyboard and they sound the same as a D°7, F°7 or
E#°7, and Ab°7 or G#°7. All of these chords should be spelled differently according to their function. The
D°7 is the vii°7 of Eb minor and should be spelled D-F-Ab-Cb which corresponds to the key to which it
points. F°7 is the vii°7 of Gb minor which is the key of nine flats! The chord would be spelled F-Ab-Cbb-Ebb.
While most of us would prefer to see the Fn rather than E#, E# is the better choice for spelling this chord.
The E#°7 (E#-G#-B-D) is the vii°7 of F# minor, which with only three sharps, is a much easier key to think
about than nine flats. Using the same logic, G#°7 (G#-B-D-F) is a better choice than Ab°7, since G#°7 is the
vii°7 of A minor, with a no sharps or flats key signature, rather than Ab°7 (Ab-Cb-Ebb-Gbb) the vii°7 of Bbb
minor with its twelve flats. The fully diminished chord may be used in inversion and this often leads to
the spelling errors. It may take some deciphering to accurately identify the fully diminished seventh
chord in some instances, but let logic and simplicity prevail.

In a passage like Cm - B°7 - Cm, the function of the diminished chord is clear. Trouble may arise if
some of these chords are to be played in an inversion. If the passage asks that the chords be played with
different bass notes (shown on the bottom of the slash with the chord on top) the diminished chord is
often misspelled as : Cm/Eb - D°7 - Cm. The D°7 may sound like a B°7 in first inversion, but it may be
misleading as labeled. A D°7 is really the vii°7 of Eb minor suggesting six flats. It would be more clearly
labeled: Cm/Eb - B°7/D - Cm. It has been argued that this labeling is unnecessary as the D°7 and B°7
chords are enharmonically the same pitches. It will be easier to determine the key if the diminished
seventh chords are labeled more accurately, but in real world musical settings, be prepared for unusual
spellings.

MAJOR SEVENTH CHORDS

To determine whether a Bbmaj7 chord is a I or IV in major or a bVI in minor, the surrounding chords
must be taken into consideration. Bbmaj7 is the I chord in the key of Bb (2b), the IV chord in the key of F
(1b), and the bVI chord in the key of D minor (also the key of one flat, but with the leading tone C#). The
difference between one flat and two flats is the En or Eb. Any dominant chord will readily identify the
key. Bbmaj7 is a I chord when an F7 is present, a IV chord when a C7 is present, and a bVI chord when
A7 is present. An Fmaj7 would mean the Bbmaj7 chord is a IV chord. The presence of an Eø7 could
mean the Bbmaj7 chord is from F major or D minor, so another chord would be needed to clarify the
key. The determination can be made by looking for chords that contain either a Cn or a C#, the pitch dif-
ference between F major and D minor. Those chords are C#°7, C7, or A7.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony 105

MINOR SEVENTH CHORDS

Because a minor seventh chord can occur as a ii7, iii7, vi7 in major and a iv7 in minor, it is a bit more
difficult to make a determination of the correct key. An Am7 chord could be the ii7 or G major (1#), the
iii7 chord in the key of F (1b), the vi7 chord in the key of C major, and the iv7 chord from the key of E
minor (also the key of one sharp, but with the leading tone D#). Dominant chords are the easiest indica-
tors, so look for them first. The presence of a D7, C7, G7 or A7 will establish the key. If the dominant
chords are not present, look for chords which contain the difference pitches between the keys. Consider
these possibilities:

Am7 with chords that contain F# and Dn will be from the key of G:
Am7 (Bm7 Gmaj7 D7)
ii7 (iii7 Imaj7 V7)

Am7 with chords that F# and D# will be from the key of E minor:
Am7 (B7 D#°7)
iv7 (V7 vii°7)

Am7 with chords that contain Bn and Fn will be from C major:


Am7 (Bø7 G7)
vi7 (viiø7 V7)

Am7 with chords that contain Bb will be from F major:


Am7 (B bmaj7 Gm7 Eø7 C7)
iii7 (IVmaj7 ii7 viiø7 V7)

Am7 with an F#ø7 could be in the key of G major or E minor.

Am7 with an Fmaj7 or Dm7 could be in the key of F or C major.

Am7 with an Em7 or Cmaj7 could be in the key of G or C major.

These lists of possibilities makes finding the correct key look more difficult than it actually is. Most
pieces stay in or stay close to one key. More familiarity with the diatonic chords of keys makes them
easier to recognize in groups and common progressions. These chords do not occur out of context, and
there will almost always be enough information to make the correct decision regarding key signatures.

Jazz Theory Resources


106 Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony

CHORD IDENTIFICATION PRACTICE SOLVED


CHORD FUNCTION KEY CHORD FUNCTION KEY
Gm7 ii7 F F7 V7 Bb
C #7 V7 F# A bma7 IV Eb
b
E maj7 IV Bb A bma7 I Ab
Eø7 viiø7 F Am7 ii7 G
D7 V7 G E7 V7 A
Fm7 iii7 Db Bm7 vi7 D
B b7 V7 Eb C7 V7 F
Fmaj7 IVmaj7 C Dm7 ii7 C
Bm7 iii7 G Gmaj7 IV D
A bm7 ii7 Gb Bm7 ii7 A
Amaj7 Imaj7 A Fm7 ii7 Eb
Cm7 vi7 Eb Cm7 iii7 Ab

CHORD FUNCTION KEY CHORD FUNCTION KEY


Cm7 ii7 Bb Cmaj7 I C
D bmaj7 IV Ab E b7 V7 Ab
Dø7 viiø7 Eb Em7 vi7 G
A7 V7 D G#m7 ii7 F#
Fmaj7 I F E bmaj7 I Eb
F#m7 iii7 D Gm7 iii7 Eb
Fm7 vi7 Ab Fm7 vi7 Ab
F#ø7 viiø7 G B bmaj7 I Bb
Am7 vi7 C B bm7 ii7 Ab
Cmaj7 IVmaj7 G C #m7 iii7 A
G7 V7 C G bmaj7 IV Db
Cø7 viiø7 Db F#m7 vi7 A

CHORD FUNCTION KEY CHORD FUNCTION KEY


Dmaj7 I D Em7 ii7 D
A b7 V7 Db F7 V7 Bb
Em7 iii7 C Am7 ii7 G
Dm7 vi7 F C7 V7 F
Ebm7 ii7 Db G7 V7 C
Dm7 iii7 Bb Gm7 ii7 F
D b7 V7 Gb D7 V7 G
Gm7 vi7 Bb Cm7 ii7 Bb
B bmaj7 IV F Dm7 ii7 C
C #7 V7 F# A7 V7 D
b
D maj7 I Db Gmaj7 I G
B bm7 ii7 Ab Dmaj7 IV A

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 5 Diatonic Harmony 107

CHORDS FUNCTION KEY CHORDS FUNCTION KEY


Dm7 - Em7 ii7 - iii7 C Amaj7 - Dmaj7 I - IV A
F#m7 - G#m7 ii7 - iii7 E D bmaj7 - Bbm7 I - vi7 Db
Am7 - Bbmaj7 iii7 - IV F D bmaj7 - Bbm7 IV - ii7 Ab
Gmaj7 - A7 IV - V7 D Ebmaj7 - Dm7 IV - iii7 Bb
Dm7 - Bø7 ii7 - viiø7 C Ebmaj7 - Dø7 I - viiø7 Eb
b
E maj7 - Gm7 I - iii7 Eb Cm7 - F7 ii7 - V7 Bb
Ebmaj7 - Gm7 IV - vi7 Bb Gm7 - C7 ii7 - V7 F

Jazz Theory Resources


108 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

VI. HARMONIC PROGRESSIONS


COMMON ROOT MOVEMENT
The root of chords can move by any interval to the root of the next chord. Root movement can be by
fifths and their inversion fourths, thirds and their inversion sixths, and seconds and their inversion sev-
enths. Some interval motion and direction is more common than the others. The most powerful
melodic motion is the downward fifth movement from the dominant to the tonic or its inversion,
movement up a perfect fourth from dominant to tonic. The power of this motion has been surmised to
be due to its relationship to the overtone series: that the first interval in the series, other than the octave,
is a perfect fifth above the fundamental. What is true for melodic motion is also true for root motion in
harmonic progressions: the most common root movement is downward fifths (type 1). The second most
common root movements are upward in seconds (type 2) and downward in thirds (type 3). The inver-
sion of these root movements are available, but less common.

The most common root movement of downward fifths is apparent in the most prevalent harmonic pro-
gression: ii7 - V7 - I in major keys and iiø7 - V7 - i in minor keys. This progression occurs so often like a
building block in major/minor system that it is imperative that they be memorized as any young student
memorizes the multiplication tables. Fill out the two tables below and begin to memorize these chords
as a group. When a ii7 chord is encountered, the V7 and I may be next. Even if the progression is not
followed through to the I chord, the ii7 and V7 chords point to and are still derived from the key of I.
Remember to spell the chords correctly. The ii7 chord of F# major is G#m7, not Abm7. Spelling correctly
will save time and energy and earn respect from your peers. [Once, on a recording session, a composer
had written the melody in the key of six sharps, but wrote all the chord symbols in six flats. While one
hand was playing G# - B - D#, the other hand had to think Ab - Cb - Eb. It was playable, but it unnecessarily
difficult and one of the worst violations of the “Ghoti” principle I have encountered.]

COMMON PROGRESSIONS in MAJOR

KEY ii7 V7 Imaj7


C Dm7 G7 Cmaj7
F
Bb
Eb
Ab
Db
Gb
F#
B
E
A
D
G

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 109

COMMON PROGRESSIONS in MINOR

KEY iiø7 V7 i
A minor Bø7 E7 Am
D minor
G minor
C minor
F minor
B b minor
E b minor
D # minor
G # minor
C # minor
F# minor
B minor
E minor

A harmonic progression will not always follow one type of root movement and is usually a mixture of
several types. Root movement by seconds and thirds is used as a contrast before eventually returning to
the strong, more common downward fifth movement. The following progression begins with type 3 root
movement of downward thirds, followed by type 2 movement up in seconds and then the final move-
ment to the tonic is type 1 movement of a downward fifth.

[Down 3rd] [Down 3rd] [Up 2nd] [Down 5th]


C Am7 |F G7 |C
I vi7 IV V7 I

Type 1 movement can be inserted sooner using the ii7 chord in place of the IV chord. The roots move
down a third, down a fifth, down a fifth, and down a fifth. This progression is stronger because of the
more frequent downward fifth movement.

[Down 3rd] [Down 5th] [Down 5th] [Down 5th]


C Am7 | Dm7 G7 |C
I vi7 ii7 V7 I

This common progression is often repeated to make longer phrases. When repeated, the second tonic
chord is often replaced with a iii7 chord. This removes the downward fifth movement (V7 - I) and re-
places it with a downward third movement (V7 - iii7), but the continuation of the line (iii7 - vi7 - ii7 - V7
- I) is all type 1 downward fifth movement. Another possibility is using the tonic chord in first inversion
in place of the I or iii7 chord. The tonic inversion and the iii7 chord are often interchangeable and in-
distinguishable from each other.

[Dn. 5th] [Dn. 3rd]


|C Am7 | Dm7 G7 |C Am7 | Dm7 G7 |C

[Dn. 3rd] [Dn. 5th]


|C Am7 | Dm7 G7 | Em7 Am7 | Dm7 G7 |C

|C Am7 | Dm7 G7 | C/E Am7 | Dm7 G7 |C

Jazz Theory Resources


110 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

These same progressions are logical and musical in the parallel minor key.

Cm A bmaj7 | Fm7 G7 | Cm . . .
i bVI7 iv7 V7 i

Cm A bmaj7 | Dø7 G7 | Cm . . .
I bVI7 iiø7 V7 i

The progression is often inverted, aiming for, rather than beginning with the tonic chord.

| Dm7 G7 |C Am7 | Dm7 . . .


ii7 V7 I vi7 ii7

| Dø7 G7 | Cm A bmaj7 | Dø7 . . .


iiø7 V7 i bVI7 iiø7

APPLICATION of HARMONIC ANALYSIS


Recognizing that several chords are derived from one key allows an improviser to think in that one key
for larger sections of a piece. In the following progression, the Roman Numeral Analysis (RNA) tells us
that the source for all of these chords is the key of C (I). Two facts can be deduced from that: (1) if the
chords were constructed from a C major scale, it follows that a C major scale is a source for melodic
material over the chords; (2) If the chords are functioning to point to C as a tonic chord, it follows that
a C major triad could be used for harmonic generalization over the passage. One scale works for all
those chords because those chords were derived from the scale. Since all the chords are functioning to
point to the C tonic triad, then melodies which generalize the tonic triad will function the same way on
a different level. Any vertical dissonances are resolved as the line progresses towards its goal.
Understanding RNA is more than assigning numbers to chords; it is directly related to melodic improvi-
sation decisions.

| Em7 | Am7 | Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | Fmaj7 . . .


iii7 vi7 ii7 V7 I IV7
Implications:
(1) C major scale works for melodic generalization . . .
(2) C major triad works for melodic generalization . . .

HIERARCHY of CHORDS
The harmonic progressions ii7 - V7 - I in major keys and iiø7 - V7 - i in minor keys also illustrate the hi-
erarchy of chords. The tonic chord, as the tonic pitch, is by definition where all progressions point.
When preceded by its dominant, the strongest cadence or conclusion is perceived. The ii7 chord is the
most common of several chords that precede the dominant. The chart below classifies the most com-
mon pre-dominant., dominant, and tonic chords available from the major and harmonic minor scales.

PRE-DOMINANT CHORDS DOMINANT CHORDS TONIC CHORDS


IV V7 I
ii7 viiø7 (rare) i
iiø7 vii°7 I6 or iii as substitute for I
iv7 (sometimes vi7 as substitute for I)
bVImaj7*
*bVI can be a predominant chord because of its similarity to iiø7 and iv7 and it can point to V7.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 111

From the chart, it is clear that a ii7 and iiø7 chords both function as pre-dominant chords. This concept
can lead to modal mixture where chords from the parallel minor key are used in place of the corre-
sponding diatonic chords from the major key. The progression may point to the same tonic, but will
suggest a minor modality. These chords are said to be “borrowed” from the parallel minor key.

| Dm7 G7 |C
ii7 V7 I

with a borrowed supertonic chord would become:

| Dø7 G7 |C
iiø7 V7 I

&

| C Am7 | Dm7 G7 |C
I vi7 ii7 V7 I

with borrowed submediant and supertonic chords would become:


| C A bmaj7 | Dø7 G7 |C
I bVI7 iiø7 V7 I

When improvising through a passage of borrowed chords, remember that the source scale and tonic
chord have changed. The harmonic minor scale and tonic minor triad may be used for melodic mate-
rial through the chords borrowed from minor.

The dominant seventh chords for both major and minor appear the same when using RNA. To deter-
mined the scale from which the V7 chord is derived, examine the preceding chords. If a V7 is preceded
by pre-dominant chords from major (ii7 or IV) it is probably also derived from major. If a V7 chord is
preceded by pre-dominant chords from harmonic minor (iiø7, iv7, bVI) then the dominant should con-
tinue as the V7 of a minor tonic. Examining the melody will provide clues. If notes from the minor key
are in the melody, then the V7 chord is derived from the minor key.

There is no difference between a G7 chord from C major and a G7 chord from C minor if the chord is
only spelled to the seventh: they are both spelled G-B-D-F. The difference occurs when considering
passing tones between the chord tones. The key of C contains En and An, while C minor contains Eb and
A b. When upper tertian extensions are added, the difference also becomes apparent. The ninth of a G7
chord is An in the key of C major and Ab in the key of C minor. The thirteenth of a G7 chord is an En in
the key of C and an Eb in the key of C minor. Learning to recognize these basic alterations will help
identify the sound called for in chord notation. In the chords below that include a thirteenth, the fifth
was eliminated.

6.1 Differences between V7 of C major and V7 of C minor


n9 n 13 b
b9
˙˙ bbb b ˙ 13

& ˙˙˙ ˙ b ˙˙˙ b ˙˙


˙ ˙˙˙˙ ˙˙ n ˙˙˙˙ n ˙˙ n˙
b b9
G7b 13
? G913
bbb
G7 G9 G7 G7 9

˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


112 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

Modal mixture and substituting more common root progressions can energize this simple progression.

| F | Em7 | Dm7 |C
IV iii7 ii7 I

The first stepwise progression has more forward motion when chords are added between the original
chords which change the root movement to downward fifths.

| F | Em7 Am7 | Dm7 G7 |C


IV iii7 vi7 ii7 V7 I

Adding three chords (iv7, iiø7 and G7b9) from the parallel minor add another colorful dimension.

| F Fm7 | Em7 Am7 | Dø7 G7b9 |C


IV iv7 iii7 vi7 iiø7 V7 I

CLOSELY RELATED KEYS


Up to now this discussion has been confined to harmonic progressions that stay in one key center. Most
compositions do not stay in one key, but temporarily modulate or tonicize keys that are closely related.
Some progressions point away from the tonic almost immediately and go on long harmonic excursions
before returning to the home key. While it is possible to find music that journeys to very remote keys, a
great deal of music is created which moves in and out of closely related keys.

Closely related keys are those whose key signatures are one accidental away from the tonic key. If the key
of C is the home key, then related keys would be the relative minor which shares the same key signature
(A minor), the key of 1b (F major and D minor), and the key of 1# (G major and E minor).

Primary Closely Related Keys to C major

1b 0 #/0 b 1#

F C G
(home key)
D A E
minor minor minor

If these related keys are lined up alphabetically, it is apparent that the closely related keys are also the
five other stable diatonic chords in the key of C major: (The chord on the seventh degree of major is an
unstable chord because of its diminished fifth, and there is no diminished key.) The closely related keys
have a Roman numeral listed below indicating their relationship to the original key. D minor is the key
of ii, and so on.

Home: Closely Related Keys


C major D minor E minor F major G major A minor
I ii iii IV V vi

Borrowed chords were discussed before as a way to get from a major key area to its parallel minor key.
Jumping from the key of C with no sharps or flats to the key of three flats may appear to be remote, but
considering that C major and C minor are parallel and they share the same dominant chord, then the
jump is not so far. The closely related keys to parallel key of C minor (three flats) would be the keys of
two flats and four flats. From the parallel move to C minor, the keys of Eb major, F minor, G minor, Ab
major, and Bb major become available.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 113

Secondary Keys Available to C major through parallel C minor

4b 3b 2b

F C G
minor minor minor
(parallel
home key)
Ab Eb Bb
major major major

C minor is parallel to the home key of C major. F minor and G minor are parallel to the primary
closely related keys of F and G major.

The secondary closely related are shown with a Roman numeral listed below indicating their relation-
ship to the original key. These Roman numerals do not indicate a chord function.

Parallel Home: Secondary Keys from Modal Mixture:


C minor E b major F minor G minor A b major B b major
i bIII iv v bVI bVII

A third level of closely related keys are available through another modal mixture. C minor and C major
are related as a parallel tonal centers but one is minor and the other major. The three primary closely
related minor keys to C major are D minor, E minor and A minor; the keys of ii, iii and vi. Each of these
primary closely related keys has a parallel major so that D major (II), E major (III), and A major (VI)
are available from the key of C major through modal mixture of close diatonic chords.

This chart illustrates several possible levels of modulation from the primary key of C major.

Tertiary Keys from modal mixture D major (II) A major (VI) E major (III)

D minor (ii) A minor (vi) E minor (iii)


PRIMARY KEYS F major (IV) C major (I) G major (V)
(home key)

Secondary Keys from parallel minor F minor (iv) C minor (i) G minor (v)
A b major (bVI) Eb major (bIII) B b major (bVII)

The combined keys available for smooth modulation from the home key of C major are illustrated in
the chart below. The keys are shown by the three levels: closely related diatonic keys with one accidental
difference; keys closely related to the parallel minor; and keys available using modal mixture with the
keys of second, third and sixth degrees of the home key. The Roman numerals in this case do not refer
to chords, but to the new key in relationship to the home key. For example, the key of Bb is the major key
on the bVII related to the key of C; does not refer to a chord built on the seventh degree of the C major
scale.

Closely Related Diatonic I ii iii IV V vi


From Parallel Minor i bIII iv v bVI bVII
Using Modal Mixture II III VI

Jazz Theory Resources


114 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

SECONDARY DOMINANTS
The primary chords are built without alterations on diatonic scale degrees. There is only one dominant
and its function is to point out the tonic chord. If other dominants occur in a progression other than
the primary dominant, then some chord has been chromatically altered to create the new dominant
and this new dominant will point to a key other than tonic. This new key is a secondary key from the
original making the dominant chord a secondary dominant. The dominant chord is the most identifi-
able indicator in the harmonic progression because it occurs only on the dominant pitch in major and
minor. Minor seventh chords that can occur as ii7, iii7, vi7 or iv7 do not point as conclusively.
Modulations to the closely related and remote keys are usually accomplished with the use of a sec-
ondary dominant.

In the key of C, expect modulations or temporary tonicizations, and look for the dominants of the
closely related keys. If any dominant other than the primary dominant G7 is encountered, it is a sec-
ondary dominant pointing away from the primary key and to a secondary key. Look for the dominants
pointing to the closely related keys of D, E and A minor and F and G major.

An A7 points to the key of D minor. It cannot be considered a VI chord in the key of C: there is no C#
available in the key of C; it must be a secondary dominant. The RNA for this chord is V7/ii. The “V7”
defines its relationship to D minor; the “ii” defines the relationship of the secondary key to the home
key of C. This symbol, V7/ii, means “A7 is the dominant (V7) of the D minor, the minor key on the
second degree (ii) of C major.” It also suggests that individual pitches have been changed. The key of D
minor has to have a C# leading tone in order to create the A7 chord, and a Bb by its key signature defi-
nition. These pitches are necessary in order to modulate from C major to D minor and define the dif-
ference between the two keys. The chromatically altered pitches want to resolve in the direction in which
they have been altered. The C# points up to D and the Bb down to A. With D and A as targets, it is easy
to see and hear how D minor is temporarily tonicized by the A7.

The dominant for E minor is B7 and is shown with the symbol V7/iii. The key signature for E minor is
one sharp plus the leading tone D# needed to create the dominant chord. The F# and D# are the pitches
necessary to modulate from the key of C to the key of E minor. Both the F# and D# resolve up in the di-
rection in which they have been altered to E and G, two primary pitches in the key of E minor.

The dominant for F major, the key of IV, is a C7 chord. This is often erroneously labeled as I7. There
cannot be a dominant chord on a pitch other than the dominant pitch and since there is no Bb in the
key of C, this chord must be the V7/IV. The Bb is the defining difference between the keys of C and F
major. The Bb wants to resolve down to the A, the note that defines the major quality in the key of F.

D7 is the V7/V. The F# that is needed to create the D7 chord is the one sharp from the key signature of
G. The Fn in the key of C usually points down to the En. The F# points up to G.

C major and A minor share the same key signature but there must be a leading tone in the key of A mi-
nor in order to create a dominant chord. E7 is the V7/vi. The pitch G# distinguishes the keys of C major
and A minor and creates the E7 dominant chord.

The following chart reviews the closely related keys to the key of C major, their secondary dominants,
RNA and lists the necessary accidentals needed to tonicize or modulate to the secondary keys.

NEW KEY AREA TO TONICIZE SECONDARY DOMINANT NECESSARY ACCIDENTALS


ii: D minor A7 (V7/ii) Bb and C#
iii: E minor B7 (V7/iii) F# and D#
IV: F major C7 (V7/IV) Bb
V: G major D7 (V7/V) F#
vi: A minor E7 (V7/vi) G#

Note that all twelve pitches are used in the chart above. The are seven pitches in the C major scale and
the accidentals needed for modulation comprise the remaining five.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 115

Secondary dominants create more forward motion in a harmonic progression. The introduction of
chromatic notes shifts the focus away from the tonic to secondary chords. The secondary chords then
progress back to the tonic. Some of the basic progressions that were shown before using only chords
from one key area can be enhanced using secondary dominants to point to diatonic chords.

A tonic chord can move to any diatonic chord but this progression may be strengthened with the
addition of the secondary dominant. The downward fifth motion and the addition of chromatic pitches
temporarily removes the focus from the original key making the resolution to the diatonic chord
stronger.

C A7 Dm7
I V7/ii ii

C B7 Em7
I V7/iii iii

C C7 F
I V7/IV IV

C D7 G
I V7/V V

C E7 Am7
I V7/vi vi

The following progression to the ii7 chord includes just chords from the key of C major:

C Em7 Am7 Dm7


I iii7 vi7 ii7

A secondary dominant can be added to both emphasize the pull away from the tonic and point towards
other chords. A7 as the secondary dominant for D minor can replace Am7. Dm7 is still ii7, it has just
been tonicized with its dominant. Em7 is still the iii7 chord in the key of C, not the ii7 chord in the key
of D minor. Eø7 is the iiø7 chord in D minor. The basic melodic resources would come from the key of
C major except for the A7 chord. The A7 chord, as the RNA implies, uses the D harmonic minor scale,
with C# and Bb being the important distinguishing tones.

C Em7 A7 Dm7
I iii7 V7/ii ii7

The progression to the A could be strengthened by using its dominant instead of the iii7 chord. The E7,
V7/vi, points to A minor, but at the resolution, A minor is a dominant chord pointing to the key of D
minor. When the progression arrives at Dm7, it is not actually in the key of D minor, as Dm7 is a ii7
chord in the original key of C major. The C and Dm7 chords are still derived from the C major scale,
and the notes from that scale can be used as a melodic resource. The E7 is derived from the A har-
monic minor scale and would use that scale as a melodic resource.

C E7 A7 Dm7
I V7/vi V7/ii ii7

A7 is V7/ii only in the key of C. D minor may be the ii, iii, vi in major keys, or i and iv in minor keys, so
its dominant can also be shown in relationship to other keys. For example, if A7 occurs in a passage in
the key of Bb pointing to the iii7 chord, Dm7, the A7 would be the V7/iii. If A7 occurs in a passage in the
key of F major, then A7 would be V7/vi. In the key of A minor, A7 points to the iv chord and would be

Jazz Theory Resources


116 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

labeled V7/iv. Everything is labeled relative to the tonic key. But in all of those cases, the melodic re-
source for the A7 chord is still the D harmonic minor scale.

One of the most common progressions is I - vi7 - ii7 - V7. Secondary dominants are often used to in-
crease the level of tension and forward motion. The most common substitution replaces the vi7 chord
with a V7/ii. In the key of Bb, the original progression would be Bb - Gm7 - Cm7 - F7, often returning to
the tonic chord. With the secondary dominant of Cm (G7 = V7/ii) in place of the Gm7, the progression
would be Bb - G7 - Cm7 - F7. The pull away from the key of Bb is intensified by the G7 chord, as it has a
Bn and an implied Ab from the C minor key signature. These two notes that changed the key from Bb to
the key of C minor and are often the first notes played by experienced jazz musicians. Below are two ex-
amples from improvisations by Charlie Parker. In both of these examples Parker addressed the sec-
ondary dominant chords by immediately playing the pitches necessary to modulate or tonicize the sec-
ondary key. To tonicize C minor from the key of Bb, a Bn and Ab must be heard, and they are the first two
notes Parker played over the G7 (V7/ii) in the first example. To get from the key of Ab ( four flats) to the
key of ii, Bb minor, two accidentals are needed: the fifth flat (Gb) and the leading tone (An). These were
also the first two pitches played by Parker in the second example. The examples are identical except for
the octave displacement in the first one, which suggests that Parker had practiced these lines in all keys.

b b
6.2 I - V7/ii - ii7 I - V7/ii - ii7
Bb G7 9 Cm7 b F7 9
A B bm7
b b œ
& b c œ œ œ œ b œ œ œ œj ‰ & b b b c œ œ œ n œ b œ œ œ œj ‰

Clifford Brown played exactly the same melodic figure in ex. 6.3 as Parker did in ex. 6.2. Brown began in
G major. To modulate from G (1#) to the key of A minor (0#, 0b), the F# must become Fn, and the leading
tone G# is needed. These were the first pitches sounded by Brown at the E7. Red Garland used many
chromatic embellishments and approaches, but at the point of the G7, he played the Bn and Ab called
for by the secondary dominant below.

b b
6.3 I - V7/ii - ii7 I - V7/ii - ii7
b
#
Gmaj7 E7 9 Am 7 B G7 9 Cm
b
& c œ œ œ œ # œ n œ œ œ œj ‰
~
& b c œ œ œ #œ œ nœ bœ œ #œ œ œ nœ œ
~

œ #œ n œ

In this Jimmy Guiffre example, the iii7 chord follows the V7, substituting for the I chord. This keeps the
progression moving in downward fifths from the Em7 to the A7 (iii7 - V7/ii). As in examples above,
Guiffre knows the tones necessary for modulation (Bb from the key signature of D minor and the leading
tone, C#) and plays them immediately at the occurrence of the secondary dominant A7.

b
6.4 ii7 - V7 - iii7 (instead of I) - V7/ii - ii7
Dm7 G7 Em 7 A7 9 Dm7

& c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ bœ œ œ œ œ
œ

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 117

Since a V7 chord is often preceded by the ii7 or iiø7, secondary ii7 and iiø7 chords may precede sec-
ondary dominant chords. The roots of the chords on the top line move in descending thirds. Before
each new chord, a secondary dominant may be inserted with its corresponding ii7 or iiø7 chord. The
cadences to Gm7, Ebmaj7 and Cm7 are strengthened by their preceding ii7 - V7 or iiø7 - V7 chords.

Bb Gm7 E bmaj7 Cm7


I vi7 IV vi7

Bb [ Aø7 - D7 ] Gm7 [ Fm7 - Bb7 ] E bmaj7 [ Dø7 - G7 ] Cm7


I iiø7 - V7 vi7 ii7 - V7 IV iiø7 - V7 vi7
vi IV ii

Review what each RNA symbol actually means to the sound. The Aø7 - D7 indicates a temporary modu-
lation to the key of G minor with the necessary leading tone F#. The F# is the most important identifying
note for the D7 chord. The Fm7 - Bb7 indicates a modulation to the key of Eb major and necessitates the
addition of an Ab. The Ab is the most important identifying note for the Fm7 chord, and is the seventh
of the Bb7 chord. The Ab resolves down to a Gn, the most important identifying note for the Eb major
chord. The Dø7 - G7 indicates a modulation to the key of C minor, which demands an Ab and a Bn. The
Bn is the most important identifying note for the G7 chord which points to C minor. RNA can help iden-
tify the most important tones that indicate the harmonic direction. If those tones are emphasized for
melodic direction, then linear harmony, lines with strong harmonic implications, will be the result.

In the following progression of roots moving upward in seconds, three possible sets of secondary
chords are shown. All are possible and often occur interchangeably in jazz performances. The D7, F#°7,
or Aø7 - D7 indicate the key change from F major to G minor, requiring an F# and an Eb. The E7, G#°7,
or Bø7 - E7 chords indicate a key change to A minor, requiring an G# and an Bn. Notice how important
those pitches are to the identification of the corresponding chords.

F Gm7 Am7
I ii7 iii7

F D7 Gm7 E7 Am7
I V7/ii ii7 V7/iii iii7

F F#°7 Gm7 G#°7 Am7


I vii°7/ii ii7 vii°7/iii iii7

F Aø7 - D7 Gm7 Bø7 - E7 Am7


I iiø7 V7 ii7 iiø7 V7 iii7
ii iii

The very simple progression shown below moves down in diatonic seconds and can be altered using
secondary dominants.

6.5 Diatonic chords


Fmaj7 Em7 Dm7 Cmaj7

& c ˙˙˙ ˙˙
˙
˙˙ ˙˙
˙ ˙
IV iii7 ii7 I

?c ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


118 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

Preceding each diatonic chord with its dominant adds momentum to this progression. The root pro-
gression is made stronger moving down in fifths than in seconds.

6.6 With added secondary dominants


Fmaj7 B7 Em7 A7 Dm7 G7 Cm aj7

& œœœ œœ œ
n œœ
bœ œ œœ
# œœ ˙˙
#œ n œœ œ ˙
IV V7/iii iii7 V7/ii ii7 V7 I

?œ œ œ ˙
œ œ œ

The progression initially began on the diatonic IV chord. By substituting the F# ø7, a secondary iiø7
chord from the key of Em, all the root movement is by descending perfect fifths. The G7 chord is bor-
rowed from the parallel key C minor which yields the Ab, the b9 of G7.

6.7 With added secondary dominants


F #ø7 B7 Em7 A7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

& œœœ œœ œ
n œœ
bœ œ b œœ
# œœ ˙˙
#œ n œœ œ ˙
iiø7/iii V7/iii iii7 V7/ii ii7 V7/i I

? #œ œ œ ˙
œ œ œ

There are many tunes that stay within one key signature for almost the entire form. The contrast between
the two keys, major and relative minor, and their corresponding progressions provides enough interest-
ing diversions. The following progression, shown in the key of no sharps or flats, is found in thousands
of compositions from the Baroque era to current popular music and has been used by several jazz
composers from Antonio Carlos Jobim to Chick Corea.

Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am7

Is this passage in the key of C major or A minor? The first few measures sound like the key of C major.
The key of A minor is not heard or anticipated until at least the Bø7 chord. While the Bø7 chord is the
viiø7 of C, it is more often heard as the iiø7 in minor. The E7 definitely points the progression to A mi-
nor. Is it in the key of C (I) and then modulates to A minor (vi), or in the key of A minor (i) and modu-
lates from the Dm7 chord (iv7) to the relative key of C (I/bIII) and back again to A minor. How this is
analyzed may depend on the larger context. Initially, most would hear the Dm7 as the ii7 in the key of C
major, and not expect A minor until the more definitive pointers Bø7 and E7. Here is one analysis with
the progression based in C major. The E7 is shown as the secondary dominant to A minor. It is possible
to tonicize the Dm7 (ii7) with its dominant so that an A7 chord is inserted after the Am7 and before re-
peating the progression.

Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am7


ii7 V7 I IV iiø7/vi V7/vi vi7

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 119

The progression could be analyzed relating to the key of A minor. The major area is so strong that it
feels less like a departure than the A minor area. Note that ending the progression with an A minor
chord without a seventh makes it feel more like A minor is the ultimate destination of the progression.
When it ends with an Am7, the Am7 feels like a vi7 chord even when preceded by its dominant, E7.

Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am


iv7 V7/bIII I/bIII bVI iiø7 V7 i

Could the G be labeled bVII and the C bIII in the key of A minor? These would be diatonic chords de-
rived from A natural minor. Remember that minor harmony is derived from the harmonic minor
scales in order to get the leading tone G#. G7 to C so convincingly suggests C as tonic that it is almost
impossible to hear these chords as related to A minor.

Here is another progression with roots descending in downward fifths. Even though the following pro-
gression starts with an Am7, it sounds more like a progression in the key of C major starting on the vi7.

Am7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am7


vi7 ii7 V7 I IV iiø7/vi V7/vi vi7

These two cycles will help aural recognition of the secondary dominant related to diatonic chords.
Practice them at a keyboard in this key and others.

Secondary Dominant Cycle No. 1: DEVELOPING AURAL HARMONIC RECOGNITION


Descending diatonic chords with secondary dominants:
I - V7/vi - vi - V7/V - V - V7/IV - IV - V7/iii - iii - V7/ii - ii - V7 - I

Play at the keyboard:

œ
& c œœœ # œœœœ n œœœœ # œœœœ œœœ b œœœ œœœ # # œœœ œœœ
œ œ œ œ œ # œœœœ n œœœœ œœœ
œ
www
w
? c œ œ #œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ
œ #œ œ œ w

Secondary Dominant Cycle No. 1: DEVELOPING AURAL MELODIC RECOGNITION


Descending diatonic chords with secondary dominants:
I - V7/vi - vi - V7/V - V - V7/IV - IV - V7/iii - iii - V7/ii - ii - V7 - I

Play the lower part on the keyboard and sing the upper part to master hearing the identifying
tones necessary for tonicization:

& c œœ œœ#œœ œœ œ œ œnœ#œœ œ œ œœ œœ œœbœ œœ œœ#œœnœœ œœ œœ bœ œœ œœ œ œœ œ w


œ #œ nœ œ
œ œœ œ œœ b œ œœ œ
? c œœ œ œ œ œ
œœ œ œœ œ ww
œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


120 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

Secondary Dominant Cycle No. 2: DEVELOPING AURAL HARMONIC RECOGNITION


Ascending diatonic chords with secondary dominants:
I - V7/ii - ii - V7/iii - iii - V7/IV - IV - V7/V - V - V7/vi - vi - V7/V - V - V7 - I

Play at the keyboard

œœ b œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œ
& c œœ œœ œœ œœ # œœ œœ œœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ œœœ ˙˙˙
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
? c œ #œ œ #œ œ œ œ #œ œ #œ œ #œ œ
œ ˙

Secondary Dominant Cycle No. 2: DEVELOPING MELODIC RECOGNITION


Ascending diatonic chords with secondary dominants:
I - V7/ii - ii - V7/iii - iii - V7/IV - IV - V7/V - V - V7/vi - vi - V7/V - V - V7 - I

Play the lower part on the keyboard and sing the upper part to master hearing the identifying
tones necessary for tonicization:

& c œ . œ #œ bœ œ œ œ . œ #œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ . œ #œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙
œ. œ
? c œœ œ œœ œœ œœ b œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œ œœ œ ˙
œ
œ œ ˙

It is useful to fill out a chart for each of the thirteen major keys (including F3 and Gb) like the one shown
below for the key of C. The charts will reinforce the memorization of secondary dominant relationships,
the necessary accidentals for modulations, and the proper chord spelling.

HOME KEY: C major PRIMARY KEY SIGNATURE: No #s or bs


NEW KEY AREA TO SECONDARY SECONDARY NECESSARY
TONICIZE SUPERTONIC DOMINANT ACCIDENTALS
ii: D minor (1b) Eø7 (iiø7/ii) A7 (V7/ii) Bb and (LT) C#
iii: E minor (1#) F #ø7 (iiø7/iii) B7 (V7/iii) F# and (LT) D#
IV: F major (1b) Gm7 (ii7/IV) C7 (V7/IV) Bb
V: G major (1#) Am7 (ii7/V) D7 (V7/V) F#
vi: A minor Bø7 (iiø7/vi) E7 (V7/vi) (LT) G#

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 121

DECEPTIVE RESOLUTIONS
The definition of functional harmony submits that dominant chords point towards tonic and that other
chords progress to particular places that ultimately lead back to tonic. Composers use the natural ten-
dencies of these harmonic progressions to manipulate a listener’s expectations. It is important to under-
stand that while certain chords point clearly to a specific chord, in musical situations, they do not al-
ways resolve as expected. If each chord always resolved as expected, music would be unbearably boring.
On the other hand, if these chords were not expected to resolve certain ways, and if listeners universally
did not anticipate these resolutions, then the deceptive resolutions would have little emotional or dra-
matic impact on the music. Fortunately for composers, listeners do react to the unexpected, which im-
plies they do listen and listen with certain expectations. Deception is the device that comedians, magi-
cians, storytellers and musicians count on to work their craft. For a joke to work, a certain possibility is
anticipated, and then a surprise turn triggers the laugh. The magician with one hand draws your atten-
tion away then pulls the coin out of your ear with his other hand. The playwright uses our sense of ex-
pectation to elicit a response to a unexpected dramatic turn. The fact that deceptive resolutions are ef-
fective in music is proof of the functional harmony system. If the deceptions did not surprise to a de-
gree, then the listeners had no expectations.

Try this on a group of students of any age. Play the first measure and stop before resolving to the tonic
chord. Everyone, musicians with training and even those without, anticipate the tonic chord. Play the
second or third example when the G chord resolves to the A minor or Ab major and the reaction will be
laughs and raised eyebrows. No one is reacting because from years of music theory study, reacting to
some technical concept. They are reacting instinctively to the unexpected resolutions, proving that what
was expected was the tonic chord.

6.8
a. Expected Resolution b. Unexpected c. More Unexpected

& c œœœ œ œ œ œœœ œ œ œœœ www œœ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ www


œ œ
œœ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œœ b b www
œ œ
œ œ
b VI
?c ˙
IV
˙
V I IV
˙ ˙
V
w
vi IV
˙ ˙
V
bw
w

All would agree that the G chord is a V chord in the first example above as it functions properly resolv-
ing to the I chord. Is it still the V chord when it resolves to the vi or the bVI chords? A V chord means
that it points in a specific direction, it does not insist on a particular resolution. In all three cases the
expectation was for the V chord to resolve to I: that is what makes it a V chord. In the two cases where
the V chord resolved unexpectedly, the surprise is precisely because the G chord is the V of C and is
expected to resolve accordingly. Route 66 winds from Chicago to LA, but one could stop or turn off
anywhere along the road (Flagstaff, Arizona, don’t forget Winona), without changing the fact that Route
66 still points from Chicago to LA. Chords function to point to specific tonic chords whether they actu-
ally arrive where expected. (I often call this the “Route 66” principle.)

In the following progression the G7 (V7 of C) resolves to Em7 once and to C later. G7 is the V7 in both
instances. The resolution to Em7 is not a very deceptive resolution as Em7 can be a substitute for C or
for C/E in first inversion.

| C Am7 | Dm7 G7 | Em7* Am7 | Dm7 G7 |C


V7 iii7 V7 I

Jazz Theory Resources


122 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

DOMINANT SEVENTH CHORDS & DECEPTIVE RESOLUTIONS

The most common deceptive resolution is V7 resolving to vi (a.). This element of surprise has been di-
minished because these deceptive resolutions have occurred with such frequency for the last few hun-
dred years. No one will hear these and be shocked. The deception is relative, but the terms and concepts
are useful. The deceptive resolution is the same in the parallel minor (b.). A V7 in a major key is also ef-
fective in the deceptive resolution to bVI of the parallel minor key.

a. b. c.
Dm7 G7 Am7 Dø7 G7 A bmaj7 Dm7 G7 A bmaj7
ii7 V7 vi7 ii7 V7 bVI ii7 V7 bVI
DIMINISHED SEVENTH CHORDS & DECEPTIVE RESOLUTIONS

Diminished seventh chords are the most often misunderstood and misspelled. Since they are related to
the dominant chords, they are often involved in deceptive resolutions. Diminished seventh chords can
only be found within the major/minor system as the vii°7 in minor. The classification of a vii°7, just like
the V7 chord and Route 66, does not change because of an irregular resolution. Diminished seventh
chords that resolve deceptively often get mislabeled and cause much confusion, but chords still func-
tion, as the V7 chords function above, even when resolving deceptively.

Diminished seventh chords sound and function as V7 chords in first inversion. The common deceptive
resolution in minor is V7 - bVI. Dominant seventh chords are often found in first inversion with the
third in the bass. The V7 in first inversion is often replaced by the vii°7 chord which creates the vii°7 -
bVI deceptive resolution. Listen in ex. 6.9 how the vii°7 resolves to i (G#°7 - Am) and then listen to the
vii°7 - bVI deceptive resolution (G#°7 - F). This diminished chord is one of the most misspelled chords. It
is often labeled Ab°7. This of course is an enharmonic spelling of the same pitches, yet it makes no
sense. If a diminished chord is from the seventh degree of a minor key, then Ab is the seventh degree of
Bbb minor, which is the key of twelve flats! The key of no sharps and flats is clearly preferable.

The vii°7, i, and bVI chord may occur in other inversions. In ex. 6.10 the vii°7 chord is shown resolving
to the i with both chords in first inversion. The second measure shows the vii°7 chord in first inversion
resolving to the bVI chord in second inversion. The vii°7 chord is still spelled G#-B-D-F, as it should be
in the key of A minor. When used in inversions, it is often misspelled. The G#°7/B below is often spelled
B°7 rather than G#°7. A pianist reading the B°7 may play the same enharmonic notes, but the misla-
beled chord confuses the function. A B°7 is the vii°7 of C minor which has nothing to do with these
progressions in the key of A minor.

The G#°7 chord in ex. 6.11 is often labeled F°7. Because of the bass note, it may be a convenient but in-
correct label. F°7 is the vii°7 of Gb minor, the key of nine flats; a long way from A minor.

6.9 6.10 6.11

vii°7 - i vii°7 - bVI6 vii°65 - i6 vii°65 - bVI64 vii°65 - i64 vii°65 - bVI

& ˙˙ ˙˙ ˙˙ # ˙˙˙ ˙˙ # ˙˙˙ ˙ # ˙˙˙ ˙ # ˙˙˙ ˙˙


# ˙˙
˙˙˙
# ˙˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙˙ ˙ ˙˙ ˙ ˙

Why is it important to name and spell the chords correctly? Ab°7, B°7, D°7, F°7 or G#°7 may sound the
sound the same, but will have completely different implications. Each of the G#°7 chords in ex. 6.9-6.11
are derived from the same scale (A harmonic minor), and spelling the chord correctly as a G#°7 makes

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 123

it easier to comprehend. Any other spelling invites confusion. It takes no more effort and time to cor-
rectly label a chord and it saves time on the interpretation of its function. However, be prepared to see
any number of enharmonic spellings in published and unpublished music.

The key of bVI is a closely related key in minor. A progression in A minor may move to the key of F
using the secondary ii7 and V7 chords. A minor may be tonicized by it own dominant.

Am E7 Am Gm7 C7 F
i V7 i ii7 V7 I
bVI
It is easy to see that E7 is the V7 of Am in the example above. Confusion arises when the E7 progresses
directly to the G minor (ii7/bVI). How can it be the V7 of Am if it does not resolve to A minor? It is the
same with all deceptive resolutions, it illustrates the “Route 66” principle in action. Even more confusion
is produced when the vii°7 (G#°7) chord is used in the place of the V7 chord. The bass line from A to
the G# to the G is very smooth. The principle of chromatics suggests the bass line should be written A -
Ab - G, and this is the reason this diminished chord is often spelled Ab°7. But no matter the enharmonic
spelling, the function of the diminished chord remains vii°7 of A minor. Some call this a passing dimin-
ished, and it does pass between the A minor and G minor chords, but it is vii°7 of A minor in both the
first and third measure of ex. 6.12 below.

6.12

œœœ œœ œœ # œœ ww œœœ œœ b œœœ œœ ww


& œ œ œ w œ œ w
i vii°7 i V7 i i vii°7 ii7/bVI V7/bVI I/bVI

? c œ #œ œ œ œ #œ nœ œ
w w

If these diminished seventh chords and their deceptive resolutions were isolated instances or always
confined to small rhythmic units, understanding their function would be less important. These dimin-
ished chords last for several beats in many settings and an improviser must understand their function in
order to effectively create melodies over the harmonic passages. If the diminished chord lasts for two
entire measures, it cannot be ignored. A strategy should be available for addressing these diminished
chords. Labeling the chords “passing diminished” offers nothing in the way of melodic resources for
dealing with the progression. Consider the following progression from a standard jazz bossa nova. The
first version is how it appears in many printed versions. The Ab°7 and the F°7 spellings reflect the bass
lines, but how and what should be played over the chords? Some have explained the Ab°7 is a passing
chord and that the F°7 is really just non-harmonic tones that resolve to the F major chord. Both as-
sessments are correct and yet neither offer a strategy for playing through the passage. The second pas-
sage spells both diminished chords as G#°7 which facilitates the understanding of its function in both
places as the vii°7 of A minor. It functions as vii°7 in both places even though resolving deceptively. If
the diminished chords are both derived from the A harmonic minor scale, then the A harmonic minor
scale is a source for melodic material.

6.13a Typical printed version:


Am7 ‘ Ab°7 Gm7 C7 F°7 Fmaj7

6.13b Accurate spellings indicate function:


Am7 ‘ G#°7 Gm7 C7 G#°7/F Fmaj7

Jazz Theory Resources


124 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

Transposing this progression to other keys may make it easier to understand. In Cm, which would you
rather see: Cm - Cb°7 - Bbm7 or Cm - B°7 - Bbm7? The B°7 is related to the Cm and not to the Bbm 7
chord that follows, just as the G#°7 is related to the Am.

6.13c Transposed to Cm:


Cm7 ‘ B°7 B bm7 E b7 B°7/A b Abmaj7

A vii°7 chord is useful as a secondary leading tone chord to modulate from I to the key of iii. In G, that
would be an A#°7 pointing to B minor. In ex. 6.14a, the A#°7 resolves deceptively back to the G. This
means the A# and C# act as leading tones or lower neighbor tones to the pitches from the G triad: B and
D. The A#°7 chord could have easily resolved to a B minor chord. This resolution is exactly the same
kind as seen in sixth measure of ex. 6.13a-c. Chord symbols for this passage might have read G°7 - G,
which would have been incorrect and misleading. A similar example of non-harmonic tones creating a
deceptive diminished chord resolving to I is often used in the beginning to Misty. It could be argued
that these chords are not actually deceptive in that many would not expect them to resolve in these con-
texts to the minor key from which these chords were derived. But understanding their relationship to the
harmonic minor source is important for identifying melodic material.

6.14 a b.
Mozart: Piano Sonata, K. 545, Andante Popular Cadence

#œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ
& 24 œœ œ
œ &Ó œ # # œœ # # # ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙

? 24 œ #œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ?Ó ˙
˙ w
R

Consider the enharmonic spellings carefully when labeling diminished chords. It may be sensible to la-
bel certain chords dictated by the logic of the bass line, but this also may cause confusion. Diminished
chords often occur that are misspelled vii°7 chords. Determining the functional relationship of the en-
harmonically spelled diminished chords will unlock melodic resources.

The following harmonic passage is found in many jazz standards. The Eb°7 spelling correctly reflects the
downward chromatic root movement and the internal line (G - Gb - F), but offers no clue to available
melodic resources. Spelling it as a vii°7 in the key of E minor suggests the E harmonic minor scale as a
melodic resource. How can it be vii°7/iii if there is no E minor around? The D#°7 is derived from the E
harmonic minor scale regardless of the resolution.

6.15
Typical incorrect spelling Correct spelling indicates function
I6 ??? ii7 I6 vii°7/iii ii7
C/E E b°7 Dm7 C/E D #°7 Dm7
ww b www ww
& w
w
ww w # www n www

? c ww b ww ww ww # ww n ww

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 125

The diminished chord in the second measure of ex. 6.15 can be proven to be the vii°7/iii by examining
it in context from different perspectives. Take the chord tones (D# - F# - A - C) and add the Bn found in
the melody. These together suggests a B7 in first inversion. If it were notated as a B7 it is doubtful any-
one would question it being the V7 of E minor. The five pitches suggested by the melody and the chord
symbol are two notes short of a scale: B - C - D# - ? - F# - ? - A. What kind of an E and G would fit with
the given five notes? Examining the surrounding chords leaves no doubt they should be E and Gn. The
resulting scale? B - C - D# - E - F# - G - A, all the notes of E harmonic minor.

The vii°7/iii chord may follow or precede the iii chord. When it follows the iii7 chord it may decep-
tively resolve to the ii7 chord in progressions like the following: In the first progression, the D#°7 seems
to clearly be the vii°7/iii as it resolves up to the Em7 chord. When ascending the D#°7 is the vii°7/iii, so
it is rational to conclude that it is the same chord when descending, regardless of its resolution. If a G7
that resolves deceptively to Am is still the V7 of C, then a D#°7 can be the vii°7/iii even when resolving
to Dm7.

6.16a D#°7 (vii°7/iii) with typical and deceptive resolutions:


Cmaj7 Dm7 – D#°7 Em7 – D#°7 Dm7 – G7 Cmaj7
I ii7 – vii°7/iii iii7 – vii°7/iii ii7 – V7 I

6.17b D#°7 (vii°7/iii) with deceptive resolutions:


Cmaj7 – Dm7 Em7 – D#°7 Dm7 – G7 Cmaj7
I – ii7 iii7 – vii°7/iii ii7 – V7 I

The vii°7/iii is used in place of the V7 chord in this progression, but it is not the V7 of I. When the ii7 -
V7 points back to the I chord and the iii7 chord is used in its place, the iii7 chord can then be preceded
by its dominant or dominant substitute. E7 (V7/iii) is the dominant of Am7 and G# °7 (vii°7/ii)i is a
dominant substitute.

6.18
Fmaj7 Gm7 – C7 Am7 OR Fmaj7 Gm7 – G#°7 Am7
I ii7 – V7 iii7 I ii7 – vii°7/iii iii7

This imposition of a vii°7/iii can be used whether or not the progression actually goes to the iii7 chord.
In this excerpt from a Charlie Parker improvisation, the G#°7 was used to progress to the I chord and not
the iii7 chord. Is it a vii°7/iii? If it is, then the notes necessary for modulation or tonicization would be
the Bn to change the key signature to no sharps or flats, and the leading tone G#. Parker plays those nec-
essary tones clearly and unambiguously.

6.19
F Gm7 #
G °7 F
œ
& b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ nœ œ œ œ Œ Ó

Jazz Theory Resources


126 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

VALUE & LIMITS of ROMAN NUMERAL ANALYSIS (RNA)


RNA should identify what is heard. It is not an abstract theoretical concept, but a tool explaining what is
experienced musically. As with all tools, there are limits to their use. A hammer is inefficient with a
screw and a screw driver will not drive a nail. Resist the temptation to force square pegs into round
holes. RNA is useful when analyzing music within the major/minor system. When chords are arranged
within functional harmony, i.e., harmony that functions to point to a tonic chord or pitch, then the RNA
identifies the key signatures and the basic melodic materials. RNA proves useful for a large body of mu-
sic including most of the jazz standards.

There is also a large body of music that was not conceived with functional harmony, and so RNA is the
wrong tool for analysis. If a composer has deliberately used harmony to obscure the sense of a tonal
center, then a system designed to describe how chords function to point to a tonal center will be of no
use. There are some compositions where there is a mixture of approaches: a section of the piece will
have no relation to functional harmony relying on color harmony or modes, followed by a section
where the harmony is quite traditional using ii7 - V7 progressions. To dissect this music, two or more
analytical tools may be needed. The first section of the book is concerned with establishing an under-
standing of the major/minor system which is used as a foundation for so much of the literature per-
formed by jazz artists. With the foundation established, the exceptions, additions and departures studied
in the second part of the book will make more sense.

Chords can also be built on many different scales and modes, and can be built using a wide variety and
mixture of intervals. These chords can be used to create music, but they are not necessarily functioning
in the major/minor system of which RNA is designed to define. Some of these other sounds will be ex-
plored in later chapters.

RNA is not just labeling each chord with a Roman numeral. This imparts no helpful information. If the
point is to label the chords, then use chord symbols. RNA is more useful in the practice room than on
the bandstand. When Roman numerals are used correctly, they identify all the important pitches that
imply the harmonic motion that may be used for melodic material. Used incorrectly, they are just num-
bers. If part of a progression includes chords from other keys, then modulation or tonicization has oc-
curred and the RNA should identify those new keys and the pitches necessary for modulation. The
pitches necessary for modulation are the most important source for harmonic specific melodies.

A progression like the one below cannot be in one key, because there is not one key that contains all
these chords. This example shows an incorrect use of Roman numerals. There cannot be F#ø7, B7 or A7
chords built using tones from the C major scale. The numbers reflect the proper intervals related to the
tonic pitch, but are erroneous and misleading. The symbol “#ivø7” indicates that the half-diminished
chord is from the raised fourth of C major. There is no raised fourth in C major! The “VII7” symbol
suggests there is a D# and a F# in the key of C, and the “VI7” is suggests the impossible C# in the key of C.
The symbols, if used correctly, should identify the keys. This progression cannot be from one key.

6.20 Incorrect RNA:


Cmaj7 F#ø7 – B7 Em7 – A7 Dm7 – G7 Cmaj7
I #ivø7 – VII7 iii7 – VI7 ii7 – V7 I

The symbols below disclose more useful information. The F#ø7 - B7 is identified as being from the key
of iii, E minor. D# and a F# then can be identified as the necessary tones needed to clarify this part of
the progression. Knowing that the A7 chord is not just a dominant chord built on the sixth degree of the
C major scale, but is the dominant of D minor, the key of ii, yields the necessary pitches C#, the leading
tone, and Bb from the key signature.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 127

6.21 Correct RNA:


Cmaj7 F#ø7 – B7 Em7 – A7 Dm7 – G7 Cmaj7
I iiø7 – V7 iii7 – V7/ii ii7 – V7 I
iii

RNA is a tool used to explain the aural experience of harmony. Anyone listening to the progression
above would know, upon hearing the F#ø7, B7 and A7 chords, that the key of C had been left behind.
Leaving the home key is what makes the music interesting, and listeners respond accordingly. RNA can
facilitate the understanding of these harmonic diversions. The most important part of understanding is
being able to hear these progressions, the pitches that determine the tonic key and the pitches that cre-
ate modulations to remote keys.

DOMINANT CHORD EXCEPTIONS


In the discussion of chord types and function, dominant chords were found only on the dominant pitch
of major or minor keys. They functioned to point down a fifth to those tonic chords regardless of actual
resolution. There are three other types of chords that will be encountered in jazz that sound like domi-
nant chords but do not function as a V7 in major or minor. A tritone substitution dominant chord is
the substitution of a dominant chord a tritone away from the actual dominant which resolves down a
half step in either major or minor keys. A chord which sounds like and is labeled a dominant seventh
chord built on the flatted sixth degree in minor and resolves to the dominant chord is related to the
traditional augmented sixth chord. A backdoor dominant deceptively resolves up a whole step to ma-
jor keys and is related to a plagal cadence.

TRITONE SUBSTITUTION

The dissonant augmented fourth interval between the fourth and seventh scale tones of a major or a
harmonic minor scale is called a tritone (from the three whole steps between the pitches). The tritone is
the major third and minor seventh of the dominant chord, and the active tones of the chord. The tri-
tone dissonance wants to resolve in contrary stepwise motion. At (a), the B pulls up to the tonic pitch C
and the F resolves down to the major or minor third.

6.22 (a) The tritone resolves in contrary stepwise motion:


G7 C G7 Cm

& ˙˙ ˙ ˙˙ ˙
˙ b˙
? ˙ ˙
˙ ˙
Two dominant chords a tritone apart share the same tritone (b). A G7 and a Db7 have the same third
and seventh, although inverted and with an enharmonic spelling. The F is the third of Db7 and the sev-
enth of G7; the Bn is the third of G7 and Cb is the seventh of Db7. If the Cb is spelled as a Bn, an interval
of an augmented sixth in created between the Db and the Bn. In jazz chord notation practice, this chord
is labeled a dominant seventh, as it sounds, rather than an augmented sixth chord as it may be spelled.
Since these two dominants share the same tritone, and the tritone still wants to resolve in contrary step-
wise motion, the Db7 chord can substitute for the G7 chord.

Jazz Theory Resources


128 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

6.22 (b) G7 and a Db7 share the same tritone.


G7 D b7 D b7 D b7 C D b7 Cm

& ˙˙ b ˙˙ ˙˙ ˙˙ ˙ ˙˙ ˙
3
7
7
3 ˙ b˙
?
A6

b˙ b˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙
˙
Any dominant chord may be replaced in a progression by the dominant chord a tritone away if its res-
olution is down a half step to the tonic chord. (It is not used in the progression where the dominant
moves to chords other than tonic). This is called tritone substitution.

6.22 (c) Tritone Substitution: Db7 may substitute for the G7


Dm7 G7 C Dm7 D b7 C

& ˙˙ ˙˙ w
w
˙˙ ˙˙ w
w
?˙ w ˙ b˙ w
˙
The tritone substitute dominant chord will often contain the actual dominant pitch. The dominant pitch
is critical in melodies as it helps extablish the tonality and its occurrence over the tritone substitute
dominant supports this melodic function. The inclusion of the dominant tone in a tritone substitute
dominant explains why it does not sound or function like a typical dominant. The tritone substitute
dominant does not want to resolve down a perfect fifth. The Db7 in the example below contains the
pitch “G,” which confirms its identity as the tritone substitute for the G7 chord. It is doubtful that anyone
listening to the passage would expect the Db7 to resolve to Gb major. It could be argued that the Db7
chord is actually an inverted G7 chord evidenced by the enharmonic spelling: G - B - Db - F.

6.23 Tritone substitute dominants that contain the dominant pitch:


Em7 A7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Em 7 E b7 Dm 7 D b7 Cmaj7

& œœ # œœ n œœœ œœ ww œœ b œœ œœœ œœœ w


œ w ww
?œ œ bœ
œ œ œ œ bœ
A4

w w

There is no traditional agreed upon RNA notation for a tritone substitution. There are symbols for
augmented sixth chords, but tritone substitute dominants do not behave as augmented sixth chords.
Augmented sixth chords commonly substitute for a ii7 or a IV chord and resolve to a dominant chord
so using the augmented sixth chord symbols here would be misleading. For the purposes of this book,
the symbol “TT7” will be used to indicate a tritone substitute dominant chord. The two progressions at
(c) above would then be: ii7 - V7 - I, and ii7 - TT7 - I.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 129

Knowing that dominant chords a tritone apart function in similar ways complicates the harmonic
analysis process by only a small degree. Until now in this discussion, a dominant chord was always a V7
pointing down a fifth to a tonic chord. Dominant chords substituting for V7 point down a half step to
the chord of resolution. It will be easy to determine the type of dominant by examining the context.

SECONDARY DOMINANTS & TRITONE SUBSTITUTION

A piece of music may modulate to closely related keys using secondary dominants. Any dominant
chord may have a tritone substitution. The tritone substitution chord is usually spelled in the easiest to
read enharmonic form, commonly avoiding chords like Fb7 and Bbb7. An example from the key of C
major is shown below.

TONIC KEY SECONDARY TRITONE NEW KEY


DOMINANT SUBSTITUTE
DOMINANT
C A7 E b7 D minor
C B7 F7 E minor
C C7 Gb7 F major
C D7 A b7 G major
C E7 B b7 A minor

Learn to recognize dominant chord paired with their tritone substitute chord and the home key to which
they point.

DOMINANT CHORD TRITONE SUBSTITUTE TONIC KEY


DOMINANT
(V7) (TT7) (I or i)
G7 D b7 C major & C minor
C7 Gb7 F major & F minor
F7 B7 Bb major & Bb minor
B b7 E7 Eb major & Eb minor
E b7 A7 A b major
D #7 A7 G # minor
A b7 D7 D b major
G#7 D7 C # minor
D b7 G7 G b major
C #7 G7 F# major & F# minor
F#7 C7 B major & B minor
B7 F7 E major & E minor
E7 B b7 A major & A minor
A7 E b7 D major & D minor
D7 A b7 G major & G minor

TRADITIONAL AUGMENTED SIXTH CHORDS

Good music theory should always describe the way the music sounds. One exception in traditional
music theory is the augmented sixth chord. It sounds like a dominant seventh but is labeled a sixth
chord because its spelling includes the interval of an augmented sixth. Adding to the confusion is that
three geographical labels are often attached to these chords. The augmented sixth chord is usually
found in first inversion.

Jazz Theory Resources


130 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

Historically, the entire concept of harmony came about as a result of melodic lines. The convergence of
linear materials evolved into the recognition of certain vertical sonorities, chords and finally harmonic
progressions. As certain sonorities occurred with more frequency, they became easier and necessary to
name. The dominant seventh was not considered a chord at one time, but the voice leading
circumstance of a dissonant passing tone (seventh) resolving to the third of the subsequent tonic triad.
As composers used the chord with more frequency and for longer durations, the vertical sonority
became the dominant seventh chord. Similar histories are true for most chords including the
augmented sixth chord. The augmented sixth chord was originally considered a circumstance of
chromatic voice leading between the IV or iv chords and the V7 chord and not an independent chord.

When the IV chord (a) is in first inversion, the fourth scale degree may move up chromatically while the
sixth degree moves chromatically down to the fifth degree, resolving to an octave. The interval between
the two chromatic passing tones is an augmented sixth (as shown between the Ab and F#). Though the
actual tertian spelling of the chord at (a) is F# - Ab - C, it sounds like an Ab7 chord without the fifth (Ab -
C - Gb). This type of augmented sixth chord is commonly labeled the “Italian sixth.” The “French sixth”
at (b) is often preceded by a iiø7 chord in second inversion. The fourth scale degree moves through a
chromatic passing tone to the fifth, creating the augmented sixth interval between the Ab and F#. The
tertian spelling of the chord is D - F# - Ab - C, but with the Ab in the bass, to a jazz musicians, it sounds
like an Ab 7 chord with a b 5 or a # 11. The “German sixth” is often preceded by a iv7 chord in first
inversion. The fourth scale degree again progresses through a chromatic passing tone to the fifth,
creating the augmented sixth interval. The resulting chord is spelled F# - Ab - C - Eb, but with the Ab in the
bass, sounds like an Ab7 chord (Ab - C - Eb - Gb). An augmented sixth chord can occur following its
sound-alike dominant seventh chord as in the modulation from C major to E minor shown at (d). The C
moves to C7, the V7/IV, but with the enharmonic change of the Bb to A#, the chord becomes a “German
sixth” leading to the cadence to E minor. The international labels are meaningless. There are many
examples in literature where all three of the defining notes are present melodically over the augmented
sixth chord. Example (e) is a virtual “Tour of Europe Sixth” chord.

6.24
(a) “Italian Sixth” (b) “French Sixth”

b b b ˙˙
(a) (b)

# ˙˙
& c ˙˙ ˙ ˙˙ n ˙œ œ w
# ˙˙ ˙ n ˙˙ ww w
V˙4
˙˙ ˙˙ ˙ ˙˙
4 A6 6

?c
IV 6 A6 V V7 I iiø 3 A6 V7
wi
bbb
A6

˙ b˙ ˙ ˙ w w

(c) “German Sixth” (d) “German sixth”


(d)
b n n n ˙˙ b œœ # œœ ˙˙
(c)

& b b c ˙˙ # ˙˙ ˙˙ n ˙œ œ w
w # ˙˙ ww
˙ ˙˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ œ A6œ ˙ #˙
A6

? b c ˙ ˙ ˙ w ww
bb w nnn ˙ œ œ ˙ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 131

(e) “Tour of Europe Sixth” Chord

6 œ œ bœ œ œ
&8 J ˙.
œœ ... #Gr/Fr/It
œœ .. ˙.
? 68 b œ œ. ˙˙ ..

The augmented sixth chord is relevant to jazz and occurs often in compositions in minor keys. Jazz
musicians, with the chord symbol shorthand notation, label the chord as it sounds, not as it may be
spelled in 17th and 18th century part writing. This chord is used in place of other pre-dominant chords
like the IV, iv7, ii7 and iiø7 as any augmented sixth chord. The sound of a dominant chord resolving
down a half step is related to the half step resolution of the tritone substitute dominant chord which also
has the augmented sixth interval. The concept of chord symbol notation is to aid musicians in quick
reading of the chord symbols. For this reason, this augmented sixth chord and the tritone dominant
substitute are often identified with the easiest enharmonic spelling, usually avoiding chords like Bbb7 in
favor of A7. The traditional notation of “A6” for augmented sixth, or some symbol indicating the
international names (#iv It, ii7Fr , #ivGr ) are not used by jazz musicians. These symbols would only cause
confusion in a jazz world. The “A6” might be confused with the A triad with an added F#. Since this
chord behaves as a tritone substitute dominant resolving down a half step, for analysis the symbol
“TT7” will be used for this book. For jazz shorthand chord notation, all of the augmented sixth chords
above (a-e) would be labeled as they sound: as Ab7 chords.

The augmented sixth chord could have presented simply as a dominant seventh chord that may resolve
down a half step to the dominant chord, but it is important to understand the historical background and
relationship of jazz music styles to those of other eras.

Complete the table below showing the typical pre-dominant - dominant resolving to minor progression.

Augmented Augmented
6th chord 6th chord
sounding like V7 i sounding like V7 i
a dominant a dominant
chord on bVI chord on bVI
F7 E7 A minor D # minor
D minor G # minor
G minor A7 G#7 C # minor
A b7 G7 C minor F# minor
F minor B minor
B b minor E minor
E b minor

Jazz Theory Resources


132 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

BACKDOOR DOMINANTS

A backdoor dominant is a dominant chord that deceptively resolves up a whole step to major keys. It is
often preceded by the IV chord. It may resolve to the iii7 or the I6 chords which often substitute for the I
chord in the middle of a progression.

A plagal cadence occurs when IV resolves to I as in “amen” shown at (a). Another plagal cadence is the
progression iv - I, or IV - iv - I at (b). The natural tendency for roots to descend in fifths suggests the
natural evolution of the IV chord resolving to a chord on the lowered seventh degree at (c) in place of
the iv chord. This chord then seems to resolve to the I chord from the backdoor.

6.25 Plagal Cadences


(a) (b) (c)
F C F Fm C F B b9 Cm aj7

& ˙˙ ˙˙ œœ œ ˙˙ œœ œ ˙˙˙
˙ ˙ œ b œœ ˙ œ b œœœ ˙
?˙ ˙
IV I IV iv I
˙ ˙ bœ ˙
œ
The backdoor dominant chord may also contain the interval of an augmented fourth above the root.
The major seventh of the IV chord is often retained in the backdoor dominant and anticipates the
major third of the tonic chord. This note is why the backdoor dominant typically resolves to major and
not minor. The Bb7 shown below will not sound like a V7 in the key of Eb because of the surrounding
context of C major and the En occurring in the chord. The chords below are shown with more extended
voicings. The F chord includes the major seventh and ninth. The Bb7 chord includes the 9 - #11 - 13. The
9 - #11 - 13 (C - E - G) of the Bb7 chord are the primary pitches of the upcoming tonic chord “C.” For
the purposes of this book, the symbol “BD7” will refer to this type of dominant chord. The Bb7 chord in
the second example is not a backdoor dominant. Backdoor dominants point to major keys and not
minor keys. In this typical deceptive cadence, the Bb7 would be heard as the V7 or Eb and the Cm7 as
vi7.

6.26
Backdoor Dominant with Extended Voicings V7 - vi7 Deceptive Cadence
Fm aj7
#
B b9 11 Cmaj7 Fm 9 B b13 Cm 9

&œœ œœ ˙˙˙ & b œœœœ œœ ˙˙˙


œœ œœ ˙ œœ ˙
?œ bœ ˙˙ ? bœ œ ˙˙
A4

œ bœ œ bœ

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions 133

Simple harmonic passages can be energized by the addition of tritone substitutions and backdoor
dominants.

6.27
Basic step progression: IV - iii7 - ii7 - Imaj7.
Fmaj7 Em7 Dm7 Cmaj7

& www ww
w
ww ww
w w
?w
IVmaj7 iii7 ii7 Imaj7
w w w

A iv7 chord (Fm7) can be borrowed from the parallel minor. The ii7 (Dm7) chord can be preceded by
its secondary dominant (A7 = V7/ii) and the tonic chord by the primary dominant (G7 = V7).

6.28
Fmaj7 Fm 7 Em7 A7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

& ˙˙˙ ˙
b b ˙˙
˙˙ b˙ ˙˙ ˙˙
# ˙˙
˙ ww
˙ ˙ w
?˙ ˙
IVmaj7 iv7 iii7 V7/ii ii7 V7 I maj7
˙ ˙ w
˙ ˙
The backdoor dominant (Bb7) can replace the borrowed iv7 chord. This backdoor dominant did not
resolve to the I chord, but moves to the substituting iii7 chord. The Eb7 is the tritone substitution for the
A7 and the Db7 for the G7.

6.29
Fmaj7 B b7 Em7 E b7 Dm7 D b7 Cmaj7

& ˙˙˙˙ b ˙˙˙˙ ˙˙˙


b ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙ ˙˙˙
˙ ww
w

IVmaj7 BD7 iii7 TT7/ii ii7 TT7 I maj7
b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ w

Jazz Theory Resources


134 Chapter 6 Harmonic Progressions

The addition of these special dominant chords allows for several possible cadences to the tonic major
or minor chord. This is a list of possible chords. Not all pre-dominant chords lead to all dominant
chords. The backdoor dominant is usually preceded by the IV or iv7 chord. A partial list of
combinations follows this chart.

PRE-DOMINANT CHORDS DOMINANT CHORDS TONIC CHORDS


IV V7 I
ii7 viiø7 (rare) i
iiø7 vii°7 I6 or iii as substitute for I
Augmented 6th chord on bII as
iv7 tritone substitute dominant (sometimes vi7 as deceptive
(TT7) resolution)
V7/V Backdoor dominant on bVII
as plagal cadence (BD7)
vii°7/v
6
vii° 5 /iii
bVImaj7
Augmented 6th chord sounding
like a dominant chord on bVI

PARTIAL LIST of CADENTIAL COMBINATIONS

Diatonic Chords: With Secondary Dominant (V7/V):


Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 D7 G7 Cmaj7
ii7 V7 I V7/V V7 I

With Secondary Dominant (V7/V)


Dø7 G7 Cm
& Tritone Substitution:
iiø7 V7 i
D7 D b7 Cmaj7
With Borrowed iiø7: V7/V TT7 I
Dø7 G7 Cmaj7
With Tritone Dominant Substitution
iiø7 V7 I
for Secondary Dominant:
With Tritone Dominant Substitution: A b7 G7 Cmaj7
D b7 TT7/V V7 I
Dm7 Cmaj7
ii7 TT7 I
A b7 G7 Cm
D b7 TT7/V V7 i
Dø7 Cm
iiø7 TT7 i
With Tritone Dominant Substitution
for Secondary Dominant & Dominant:
With Tritone Dominant Substitution
& Borrowed iiø7 chord: A b7 D b7 Cmaj7
D b7 TT7/V TT7 I
Dø7 Cmaj7
iiø7 TT7 I
A b7 D b7 Cm
Plagal Cadence with Backdoor Dominant: TT7/V TT7 i
Fmaj7 B b7 Cmaj7
IV BD7 I

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis 135

VII. HARMONIC ANALYSIS:


ROMAN NUMERAL ANALYSIS with COMMON JAZZ PROGRESSIONS

Practice identifying key areas using Roman Numeral Analysis in the following progressions. Begin by
labeling the diatonic chords of the primary key. Next, label secondary chords showing their relationship
to those primary diatonic chords. Label the form suggested by each progression (AABA, ABAB1, ABA,
Blues, etc.). List the necessary notes for modulation to the secondary keys. How do these notes relate to
the chords? Apply turnaround progressions in the last two measures of the forms when appropriate.
Progressions are numbered from a list used with theory classes Titles are not shown due to copyright
laws.

PROGRESSIONS that MODULATE to CLOSELY RELATED KEYS

Progression no. 1
Am7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am7 A7

Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 A7 Dm7 G7 Fm C E7

Am7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am7 A7

Dm7 G7 Eø7 A7 Dm7 G7 C ‘

Progression no. 2
C ‘ E7 ‘ A7 ‘ Dm7 ‘

Bø7 E7 Am7 ‘ D7 ‘ Dm7 G7

C ‘ E7 ‘ A7 ‘ Dm7 ‘

F Fm Em7 A7 Dm7 G7 C ‘

Jazz Theory Resources


136 Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis

Progression no. 5
Bb D7 Eb G7 Cm7 G7 Cm7 F7

Dm7 C#°7 Cm7 F7 Dm7 C#°7 Cm7 F7

Bb D7 Eb G7 Cm7 G7 Cm7 F7

Fm7 B b7 Eb C #°7/E B b/F G7 Cm7 F7

TURNAROUND TUNES

Progression no. 7
F D7 Gm7 C7 Am7 Dm7 Gm7 C7

F D7 Gm7 C7 Am7 Dm7 Cm7 F7

B bmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 G bmaj7 Em7 - A7 Dmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 G bmaj7 Gm7 - C7

F D7 Gm7 C7 - Bb7 Am7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 F ‘

Progression no. 8
C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 Em7 - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C - Am7 Dm7 - G7

C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 Em7 - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C Gm7 - C7

Fmaj7 - E7 A7 - D7 G7 - C7 B7 - E7 Fmaj7 - E7 A7 - D7 G7 - C7 D7 - G7

C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 Em7 - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C ‘

The harmonic progression from the Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm is used for hundreds of jazz compositions
including Oleo, Moose the Mooche, Cottontail, Anthropology and many others, is also based on a
turnaround progression. Several versions of the harmonic possibilities for “rhythm changes” will be
considered in chapter 8.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis 137

PROGRESSES TO IV with SECONDARY ii7/IV - V7/IV

Progression no. 9
E bmaj7 Bbm7 - Eb7 A bmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7

E bmaj7 Bbm7 - Eb7 A bmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7 Eb - Db7 Eb

B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 A bmaj7 Aø7 D7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7

E bmaj7 Bbm7 - Eb7 A bmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7 Eb - Db7 Eb

See also progression no. 10 under remote modulations, p. 140.

PROGRESSES to vi with SECONDARY iiø7/vi - V7/vi

Progression no. 11
Fmaj7 Eø7 - A7 Dm7 - G7 Cm7 - F7 Fm7 - Bb7 Aø7 - D7 G7 Gø7 - C7

Fmaj7 Eø7 - A7 Dm7 - G7 Cm7 - F7 Fm7 - Bb7 Aø7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 Fmaj7

Cm7 F7 B bmaj7 B bmaj7 Ebm7 A b7 D bmaj7 Gø7 - C7

Fmaj7 Eø7 - A7 Dm7 - G7 Cm7 - F7 Fm7 - Bb7 Aø7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 Fmaj7

Progression no. 12 Blues with “Pretty Chords” or “West Coast” Blues


Fmaj7 Eø7 - A7 Dm7 - G7 Cm7 - F7 B bmaj7 Bbm7 - Eb7 Am7 - D7 Abm7 - Db7

Gm7 C7 F - Dm7 Gm7 - C7

Progression no. 13
E bmaj7 ‘ Dø7 G7 Cm7 (F7) B bm7 E b7

A bmaj7 D b7 E bmaj7 ‘ Cm7 F7 Fm7 B b7

E bmaj7 ‘ Dø7 G7 Cm7 (F7) B bm7 E b7

A bmaj7 D b7 E bmaj7 Aø7 - D7 E bmaj7 Gø7 - C7 Fm7 - Bb7 E bmaj7

Jazz Theory Resources


138 Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis

USES SECONDARY vii°7 CHORDS

Progression no. 14
F - F#°7 Gm7 - G#°7 Am7 - F7 Bbmaj7 - Eb7 Am7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 A7 - D7 G7 - C7

F - F#°7 Gm7 - G#°7 Am7 - F7 Bbmaj7 - Eb7 Am7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 Fmaj7 Bb7 Ebm7 -
A b7

D bmaj7 - Ebm7 - Ab7 Fm7 - Bbm7 Ebm7 - Ab7 D bmaj7 B bm7 Gm7 C7
B bm7

F - F#°7 Gm7 - G#°7 Am7 - F7 Bbmaj7 - Eb7 Am7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 Fmaj7 ‘

Progression no. 15
F F#°7 Gm7 G#°7 F B bmaj7 Aø7 D7

Gm7 E b7 F Eø7 - A7 Dm7 G7 Gm7 C7

F Aø7 - D7 Gm7 Bø7 - E7 F B bmaj7 Aø7 D7

Gm7 E b7 F Am7 - D7 Gm7 C7 F ‘

USES CYCLE of SECONDARY DOMINANTS

Progression no. 16
G7 ‘ ‘ ‘ C7 ‘ ‘ ‘

F7 ‘ ‘ ‘ Bb Cm7 - F7 Bb Aø7 - D7

G7 ‘ ‘ ‘ C7 ‘ ‘ D7

Gm Aø7 - D7 Gm Aø7 - D7 Bb G7 C7 - F7 Bb

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis 139

Progression no. 17
D7 - G7 C - Fmaj7 B7 - E7 A7 - Dm7 Dm7 G7 Am7 - D7 Dm7 - G7 C - A7

D7 - G7 C - Fmaj7 B7 - E7 A7 - Dm7 Dm7 G7 Am7 - D7 Dm7 - G7 C - F#ø7-B7

E - C#m7 F#ø7 - B7 G#m7- F‹°7 F#m7 - B7 E - C#m7 F#ø7 - B7 E7 - A7 Dm7 - Ebm7

- Em7 - E b7

D7 - G7 C - Fmaj7 B7 - E7 A7 - Dm7 Dm7 G7 Am7 - D7 Dm7 - G7 C

Progression no. 18 B SECTION of RHYTHM CHANGES


D7 ‘ G7 ‘ C7 ‘ F7 ‘

CHORDS BORROWED from PARALLEL MINOR

Progression no. 19
Gø7 C7 Fm ‘ Dø7 G7 C ‘

Gø7 C7 Fm ‘ Dø7 G7 C ‘

Cm7 F7 B bmaj7 ‘ A b7 ‘ G7 ‘

Gø7 C7 Fm ‘ Dø7 G7 C ‘

Progression no. 20
Gø7 C7 Fmaj7 D7 Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 Fmaj7

Gø7 C7 Fmaj7 Bø7 - E7 Amaj7 Bm7 - E7 Amaj7 C

Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 ‘ Aø7 D7 G7 C7

Gø7 C7 Am7 D7 Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 ‘

Jazz Theory Resources


140 Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis

TUNES with SIMILAR A SECTIONS

There are several tunes which share the same common A Section. A partial list with their usual keys
includes: Take the “A” Train (C & Ab), O Pato (D), Girl from Ipanema (F & Db), Lucky Southern (D),
and Watch What Happens (Eb & F).

Progression no. 21.Common A section


C ‘ D7 ‘ Dm7 G7 C ‘

MODULATES to REMOTE KEYS

Progression no. 22
Bb ‘ Aø7 D7 Gm7 C7 Fm7 B b7

E bmaj7 ‘ Ebm7 A b7 D bmaj7 ‘ C #m7 F#7

Bmaj7 ‘ Cø7 F7 Dm7 D b7 Cm7 F7

Progression no. 10
B bmaj7 (F7) Fm7 B b7 E bmaj7 ‘ A b7 ‘

B bmaj7 ‘ C7 ‘ Cm7 G7 Cm7 F7

B bmaj7 (F7) Fm7 B b7 E bmaj7 ‘ A b7 ‘

B bmaj7 ‘ C7 ‘ Cm7 F7 B bmaj7 ‘

C #m7 F#7 Bmaj7 ‘ Bm7 E7 Amaj7 ‘

Am7 D7 Gmaj7 ‘ Gm7 C7 Cm7 F7

B bmaj7 (F7) Fm7 B b7 E bmaj7 ‘ A b7 ‘

B bmaj7 ‘ C7 ‘ Cm7 F7 B bmaj7 ‘

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis 141

Progression no. 23
Fm7 B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 D bmaj7 Dø7 - G7 Cmaj7 ‘

Cm7 Fm7 B b7 E bmaj7 A bmaj7 Aø7 - D7 Gmaj7 ‘

Am7 D7 Gmaj7 ‘ F#ø7 B7 Emaj7 C7

Fm7 B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 D bmaj7 Gb7 A b/ C B°7

B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 (Gø7 - C7)

Five Common Tunes: All Twelve Keys

A well prepared jazz musician can play in all twelve keys. These five commonly called jazz tunes require
knowledge of all twelve keys: All the Things You Are (4bs, 0#s or bs, 3bs, 1#, & 4#s), Cherokee (2bs, 3bs, 1b, 5#s,
3 #s, & 1#), Body & Soul (5bs, 2#s, & 0#s or bs), ‘Round Midnight (6bs, 5bs, 3#s, 4bs, & 4#s) and Joy Spring
(1b, 4bs, 6bs, 3#s, 1#, & 3bs).

PROGRESSIONS SHOWN with RNA

PROGRESSIONS that MODULATE to CLOSELY RELATED KEYS

The leading tone of the key of vi (G#) is needed in mm.6-7 and mm.22-23. The leading tone C#, and a Bb
are needed to tonicize the key of ii in mm.8, 16, and 27-28. The plagal cadence at m.15 (iv - I) requires at
least an Ab and suggests an Eb for the first two beats. The form is ABAB1 . The first phrase of progression
no. 1 appears again in progression no. 23 in two other keys. It also is found in the Mozart excerpt in ex
7.1.

Progression no. 1
Am7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am7 A7
vi7 ii7 V7 I IV iiø7/vi V7/vi vi7 V7/ii
Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 A7 Dm7 G7 Fm C E7
ii7 V7 I V7/ii ii7 V7 iv - I V7/vi
Am7 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am7 A7
vi7 ii7 V7 I IV iiø7/vi V7/vi vi7 V7/ii
Dm7 G7 Eø7 A7 Dm7 G7 C ‘
ii7 V7 iiø7/ii V7/ii ii7 V7 I

Jazz Theory Resources


142 Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis

7.1 Mozart: Piano Sonata, K.545, Allegro


œœœœ œ
œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œœœ œ œ œ œ œœœœ œ œ# œ œ
&c ≈ Œ ≈ Œ ≈ Œ ≈œ œœœ Œ
vi7 ii7 V7 I IV œ œ œ œ V7/vi
iiø7/vi vi7
œœ
ii
œ œœ #œ
?c œ Œ ≈ œœœœ Œ ≈ œœ Œ ?≈ Œ ≈ œ œn œ œ œ ˙
& œ œœ œ œ œœ œ œ œ

The E7 in m.3 of progression no. 2 points to A minor and needs the G# , the leading tone of A minor. It
does not resolve to the A minor, but to an A7, the V7 of D minor. The A7 requires a Bb from the key
signature and C# leading tone. The D7 in m.13 is the V7 of G, needing an F#, although it never resolves
to G, instead changes to a minor 7 chord becoming the ii7. The A7 chord in m.28 would normally be
labeled V7/ii, which is where it actually resolves. However, the melody note at this point in the piece is a
Bn, suggesting A7 is the dominant of D major and not D minor. The form is ABAC.

Progression no. 2
C ‘ E7 ‘ A7 ‘ Dm7 ‘
I V7/vi (G # ) V7/ii ii7
(Bb , C# )

Bø7 E7 Am7 ‘ D7 ‘ Dm7 G7


iiø7/vi V7/vi (G# ) vi V7/V (F # ) ii7 V7
C ‘ E7 ‘ A7 ‘ Dm7 ‘
I V7/vi V7/ii ii7
(Bb , C# )

F Fm Em7 A7 Dm7 G7 C ‘
IV iv iii7 V7/II* ii7 V7 I
(F# , C# )

The form for progression no. 5 is ABAB1 .

Progression no. 5 is often misunderstood because of several deceptive resolutions. The D7 in m.2 is the
V7/vi even though it resolves up the IV chord. In G minor, the most common deceptive resolution is V -
bVI, which is D7 - Ebmaj7. These same two chords occur here, but instead of V - bVI in G minor, it is
V7/vi - IV in the relative Bb major. Only one note changes: Fn to F#. With Bb in the melody, the D7 chord
is often labeled a D7#5. The A# (#5) and the Bb (b13) are same pitch with an enharmonic spelling, but A#
is senseless in the context of G minor or Bb. An augmented fifth wants to resolve up: A# - Bn, but the
melody moves down Bb - An, the kind of resolution associated with a b13.

The G7 in m.5 is also often labeled G7#5 because of an Eb in the melody. This contradiction leads to
confusion. Since there is no D# in this context, and there is an Eb, it makes more sense to label the chord
a G7b13. The chord functions as the V7 in C minor, and the Eb melody note and the b13 chord designa-
tion reflect this.

The C#°7 in m.10 also causes much confusion. Since the bass moves down, the chord is often spelled
Db°7. The C# is a better choice than Db since the chord is the secondary leading tone chord in the key of
D minor and calls for a C# and an En. Db°7 would be the leading tone chord in the key of Ebb minor with

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis 143

a key signature of thirteen flats! Some argue that this chord is a passing diminished chord and does not
function as a leading tone chord in D minor since it does not resolve to D minor. It does pass between
Dm and Cm, but labeling it a passing diminished gives no information about its harmonic function,
necessary alterations, or any suggestions for melodic resources. The functional relationship of C#°7 to
the Dm7 suggests the altered En and C# tones. This is the “Route 66” principle again: a chord may re-
solve somewhere other than where it points. A dominant chord usually points to, but may follow a tonic
chord. Dm moved to C#°7 just as the Cm moved to its dominant G7 in mm.5-6. The F7 in m.12 is still
the dominant of Bb even though it resolves to Dm7. An An in the melody further illustrates the relation-
ship of the C#°7 to the key of D minor. The notes of the diminished chord added to the melody note
form the notes of an A7b9 chord (A - C# - En - G - Bb). These five notes are two notes shy of a scale, miss-
ing only some kind of a D and a F. The logical choices to fill out the scale are Dn and Fn, being in the
key of Bb major and following a D minor chord. Add the notes implied by the melody, the chord sym-
bol and the context together and you have the D harmonic minor scale (A - Bb - C# - D - En - F - G - A).

Another deceptive resolution is rarely questioned. No one questions whether F7 is the V7 chord in the
key of Bb major even though in mm. 8-9 and mm. 11-12 the F7 resolves to a Dm7. For some, it is easier
to accept deceptive dominant than deceptive diminished resolutions.

The diminished chord in m. 28 is often spelled as E°7. This makes the bass line easy to see, but may
cause confusion in the analysis. Recognizing it as C#°7/E, a diminished chord in first inversion, reveals
its function as vii°7/iii, a closely related secondary chord. E°7 suggests vii°7/v, and F minor, with four
flats is a very remote key and completely out of context. An E°7 and a C#°7 share the same enharmonic
pitches (E-G-Bb-Db/C#) but sound the same only when taken out of context. It is important to remember
that these chords occur in a musical contexts and must be analyzed accordingly. A C#°7 is the vii°7 of
Dm, a closely related key to Bb. The third in the bass puts the vii°7 in first inversion, the most typical set-
ting of a vii°7 chord in traditional music.

Learn to recognize the possible functions of diminished chord no matter how they are spelled and no
matter where they resolve. The correct identification identifies the smoothest note choices. Every time a
diminished chord is encountered a process of elimination could be applied to determine the logical
melodic resources. Understanding the value of RNA can save time, realizing that in most cases a dimin-
ished chord, whether it occurs as a leading tone resolving traditionally, as a passing diminished, or a
diminished resolving deceptively, the chord is derived from the seventh degree of a harmonic minor
scale.

Progression no. 5
Bb D7 E bmaj7 G7 Cm7 G7 Cm7 F7
I V7/vi IV V7/ii ii7 V7/ii ii7 V7
(F#) (Ab, B n)
Dm7 C#°7 Cm7 F7 Dm7 C#°7 Cm7 F7
iii7 vii°7/iii ii7 F7 iii7 vii°7/iii ii7 F7
(En, C#)
Bb D7 Eb G7 Cm7 G7 Cm7 F7
I V7/vi IV V7/ii ii7 V7/ii ii7 V7
Fm7 B b7 Eb C #°7/E B b/F G7 Cm7 F7
ii7/IV V7/IV IV vii°7/iii I V7/ii ii7 V7

Jazz Theory Resources


144 Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis

TURNAROUND TUNES

These tunes are based on the common cycle progression I - vi7 - ii7 - V7, and its most common varia-
tion, I - V7/ii - ii7 - V7. This progression is often used at the end of a form to turnaround back to the top
of the form. This turnaround progression could be used in the last two measures of progression no. 7 to
avoid having eight beats of F then repeating to the top of the form for another F chord. The turnaround
progression is shown in mm. 31-32. Most of progression no. 7 stays in the key of F utilizing the
turnaround chords. The challenge to the progression is the bridge which goes to the close key of IV (Bb),
and then to the remote keys of Gb and D. The form is AABA.

Progression no. 7
F D7 Gm7 C7 Am7 Dm7 Gm7 C7
I V7/ii ii7 V7 iii7 vi7 ii7 V7
F D7 Gm7 C7 Am7 Dm7 Cm7 F7
I V7/ii ii7 V7 iii7 vi7 ii7/IV V7/IV
B bmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 G bmaj7 Em7 - A7 Dmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 G bmaj7 Gm7 - C7
IV ii7-V7 I/bII ii7-V7 I/VI ii7-V7 I/bII ii7-V7
bII VI bII
F D7 Gm7 C7 - Bb7 Am7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 F - (D7 Gm7 - C7)
I V7/ii ii7 V7 TT7/iii iii7 V7 ii7 - V7 I - (V7/ii ii7-V7)
ii

Progression no. 8 is the one that every child in America seems to know on the piano and plays with this
accompaniment.

7.2

&cŒ œœœ œœœ Œ œœœ œœœ Œ Œ


œœœ œœœ
‰ jœ œ ‰ j œ ‰ j ‰ j
œ
œœœ œœœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
?c œ œ Œ
œœ Œ œœ
Œ œœ Œ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙

Progression no. 8
C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 Em7 - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C - Am7 Dm7 - G7
I - vi7 ii7 - V7 I - vi7 ii7 - V7 iii7 - vi7 ii7 - V7 I - vi7 ii7 - V7
C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 Em7 - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C Gm7 - C7
I - vi7 ii7 - V7 I - vi7 ii7 - V7 iii7 - vi7 ii7 - V7 I ii7 - V7
IV
Fmaj7 - E7 A7 - D7 G7 - C7 B7 - E7 Fmaj7 - E7 A7 - D7 G7 - C7 D7 - G7
IV - V7/vi V7/ii - V7 - V7/IV V7/iii - IV - V7/vi V7/ii - V7 - V7/IV V7/V - V7
V7/V V7/vi V7/V
C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C - Am7 Dm7 - G7 Em7 - Am7 Dm7 - G7 C ‘
I - vi7 ii7 - V7 I - vi7 ii7 - V7 iii7 - vi7 ii7 - V7 I

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis 145

Every child knows the melody to the A section of progression no. 8, but few seem to know the bridge.
There is an interesting cycle of dominants in the bridge that point to different closely related keys with-
out actually getting to those keys. Each dominant resolves to the correct root, but each chord quality is
changed to a dominant which propels the progression forward. There are two descending chromatic
lines a tritone apart suggested by this progression.

1. E7 = V7/vi, the G# is required as the leading tone to Am.


2. A7 = V7/ii, the C# is the leading tone to D minor.
3. D7 = V7/V, the F# is from the key signature of G major.
4. G7 = V7, the Fn is from the key signature of C major.
5. C7 = V7/IV, the Bb is from the key signature of F major.
6. B7 = V7/iii, the D# is from the key signature of E minor.
7. E7 = V7/vi, the G# is required as the leading tone to Am.

7.3
E7 A7 D7 G7 C7 B7 E7

& c # ˙˙ n # ˙˙ # ˙˙ n ˙˙ b ˙˙
# ˙˙ n # ˙˙
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
?c ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙

PROGRESSES to IV with SECONDARY ii7/IV - V7/IV

The backdoor dominant in mm4 resolves to the iii7, a tonic chord substitute. The form is AABA.

Progression no. 9
E bmaj7 Bbm7 - Eb7 A bmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7
I ii7 - V7 IV iv7 - BD7 iii7 - vi7 ii7 - V7 iii7 - vi7 ii7 - V7
IV
E bmaj7 Bbm7 - Eb7 A bmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7 Eb - Db7 Eb
I ii7 - V7 IV iv7 - BD7 iii7 - vi7 ii7 - V7 I - BD7 I
IV
B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 ‘ Aø7 D7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7
ii7/IV V7/IV IV iiø7/iii V7/iii iii7 - vi7 ii7 - V7
E bmaj7 Bbm7 - Eb7 A bmaj7 Abm7 - Db7 Gm7 - Cm7 Fm7 - Bb7 Eb - Db7 Eb
I ii7 - V7 IV iv7 - BD7 iii7 - vi7 ii7 - V7 I - BD7 I
IV

See also progression no. 10 under remote modulations, p. 149.

Jazz Theory Resources


146 Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis

PROGRESSES to vi with SECONDARY iiø7/vi - V7/vi

The form is AABA.

Progression no. 11
Fmaj7 Eø7 - A7 Dm7 - G7 Cm7 - F7 Fm7 - Bb7 Aø7 - D7 G7 Gø7 - C7
I iiø7-V7 vi7 - V7 ii7-V7 ii7-V7 iiø7-V7 V7/V iiø7-V7
vi V IV bVII ii i
Fmaj7 Eø7 - A7 Dm7 - G7 Cm7 - F7 Fm7 - Bb7 Aø7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 Fmaj7
I iiø7-V7 vi7 - V7 ii7-V7 ii7-V7 iiø7-V7 ii7 - V7 I
vi V IV bVII ii
Cm7 F7 B bmaj7 B bmaj7 Ebm7 A b7 D bmaj7 Gø7 - C7
ii7/IV V7/IV I/IV I/IV ii7/bVI V7/ bVI I/bVI iiø7-V7/i
Fmaj7 Eø7 - A7 Dm7 - G7 Cm7 - F7 Fm7 - Bb7 Aø7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 Fmaj7
I iiø7-V7 vi7 - V7 ii7-V7 ii7-V7 iiø7-V7 ii7 - V7 I
vi V IV bVII ii

The form is twelve measure Blues.

Progression no. 12 Blues with “Pretty Chords” or “West Coast” Blues


Fmaj7 Eø7 - A7 Dm7 - G7 Cm7 - F7 B bmaj7 Bbm7 - Eb7 Am7 - D7 Abm7 - Db7
I iiø7-V7 vi7 - V7 ii7-V7 IV vi7 - V7 vi7 - V7/ii vi7 - V7
vi V IV bIII bII
Gm7 C7 F - Dm7 Gm7 - C7
ii7 V7 I - vi7 ii7 - V7

The form is ABAB1 .

Progression no. 13
E bmaj7 ‘ Dø7 G7 Cm7 (F7) B bm7 E b7
I iiø7/vi V7/vi vi7 (V7/v) ii7/IV V7/IV
A bmaj7 D b7 E bmaj7 ‘ Cm7 F7 Fm7 B b7
IV BD7 I vi7 V7/V ii7 V7
E bmaj7 ‘ Dø7 G7 Cm7 (F7) B bm7 E b7
I iiø7/vi V7/vi vi7 vi7 ii7/IV V7/IV
A bmaj7 D b7 E bmaj7 Aø7 - D7 E bmaj7 Gø7 - C7 Fm7 - Bb7 E bmaj7
IV BD7 I iiø7 - V7 I iiø7 - V7 ii7 - V7 I
iii ii

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis 147

USES SECONDARY vii°7 CHORDS

The form is AABA. The B section modulates the remote key of bVI. bVI (Db, 5bs) is closely related to the
parallel F minor (4bs).

Progression no. 14
F - F#°7 Gm7 - G#°7 Am7 - F7 Bb - Eb7 Am7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 A7 - D7 G7 - C7
I - vii°7/ii ii7 - iii7 - V7/IV IV - BD7 iii7 - V7/ii ii7 - V7 V7/vi - V7/V - V
vii°7/iii V7/ii
F - F#°7 Gm7 - G#°7 Am7 - F7 Bb - Eb7 Am7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 Fmaj7 Bb7 Ebm7 - Ab7
I - vii°7/ii ii7 - iii7 - V7/IV IV - BD7 iii7 - V7/ii ii7 - V7 I - V7/bvii ii7 - V7
vii°7/iii bVI
D bmaj7 - Ebm7 - Ab7 Fm7 - Ebm7 - Ab7 D bmaj7 B bm7 Gm7 C7
B bm7 B bm7
I - vi7 ii7 - V7 iii7 - vi7 ii7 - V7 I vi7 ii7 V7
bVI bVI bVI bVI bVI bVI
F - F#°7 Gm7 - G#°7 Am7 - F7 B bmaj7 - Am7 - D7 Gm7 - C7 Fmaj7 ‘
E b7
I - vii°7/ii ii7 - iii7 - V7/IV IV - BD7 iii7 - V7/ii ii7 - V7 I
vii°7/iii

The form is ABAB1 .

Progression no. 15
F F#°7 Gm7 G#°7 F B bmaj7 Aø7 D7
I vii°7/ii ii7 vii°7/iii I IV iiø7/ii V7/ii
Gm7 E b7 F Eø7 - A7 Dm7 G7 Gm7 C7
ii7 BD7 I iiø7 - V7 vi7 V7/V ii7 V7
vi
F Aø7 - D7 Gm7 Bø7 - E7 F B bmaj7 Aø7 D7
I iiø7 - V7 ii7 iiø7 - V7 I IV iiø7/ii V7/ii
ii iii
Gm7 E b7 F Am7 - D7 Gm7 C7 F ‘
ii7 BD7 I iii7 - V7/ii ii7 V7 I

Jazz Theory Resources


148 Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis

USES CYCLE of SECONDARY DOMINANTS

The form is ABAC.

Progression no. 16
G7 ‘ ‘ ‘ C7 ‘ ‘ ‘
V7/II V7/V
F7 ‘ ‘ ‘ Bb Cm7 - F7 Bb Aø7 - D7
V7 I ii7 - V7 I iiø7-V7
vi
G7 ‘ ‘ ‘ C7 ‘ ‘ D7
V7/II V7/V V7/vi
Gm Aø7 - D7 Gm Aø7 - D7 Bb G7 C7 - F7 Bb
vi iiø7-V7 vi iiø7-V7 I V7/ii V7/V - V7 I
vi vi

The form is AABA The end of the second A section points to the closely related key of E minor, but the
B section is in E major.

Progression no. 17
D7 - G7 C - Fmaj7 B7 - E7 A7 - Dm7 Dm7 G7 Am7 - D7 Dm7 - G7 C - A7
V7/V - V7 I - IV V7/iii - V7/ii - ii7 ii7 - V7 vi7 - V7/V ii7 - V7 I - V7/ii
V7/vi
D7 - G7 C - Fmaj7 B7 - E7 A7 - Dm7 Dm7 G7 Am7 - D7 Dm7 - G7 C - F#ø7-B7
V7 V7 V7 V7 I ii7 - V7 I I - iiø7-V7
iii
E - C#m7 F#ø7 - B7 G#m7- F‹°7 F#m7 - B7 E - C#m7 F#ø7 - B7 E7 - A7 Dm7 -
Ebm7 -
Em7 - Eb7
I-vi7 iiø7-V7 iii/III - ii7-V7/III I-vi7 iiø7-V7 V7/vi - ii7 - ii7/bII -
III iii vii°7/#v III iii V7/ii iii7 - TT7/ii
D7 - G7 C - Fmaj7 B7 - E7 A7 - Dm7 Dm7 G7 Am7 - D7 Dm7 - G7 C
V7/V - V7 I - IV V7/iii - V7/ii - ii7 ii7 - V7 vi7 - V7/V ii7 - V7 I
V7/vi

Progression no. 18 B SECTION of RHYTHM CHANGES


D7 ‘ G7 ‘ C7 ‘ F7 ‘
V7/VI V7/II V7/V V7

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis 149

CHORDS BORROWED from PARALLEL MINOR

The form is AABA.

Progression no. 19
Gø7 C7 Fm ‘ Dø7 G7 C ‘
iiø7 V7/iv iv iiø7/i V7/i I
Gø7 C7 Fm ‘ Dø7 G7 C ‘
iiø7 V7/iv iv iiø7/i V7/i I
Cm7 F7 Bb ‘ A b7 ‘ G7 ‘
ii7/bVII V7/bVII I/bVII TT7/V V7/i
Gø7 C7 Fm ‘ Dø7 G7 C ‘
iiø7 V7/iv iv iiø7/i V7/i I

The form is ABCD. The B and D sections could be labeled variations of the A section.

Progression no. 20
Gø7 C7 Fmaj7 D7 Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 ‘
iiø7/i V7/i I V7/ii ii7 V7 I
Gø7 C7 Fmaj7 Bø7 - E7 Amaj7 Bm7 - E7 Amaj7 ‘
iiø7/i V7/i I iiø7-V7 I/III ii7-V7 I/III
iii III
Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 ‘ Aø7 D7 G7 C7
ii7 V7 I iiø7/ii V7/ii V7/V V7
Gø7 C7 Am7 D7 Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 ‘
iiø7/i V7/i iii7 V7/ii ii7 V7 I

SIMILAR A SECTION

Progression no. 21 Common A section


C ‘ D7 ‘ Dm7 G7 C ‘
I V7/V ii7 V7 I

MODULATES to REMOTE KEYS

Twenty four measure cycle progression. Internal harmonic sequencing help establish form.

Progression no. 22
Bb ‘ Aø7 D7 Gm7 C7 Fm7 B b7
I iiø7/vi V7/vi vi7 V7/V ii7/IV V7/IV
E bmaj7 ‘ Ebm7 A b7 D bmaj7 ‘ C #m7 F#7
IV ii7/bIII V7/bIII I/bIII ii7/bII V7/bII
Bmaj7 ‘ Cø7 F7 Dm7 D b7 Cm7 F7
I/bII iiø7/i V7 iii7 TT7/ii ii7 V7

Jazz Theory Resources


150 Chapter 7 Harmonic Analysis

The form is AABA. B section wanders through several remote keys.

Progression no. 10
B bmaj7 (F7) Fm7 B b7 E bmaj7 ‘ A b7 ‘
I (V7) ii7/IV V7/IV IV BD7
B bmaj7 ‘ C7 ‘ Cm7 G7 Cm7 F7
I V7/V ii7 V7/ii ii7 V7
B bmaj7 (F7) Fm7 B b7 E bmaj7 ‘ A b7 ‘
I (V7) ii7/IV V7/IV IV BD7
B bmaj7 ‘ C7 ‘ Cm7 F7 B bmaj7 ‘
I V7/V ii7 V7 I
C #m7 F#7 Bmaj7 ‘ Bm7 E7 Amaj7 ‘
ii7/bII V7/bII I/bII ii7/VII V7/VII I/VII
Am7 D7 Gmaj7 ‘ Gm7 C7 Cm7 F7
ii7/VI V7/VI I/VI ii7/V V7/V ii7 V7
B bmaj7 (F7) Fm7 B b7 E bmaj7 ‘ A b7 ‘
I (V7) ii7/IV V7/IV IV BD7
B bmaj7 ‘ C7 ‘ Cm7 F7 B bmaj7 ‘
I V7/V ii7 V7 I

The form is AABA. The second A section is in a different key and the last A section is extended by four
measures.

Progression no. 23
Fm7 B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 D bmaj7 Dø7 - G7 Cmaj7 ‘
vi7 ii7 V7 I IV iiø7 - V7 I/VI
vi
Cm7 Fm7 B b7 E bmaj7 A bmaj7 Aø7 - D7 Gmaj7 ‘
vi7/V ii7/V V7/V I/V IV/V iiø7 - V7 I/VII
vii
Am7 D7 Gmaj7 ‘ F#ø7 B7 Emaj7 C7
ii7/VII V7/VII I/VII iiø7/ bVI V7/ bVI I/bVI V7/vi
Fm7 B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 D bmaj7 Gb7 A b/ C B°7
vi7 ii7 V7 I IV BD7 I vii°7/iii
B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 (Gø7 - C7)
ii7 V7 I iiø7 - V7
vi

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 151

VIII. Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds


Harmonic progressions in a jazz performance are very liquid and pliable. Many commonly performed
jazz standard tunes have no agreed upon “correct” set of chords. Comparing several performances or
recordings will reveal different harmonic progressions for the same tune. The differences may vary
greatly depending on the artist and the arranger. Experienced artists may change the harmonic progres-
sion from chorus to chorus during a single performance; the harmony used as a developmental device
for creating more or less tension in the course of the performance. The progression may change within
a single performance, shifting between complex and simple. Assumptions about the “correct” set of
chords to a particular piece are usually based on the first source experienced. First sources include old
style lead sheets, legal or illegal fake books, and recordings of a specific artists. Harmonic preferences
and even standard keys for some tunes change for different regions of the world usually determined by a
influential group of local musicians. The creative approach of a single well-known artist may influence
the harmonic choices for many. Ironically, the most often played progressions, including blues and
“rhythm changes,” may have the most harmonic variations rather than having an authoritative agreed
upon harmonic framework.

Before there were legal “fake” books, illegal versions could be purchased from various sources.
Published sheet music typically had three lines: one for the melody and lyric, plus the two line staff easy
piano arrangement. Earlier sheet music might have included simplified chord symbols for guitar, banjo
or ukulele above the top line. “Fake” books were made by cutting off the top melodic line of music with
whatever limited chord symbols appeared. These skeletal pieces were pasted two tunes to the page and
put together into books used by working musicians. Working musicians expanded the sparse harmonic
vocabulary in performances by inserting extra chords progressing from one primary point to another.
The limitations of ukulele and banjo led to many omissions and some confusing looking chord symbols.
A progression marked F - G7 for the ukulele or guitar might have actually been Dm7 - G7 in the piano
part; the D bass note having been cut off for the “fake” book version. A iiø7 - V7 to the key of A minor
might appear as Dm6 - E7 in the banjo chords. The Dm6 shares the same notes as the Bø7, and with a B
in the bass in the cut off piano part would sound like a Bø7. As musicians played these tunes over the
years, much of the original harmony was “improved,” new substitutions were added and passed on ei-
ther from new lead sheets, arrangements, or through the oral traditions.

Compare several legal copyrighted versions of standard jazz tunes today and a number of different of
“correct” versions of the chord changes emerge. Any creative, experienced jazz performer will have a
personal approach to many of these common progressions.

A jazz performer must have the tools to master the elastic state of jazz harmony. These tools include un-
derstanding formula progressions that can be applied to sections of standard jazz tunes and strategies
for enhancing lead sheet progressions. Several versions of the same progressions are compared below
addressing practical applications of harmony. These principles will then be applied to the most com-
mon forms played by jazz musicians: the blues and rhythm changes. All of the harmonic considerations
in this chapter will be confined to the major/minor system. There are other harmonic possibilities that
can be addressed only after acquiring a thorough understanding of the major/minor system.

Jazz Theory Resources


152 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

TURNAROUND PROGRESSIONS
I . Turnarounds to Tonic (I)

Many progressions end with two measures of the tonic chord and begin again on the same
tonic chord. This creates twelve or more beats of the same static sound. Several other
chords may be placed in this area which create motion to replace the static harmony. The
new progressions are called “turnarounds” as they turn the piece around the top of the
form. There are many tunes that are based on a variation of these turnaround progressions.
Try to determine the accidentals necessary in these turnarounds.

Static harmony: the last two measures of the form and the first measure all on the tonic chord begs for
harmonic motion to replace the static harmony.

C C
I I

Additional harmony is inserted in a passage by working backwards from the targeted resolution. The
tonic chord (C) at the top of the chart can be preceded with its diatonic ii7 and V7 (Dm7 - G7) in the
final measure. The root motion of downward fifths is strong.

C Dm7 G7 C
I ii7 V7 I

Backing up one more place in the progression allows the insertion of vi7 which creates a longer passage
of downward fifth root motion: vi7 - ii7 - V7 - I.

C Am7 Dm7 G7 C
I vi7 ii7 V7 I

Secondary dominant chords can replace diatonic chords. The vi7 chord can be replaced by a V7/ii; the
ii7 chord can be replaced by the V7/V. Secondary dominants produce more forward motion by intro-
ducing chromatic voices that briefly point away from the primary tonal center.

C A7 D7 G7 C
I V7/ii V7/V V7 I

A secondary leading tone chord can be used in place of a secondary dominant chord. The C#°7, the
vii°7/ii, creates a chromatically ascending bass line which returns to the downward fifth motion with the
ii7 - V7 - I.

C C#°7 Dm7 G7 C
I vii°7/ii ii7 V7 I

A dominant chord may be replaced by its tritone substitute dominant when the dominant chord is re-
solving down a fifth. If the dominant chord is resolving deceptively, as ii - V7 - vi, a tritone substitute
dominant would not appropriate. The roots of a sequence of tritone substitutions may progress in
downward fifths The bass line and the chromatic harmony create motion which points away and ulti-
mately resolves back to the tonic chord.

C E b7 A b7 D b7 C
I TT sub for V7/ii TT sub for V7/V TT sub for V7 I

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 153

Progression in countless thirty-two measure forms and the blues resolve back to the tonic chord in the
last two measures and begin again on the same tonic chord. The resolution to the tonic chord in those
final two measures can be avoided by using the iii7 chord or the I6 chord as a substitute for I. The iii7
chord leads well to the vi7 or V7/ii7 chords with descending fifth root motion. The iii7 chord leads
chromatically to the tritone substitute for V7/ii. A descending chromatic bass line can be created by
substituting iii7 for I, and using the tritone substitutes for V7/ii and V7 as shown below.

Em7 E b7 Dm7 D b7 C
iii7 TT sub for V7/ii ii7 TT sub for V7 I

E7 is the V7/vi and can also be inserted in the progression to avoid the tonic chord. If the tonic chord
tones are sounded over the E7, they create colorful upper extensions (C= b13, E = Root, G = #9 of E7). A
descending chromatic bass line is shown below using all dominant chords.

E7 E b7 D7 D b7 C
V7/vi TT sub for V7/ii V7/V TT sub for V7 I

E7 can also have a tritone substitution. Bb7 may be a long way from the tonic chord, but it may sound
interesting as the C triad over the Bb7 chord yields other colorful upper extensions (C = 9, E = #11, G =
13 of Bb7). The progression below has a bass line of descending fifths using all tritone substitute domi-
nants.

B b7 E b7 A b7 D b7 C
TT sub for V7/vi TT sub for V7/ii TT sub for V7/V TT sub for V7 I

A chromatic bass line can be created using a combination of tritone substitution, secondary dominants
and the dominant.

B b7 A7 A b7 G7 C
TT sub for V7/vi V7/ii TT sub for V7/V V7 I

The vii°7/iii can be used deceptively in this turnaround.

Cmaj7 or Em7 D#°7 Dm7 G7 C


I or iii7 vii°7/iii ii7 V7 I

Chords from the parallel minor can be used for a color change. The diatonic major chords, vi7 - ii7 -
V7, are replaced by corresponding chords from the parallel minor. The fundamental G7 chord will
sound the same but would have different upper extensions. The lowered third and sixth degrees of the C
minor scale yield the b13 and b9 over the G7.

Cmaj7 A bmaj7 Dø7 G7 (b13 b9) C


I bVI/i iiø7/i V7/i I

This is not a commonly used turnaround, but is possible and may inspire an arrangement or composi-
tion.

Cmaj7 Am7 Fmaj7 or Fm7 B b7 C


I vi7 IV or iv/i Backdoor deceptive I
resolution

An artist may use a different turnaround progression within the performance of a tune. Different
turnarounds may be chosen for different emotional or structural moments in the solo. In a four chorus
improvisation on a jazz standard progression in Bb major, Keith Jarrett used three different turnarounds.

Jazz Theory Resources


154 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

At the end of the first chorus Jarrett played only two chords over the dominant pedal note F. This re-
strained the forward motion for a moment before releasing it at the top of the second form.

B bmaj7/F C bmaj7/F Bb
Over dominant I
pedal

At the end of the second chorus he used this diatonic progression:

B bmaj7 Gm7 Cm7 F7 Bb


I vi7 ii7 V7 I

As the solo built to the more climactic third chorus, Jarrett changed only the second chord. Jarrett’s
melodic material over this turnaround was a flurry of sixteenth notes.

B bmaj7 G7 Cm7 F7 Bb
I V7/ii ii7 V7 I

The last turnaround set up the end of the solo and Jarrett returned to the diatonic progression and
slowed the rhythmic activity of the melodic material to help the improvisation come to a close.

B bmaj7 Gm7 Cm7 F7 Bb


I vi7 ii7 V7 I

I I . Turnarounds to Supertonic (ii)

Pieces may end with a tonic chord in the last two measures of the form and may begin on
the ii7 chord. Many compositions will at some point modulate from the key of I to the key
of ii. The following progressions are possible for that temporary modulation.

Any chord can be preceded by its dominant and its ii7 or iiø7 chord. The insertion of these chords in-
troduces chromatic pitches which point away from the tonic chord and point the progression towards
the ii7 chord. The root motion is strong utilizing descending fifths.

Cmaj7 Eø7 A7 Dm
I iiø7/ii V7/ii ii

The strong downward fifth root movement from I to IV can precede the iiø7/ii - V7/ii - ii7 progression.
The half-step resolution from IV to iiø7/ii is strong. The F chord is a common chord between the key of
C (as IV) and the key of D minor (as bVI).

Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Eø7 A7 Dm


I IV iiø7/ii V7/ii ii

A diatonic iii7 chord can be used instead of the iiø7/ii. This delays pointing to the ii7 chord (V7/ii) un-
til the last moment in this progression. The iii7 chord may be preceded by its dominant.

Cmaj7 B7 Em7 A7 Dm
I V7/iii iii7 V7/ii ii

A chromatic bass line can be created by using a series of secondary tritone substitute dominants.

Cmaj7 B7 B b9 A7 Dm
I V7/iii TT sub for V7/vi V7/ii ii

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 155

A strong downward fifth bass line through a series of tritone substitutions finally resolves to the ii7
chord in the following turnaround progression.

Cmaj7 F9 B b9 E b9 Dm
I TT sub for V7/iii TT sub for V7/vi TT sub for V7/ii ii

III. Turnarounds to Submediant (vi)

Pieces may end with a tonic chord in the last two measures of the form and may begin on
the vi7 chord. There are several tunes whose bridge or middle sections modulate to the key
of vi. The following progressions modulate from the key of I to the key of vi.

The most common approach is to precede the vi7 chord with its iiø7 and V7.

Cmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am
I iiø7/vi V7/vi vi

The strong downward fifth movement from I to IV often precedes the iiø7/vi - V7/vi. The downward fifth
motion continues from IV to iiø7/vi and is still strong even though F to Bn is a diminished fifth.

Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bø7 E7 Am


I IV iiø7/vi V7/vi vi

The IV chord can be made into a dominant chord, which makes it a tritone substitute for the V7/iii. This
chord occurs countless times in traditional music and might then be labeled an augmented sixth chord
with any number of international titles (French, Italian, German).

Cmaj7 F9 E7 Am
I TT sub for V7/iii V7/vi vi

By using the tritone substitute for the V7/vi, a bass line of descending fifths can be created that resolves
down a half-step to the vi chord.

Cmaj7 F9 B b9 Am
I TT sub for V7/iii TT sub for V7/vi vi

IV. Turnarounds to Subdominant (IV)

While rarely found at the beginning of tunes, many tunes modulate to the IV chord at
significant points in the form. Here are typical turnaround modulating from the key of I
to the key of IV.

Key changed by inserting the ii7/IV - V7/IV.

Cmaj7 Gm7 C7 F
I ii7/IV V7/IV IV

Sliding chromatically to the ii7/IV. The chromatic Ab m7 chord is not as much functional as it is a
chromatic passing chord, but would probably sound like the ii7/bV.

Cmaj7 Am7 - (Abm7) Gm7 C7 F


I vi - (ii7/bV) ii7/IV V7/IV IV

Jazz Theory Resources


156 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

A chromatic bass line can be created using tritone substitute and secondary dominants.

Cmaj7 A b7 G7 Gb7 F
I TT sub for V7/v V7/IV TT sub for V7/IV IV

Cmaj7 D b7 C7 F
I TT sub for V7/IV V7/IV IV

IV. Turnarounds to mediant

Tunes rarely begin on a iii chord, but many tunes modulate to the key of iii at the bridge or
other sections. The following progressions modulate from the key of I to the key of iii.

Root movement down in thirds produces a smooth transition as adjacent chords share three pitches.
The simple triad (1-3-5) becomes the 3-5-7 of the next, so that the C triad (C-E-G) becomes the 3-5-7 of
the Am7 chord; the A minor triad (A-C-E) becomes the 3-5-7 of the F# ø7 chord. The iiø7/iii - V7/iii
points the iii chord.

Cmaj7 Am7 F#ø7 B7 Em


I vi iiø7/iii V7/iii iii

The tonic chord could change to a dominant quality and then progress to the V7/iii as shown below. In
this instance, the C7 does not function as the V7/IV, but as an augmented sixth chord or a tritone substi-
tute for the V7/vii.

Cmaj7 C7 B7 Em
I Augmented 6th V7/iii iii
chord or TT sub
for V/vii

APPLICATION to STANDARD PROGRESSIONS


There are only two rules in music theory: (1) Does it sound good; and (2) does it sound good. With
those rules in mind, principles for reharmonization would include:

• The harmony supports the melody. Do not force harmony onto a piece that does not serve
the melody. I witnessed a pianist trying to get a singer to change the melody notes of an old
standard to fit a reharmonization. There is no good reason to impose incompatible har-
mony onto a melody, no matter how interesting the progression.

• Certain additions or deductions of harmony will alter the mood. Keep in mind what the fo-
cus should be at any given moment in the piece before altering the harmony.

• There are certain significant junctures that may be expected within the form of a standard
tune. For instance, some kind of chord built on the fourth degree is expected in m.5 of the
blues. Figure out what can and cannot change within a tune before getting carried away with
substitutions.

The standard progression is shown below with four different harmonic settings. The top line is straight
from very old lead sheet. The second and third lines are from different recently published versions. The
last line is how I personally might play it.

The passing Gm chord, which was probably in first inversion with Bb in the bass in the original sheet
music, does not show at all in the recent versions. I have added the Bb7 chord (acting as a TT7/vi),

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 157

which enhances the bass motion down to the A7. None of the recent versions use the V7/V in m.2 rely-
ing on the unaltered ii7 chord. All of the modern versions feature some kind of a turnaround to get to
the ii7 chord coming up in m.5. The Fmaj7 and the Dm7 chords in m.3 are similar sounding and work
to progress to the iii7 chord in m.4.

Progression no. 31
Cmaj7 Gm A7 ’ D7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ C dim.

Cmaj7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ Fmaj7 ’ Em7 ’ A7 ’


Cmaj7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ Dm7 ’ Em7 ’ A7 ’
Cmaj7 Bb7 A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ Fmaj7 ’ Em7 ’ A7 ’
1 (or D#°7)

The F chord in the original lead sheet at m.5 was probably a Dm7 chord with a D in the bass of the pi-
ano arrangement, but that part was cut off to make the fake books. The tonic chord has been replaced by
the iii7 chord in two versions. In the bottom line there is a descending bass line to the root of the iii7
chord. All versions used typical turnaround progressions to get back to the tonic chord that begins the
repeat of the A section in m.9.

Progression no. 31
Fmaj7 ’ ’ ’ G7 ’ ’ ’ C ’ A7 ’ F ’ G7 ’
Dm7 ’ ’ ’ G7 ’ ’ ’ Em7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’
Dm7 ’ ’ ’ G7 ’ ’ ’ C ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’
Dm7 ’ ’ ’ G7 ’ G/F ’ Em7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’
5

The biggest harmonic differences between the versions occur in the bridge of the tune. The F chord in
m.17 is commonly replaced by Dm7. The D#°7 is labeled by two other names: C dim. and Eb°7. D#°7, the
vii°7 of iii, is the most logical label. The three modern versions use Dm7 in place of the F at the begin-
ning of the next phrase and prepare for it with the secondary dominant, A7 (V7/ii).

Progression no. 31
F ’ G7 ’ C ’ C dim. ’ F ’ G7 ’ C ’ ’ ’
Dm7 ’ G7 ’ Em7 ’ Eb°7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ A7 ’
Dm7 ’ G7 ’ Em7 ’ Eb°7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ A7 ’
Dm7 ’ G7 G/F Em7 ’ D#°7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ A7 ’
17

Jazz Theory Resources


158 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

The modern versions use a Dm7 in place of the F at m.21. There are three choices for arriving at the
Am7. The first and third versions use the deceptive V7 - vi7 cadence with no preparation for the A mi-
nor area. The second version uses the iiø7/vi7 - V7/vi, strong because of the descending fifths in the
bass line. The bottom version uses a chromatic bass line moving from the G7 (V7) to the G#°7 (vii°7/vi).

Progression no. 31
F ’ G7 ’ Am ’ C ’ B7 ’ ’ ’ E ’ G7 ’
Dm7 ’ Bø7 E7 Am7 ’ Am/G ’ F#m7 ’ B7 ’ Emaj7 ’ G7 ’
Dm7 ’ G7 ’ Am7 ’ Am/G ’ F#m7 ’ B7 ’ Emaj7 C#m7 Dm7 G7

Dm7 ’ G7 G#°7 Am7 ’ Am/G ’ F#ø7 ’ B7 ’ Emaj7 ’ Dm7 G7


21

The following compares the bridge from a sheet music version to a possible reharmonization. Both ver-
sions begin on F and land on the Dm7 chord in m.3. The reharmonization approaches the Dm7 by de-
scending fifths. A7 is the secondary dominant (V7/ii) which suggests using Em7 (iii7) or I in first inver-
sion instead of the I chord. If Em7 is used in place of I, then it can be tonicized by the iiø7/iii - V7/iii
progression. The F chord, as IV in the key of C, shares the same third, fifth and seventh with the F#ø7 so
the only change between those chords is in the bass line.

Progression no. 32 chords from sheet music


F ’ ’ ’ C ’ C#°7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ ’ ’
F#ø7 B7
1

F ’ Em7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ Bø7 E7

Listen to the descending bass line in m.5 in the lower staff. Both versions agree at the Am7, Em7, D7, G7
and the C in the second phrase. The lower version has more motion with the added iiø7/iii - V7/iii, the
V7/ii, the vii°7/iii, and the iii7 - V7/ii - ii7 - V7 leading back to the tonic chord.

Progression no. 32 chords from sheet music


Am ’ ’ ’ Em ’ ’ ’ D7 ’ ’ ’ G7 ’ ’ ’ C

F#ø7 D#°7 ’
5

Am Am/G B7 Em7 ’ A7 ’ D7 ’ Em7 A7 Dm7 G7 C

A common substitution in jazz performance is to use a iiø7 - V7 or a ii7 - V7 in place of the vii°7 from
old published versions. Many performers considered the diminished seventh chord to be old fashioned
compared with the “new and improved bebop ii7 - V7” progression. In progression no. 33, neither the
G#°7 nor the Bm7 - E7 point to the Gm7. The Bm7 - E7 functions the same a G#°7, pointing to the key of
A or A minor. This G#°7, the vii°7/iii, is often found resolving to a ii7 chord. The Bbmaj7 keeps the bass
moving down in fifths.

Progression no. 33
G#°7 ’ ’ ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’ Fmaj7 ’ ’ ’ Eø7 ’ A7 ’ Dmaj7

Bm7 ’ E7 ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’ Fmaj7 ’Bbmaj7 ’ Eø7 ’ A7 ’ Dmaj7


In progressions no. 34, the G#°7 is replaced with a change of quality. The Abm7 and The G#°7 share the
same root and third, but have different qualities because of the difference between the perfect fifth of
the Abm7 and the diminished fifth of the G#°7. The Abm7 - Db7 does not point the same place as the
G #°7, but creates a chromatic side-slipping passage from the Am7 to Abm7 and finally the Gm7. The
chords slip down by half step, but the Abm7 and Db7 chords are from the key of Gb, a half step above F.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 159

Progression no. 34
B bmaj7 ‘ B bm7 E b7 Fmaj7 ‘ G#°7 ‘ Gm7

B bmaj7 ‘ B bm7 E b7 Am7 ‘ A bm7 D b7 Gm7

A diminished seventh chord and a iiø7 - V7 point to a minor key and can be used interchangeably. In
an actual performance there may be no way to tell the difference. The soloist may be thinking one pro-
gression and the bass player another as both sets of chords share the same pitches and those pitches
point to the same minor key. This common passage may be thought of in either of the two ways shown
or both ways simultaneously. The G#°7 or the Bø7 - E7 point to the ii7 chord Am7. The A#°7 or the C#ø7
- F#7 point to the iii7 chord Bm7. Sometimes, instead of resolving to the iii7 chord Bm7, the I chord G
major in first inversion may occur in this passage as a deceptive resolution of the F#7.

Progression no. 15
Gmaj7 ’ ’ ’ G#°7 ’ ’ ’ Am7 ’ ’ ’ A#°7 ’ ’ ’ Bm7

Gmaj7 ’ ’ ’ Bø7 ’ E7 ’ Am7 ’ ’ ’ C#ø7 ’ F#7 ’ Bm7

Jazz performers often reharmonize simple passages from the original published versions of jazz stan-
dards. These extra chords create more motion and add color. The original version of progression no.
35 has the tonic chord lasting for two measures before moving to the ii7 chord. A more commonly per-
formed version utilizes a turnaround progression to the ii7 chord: I - IV - iii7 - V7/ii - ii7. Instead of the
ambiguous A diminished, the iiø7/iii - V7/iii chords are commonly used in the fourth measure and
point to a Dm7 (iii7) chord in m.5.

Progression no. 35
Bb ’ ’ ’ ‘ Cm7 ’ G7 ’ A dim. ’ ’ ’
Bbmaj7 ’ Ebmaj7 ’ Cm/Bb
1

Dm7 ’ G7 ’ Cm7 ’ ’ Eø7/A ’ A7 ’


In order to keep the progression moving and sustain the dissonance, the I chord is often avoided in the
middle of a progression. If the progression leads back to the tonic chord too soon or too often, it be-
comes commonplace. If the return to tonic has been averted by using other chords, tonicizations and
substitutions, then when the music finally returns to tonic it will be all the more potent. It retains more
of its strength from not being overused. Imagine a trip around the block: how much would you miss
home if gone only a few minutes? Weeks on the road will make someone long for home again. You must
depart in order to return. If the I chord is heard in the first measure, again in the fifth, and again at the
repeat of the first section at m.9, the impact of the tonic chord will be lessened.

At m.5 of progression no. 35, the original sheet music called for a return to the tonic chord. The use of
the iii7 (or a I chord in inversion) saves the return to tonic for the next phrase. The D7 is a secondary
dominant which points to the vi7 chord. The Db9 chord is a tritone substitute to for the V7/ii (G7) and
points to the Cm7 chord. The Cø7 is a borrowed chord from the parallel key of Bb minor and adds an-
other dimension of color to the progression. Setting up a cadence to Bb minor is another way of
strengthening the resolution to major in the second eight measure phrase. The lowered pitches sug-
gested by the borrowed iiø7/i chord create a darker sound which will make the ultimate resolution to
major sound brighter than it would have coming from the diatonic ii7 - V7 chords Cm7 - F7.

Progression no. 35
Bb ’ ’ ’ Gm7 ’ ’ ’ Cm7 ’ ’ ’ F7 ’ ’ ’
Db9 Cø7/Gb
5

Dm7 ’ D7 ’ Gm7 ’ ’ Cm7 ’ ’ ’ ’ F7 ’

Jazz Theory Resources


160 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

Many passages lend themselves to multiple reharmonizations. Four versions are shown below for
mm.13-16 of progression no. 35. This is the end of the B section that leads back to the A section and the
tonic Bb chord. The top line is from an old lead sheet version; the other three are from published or
performance variations. All four begin with Gm and end with F7, but are quite different in between.

The second line reinforces the Gm7 in m.13 by using its dominant D7. The V7/V, C7 never resolves to F,
but instead changes chord quality from a dominant to a minor 7 and becomes the diatonic ii7 chord,
Cm7. The Cm7 - G7 - Cm7 in mm.15-16 mirrors the earlier passage Gm7 - D7 - Gm7. The ii7 chord,
Cm7, is then followed by the F7, the dominant which prepares the return to tonic.

The third line path is the same as the second line until the C7, the V7/V. The C7 moves to a C#°7, the
vii°7/iii, setting up the last two measure turnaround iii7 - V7/ii - ii7 - V7. The C7 and the C#°7 share the
same third, fifth and seventh so only the bass note changes. The C7 points to the key of F (1b) and then
the C#°7 points to the key of D minor (1b plus the leading tone C#).

The fourth line begins with a descending bass line to the Eø7. The last three measures utilizes a circle of
fifth root progression with iiø7 - V7 of iii, iii - V7/ii and then the ii7 - V7 leading back to the I chord. In
the second measure, the Dm7 (iii) is tonicized sooner by the Eø7 and A7 than it was in the third line.

Progression no. 35
Gm ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ F7 ’ ’ ’ F7 ’ ’ ’
13

Gm ’ D7 ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’ Cm7 ’ G7 ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’


Gm ’ D7 ’ Gm7 ’ C7 C#°7 Dm7 ’ G7 ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’
Gm ’ Gm/F ’ Eø7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’
Sometimes an old lead sheet version is so simple it not only allows, it demands reharmonization. The I
chord in progression 36 below lasts four measures and then the vi7 chord appears suddenly without
preparation. While there is nothing wrong with this, at slow and medium tempos the lack of motion can
impair the momentum of the piece (and may be interpreted by some to be a bad musical joke at the
expense of a beautiful composition). A few moving chords can create motion to keep the progression
alive. Working backwards, the E7, V7/vi prepares the Am7 chord. The diatonic ii7 - V7 chords can antic-
ipate the short return of tonic in the fourth measure. To prepare the ii7 chord a typical I - IV - iii7 -
V7/ii could be considered. Why then is the D#°7 used instead of the A7, the V7/ii? The melody must al-
ways be considered when reharmonizing. There is a Bn in the melody in the second half of m.2 that con-
traindicates the use of an A7. The A7, as the V7 in the key of D minor suggests the key of one flat (Bb).
The vii°7/iii resolving deceptively, as it often does, to the ii7 chord provides chromatic color and satis-
fies the Bn in the melody. With Bn in the melody over the D#°7, it will sound like a B7b9 in first inversion.
How can that point to Dm7? It does not point to Dm7, but is logical as a chord following the Em.

Progression no. 36
C ’ ’ ’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Am ’ ’ ’
1

Cmaj7 ’ Fmaj7 ’ Em7 ’ D#°7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ C ’ E7 ’ Am ’ ’ ’


(Dm7)

The melody is the most important factor when consideration any harmonic setting. The second con-
cern should be with the bass line and its relationship to the melody. Most of the progressions dealt with
so far have had chords only in root position. The bass lines have been considered with emphasis on the
typical downward fifth progressions like V7 - I and ii7 - V7 - I. There are times when the use of an inver-
sion can create interest in a harmonic progression that supports the melody. The commonly played

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 161

version on the top line of progression no. 6 serves the melody and is itself interesting enough. The
lower version has a descending step line in the bass: F - E - (A) - D - Db - C - B - Bb - A. Both progres-
sions arrive at the Aø7 but by different paths. The lower version uses two chords over a pedal F, the
dominant of Bb in m.9. The F bass note easily moves down a step to the Eø7. The A7 chord interrupts
the step line briefly but resolves to Dm7, the next note in the descending line. The Dm7 moves to
Dbmaj7, to keep the bass line moving down in steps. The Dbmaj7 is related to the Bbm7 chord (and may
be heard as a Bbm in first inversion) and moves easily to the F chord in second inversion. The F/C mir-
rors the Bb/F chord in m.9 and continues the step line. The C bass note moves to the Bn and Bb, creating
two different quality G chords (G major and Gø7) and then steps down chromatically to the Aø7.

Progression no. 6
Bb ’ ’ ’ Eø7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ ’ ’ Bbm7 ’Eb7 ’
9

Cb/F Bb/F ’ ’ Eø7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ ’ ’ Dbmaj7 ’ ’ ’


Fmaj7 ’ ’ ’ Gm7 ’ C7 C/Bb Aø7 ’ ’ ’ D7 ’ ’ ’ G7 ’ ’ ’
13 (Eø7 ’ A7 ’)
Gb/C F/C ’ ’ G/B ’ Gø7/Bb ’ Aø7 ’ ’ ’ D7 ’ ’ ’ G7 ’ ’ ’
Not all harmonic substitutions are interchangeable. A pianist cannot assume the bass player will imagine
all of his inventive substitutions and the soloist cannot assume the piano player will know or hear what
unusual substitutions he has practiced. Many basic substitutions will cause little conflict, and if so, only
for short episodes. For example, there is no real difference between a V7/ii and a vii°7/ii. If there are to
be major departures from the normal progressions, then some consultation should occur before the
performance. However, the band as a unit should be listening to each other for subtle changes and al-
terations, being sensitive to each role and the overall character of the music.

There are times when the soloist will impose substitute harmony over a progression with or without the
rhythm section. These work as linear substitutions. The chords and lines are working on different levels
to point to a particular place. Things may not always agree vertically between the improvised line and
the rhythm section, but dissonances will resolve in a linear manner.

This is a typical turnaround progression found in blues, rhythm changes, and many other tunes. The
Am7 could be a substitute for the I chord in the middle of repeating the progression.

F D7 Gm7 C7 Am7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
With Am7 as the goal, the C7 (V7) could be replaced by G#°7 (vii°7 of iii).

F D7 Gm7 G#°7 Am7


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
The progression could return to the F in first inversion instead of the Am7 and would still sound good.
The two chromatic tones suggested by the G#°7, the G# and the Bn, will resolve to the A and C whether
chord is an F or Am7.

F D7 Gm7 G#°7 F/A


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
Charlie Parker used the harmonic substitution from above in the following excerpt from a blues impro-
visation. The rhythm section may not have had time to adjust or predict the G#°7 chord. The bass player

Jazz Theory Resources


162 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

could have played a C7 and resolved to Am7 and the lines still work. There are two chromatic voices
suggested by this passage which are shown below the melodic line.

G #°7
œ
F Gm7 F

& b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ nœ œ œ œ

& b ww ˙˙ # n ˙˙ ww

A similar linear substitution occurs in this example from Dexter Gordon. Is the last part of this progres-
sion V7 - I (F7 to Bb) or is it A7 or C#°7 pointing to Dm7 or pointing to Bb in first inversion?

Bb Gm7 Cm7 F7 Bb 3
b
&b c œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ #œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

Adding more harmonic movement can add life to static passages. The relation of the bass note to the
melody is an important consideration, but remember that inner voices can create motion, too. The pas-
sage below is a common I - ii7/IV - V7/IV - IV progression.

Progression no. 37
Ebmaj7 ’ ’ ’ ‘ Bbm7 ’ ’ ’ Eb7 ’ ’ ’ Abmaj7 ’ ’ ’
The passage is transformed with the additions below. The chord symbols on the top line below do not
tell the whole story. The diatonic ii7, iii7, and IV chords have been added in the first two measures. In
the last beat of m.2 the vii°7/v prepares for the change to Bbm7, which as ii7/IV signals the change to
the key of IV. Preceding the Eb 7 and the Ab maj7 chords are tritone substitutions dominants. These
chords alone satisfactorily ornament the original simple progression. The chromatic inner voice in the
first two measures changes the focus from plodding chords to dramatic linear motion.

E bmaj7 A bmaj7 A°7 B bm9 E b13 A bmaj7

bbb
Fm7 Gm7 E13 A13
œœ b œœ ˙
& ˙˙ ˙˙ ˙˙ œ b ˙˙ # #n ˙˙˙ n bn ˙˙˙ # #n ˙˙˙ n bn www

? b œ˙ œ œœ bn œœ œ˙ œ #n ˙˙ n ˙˙ ˙ w
b b œ˙ n œ œ˙ # œ n˙ bw

Tempo and the overall mood and character of the piece should be considered when adding or subtract-
ing harmonic content. The above passage works well in slow settings. The subtleties may be lost at faster
tempos. Do not assume that slow passages must have added harmony to be interesting. Even very slow
ballads can benefit from the simplification of harmonic motion.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 163

After a passage with half-note harmonic rhythm, it might be effective to slow the motion down rather
than add more. There are two ways to achieve less motion. One device is to use fewer chords in the pro-
gression; the other is to use a pedal point in the bass while the chords continue moving. The dominant
pitch holding in the bass creates a restlessness after the moving passages, and when the bass releases the
pedal, gives a forward thrust to the next section. The progression below is an A section to a beautiful bal-
lad. The harmonic motion is constant with chords changing every two beats and then every beat.

E bmaj7 C7 Fm7 B b7 Ebmaj7 Db7 Cm7 Gb7 F7 C b 7 Bb 7


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
E bmaj7 A b7 D bmaj7 Gø7 C7 F7 C b7 Fm7/B b B b7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
After the active A section, the B section continues with more half note harmonic rhythm using the I - vi7
- ii7 - V7 progression below.

E bmaj7 Cm7 Fm7 B b7


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
Using two devices in conjunction slows the pace. The vi7 and V7 chords have been removed and the I
and ii7 chords are placed over a Bb pedal below. The break in the harmonic rhythm allows the soloist
or singer some freedom and will give the music a boost when the pedal is released.

E bmaj7/B b Fm7/B b
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
Pedals can be effective at any tempo. They can save a long performance of an up tempo piece by giving
the listener (and the bass player) a reprieve from the constant four beat swing feel. After a few choruses
of the following progression, dominant pedals through the B section might be welcome.

Progression no. 23.


Fm7 B bm7 ‘ E b7 A bmaj7 D bmaj7 Dø7 - G7 Cmaj7
’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’

Cm7 Fm7 ‘ B b7 E bmaj7 A bmaj7 Aø7 - D7 Gmaj7


’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
(D pedal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ) (B pedal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . )
Am7/D ‘ F#ø7/B
D7 B7 Emaj7/B C7Gmaj7/D
’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
Pedal released: motion returns
Fm7 B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 D bmaj7 Gb7 A b/ C B°7
’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’

B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 (Gø7 - C7)


’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’

Jazz Theory Resources


164 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

The backdoor dominant chord is a variation of a plagal IV - iv - I resolution. In the second phrase of
progression no. 38, the IV chord (Bb) is followed by the iv (Bbm7) then the backdoor dominant Eb7 re-
solves to the I chord, F. To avoid an anticlimactic return to the home tonic chord too soon, the iii7
chord, Am7 can replace the I chord as shown in the second line.

Cannonball Adderley recorded a tune with this progression and replaced the iii chord with a major
chord on the bIII. In another context anyone would have expected the Abmaj7 to follow Bbm7 and Eb7,
but in the context of F major, the characteristic resolution of Eb7 would have been to the F or Am7. The
use of the bIII chord creates a situation where the Eb7 to Abmaj7 is a surprise deceptive cadence! The
A bmaj7 chord is not far removed from the parallel key of F minor, and in this case, the melody note C
fits all of the possible chords m.7: F, Am7 and Abmaj7.

Progression no. 38
F ’ ’ ’ E7 ’ ’ ’ F ’ ’ ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’
1

Fmaj7 ’ ’ ’ Bm7 ’ E7 ’ Fmaj7 ’ ’ ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’


Bbmaj7 ’ ’ ’ Bbm7 ’ Eb7 ’ F Gm7 ’ C7 ’
5

Bbmaj7 ’ ’ ’ Bbm7 ’ Eb7 ’ Am7 ’ Dm7 ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’


b
(A maj7’ ’ ’)
Two progressions are played more often than any others in jazz performances: the twelve measure blues
and “Rhythm Changes.” The forms for these two tunes allow for much freedom of expression with
tempo and style. They both lend themselves to numerous harmonic possibilities. The variety of progres-
sions can fit any number of moods, tempos and rhythmic settings. Blues may occur in all major and
minor keys and Rhythm Changes may occur in any major key. The most prevalent keys for both are Bb
and F major. Here are the some basic harmonic progressions for blues in F major and minor and for
Rhythm Changes in Bb major with common substitutions. These progressions should be transposed and
studied for other commonly performed keys.

HARMONIC SUBSTITUTIONS for BLUES in F Major


Jazz musicians rarely use the three chord blues common to rock ‘n’ roll or country. A rock ‘n’ roll or
country version of the basic blues would have a V chord in m.9 followed by a IV chord in m.10. In most
jazz performances, the ii7 - V7 progression is used. The barest jazz version of the blues progression is
shown below. The most important structural points are:

• Usually begins on some chord built on tonic degree. It may be a modal chord and not nec-
essarily a I chord in the major/minor traditional sense

• m.5 almost always includes a chord built on the fourth scale degree

• m.9-10 is a dominant area with either a V - IV (country, rock, simple jazz versions), ii7 - V7,
or V7/V - V7 or other variations

• MM.11-12 may have some kind of a turnaround to return to I at the top of the form. The
tonic chord will not necessarily be a part of that turnaround as iii7 and other chords may
substitute for I.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 165

BARE MINIMUM JAZZ BLUES

F ’ ’ ’ ‘ ‘ F7 ’ ’ ’
Bb7
1

’ ’ ’ ‘ F ’ ’ ’ ‘
5

Gm7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ F ’ ’ ’ ‘
9

The progression below is a more common version for improvisation in jazz performance. There is typi-
cally a departure in m.2 to some chord built on the fourth degree. A secondary V7/IV may occur in m.4
setting up the chord in m.5. A G#°7 in first inversion moves the bass note from Bb to Bn and then to the
C with the F chord in inversion in m.7. The diminished chord in m.6 is often labeled a B°7. In m.8, a
secondary dominant chord D7 (V7/ii) prepares the coming ii7 chord. The most common turnaround
occurs in the last two measures: I - V7/ii - ii7 - V7 returning to the top of the form.

BASIC JAZZ BLUES with COMMON HARMONIC ADDITIONS

F ’ ’ ’ Bb7 ’ ’ ’ F ’ ’ ’ F7 ’ ’ ’
Bb7 G#°7/B
1

’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ F/C ’ ’ ’ D7 ’ ’ ’
5

Gm7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ F ’ D7 ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’
9

Measures 1-4

A common addition is the ii7/IV - V7/IV in m.4:

F7 ’ ’ ’ Bb7 ’ ’ ’ F7 ’ ’ ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’ B b7
1 5

A ii7 - V7 in m.2 provides another variation of the slight departure from the I chord:

F7 ’ ’ ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’ F7 ’ ’ ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’ B b7
1 5

Sometimes the tritone substitute dominant can occur in m.2. A tritone substitute dominant may also oc-
cur in m.4:

F7 ’ ’ ’ Gb7 ’ ’ ’ F7 ’ ’ ’ Cm7 ’ Cb7 ’ B b7


1 5

Here is a progression that Charlie Parker suggested in a example shown earlier. The Gm7 - G#°7 - Am7
elaborates the tonic F area.

F7 ’ ’ ’ Gm7 ’ G#°7 ’ Am7 ’ ’ ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’ B b7


1 5

Sometimes a logical progression can be created by backing up from the destination. The destination of
all harmonic activity in the first four measures points to a chord built on the fourth degree occurring in
m.5. The ii7/IV - V7/IV (Cm7 - F7) in m.4 prepare the Bb in m.5. The Cm7 is tonicized by its dominant
G7, and the G7 can be preceded by the iii7 chord, Dm7 in m.3. The Dm7 chord is set up by the iiø7/vi -

Jazz Theory Resources


166 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

V7/vi, Eø7 - A7 in m.2. The strong bass line of descending fifths begins the progression with the I - IV in
m.1. As with all harmonic possibilities, consider the desired results and context. These changes are con-
sidered “pretty” chords and would not be the best choice if trying to create “down ‘n’ dirty” blues.

F ’ (Bbmaj7) ’ Eø7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’ B b7


1 5

The concept of backing up from a destination is taken to the extreme in this example. Each dominant
chord points down a fifth to the next and ultimately resolves to the expected Bb chord in m.5. This set of
changes creates a great deal of melodic and harmonic tension, and may not be a good choice for a first
or second chorus. After a few choruses, this idea can wake up the entire band. The first dominant chord
is a half-step above the expected F7.

F#7 ’ B7 ’ E7 ’ A7 ’ D7 ’ G7 ’ C7 ’ F7 ’ B b7
1 5

Measures 5-8

This common version of the second phrase suggests an ascending bass line: Bb - Bn - C - D then resolves
down a fifth to the ii7 chord. Why not call the G#°7/B a B°7? The G#°7 is the vii°7 of Am, a key that is
closely related to the key of F. The B°7 is the vii°7 of C minor, a much more remote key to the key of F.
Labeling the chord as G#°7/B makes the distinction. (It would be possible to use B°7 in this context or
other colorations, but vii°7/iii is the path of least resistance.)

Bb7 ’ ’ ’ G#°7/B ’ ’ ’ F7/C ’ ’ ’ D7 ’ ’ ’ Gm7


5 9

It is possible to precede the V7/ii with the iiø7/ii in m.8:

Bb7 ’ ’ ’ G#°7/B ’ ’ ’ F7/C ’ ’ ’ Aø7 ’ D7 ’ Gm7


5 9

The iiø7/ii, Aø7, can occur in m.7 before the V7/ii, D7 in m.8. It might be hard to distinguish the Aø7
from an F9 chord as they share four pitches, and if the bass player chooses to play the F chord in first
inversion, it will sound like an Aø7.

Bb7 ’ ’ ’ ‘ Aø7 ’ ’ ’ D7 ’ ’ ’ Gm7


5 9

The secondary dominant A7, the V7/vi, can be used to set up the D chord. The A7 points to D minor,
which becomes D7 in m.8. The A7 chord in first inversion continues the ascending step progression as
shown before by adding the chromatic C#. The A7 chord is more common in slower gospel style blues.

Bb7 ’ ’ ’ G#°7/B ’ ’ ’ F/C ’ A7/C# ’ D7 ’ ’ ’ Gm7


5 9

A more bebop style setting may include a series of chromatic ii7 - V7 chords often inserted in mm.6-8.

Bb ’ ’ ’ Bbm7 ’ Eb7 ’ Am7 ’ D7 ’ Abm7 ’ Db7 ’ Gm7


5 9

A series of descending dominant chords may be used in mm.7-8. The D7 is the V7/ii. The Eb7 is a tri-
tone substitute for the A7, the V7 of D. The E7 points to the A chord which could have been used in
place of the Eb7. This cycle is similar to the cycle that began on F#7 shown for the first four measures.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 167

Instead of the dominants progressing in downward fifths, they progress to their destination in downward
half steps by using tritone substitutions.

Bb7 ’ ’ ’ ‘ F7 ’ E7 ’ Eb7 ’ D7 ’ Gm7


5 9

Measures 9-10

The most typical progression in mm.9-10 is the ii7 - V7:

Gm7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ F
9 11

A V7/V may replace the ii7 chord:

G7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ F
9 11

Chords may be borrowed from the parallel minor key of F minor. A iiø7/i and V7/I suggest the key of
four flats:

Gø7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ F
9 11

A Db7 chord is the tritone substitute for the G7, the V7/V:

Db7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ F
9 11

A Gb7, the tritone substitute dominant can replace the C7:

Gm7 ’ ’ ’ Gb7 ’ ’ ’ F
9 11

Measures 11-12: The Turnaround back to the top

The most common turnaround is I - V7/ii – ii7 – V7:

F7 ’ D7 ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’ F
11 1

The I chord may be avoided in m.11 by using the iii7:

Am7 ’ D7 ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’ F
11 1

The iiø7/ii can precede the V7/ii and replace the I or iii7 chord. The Aø7 chord is very similar to the
F9 chord and is indistinguishable from an F7 chord in first inversion.

Aø7 ’ D7 ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’ F
11 1

Jazz Theory Resources


168 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

An A7 can be used to point to the D7. The Ab7 and Gb7 chords are tritone substitutes for the D7 and C7.
This creates a descending chromatic line in the bass.

A7 ’ Ab7 ’ Gm7 ’ Gb7 ’ F


11 1

Eb7 and Db7 are tritone substitutes for the A7 and G7. This creates another descending chromatic line in
the bass.

Eb7 ’ D7 ’ Db7 ’ C7 ’ F
11 1

Using the tritone substitutes for D7, G7 and C7 creates a cycle of tritone substitute dominants and a bass
line of descending fifths that finally resolves down a half step to the F.

F7 ’ Ab7 ’ Db7 ’ Gb7 ’ F


11 1

Measures 9-12 Tritone Substitution Implications from bass lines

The tritone substitutions may be implied by the nature of a walking bass line. The D7, G7, C7 and F7
chords are preceded by chromatic upper neighbor tones, which suggest the tritone substitutions as
shown.

& b ˙˙ .. n œœ b ˙˙ .. b œœ # ˙˙ # n ˙˙ n n ˙˙ b ˙˙
b œœ
Gm7 D b7 C7 b b
A7 E 7 D7 A 7 b
G7 D 7 C7 G 7 b F7

?b
œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ bœ œ bœ œ
9 10 11 12 13

“WEST COAST” or “PRETTY” BLUES

The blues progression below is sometimes called the “pretty” or “West Coast” blues. This progression
may occur for the whole form if agreed upon ahead of time. It can sometimes be used as the last chorus
or two of a longer solo ending with a more elaborate chord progression. The I chord moves down a
fifth to the IV chord. The IV chord moves down a diatonic fifth to the Eø7, the viiø7 of F, but function-
ing as the iiø7/vi moving to the V7/vi. The Dm7 is the vi7 and naturally moves to the V7/v. The Cm7 -
F7, ii/IV - V7/IV set up the Bb m.5. The second phrase is a series of descending chromatic ii7 - V7 pro-
gressions finally reaching the ii7 - V7 in the key of F in m.9. The last four measures are usually played
without too much alteration from the common blues progression.

F ’ (Bbmaj7) ’ Eø7 ’ A7 ’ Dm7 ’ G7 ’ Cm7 ’ F7 ’


Bb Bbm7 Eb7 Abm7 Db7
1

’ ’ ’ ’ ’ Am7 ’ D7 ’ ’ ’
5

Gm7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ F7 ’ D7 ’ Gm7 ’ C7 ’
9

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 169

HARMONIC SUBSTITUTIONS for BLUES in F Minor


There are a number of harmonic variations for minor blues. Minor blues share similar characteristics
with major blues including the chord in m.5 being built on the fourth degree and dominant area in
mm.9-10. The chords are usually drawn from diatonic chords of minor keys.

Common Minor Blues Progression including a secondary iiø7/iv - V7/iv in m.4:

Fm ’ ’ ’ Bbm7 ’ ’ ’ Fm ’ ’ ’ (Cø7) ’ F7 ’
Bbm7
1

’ ’ ’ ‘ Fm ’ ’ ’ ‘
5

Gø7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ Fm ’ ’ ’ Gø7 ’ C7 ’
9

This minor blues progression includes iiø7 - V7 departure in m.2 instead of the iv7 chord. The Gb7 in
m.6 is a tritone substitute dominant preparing the return of the Fm chord in m.7. Db7 is a tritone substi-
tute dominant functioning in the traditional sense, as an augmented sixth chord pointing to the V7. The
V7 sets up the return of the Fm chord in m.11. The turnaround includes the tritone substitute dominants
Ab7 and Db7.

Fm ’ ’ ’ Gø7 ’ C7 ’ Fm ’ ’ ’ (Cø7) ’ F7 ’
Bbm7 Bbm7 Gb7
1

’ ’ ’ ’ ’ Fm ’ ’ ’ ‘
Db9
5

’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ Fm ’ Ab9 ’ Db9 ’ C7 ’
9

This minor blues progression remains on the tonic pitch for the first few measures and suggests an inner
chromatic voice: C – Db – D – Eb. The chord in m.2 sounds like a VI chord in first inversion, but is often
notated as Fm#5. Obviously, a minor chord by definition has a perfect and not an augmented fifth, but
the Fm#5 shorthand in this context may help suggest the chromatic moving voice. The F7 in m.4 pre-
pares the iv7 chord in m.5. The iv7 is also the ii7 chord in the relative Ab major (bIII) and continues to
cycle in the key of Ab, through the V7/bIII - I/bIII - IV/bIII. The Gø7, even though shared by the two keys of
F minor and Ab major signals the return to F minor.

Fm ’ ’ ’ Db/F ’ ’ ’ Fm6 ’ ’ ’ F7 ’ ’ ’
(Dø7/F)
Bbm7 Eb7 Abmaj7 ’ Dbmaj7
1

’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
5

Gø7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’ Fm ’ Ab9 ’ Db9 ’ C7 ’


9

Jazz Theory Resources


170 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

The boundaries of the blues have been stretched very far as evidenced by these next two examples.
These harmonic progressions are for specific tunes and not standard blues substitutions.

This first progression could be considered a blues progression that wanders to remote keys and back in
the short twelve measure form. Some may argue this is not a blues progression, but it is a twelve measure
form that moves to a chord built on the fourth degree in m.5. In performances of this piece, improvisers
use only this progression, never inserting traditional blues progressions.

Cmmaj7 ’ ’ ’ ‘ Gm7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’
Bb7
1

Fmaj7 ’ ’ ’ ‘ Fm7 ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
Ebmaj7 Ebm7 Ab7 Dbmaj7
5

’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ Dø7 ’ G7 ’
9

The first five measures of the following blues progression behave as a typical blues, establishing the
tonic key area first and then moving towards the iv7 chord in m.5. Things change quickly from m.6. The
Abm7 - Bb7 - Cbmaj7 are the iv7 - V7 - and VImaj7 chords from the remote key of Ebm. The Bbm7 and A7
act as a ii7 and tritone substitute V7 to the key of Ab, but the Ab chord is a suspended dominant in the
key of Db. Order seems restored with the Fø7 - Bb7, the iiø7 - V7 to Eb minor, but wait, isn’t this blues is in
C minor? The last measure brings it back around to the top and the tonic key with the V7/V - V7. In a
performance of the piece from which this progression was extracted, the improvisers use these changes
for the melody and only the last few choruses of each improvisation. Other improvised choruses use
one of the standard minor blues progressions.

Cm7 ’ ’ ’ D7 ’ G7 ’ Cm7 ’ ’ ’ C7 ’ ’ ’
Abm7 Bb7 Cbmaj7 Bbm7
1

Fm9 ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ A7 ’
Absus7 Bb7 Ebm7
5

’ ’ ’ Fø7 ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ D7 ’ G7 ’
9

HARMONIC SUBSTITUTIONS for RHYTHM CHANGES


The form for Rhythm changes is AABA. There are numerous possibilities for harmonic variations. A few
of the more common variations and substitutions are examined below, phrase by phrase.

A SECTION

Measures 1-4

This basic pattern for the first four measures uses the diatonic vi7 chord Gm7 in m.1, and substitutes the
secondary V7/ii chord G7 in m.3. All the chords cycle back to the tonic chord Bb.

Bb Gm7 Cm7 F7 Bb G7 Cm7 F7 Bb


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 171

A strong cadence to the tonic chord is avoided in m.3 by using the tonic chord in first inversion.
Because of the inversion, the roots descend in fifths in mm.3-5.

Bb G7 Cm7 F7 B b/ D G7 Cm7 F7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

The iii7 chord functions in the same way the first inversion tonic chord did in the previous example. It
avoids the strong immediate return to tonic and keeps the root progression in fifths.

Bb G7 C7 F7 Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

Occasionally, the iii7 chord will chromatically pass through a C#m7 chord resolving to Cm7. This chord
happens quickly and may sound like a brief allusion to B major as C# m7 is the ii7 of B. Even if the
rhythm section plays the G7 the dissonant notes will resolve themselves in a linear fashion. The C#m7
pitches, C#, E, G# and B may sound like the #11, 13, b9 and major third of the G7 chord whose place it
takes.

Bb G7 Cm7 F7 Dm7 C #m7 Cm7 F7 Bb


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

An interesting bass line can be created using secondary dominants in inversion. The G7 is V7/ii. The A7
is the V7/iii and points to the Dm7 chord standing in place of the original tonic chord Bb. After the as-
cending chromatic line Bb-Bn-C-C#, the roots again move in descending fifths back to the tonic chord.

Bb G7/B Cm7 A7/C # Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7 Bb


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

There is little difference between the use of secondary dominants or secondary vii°7 chords when point-
ing to minor keys. A G7 or B°7 points to Cm7, and an A7 or C#°7 points to Dm7. The secondary vii°7
chords create the same ascending bass line as the example above with inverted secondary dominants.

Bb B°7 Cm7 C#°7 Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7 Bb


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

This passage contains secondary dominants and tritone substitutions. The Db7 stands in the place of G7.
The C7 is the V7/V and points to the F7 chord. The Cb7 is the tritone substitute for the F7 and points
back to Bb. The second two measures reverses the secondary dominants and the tritone substitutions.
The Gb7 substitutes for the C7 and points to the F7.

Bb D b7 C7 C b7 Bb G7 Gb7 F7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

Clifford Brown used this progression for a composition. The Db7, Gb7 and Cb7 are tritone substitutes in
the first two measures. The second phrase features descending dominants.

Jazz Theory Resources


172 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

Bb D b7 Gb7 C b7 B b7 A b7 Gb7 F7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

It is possible to work backwards from the Bb in m.5 and to find a cycle of dominants. This, like the simi-
lar example in the blues progressions, starts the progression on a chord very remote from the key signa-
ture. This can be effective later in an improvisation, but is usually not used in the first chorus.

F#7 B7 E7 A7 D7 G7 C7 F7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

It is possible to impose a progression similar Coltrane’s Giant Steps harmonic cycle (progression no.
24). This progression points to remote rather than closely related keys. Closely related keys are one ac-
cidental removed from the home key. Coltrane modulated to keys that divided the octave into major
thirds. From the home key of Bb, the progression modulates to Gb and D.

Bb D b7 Gb A7 D F7 Bb Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 5

Measures 5-8

There is usually a modulation in m.5 to the IV chord in m.6. The tonic chord changes quality and be-
comes the V7/IV which anticipates the Eb in m.6. The bass line ascends to En but the chord is labeled a
C #°7 as the vii°7/iii7. The Bb chord in m.7 could just as easily be a Dm7 which helps explain the C#°7.
The basic turnaround figure returns in mm.7-8. The second chord in m.5 is often in first inversion creat-
ing the ascending bass line: Bb - D - Eb - En - F.

Bb B b7/D Eb C #°7/E B b/F G7 Cm7 F7 Bb


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
5 9

This version of mm.5-8 features a descending bass line: Bb - Ab - G - Gb - F:

Bb B b7/A b Eb/G Ebm/G b B b/F G7 Cm7 F7 Bb


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
5 9

A ii7/IV - V7/IV could be used in m.5 and Ab7, a backdoor dominant, can be used in m.6.

Fm7 B b7 Eb A b7 B b/ D G7 Cm7 F7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
5 9

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 173

Measures 5-6

Any combination of chords which point to IV may be used in m.5: A tritone substitute dominant may be

preceded by a V7/IV: or the ii7/IV:

B b7 E7 Eb Fm7 E7 Eb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
5 6 5 6

Measures 7-9

Any variation of the basic turnaround figure may occur in mm.7-9 to return the progression to the tonic
chord at the beginning of the second A section.

Diatonic chords:

Bb Gm7 Cm7 F7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
7 9

The first inversion of the tonic chord followed by the V7/ii:

B b/ D G7 Cm7 F7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
7 9

The secondary chords iiø7/ii and V7/ii point to the ii7:

Dø7 G7 Cm7 F7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
7 9

Tritone substitute dominants in place of G7 and F7:

Bb D b7 C7 C b7 Bb
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
7 9

Jazz Theory Resources


174 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

Measures 15-17

The last two measures of the second A section, mm.15-17, are different than the end of the first A sec-
tion. This part of the progression resolves back to the tonic chord in m.16 and before moving to the B
section.

F7 Bb D7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
15 17

B b/F F7 Bb D7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
15 17

B SECTION: Measures 5-8

The bridge is a variation of the traditional turnaround chords with longer harmonic values. The most
basic turnaround progression is Bb - Gm7 - Cm7 - F7. With the iii7 chord in place of the Bb chord it
would be Dm7 - Gm7 - Cm7 - F7. Using all secondary dominants would be D7 - G7 - C7 - F7, the identi-
cal chords for the basic B section. In the A sections the chords occur with a half note harmonic rhythm;
in the B section each chord lasts for eight beats.

When encountering a D7 in the key of Bb, it is normally the V7/vi pointing to the relative G minor. The
G7 would be assumed to be the V7/ii pointing to the Cm7 chord. It is possible to mix modes making the
D7 the V7 of G (V7/VI) and the G7 the V7 of C (V7/II.). An improviser may choose any number of
combinations using these dominant chords to point to major or minor secondary keys.

The basic bridge : V7/VI - V7/II - V7/V - V7.

D7 ‘ G7 ‘ C7 ‘ F7 ‘
’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
17

Any dominant chord may be paired with a ii7 chord.

Am7 D7 Dm7 G7 Gm7 C7 Cm7 F7


’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
17

The G7 is replaced by the tritone substitute dominant Db7 and the F7 replace by the tritone substitute
dominant Cb7 creating a descending chromatic line in the bass in the example below.

D7 ‘ D b7 ‘ C7 ‘ C b7 ‘
’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
17

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 175

The D7 is replaced by the tritone substitute dominant Ab7 and the C7 replace by the tritone substitute
dominant Gb7 creating a different descending chromatic line in the bass in the following example .

A b7 ‘ G7 ‘ Gb7 ‘ F7 ‘
’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
17

The cycle of dominants with tritone substitutions from the above example can be preceded by ii7
chords. This creates a descending chromatic progression in three keys (bIII, II, and bII) leading back to
the tonic key of I, Bb.

Ebm7 A b7 Dm7 G7 C #m7 F#7 Cm7 F7


’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
17 ii7/bIII V7/bIII ii7/II V7/II ii7/bII V7/bII ii7 V7

Another set of chromatically descending dominants may be preceded by ii7 chords creating this de-
scending chromatic progression. After descending through the keys of G, Gb, and F, the B7 can act as a
tritone substitute dominant pointing back to the tonic key of Bb.

Am7 D7 A bm7 D b7 Gm7 C7 F#m7 B7


’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
17 ii7/VI V7/VI ii7/bVI V7/ bVI ii7/V V7/V ii7/ bV V7/ bV

This is a less common, but possible B section progression that utilizes a series of descending chromatic
ii7 - V7 progressions. It begins in A, and goes through Ab, Gb, F, and E major. Again the B7 chord in m.24
acts as a tritone substitute dominant pointing back to the tonic key of Bb. The harmonic progression is
rhythmically compressed as the progression moves forward. The original B section changes were a re-
prieve from the crowded, fast harmonic rhythm of the A section. It is ironic how jam-packed chords the
progression in the B section can become.

Bm7 E7 B bm7 E b7 Am7 D7 Abm7 Db7 Gm7 C7 F#m7 B7


’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
17

There are a few tunes that have a different sort of eight measure B section that begins with the V7/IV
and moves to the IV, the V7/V and V7 chord before returning to the tonic chord at the beginning of the
last A section.

B b7 ‘ Eb ‘ C7 ‘ F7 ‘
’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’ ’’’’
17

Jazz Theory Resources


176 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

COMPLETE RHYTHM CHANGES PROGRESSION

Here is a possible set of chord changes for the entire progression. This is not THE version, only one of
many possible variations.

Bb G7 Cm7 F7 Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1

Bb B b7/D Eb A b7 Dm7 D b7 Cm7 F7


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
5

Bb B°7 Cm7 C#°7 Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
9

Fm7 B b7 Eb C #°7/E B b/F F7 Bb


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
13

Am7 D7 Dm7 G7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
17

Gm7 C7 Cm7 F7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
21

Bb G7 Cm7 F7 D7 G7 C7 F7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
25

Fm7 E7 Eb C #°7/E B b/F F7 Bb


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
29

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds 177

STANDARD TUNE APPLICATION


Here is a very simple progression from a tune performed by everyone from Bobby Darrin to Sonny
Rollins. The basic diatonic chords are I, ii7, V7, and vi7 as shown below. Fill in the blanks using typical
harmonic progressions pointing to the given destinations. At the *, use a tritone substitute and at the ‡,
use a deceptive diminished chord from half step above.

Progression no. 39
Bb ________ ________ ________ Cm7 ________ ________
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1

Cm7 ________* F7 ________* B b ________ ________ ________


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
5

Gm7 ________‡ Cm7 ________ ________


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
9

Cm7 ________* F7 ________* Bb ________ ________ ________


’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
17

Jazz Theory Resources


178 Chapter 8 Harmonic Substitutions & Turnarounds

Progression no. 39 with harmonic additions.


B bmaj7 E bmaj7 Dø7 G7 Cm7 Dø7 G7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
1 IV iiø7/ii V7/ii iiø7/ii V7/ii
Cm7 G b 9* F7 C b 9* Bb E bmaj7 Aø7 D7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
5 IV iiø7/vi V7/vi
Gm7 C#°7‡ Cm7 Dø7 G7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
9 iiø7/ii V7/ii
Cm7 G b 9* F7 C b 9* Bb G7 Cm7 F7
’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’
17 V7/ii ii7 V7

SUGGESTED EXERCISES

• Augment other common harmonic progressions using secondary dominants, work-


ing back from a specific harmonic point.

• Find recordings and compare the harmonic structures with other recordings of the
same music

• Compare different published versions of the same music

• How do recorded performances compare with published versions of the harmony?

• Compare the harmonic vocabulary between different improvisers on the same


recording of a tune? Does the same improviser approach similar sections with the
same harmonic progressions? Do all the improvisers approach the music using the
same harmonic progressions?

• Examine melodic transcriptions and compare the relationship of the melodies to


the underlying harmony. Was the improviser adhering to all the harmonic implica-
tions? Were sections being generalized? Were certain chords ignored? Were other
harmonic substitutions suggested by the lines?

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 179

IX. HARMONIC SPECIFICITY


SPECIFICITY & GENERALIZATION
Melodies that utilize the identifying pitches of individual chords as guide tones, arpeggiate the chords,
and comply with voice leading principles are considered to be harmonically specific. Melodies that ig-
nore the specific implications of the harmony and use the primary pitches of the tonic triad with some
diatonic and chromatic embellishment are considered to be harmonically general.

Forms like the blues, rhythm changes and other tunes that stay in closely related keys allow improvisers
to generalize using the tonic triad or notes of the tonic key for melodic material. The tonic triad and
scale may be elaborated with chromatic embellishment. Expressive melodies may be created using this
generalization technique and the melodic material may or may not align exactly with the harmonic ma-
terial. Harmonic generalization is only one approach to improvisation. Another approach is to specifi-
cally address the harmony where the melodic material correlates with the harmonic material. With a
good understanding of individual chord structures and the tones necessary to modulate from one key to
the next, an improviser can create expressive melodies that use the dramatic elements of functional
harmony as a guide for melodic material.

These two examples will help illustrate the distinction between harmonic general and harmonic specific
melodic approaches. This turnaround progression from rhythm changes stays in or close to Bb major
for the entire phrase allowing for harmonic generalization. All of the melodic material in the first ex-
ample from an improvisation by Kenny Dorham was based on the Bb major triad notes (circled) elabo-
rate in various ways. If the line was played without accompaniment, it is unlikely that any harmonic pro-
gression would be inferred by the listener. It would likely sound like Bb major for the entire phrase. The
G7 as V7 of ii calls for an Ab (from the key signature for C minor) and an Bn leading tone, yet the
melodic line ignored these implications. None of the individual chords were arpeggiated.

9.1 Harmonic Generalization


Bb
b n œ œ œ nœ
3
œ # œ
G7 Cm7 F7 Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7

&b c Ó œ œ œ # œ œ œ œ œ j œ. ˙
œ œ œ
This second line from the same improvisation specifically addressed individual chords in the progres-
sion. It began as exactly as the last line, ignoring the implications of the G7 and Cm7. Dorham shifted to
a more specific approach in the third measure. The two notes, Bn and Ab, suggested by the G7, the V7 of
C minor, were played. These notes were not available from the key of Bb. Dorham played a 3-5-7-b9
arpeggio over the G7 chord and came down the scale to the F, the seventh of G7. The F resolved in the
next measure to the third of Cm7 and the line continued down the scale landing on the third of F7 and
the third of Bb. These thirds occurred directly on the downbeat, were approached by the seventh of the
chords that preceded them; the melody line was directly related to the indicated harmony. Dorham
used a 3-5-7-9 arpeggio again in the fifth measure for the Bb7 chord, the V7/IV, and used the note Ab,
necessary for modulating to Eb. The Eb chord was arpeggiated, and the C#°7 was clearly outlined. The line

Jazz Theory Resources


180 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

ended with another 3-5-7-9 arpeggio over the Bbmaj7 chord. The use of both general and specific ap-
proaches is one of the elements that makes this an interesting improvisation.

9.2 Harmonic Specificity


b G7
b œ
B Cm7 F7 Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7

b b c Ó œ œ # œ œ œ nœ œ œ bœ nœ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
3 3 3
& œ œ œ œ œ
B b7 Eb C #°7/E Bb
arpeggio

b arpeggio 3
œ œ # œ œœ œ Œ
3 arpeggio
& b œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ nœ œ
œ œ ∑

arpeggio

Harmonic specific melodies may incorporate all variety of embellishing tones while addressing the
pitches that identify the harmony.

GUIDE TONES
Guide tones are an underlying simple structure from which lines of greater complexity may be created.
They are tones that specifically identify the chords and the notes that point to those chord tones. The
guide tones are the dots in the dot-to-dot drawings and the melody connecting them reveals the whole
picture. For every chord there is often one single pitch that when sounded over a bass line in context
clarifies the quality of the chord. If a major chord can be distinguished from a minor chord it is be-
cause of one pitch: the mediant. If a major third is heard, the chord is major; a minor third indicates a
minor chord. The third can be used in a melodic line to clarify the chord quality. Sing the melody to
Three Blind Mice. If it sounds major, it is because of the major third in the melody. It is the minor third
in the melody line that makes Greensleeves sound minor. Harmonically specific lines clarify the major
and minor qualities of chords. If the quality of the chords can be identified when listening to a melody,
it is these significant guide tones that reveal those qualities. To use guide tones is to use the identifying
pitches of the harmonic progression. If one harmonic progression can be aurally distinguished from
another it is because of these tones. Guide tones are not just a theoretical discussion, they are the very
notes which guide the listener and the performer through a piece.

Great melodies can exist independent of harmonic implications, but melody and harmony are often are
inextricably related. Harmony, so often taught as strictly a vertical entity, is historically a result of
melodic lines. The premise of voice leading is that the individual voices lead somewhere: each voice
has a linear implication. As soon as a line begins or stresses a chord tone, there is a linear expectation
connected with that note. Melodies do not always have to continue to follow their expected harmonic
path, or all melodies would be so predictable that no one would listen. Composers and improvisers are
aware of the natural tendencies and expectations connected to voice leading. They are also aware that
the audience will respond to these principles intuitively whether or not the audience is musically edu-
cated. The composers and improvisers will give the listener at times what is expected and at other times
set them up for a surprise. The only way a musical surprise works is that the listener on some level has
an expectation about where notes should resolve. Musicians who understand the expectations can ma-
nipulate them for interesting improvisations or compositions. Most melodies create a balance between
a line that follows the expected resolutions dictated by voice leading principles and a line that departs
and is independent from those expectations. The ability to understand and hear the lines suggested by
individual notes of the harmony is a necessary skill in order to successfully negotiate the harmonic pro-
gressions in jazz literature.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 181

BASS LINES as GUIDE TONE LINES

The simplest example of a using guide tones to create larger lines is the bass line in four beat swing feel.
The bass at its most basic level plays the chord roots (the guide tones) on the downbeats signified by
the chord symbols, then improvises three notes to get to the next chord. Guide tone melodic lines in-
volving other voices will be easier to understand after examining bass line construction.

The bass line is expected to be harmonically specific. The bass does not wander aimlessly randomly
generalizing the key area. A well constructed bass line:

• Arrives on the roots of chords at the times signified by chord symbol placement in the music.

• Fills in notes that adhere to the chord quality and key signature to take the line to the next root.

• Plays chord tones typically on the stronger beats one and three.

• Precedes the roots with notes that are usually a step away. It can be diatonic or chromatic from
above or below.

• May slightly accent beats two and four which correspond with the hi-hat pattern played by the
drummer in a swing feel.

• After addressing the first principles, other characteristic rhythmic elements may be added.
The role of the bass is to accompany. The primary goal should be rhythmic and harmonic clarity. Bass
lines can be found that stray from the clear harmonic path, but often quickly return providing a strong
foundation for the rest of the ensemble.

FUNDAMENTAL BASS LINE PATTERNS

The fundamental bass line patterns on the following page can be used to create bass lines with rhythmic
and harmonic clarity. These examples are shown over a ii7 - V7 in the key of Bb major.

1. The most basic pattern is the descending scale. No chromatic notes are needed.
2. Another basic pattern moves up the scale and may use a chromatic passing tone (CPT) to lead
to the root of the next chord.
3. The ascending scale pattern may leap over the goal note and step into it from its upper neigh-
bor tone (UNT).
4. If the line does not move in steps, then it may move in leaps. The arpeggio allows for harmonic
clarity and some larger intervals than steps. After the ascending arpeggio, it may approach the
next root through a chromatic passing tone.
5. The arpeggio may be inverted. The leap down creates more interest following measures of just
step motion.
6. Descending arpeggios may be followed by a chromatic passing tone into the next root.
7. The arpeggio may also be inverted or broken, skipping over one tone to reach the next.
8. The constant stream of steps and leap may be interrupted by a pattern using the upper neighbor
tones. (From personal experience at faster tempos, this pattern can save a fatigued bassist.)
9. Repeated notes can also provide a reprieve from constant motion.
10. This simple pattern should not be avoided. It can prove very useful and effective musically.
Roots and fifths are the bass players primary tools. (OK, OK, here’s the joke: How many bass
players does it take to change a light bulb? One . . . Five . . . One . . . Five . . . )

Jazz Theory Resources


182 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

TEN BASIC PATTERNS for BASS LINES

1. Down Scale 2. Up Scale + CPT

? bb c œ œ œ œ
Cm7 F7 Cm7 F7
œ ? bb c œ œ œ nœ œ

3. Up Scale + UNT 4. Ascending Arpeggio + CPT


Cm7 F7 Cm7 F7
? bb c œ œ œ œ œ ? bb c œ œ œ bœ œ

5. Inverted Arpeggio + CPT 6. Descending Arpeggio + CPT

œ ? bb c œ œ œ nœ
Cm7 F7 Cm7 F7
? bb c œ œ bœ œ œ

7. Inverted Arpeggio + CPT 8. UNT


Cm7 F7 Cm7 F7
? bb c œ œ œ nœ œ ? bb c œ œ œ
œ œ

9. Repeated Notes 10. Root & Fifth

? bb c œ œ œ œ
Cm7 F7 Cm7 F7
? bb c œ œ œ œ œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 183

Bass players can add rhythmic and textural interest to a line by adding notes in between the downbeats.
This subdivision corresponds to the ride patterns played by the drums. These notes may be ghosted or
muffled in a way that makes them more percussive. These notes are shown as “¿” in the following exam-
ples.

9.3 9.4
Cm7 F7 Cm7 F7
? bb c œ œ ¿ œ nœ ¿ œ ? bb œ œ ¿ œ ¿ bœ œ

Rapidly played arpeggios can add some interest to a bass line. These notes are not exactly articulated
and may be ghosted and played percussively.

9.5

? bb œ œ œ œ œ nœ
Cm7 F7
œ
3

At least ten thousand different lines can be played over the common turnaround pattern below using
the ten fundamental bass patterns shown previously. (Each measure could have one of the ten patterns
so that 10 x 10 x 10 x 10, or 104 equals 10,000.) For practice, write out a few possibilities for the progres-
sion below. Avoid repeating the same pattern too many times in a row. Try occasionally substituting an
Em7 for the C chord Bass players should write and learn to play several versions for at least the com-
mon keys of C, F, Bb, and Eb. Here is possible solution:

9.6
Pattern nos. 5 8 6 2

Cmaj7 A7 Dm7 G7
? c .. œ œ œ ..
œ œ #œ œ bœ œ œ œ #œ œ œ #œ œ

The progression can be inverted so that it starts on the ii7 chord. Write out a few possibilities for this
progression in C and other common keys. Here is possible solution:

9.7
Pattern nos. 3 1 4 10

? c .. œ
Dm7
œ œ bœ G7
œ œ œ
Cmaj7
œ œ #œ œ
A7
œ œ ..
œ œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


184 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

The previous examples were based on a harmonic rhythm of whole notes. When the harmonic rhythm
is half notes, the root is played then the line jumps to the note above or below the next root. The roots
for the following turnaround progression should be played on the downbeats as shown. There are up to
four pitches available in between each root: each root may be preceded from above or below with its
chromatic or diatonic neighbor. The G could be preceded by F, F#; A or Ab; a Bb; Bn, D or Db could lead
to the C; and F may be preceded by Eb, En, G or Gb.

9.8
Roots on Downbeats With Added Approach Tones
Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7 Dm7 G7 Cm7 F7
? bb c œ
œ œ œ ? bb c œ
bœ œ nœ œ œ œ

There are progressions where the chords occur in a variety of rhythmic values. For chords that last for
two measures it is not necessary to land on the root in the second measure. Another chord tone can be
played on the downbeat of the second measure. Chords occur in the following progression with three
different rhythmic values. The C and D last for eight beats, the Dm7 and G7 for four beats, and the
turnaround chords change every two beats. The fifth of the chord is played in the second measure for
both the C and the D7 chords. Pattern no. 5 is used in m.5 and pattern no. 4 is used in m.6 for the
chords with a whole note harmonic rhythm. The last two measures have a half note harmonic rhythm
and the roots are preceded from above and then below by half step motion.

9.9
C D7
?c œ œ œ bœ œ œ #œ
œ #œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ
œ
R 5 R 5
Dm7 G7 Em7 A7 Dm7 G7 C
?œ œ bœ œ #œ
œ œ œ #œ œ bœ nœ œ
œ œ bœ œ

244,140,625 BASS LINES for BLUES


The following pages show 244,140,625 bass lines for blues in Bb and F major. Each of the twelve measures
for the blues form is shown with five possible bass line patterns. Any one of the five possible patterns in
a given measure can move to any of the five patterns in the measure that follows. Several measures are
shown with optional notes. The optional notes allow for octave displacement or chord inversions to
make smooth connecting lines. Since there are five patterns to choose from for every measure, the pos-
sibilities are 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 or 512 which equals 244,140,625.

To create a twelve measure bass line, choose any of the five patterns for m.1, then pick any pattern from
m.2, and continue through the form. It is similar to a menu where you pick one from column A then one
from column B, except with twelve columns. Always choose to step from the note on beat four to the
note on beat one. This is not to suggest that any bass player creates lines by imagining a charts like
these. The chart is meant as a tool for creating bass lines. There are many more possibilities than shown
here, but these patterns should get a bass player or an arranger started creating harmonically clear bass
lines.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 185

9.10 244,140,625 Bass lines for Blues in Bb:

B b7 E b7 B b7 B b7
? b bœ œ œ bœ ? b œ œ œ bœ ? b œ bœ œ nœ
Fm7
? b c œ #œ œ
b œ b b œ b

? b c œ œ œ nœ ? b bœ bœ œ bœ ? b œœ œ œ n œ ? b œ bœ œ œ
b b b b

? b c œ œ œ nœ ? b bœ œ bœ nœ ? b œœ b œ œ b œ ? b œ bœ œ nœ
b b b b
œ œ
? b c œ bœ œ œ ? b bœ nœ œ ? b œœ œ n œ n œ ? b œ œ
b b œ b b
œ bœ
? b c œ œ œ nœ ? b bœ œ ? b œœ n œ œ b œ ? b œ bœ œ œ
b b b b
1 2 3 4

E b7 C #°7/E B b7
œ œ bœ
? b bœ œ œ œ ? b œœ n œ œ # œ ? b œ nœ
G7
? b nœ œ œ œ
b b b b
œ bœ œ
? b bœ œ œ œ ? b nœ œ ? b œœ œ œ b œ ? b œ bœ œ bœ
b b b b

? b bœ œ bœ œ ? b nœ œ bœ œ ? b œœ œ œ # œ ? b œ œ œ œ
b b b b
œ œ œ
? b bœ œ œ ? b nœ œ œ ? b œœ œ œ # œ ? b œ nœ œ bœ
b b b b
#œ œ œ
? b b œ œœ œ œ ? b nœ œ œ ? b œœ œ œ # œ ? b œ bœ nœ
b b b b
5 6 7 8

B b7
? b œœ œ œ n œ ? b œ œ #œ œ ? b œœ b œ œ b œ ? b œœ b œ œ
Cm7 F7 G7 C7 F7

b b b b œ
œ bœ œ
? b œ œ œ bœ ? b œ œ ? b œœ # œ œ n œ ? b œ nœ œ œ
b b b b
œ œ bœ
? b œ œ œ bœ ? b œ œ œ œ ? b œœ b œ œ n œ ? b œ bœ œ
b b b b
œ ( Dø7 ) œ
? b œ œ œ œ ? b œ œ œ œ ? b œ œ œ bœ ? b œ œ œ bœ
b b b b
œ ( Dø7 ) œ bœ
? b œ #œ œ bœ ? b œ ? b œ bœ œ nœ ? b œ bœ œ
b b œ œ bœ b b
9 10 11 12

Jazz Theory Resources


186 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.11 244,140,625 Bass lines for Blues in F:

F7 B b7 F7 Cm7 F7
? c ? œ bœ ? œ ? œ bœ œ
b œ œ #œ œ b bœ œ b œ œ œ bœ b nœ

? c œ œ nœ ? bœ ? œ ? œ bœ œ
b œ b bœ œ bœ b œ œ œ nœ b œ
? c œ œ nœ ? bœ œ bœ nœ ? œ bœ œ bœ ? œ
b œ b b œ b bœ œ nœ

? c œ bœ œ œ ? bœ nœ œ ? œ ? œ œ œ
b b œ b œ œ nœ nœ b œ
? c ? bœ œ œ bœ ? œ nœ œ bœ ? œ bœ œ
b œ œ œ nœ b b œ b œ
1 2 3 4

B b7
? œœœ ? œ #œ œ bœ
B°7 F7 D7
? œ œ ?
b bœ œ b nœ œ œ œ b nœ œ #œ b

? bœ œ œ œ ? nœ œ œ bœ ? œœœ œ bœ ? œ bœ œ
b b b œ b bœ
? bœ ? nœ ? œœœ ? œ œ œ
b œ bœ œ b œ bœ œ b œ œ #œ b œ
? bœ œ œ œ ? nœ œ œ œ ? œœœ œ ? œ
b b b œ #œ b #œ œ bœ

? bœ œ œ œ ? nœ œ œ #œ ? œœœ œ œ # œ ? œ bœ #œ œ
b œ b b b
5 6 7 8

Gm7 C7 F7 D7 Gm7 C7
? œ ? œ œ #œ œ ? œ bœ œ ? œ bœ œ
b œ œ œ nœ b b œ bœ b œ œ
? ? œ œ œ bœ ? œ #œ œ ? œ nœ œ œ
b œ œ œ bœ b b œ #œ b œ

? œ œ œ bœ ? œ œ ? œ bœ œ ? œ bœ œ bœ
b œ b œ œ b œ #œ b œ
( Aø7 )
? œ œ œ œ ? œ œ œ œ ? ? œ œ œ
b œ b b œ œ œ bœ b œ bœ
( Aø7 )
? œ #œ œ bœ ? œ ? #œ ? œ bœ œ bœ
b œ b œ œ bœ b œ bœ œ b œ
9 10 11 12

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 187

Five Chorus Blues Bass Line in Bb

Here is a five chorus bass line for Bb blues using only patterns from the previous pages. No two corre-
sponding measures are the same; it uses each of the sixty patterns once. (I have done the first five, that
leaves only 244,140,620 for you to do.)

9.12
Bb E b7 Bb B b7
œ bœ œ bœ œ œ œ
Fm7
? b b c .. œ œ œ nœ bœ œ œ bœ œ
1
E b7 C #°7/E B b7
b
œ
G7 9
? bb œ œ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ #œ œ bœ œ bœ
œ bœ
B b7
5


Cm7 F7 G7 Cm7 F7
œ bœ
? bb œ nœ œ nœ œ
œ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ bœ
9

Bb E b7 Bb B b7
œ œ bœ œ
Fm7
? bb œ œ nœ bœ bœ œ bœ
œ bœ œ nœ œ
13
E b7 B b7
b
E°7
œ œ œ œ nœ
G7 9
œ nœ
? bb œ œ nœ œ #œ œ
œ bœ œ
B b7
17

œ œ bœ
Cm7 F7 G7 Cm7 F7
œ bœ œ nœ #œ œ
? bb œ œ nœ œ bœ œ
œ
21

Bb E b7 Bb B b7
œ bœ œ
œ nœ
Fm7
? bb œ œ œ bœ
œ #œ œ œ nœ œ nœ
25
E b7 B b7
b
E°7
œ œ bœ œ
G7 9
œ
? bb bœ œ œ nœ œ œ #œ œ bœ
œ nœ
29

œ
Cm7 F7 Dø7 G7 Cm7 F7
? bb œ œ œ bœ œ nœ œ œ œ œ bœ œ
œ œ nœ
33

Jazz Theory Resources


188 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

Bb E b7 Bb B b7
? bb œ œ bœ œ nœ
Fm7
œ nœ bœ nœ œ œ œ nœ
œ œ œ
37
E b7 B b7
b
œ œ bœ œ
œ bœ nœ
E°7 G7 9
? bb bœ œ œ nœ œ œ
œ bœ œ
B b7
41

œ
Cm7
œ œ œ
F7
œ œ bœ œ #œ
G7
œ
Cm7 F7
? bb œ œ œ œ bœ

45

Bb E b7 Bb B b7
œ œ bœ nœ œ œ bœ œ
Fm7
? bb œ œ nœ bœ œ œ bœ œ
49
E b7 B b7
b
œ œ œ E°7
œ
G7 9
œ
? bb œ nœ œ œ œ œ #œ œ bœ
œ nœ
53

œ nœ œ bœ
œ bœ
Cm7 F7 Dø7 G7 Cm7 F7
? bb œ #œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ bœ ..
œ
57

GUIDE TONES APPLIED to MELODIC LINES

A melodic line and a bass line both follow guide tones but a melody line has more rhythmic and
melodic freedom. A bass line is in constant motion with consistent rhythms while a melody line stops
and starts, contrasting short and long phrases separated by all important silence.

A bass line begins a measure on a consonant note, the root, and moves to the more dissonant note at
the end of the measure. The dissonant note resolves to the next root on the following downbeat. Melody
lines can follow guide tones lines in the same way aiming for a consonant note and moving towards a
dissonant note which resolves to a consonant note. The bass line is expected to arrive on the downbeat,
but more liberty is allowed with the rhythmic placement of melodic guide tones: a guide tone note may
occur on the down beat in time with the root in the bass line; it may be anticipated arriving on the up-
beat of four or on beat four; it may be delayed by two beats or more, or delayed into the subsequent
measure. Because of the rhythmic latitude allowed melodies, their harmonic relations must be analyzed
horizontally and not always vertically.

There are always twelve pitches available for melodic use, but they are used with respect to the hierarchy
of pitches. There is a wide range of consonance and dissonance that may change from measure to mea-
sure. The root, third and fifth of any given chord are the most consonant; the other four diatonic
pitches represent one level of dissonance; and the five remaining chromatic tones represent another
level of dissonance.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 189

Assume a bass plays the root of a chord and an improviser plays one single melodic pitch over the bass
note. What single pitch will provide the most harmonic clarity? The five chromatic pitches not in the
present key can be eliminated first. Of the remaining seven, the root of the chord is covered by the bass,
so using the root in the melody would reveal nothing new. The chord tones are the obvious choice for
clarity. The fifth of the chord certainly helps to establish the tonality, but by itself over the root in the
bass, the fifth does nothing to reveal the quality of the chord. (The fifth would be heard as a result of the
physics of the harmonic series anyway). The third when played over the root in the bass provides an
immediately recognizable chord quality. Two pitches, the root and the third can convey a complete
sounding chord quality. It is for this reason that the thirds are the most important guide tones.

Harmonic clarity provided by a single pitch over a the root in the bass:

9.13
C Cm

&cw bw

?c w w

When improvisers wish to be clear about the harmonic progression, they aim for the thirds over the
roots played in the bass lines. Hank Mobley aimed for thirds in the example below. Mobley landed on
the third of Gm (Bb ) and Cm7 (Eb ) without any preparation. The third of F (A) was approach by
ascending scale steps. The third of the Dm7 (F) was approached from an upper neighbor. The third of G
(Bn) was delayed until beat four, and the third of Cm (Eb) was delayed until beat three.

9.14
Bb
œ Œ

Gm7 Cm7
œ œ F7
œ
Dm7 G7 Cm7
b œ
œœ Œ ‰ J œ œ œ œ œ œ n œ œ œ n œ œ œ œJ
&b c

LINEAR IMPLICATIONS of HARMONY

What is meant by the term “chord changes?” It usually refers to a given chord progression or the writ-
ten chords symbols. In any progression, some notes change between two adjacent chords and some
pitches stay the same. Chord changes in the truest theoretical and aural sense refers to the notes that
change between two chords. Melodic lines can emphasize the notes that stay the same or the notes that
change. If a melodic line is to create the sense of harmonic motion, it must address the notes that
change. A player who is “making the changes” addresses the notes that identifies the chords (consonant
notes: usually thirds) and finds the notes that move one chord to the next (dissonant notes that often
pull towards the consonant thirds). The voices that lead to the next voice follow certain principles. Any
pitch that is played over a harmonic progression has linear implications.

Guide tone lines may be created by following the given voice leading lines implicated by the harmonic
progressions. The guide tone lines are easy to hear and listeners intuitively follow them with a set of ex-

Jazz Theory Resources


190 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

pectations. Melodic inventiveness is a result of manipulation, elaboration, rhythmic enhancement, and


playful departure from these paths.

When the roots of chords in a progression move in descending fifths, the most common root move-
ment, it suggests specific voice leading principles. The voice leading principles can be stated simply:

• Thirds resolve to sevenths


• Sevenths resolve to thirds
• Fifths resolve to ninths
• Ninths resolve to fifths

9.15
Dm7 G7 C Dm7 G7 C Dm7 G7 C Dm 7 G7 C

˙ ˙ ˙ w
&c ˙ ˙ w ˙ ˙ w ˙ w
3 7 3 5 9 5 7 3 7 9 5 9

There may be some variants on dominant chords.

• The ninths may be altered, so the n9, b9 or #9 (usually shown as its enharmonic equivalent)
may be used. Any of the three ninths would still resolve to the fifth of the subsequent chord
as shown below. The b9 and #9 pitches are associated with minor keys though they are freely
used in major keys to create more tension. The Ab and Bb pitches shown below could be
from the key of C minor, three flats.

• The fifth of a dominant chord may be replaced by a n13 or a b13, the #11 or b5. Any of these
substitute pitches behave as a fifth and resolve to the ninth of the subsequent chord. The b13
is associated with a V7 in minor as the b13 is the minor third of the key. The Eb below could
be from the key of C minor, three flats.

9.16 Dominant Variants

#9 or b9 for n9 n13 for n5 b13 for n5 #11/b5 for n5


Dm7 G7 C Dm7 G7 C Dm7 G7 C Dm 7 G7 C
˙ ˙ w ˙ b˙ w ˙ #˙ w
& c ˙ bœ bœ w

Not all voices change between chords. When ninth chords are moving in a typical cycle of fifths pro-
gression, the roots in the bass change for each chord. Alternating pairs of voices resolve down stepwise.
The E and C of the Dm9 move to the D and B of the G9 chord while the A and F remain stationary.
Then the A and F of the G9 move to the G and E of the Cmaj9 while the D and B remain stationary.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 191

9.17 Pairs of voices alternating motion


Dm9 G9 Cmaj9

˙ 9 moves to 5
˙˙ 5 becomes 9
ww
& c ˙˙ ˙ w
5 becomes 9 9 moves to 5
3 becomes 7 7 moves to 3

? c ˙˙ ˙˙ w
7 moves to 3 3 becomes 9
w

An experienced improviser need not depend on a rhythm section accompanist to supply the harmonic
foundation (or the time). Harmony can be supplied as counterpoint between the single note bass
against the single note melodic line. This can be accomplished by aiming for a consonant melodic
pitch, usually the major or minor third, that clarifies the chord quality and then moving to a dissonant
note that creates motion by wanting to resolve to the consonant pitch for the next chord. The chord
tone that most often generates the motion to the next chord is the seventh. The seventh needs to re-
solve down, and when it does and the bass moving down by fifths, then the seventh will resolve to the
third of the next chord.

In this ii7 - V7 - I progression, the consonant note F, the third of the D minor, becomes the dissonant
note over the G7, then resolves down to the consonant third of C major. This is a basic guide tone line.

9.18 Basic Guide tone line beginning on third:


Dm7 G7 C C

&cw w w w
3 7 3
?c w w w
w

The more elaborate melodic line in ex. 9.19 follows the basic guide tone line shown from ex. 9.18. The F
is approached using scale tones. The high and low points of the Dm7 measure are chord tones with G as
a passing tone. The E and the G on beat four point to the F of the G7 measure. After a large leap from F
to E, which is a step disguised by octave displacement, the step motion continues down the scale. The
last four notes preceding the E are a broken arpeggio of a G7 chord. The F, the dissonant seventh, is
saved for last to propel the line towards the E, the third of C.

9.19 More elaborate line based on Guide tone line:


Dm7 G7 Cmaj7
œ œ œ œ œ
&c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ ˙ Ó

To create a guide tone line with more motion, the third may move to the seventh of the D minor chord
which will resolve to the third of the G7 chord. The seventh of the G7 chord resolves to the third of the
C major. Each measure begins with a stable tone, moves to a dissonant tone and resolves over the mea-
sure line to a stable tone again.

Jazz Theory Resources


192 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.20
Dm7 G7 C C

&c˙ ˙ w w
˙ ˙
3 7 3 7 3
?c w w w
w

A bass line follows a guide tone line of roots in a fairly strict fashion: using quarter note rhythms and
landing on roots on the beat one of a measure. There is more freedom in the development of melodic
lines from their guide tones: the range of rhythmic variations is endless; the line can be embellished
with many more diatonic and chromatic notes; and the guide tones are not restricted to the downbeats
of measures. As long as the identifying pitches happen at significant places in the measure they will
serve their function in the melodic line.

The two lines below were improvised by Tom Harrell and followed the guide tones shown above. In ex.
9.21 the F did not occur on the downbeat and was approached from above. The Gb did not sound like an
F #, the major third of D; it sounded like a chromatic passing tone. The C, the dissonant seventh, oc-
curred just before beat four, so to avoid reaching the Bn too early, Harrell approached the B from below
using a chromatic passing tone (A - A#). After playing notes borrowed from the parallel key of C minor
(Eb, Ab, and Bb), Harrell played the seventh of G7 which resolved to the E on the downbeat of the Cmaj7
measure. In ex. 9.22, Harrell approached the F from below using scale steps, the D was surrounded by its
upper and lower neighbors, followed by a leap past and then back to the dissonant C. The C resolved to
the B which Harrell placed on the strong first and third beats separated by chromatic and diatonic
passing tones. The line continued down the diatonic scale with the dissonant F resolving to the E over
the bar line. Both of these examples illustrate how flexible a line can be and still incorporate the guide
tones.

9.21 Improvised lines that follow guide tone lines:

œ bœ œ œ œ œ
Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

c j
& œ #œ œ œ bœ œ bœ bœ œ œ œ . œ ˙
9.22

œ œ # œ œ œ œ n œ œ œ3 # œ œ n œ œ œ
Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

c œ
& œ œ œj

The necessary notes for modulation, which should be committed to memory, will now be helpful in de-
termining guide tone lines and melodic pitches. The progression in ex. 9.23 is I - ii7/IV - V7/IV - IV. A
B b is needed to modulate from the key of C to the key of F major. What important pitch should be the
guide tone to lead to the key of F over these chords? Bb, the necessary accidental. What is the most con-
sonant pitch that will identify the G minor chord? Bb, the third of Gm7. What pitch creates the most mo-
tion from the C7 chord which will point to the Fmaj7 chord? Bb, the seventh of C7 which points to the
A, the consonant third and identifying pitch of F major. If one can tell that a tune has modulated or
temporarily tonicized another key area, it is because somewhere in the music the accidentals necessary

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 193

for modulation have been used to point away from the tonic key. The guide tones lead the listener to the
new key area.

9.23
C Gm7 C7 Fm aj7

&cw b˙ ˙ w

?c w ˙ w
˙

If one can tell that a tune has modulated or temporarily tonicized another key area, it is
because somewhere in the music accidentals necessary for modulation have been used to
point away from the tonic key. The guide tones lead the listener to the new key area.

GUIDE TONES for F Major BLUES

At the heart of the jazz blues harmonic progression are these guide tone lines. Sing these lines over a
blues bass line and the harmonic progression can be heard. The progression will be heard not because
some harmonic instrument like a piano or guitar is supplying the chords. The progression will be heard
because the counterpoint of the two lines, the guide tone lines composed of thirds and sevenths over
the bass line following roots, suggests the notes that identify and change the chords in the progression.
Listen to a beginning improvisation class and hear how often there are clashes between the harmonic
progression and their lines. They are not hearing the guide tones. An An may sound terrible in m.2 and
in mm.5-6 because we expect the Ab. Knowing where these tones are, how they sound in the context, and
when they create motion and when they are at rest will help with composing and improvising good
melodic lines. The first set of guide tone lines follow a simple blues progression; the second one in-
cludes more secondary dominants and a typical turnaround. These should be transposed to any key in
which the blues may be played.

9.24 Guide Tone Line for Simple F major Blues


F B b7 F F7 Bb B b7

& b c .. w bw nw bw w
bw
F Gm7 C7 F

& b nw w w w w w ..

9.25 Guide Tone Line for more complex F major Blues


F B b7 F Cm7 F7 Bb G #°7/B

& b c .. w bw nw bw w #w
F D7 Gm7 C7 F D7 Gm7 C7

& b w˙ . ˙ w˙ w˙ ˙ wœ œ # œ œ wœ œ œ œ ..
œ # ˙w ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


194 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

Guide tone notes may occur before, on or after the beat. In the skeleton outlines shown in ex. 9.24 -25,
the guide tone line is shown with whole notes referring to harmonic rhythm and not necessarily a re-
quired rhythmic placement. Knowing that the third is a target note on the downbeat does not mean that
it must be played on the downbeat. Melodic notes may be anticipated and delayed. Below is an excerpt
from Sonny Rollins. Each of the guide tone notes are anticipated on the upbeat of four giving the line
more forward motion and rhythmic drive.

9.26 Guide tone lines in blues progression

b j j j
& b c Ó Œ ‰ œJ ‰ œJ ‰ œ œ ‰ b œJ ‰ œJ ‰ œ œ ‰ n œJ ‰ œJ ‰ œ œ
Bb E b7 Bb
b w bw nw
&b c ∑

The guide tones in this line from Thelonious Monk are delayed: they land on the upbeat of two. Each is
approached using chromatic notes. The entire twelve measure line, from which this was extracted, in-
cludes eleven of the twelve chromatic pitches, but the peaks and important goals of the lines followed
the guide tone lines of thirds and sevenths.

9.27 Guide tone lines in blues progression

& b c Ó Œ ‰ œj œ œ # œ œ ‰ œj œ n œ # œ œ œ b œ œ ‰ œj œ œ # œ n œ
F B b7 F

&b c ∑ w bw nw

Clifford Brown placed the guide tones in a variety of rhythmic places in ex. 9.28. The guide tones ar-
rived on the downbeat in the first two measures. The seventh of F (Eb) arrived a bit early in m.3. The Eb
finally resolved to the D on the upbeat of one in m.5. Brown clearly distinguished between the Ab in m.6
and the An in m.7 and both were approached in a similar way and occurred on the downbeat.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 195

9.28 Guide tone lines in blues progression

j œ.
3 3

& b c œ . œJ Œ œ œ œ b œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ b œ œ Œ Ó œ
J
F B b7 F F7

&b c w bw nw bw
r
& b œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ
Bb B b7 F

&b w bw nw

Ex. 9.29 is from mm.7-11 of the blues form. Charlie Parker suggested a more complex blues progression
by his choice of guide tone notes. Parker began this phrase with the identical notes that Brown played in
ex. 9.28. The notes necessary to modulate from F major to the key of ii, Gm, are Eb, from the key signa-
ture, and the leading tone F#. The secondary dominant D7 was suggested by the F# and the Eb. The F# - A
- C - Eb arpeggio is the 3-5-7-b9 of D7. The C, the dissonant seventh of the D7 chord, was sounded again
in the Gm7 measure and resolved to Bb, creating a 4-3 suspension. The Bb was reinforced over the C7,
and moved down the scale to the E, the third. Parker arpeggiated the C7 chord from the third, borrowed
the Db and Eb from the parallel F minor and finally moved down the scale to the target note A. Parker
clearly delineated the harmonic progression with his note choices, but the rhythmic character was as
important as the notes. There was a great variety of rhythmic activity within this short excerpt: the sim-
ple idea in the first measure, the triplet turns, displaced resolutions, thirty-second note pick-up notes,
and the syncopated ending.

9.29 Guide tone lines in blues progression

bœ œ œ œ œ œ Œ ‰ œ œ œœ œ œ
3

œ œ bœbœ œ œ œ œ œ Ó
3

& b c œ . Œ
J J ‰ œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
F D7 Gm7 C7 F

& b c w˙ . ˙ w˙ w˙ ˙
œ # w˙ ˙ w

The guide tones may occur in any register as shown in the following excerpts from a blues improvisa-
tion by Tete Montoliu. The non-chord tones always resolved back to chord tones. The two Bb pitches in
the first measure resolved back to the guide tone A. The D, Db and Bn in m.2 resolved to C, the fifth of
the F chord. The Ab, the guide tone for the Bb7 chord behaved as a G# leading back to the A in the final
measure.

Jazz Theory Resources


196 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

œœ
9.30 Guide tone lines in blues progression

œœ œ œ œ j œ. jœ j
&b c œ œ œ œ bœ nœ œ œ œ b œ œ b œ œ ‰ œ bœ #œnœ œ
b œ œ œ
3

F F7 Bb B b7 F

& b c nw bw w bw nw
5

The Bb resolved back to the guide tone A. The guide tone Eb was followed by the chromatic C# which en-
circled and created more tension pointing to the guide tone D.

9.31 Guide tone lines in blues progression

&b c Ó Œ ‰ Jœ ‰ œj ‰ œ œ œ ‰ b œj œ ‰ œJ b œ # œ ‰ œJ Jœ
J
F F7 Bb

&b c ∑ nw bw w
5

Montoliu suggested additional chromatic motion in m.2 with the Dn moving to Db. The Db suggested that
the Bb major became Bb minor which created a traditional church sounding plagal cadence back to F: IV
- iv - I. The harmonic motion in this passage was clear and was created by the harmonically specific
melodic lines.

9.32 Guide tone lines in blues progression

œ œ œ œ b œ œ œ b œ œ ‰ j œ #3œ œ b œ œ3b œ n œ œ
3

œ
3

& b c œ œ œ œ œ œbœ œ œ œ œ œ œ j
œ œ œ œ bœ
B b7 Bb œ.
b ˙ ˙ (b˙ ) ˙
F F F7

&b c ˙ n˙ bw w

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 197

BLUES ETUDE: GUIDE TONES


Here is a short, simple blues etude based on guide tone lines. Try inventing, writing down and learning
several blues choruses of your own. Borrow and steal from the examples here and others you may ac-
quire from jazz artists.

9.33

&b c ‰ œj œ # œ œ . œ ‰ j œ œ b œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ n œ œ b œ ‰ Jœ œ œ b œ œ œ # œ
J œ
B b7
bw
F F Cm7 F7

&b c ∑ w bw nw

& b œ œ œ bœ Ó ‰ Jœ œ œ b œ œ œ # œ n œ œ Œ Ó ‰ œ œ œ œ #œ bœ œ œ
B b7 G #°7/B
w
F D7

&b w˙. ˙
#w œ # w˙

& b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ b œ œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ ‰ œj n œ œ Ó
Gm7 C7 F D7 Gm7 C7

& b w˙ ˙ w˙ ˙ wœ œ #œ œ wœ œ œ

GUIDE TONE LINE APPLICATIONS to STANDARD PROGRESSIONS

Guide tones can be extremely helpful for creating lines through any progression. To determine a guide
tone line for a harmonic progression, try beginning on the third of the first chord. This establishes the
foundation from which the progression and the line will depart. Try to move only when necessary, find-
ing a smooth path through the progression. Often a standard harmonic progression will lend itself to a
guide tone line that moves only in steps. Dissonant notes should resolve across the measure line to a
consonant note. When chords occur that modulate, the guide tone notes will often prove to be the notes
necessary for modulation and will be important chord tones. Many progressions will loop so that after a
series of harmonic excursions, the original chord will be heard again at the top of the form or at the
second A section. As an example, progression no. 13 is a thirty-two measure ABAC form. The first half is
shown below. All of the harmony moves away from the tonic Eb chord, but returns to it for the second A
section at m.17. In this way, the guide tone lines should lead back to the starting pitch.

CREATING a GUIDE TONE LINE

A guide tone line could begin on any pitch, but the third is the most definitive note. The line below be-
gins on the third of the tonic Eb chord. The G moves down a step to the third of the Dø7 chord. It is not
necessary to move the F for the G7 chord. This is a case of the note changing its status from consonant

Jazz Theory Resources


198 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

to dissonant by the movement in the bass. The F is now the unstable seventh of G which resolves to the
third of Cm, Eb. The Db is the third of Bbm7 and is the logical choice for the continuation of the line as
it moves down a step from the Eb. The Db is chosen because it is the third of Bbm7, or since Bbm7 - Eb7
modulates to Ab, the Db is chosen as the required accidental to move from the key of Eb (3bs) to Ab (4bs).
The Db as the seventh of Eb7 resolves to the consonant pitch C over the Ab major which must become Cb
over the Db7 chord. The Db7 is a backdoor dominant and standing in for an Abm, the iv chord in a pla-
gal cadence, and therefore must have a Cb. Any pitch tends to resolve in the direction in which it has
been altered, so Cb wants to resolve to Bb over the Eb chord. Bb is not the third or seventh of Eb, but is a
good choice for this chord in the middle of the progression for at least two reasons: (1), the Cb required
the downward resolution, and (2), the Bb can then move smoothly to the next guide tone, An. Why is An
the appropriate guide tone for the F7 chord? F7 is the V7 of Bb. Bb has the key signature of two flats, one
less than the key of Eb. The An is the note that must change and it is also the third of F7. The Fm7 - Bb7
signals the return to the key of Eb and that necessitates the addition of Ab. Ab is also the third of the Fm7
chord and the seventh of the Bb7 chord which resolves down to the G, the third of Eb and the cycle is
complete. The guide tone line is smooth, easy to hear and sing, harmonically very specific, and was
composed of mostly thirds and sevenths, with the one exception, the fifth of Eb. When the roots move
down in fifths, there is a secondary seventh to third guide tone line which may be suggested and is
shown below with smaller notes.

9.34 Progression no. 13


E bmaj7
b B bm7 E b7
b
Dø7 G7 9 Cm7

& b b c .. w w w w w w bw w˙
˙ n˙ ˙
A bmaj7 D b9 E bmaj7 B b7
bbb
F9 Fm 7

& w nw w bw w ..
w bw w ˙ ˙

GUIDE TONE LINES in PERFORMANCES

These next several examples are from a live performance of Lou Donaldson and Clifford Brown. The
vehicle used for improvisation was a tune based on progression no. 13.

In m.7, Lou Donaldson landed on a Dn over the Bbm7 chord, but quickly came back to capture the Db,
clarifying the minor chord quality. The Db is also the last note he played in the Eb7 measure and led to
the C, the third of Ab major. After establishing the stability with the third of the chord, a melody line
can venture far away and include a great deal of leaps and chromaticism. When the line returns to the
third of next chord, a 3-5-7-9 arpeggio often follows, which removes any remaining harmonic ambiguity.
Donaldson used this principle over the Abmaj7.

9.35
B bm 7 E b7 A bmaj7 3-5-7-9 arpeggio D b9

b œ bœ œ
&b b c Œ œ œ
3

œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ bœ œ œ
nœ œ nœ bœ bœ œ œ

Donaldson began the F7 measure with the An, went to the upper neighbor tone, descended the scale, and
after an arpeggio that suggested the 3-5-7-9 of Cm7, came back to the An surrounding it with its upper
and lower neighbor tones.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 199

9.36
F9

b
& b b c nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ #œ œ œ Œ
3

Ex. 9.37 immediately followed 9.36 in the Donaldson improvisation. Donaldson changed the An to an Ab
to accommodate the Fm7 chord pointing back to the key of Eb. The Ab was approached by an arpeggia-
tion of the F minor triad. There was a great deal of chromatic ambiguity over the Bb7 chord which cre-
ated a desirable instability over the chord that leads to the tonic. Two chromatic lines were suggested
that pointed to the guide tone Dn : F-En -E b -D n from above and C- C #- D n from below. When the line
reached the Dn, the third of Bb, Donaldson used the 3-5-7-9 arpeggio principle that cleared up the har-
monic ambiguity of the first half of the measure. The last three notes of the arpeggio were octave dis-
placed. The line continued down to the guide tone note G, and then moved up, after encircling the Eb
with neighbor tones, to the G in the upper octave.

9.37
Fm 7 B b7 3-5-7-9 Arpeggio E bm aj7

b j
& b b c Œ ‰ œj œ b œ œ œ n œ œ b œ # œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ bœ œ œ œ
The guide tone thirds appeared on the downbeats for the Cm7 and Bbm7 chords. The Dn in the third
measure over the Eb7 chord is not an error. It would not be heard as the major seventh of the Eb7 chord
but as the chromatic lower neighbor to the Eb note that followed. Again, when arriving at the third of the
Abmaj7 chord, Donaldson used an arpeggio.

9.38
Cm7 B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7 Arpeggio

b
& b b c œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœœ œ
3

œ n œ n œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ #œ œ nœ

Donaldson began this phrase on the guide tone Db, then suggested the seventh to third guide tones Ab to
G between the Bbm7 and Eb7 chord. Another arpeggio occurred after arriving at the third of Abmaj7.

9.39
B bm7 E b7 A bmaj7

bb c ‰ bœ œ œ nœ œ œ bœ
3

b œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ Œ
œ œ
3

&
7 3 3-5-7-9 Arpeggio

Clifford Brown played a very similar line to the Donaldson above. Both lines began on the Db and en-
circled the Bb with neighbor tones. Brown used an Ab paired with Fn to Donaldson’s Ab and F# to point to
the G. Brown used notes borrowed from the parallel enharmonic minor key of G# minor that created
more tension when pointing to the Abmaj7. When Brown reached the third of Abmaj7 he used the prin-
ciple of arpeggiating the 3-5-7-9 of the chord, but octave displaced the last three notes.

Jazz Theory Resources


200 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.40
B bm 7 E b7 A bm aj7

b #œ nœ #œ œ œ bœ œ nœ œ
& b b c bœ nœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ Œ œ œ bœ
3-5-7-9 Arpeggio

Brown supplied the third of every chord on the downbeat in this progression. While C minor and Eb
major share the same key signature, the key of C minor needs a Bn, the leading tone, to create the domi-
nant chord G7. Brown played it on the downbeat and followed it with an inverted 3-5-7-9 arpeggio.

9.41
Dø7
b
G7 9 3 Cm7

b œ œœœœ œ 3

&b b c nœ #œ nœ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ Ó
3-5-7-9 Arpeggio
œ œ
3 7 3 7 3

The use of a 3-5-7-9 arpeggio as a way of elaborating a guide tone line is a universal jazz device. The 3-5-
7-9 arpeggio may be found in ascending form or inverted where the last three notes, 5-7-9, are octave
displaced. Tom Harrell sequenced this device in the following examples. The F7 arpeggio was inverted
and the arpeggio for the Bbm7 ascended in ex. 9.42.

9.42
b
F7 9 B bm7 Arpeggio
b œ
Arpeggio

& b b b b 34 n œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ n œ œ

The guide tone notes are circled in this excerpt from Tom Harrell. They do not always occur on the
downbeat, but are always prepared and approached in a logical way. The 3-5-7-9 arpeggios are marked
with brackets. Harrell made the sequence work in the last two measures even with the meter change on
the Bbm7 chord.

9.43
Gø7 C7 Fm 7 B bm7

bbb 3 œ . œ œ œ
3

b œ œ œ œ
œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
3
& 4 œ œ nœ œ œ
œ
Contemporary improvisers are also aware of and use guide tones to identify and connect chords. John
Scofield aimed for the third and seventh of all the chords in the following progression. The Bb7 chord is
a secondary dominant chord and points away from the key of Db (5bs) to the key of Eb minor (6bs plus a
leading tone). The leading tone is Dn and the sixth flat is Cb. These are the first two pitches Scofield
played over the Bb7 chord. Scofield arpeggiated the Ebm7 chord 3-5-7, but stopped before reaching the
ninth, and let the seventh resolve to the third of Ab7. He almost used the 3-5-7-9 arpeggio over the Db
chord, using a Bb instead of the C.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 201

9.44
Db
b
B b7 9
b
& b b b b c œ œ œ ¿ œ œ œ . Jœ ‰ œJ œ œ œ œ Œ
nœ bœ œ œ œ
3 3 ¿ œ ˙ œ
E bm 7 . .
7 3
A b7 Db
7
7
b b œ . œ œ œ
3

&b b b œ œ nœ nœ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ J
œ œ 7 œ n œ œ3 7 3

Standard jazz progressions are still attractive to contemporary jazz performers. Mike Stern used progres-
sion no. 7, from a tune published in 1947, to compose a new composition. This is a very common idea.
Many of the compositions from the early bop era were newly composed pieces based on established
harmonic progressions, usually borrowed from or similar to popular show tunes. There is something
that is still interesting and challenging about these traditional progressions. Sometimes they offer a con-
temporary player an opportunity to improvise lines that contradict the underlying harmonic implica-
tions, but here, Stern aimed for the coherent tones of each chord with at least one unexpected turn. The
F# in the second measure informed the listener that F major was left behind. The D7 chord was arpeg-
giated and its seventh, the restless dissonant tone C, resolved over the measure line to the consonant
third of Gm7. The Bb was encircled by upper and lower neighbor tones before continuing down the
scale. At the C7 measure, a listener might expect to hear the Fn, the seventh of Gm7 resolve to a En, the
third of C. Stern played an F#, this time as part of an encircling of the G before moving down to the Fn
which did finally resolve to E, not just anywhere, but on the strong third beat. The line continued down
the scale sounding the seventh of C7 before resolving smoothly over the measure line to the consonant
third of F.

9.45
Fmaj7 D7 Gm7 C7 Fmaj7

&b c ˙ ˙ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ nœ œ œ
œœ œ
3 7 3 3 7 3

The idea that melody lines can implicate and outline the harmonic motion should not be difficult to
imagine. Historically, the entire concept of harmony came about as a result of melodic lines. The con-
cepts of vertical sonorities, chords and harmonic progressions evolved from the convergence of linear
melodies. The melodies were implicating the harmony before harmony existed. Many years ago stu-
dents asked me for book recommendations for melodic ideas. I always suggested Bach, Mozart, and
works of other time tested geniuses of melody. They always looked puzzled and sadly, few of them took
me seriously. Listen to the strength of the single line against another single line in two-part inventions.
There is no chordal accompaniments and yet the harmonic motion is crystal clear. This is because the
lines themselves incorporate the important chord tones as guide tones. The six suites for cello solo and
the solo sonatas and partitas for violin are excellent material for harmonically specific lines. What can
be learned from the study of Clifford Brown and Charlie Parker can be learned from even older masters
of melodic invention.

There are several melodic lines implied in this Menuet from Suite no. 1 for cello solo. No double stops
are used to indicate the harmonic motion, only the single note melody line implying up to three sepa-
rate voices.

Jazz Theory Resources


202 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.46 J. S. Bach: Suite No. 1 for Cello Solo, Menuet II

? b b 34 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ
œœœ œœœœœ œœ œœœœ
1

? bb œ #œ œ œ œ œ #˙ # œ œ œ œ œœ
.. .. œ œ nœ
nœ œ
œ œœœ œ œ œœ
? bb œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ
7

œœœ
13

? bb œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ ..
œ œ œ œ œ
#œ œ ˙.
19

The primary line in mm.1-4 suggests Bb - A - G - F#, a descending step line at the interval of a third and
an octave over the bass line G - F - Eb - D. The Bb over the G in the first measure left no doubt that the
piece is in a minor key. The F#, leading tone in m.4 and m.8 is the third of the implied D7 chord and is
approached from above and again made it clear that this piece is in G minor and not Bb major.

Brown, Parker and Harrell used arpeggios from the thirds of chords. What about Bach? Examine the
second part of the Menuet II. The chart below shows the implied harmonic progression and below de-
tails the melodic devices used to implicate the harmony.

Implied harmony for second part of Menuet II:

D7 Gm C7 F Bb Eb F7 Bb F7 Bb
9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Arpeggio Encircled Arpeggio Encircled Arpeggio Arpeggio Thirds Arpeggio


3rd 3rd
F# and E b En points to Eb points to lack of F# Fn indicates
point to Gm key of F key of B b also points Bb and not
to B b Gm

G7 Cm F7 Bb D7 Gm Aø7 D7 Gm
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

3-5-7-9 Arpeggio 3-5-7-9 Arpeggio 3-5-7-9 Arpeggio 3rds Root


arpeggio arpeggio arpeggio
with 7th -3rd with 7th -3rd with 7th -3rd
resolution resolution resolution
Bn and A b Fn indicates Return of F #
point to Cm Bb and not indicates G
Gm minor, not
Bb major

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 203

STEP PROGRESSION

Many times the harmonic guide tones will suggest a simple step line over several chords. The first four
measures of the Menuet II followed a step progression. The example below. IV - iii - ii - I shows the bass
and the guide tone thirds following simple downward step progressions.

9.47 Step Progression

&cw w w w

?c w w w w

Mozart used this same step progression to create these longer florid lines. Mozart used ascending and
descending diatonic scales to accentuate the guide tone step progression line in two octaves.

9.48 Mozart: Sonata in C major, Allegro, KV 545

œœ œ œ œœœœœ œ
& c œœœœ œœ œœœœœœœ œœœœœœœ œœœœœœœœœœœœœœœ œœœœœœœœœœœœœœœ
œ œœ œ œ œ
?c œ œ
Œ Œ œ Œ Œ œ œ Œ Œ œ œ Œ Œ œœ

Using some basic harmonic substitutions, the Mozart line can be transformed into a jazzy sounding line.

9.49
#9
B7b 13
b b
œ œ œ œ œbœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ bœ
Fmaj7 Em7 A7 9 Dm7 G7 9 Cmaj7
œ œ œ œ œœœ
c
& œ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œbœ œ œ ˙

A step progression can be created using the primary guide tones over progression no. 13. This guide
tone line is a harmonically specific step progression that begins and eventually returns to G after sixteen
measures.

Jazz Theory Resources


204 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.50 Progression no. 13


E bmaj7
b B bm7 E b7
b
Dø7 G7 9 Cm7

& b b c .. w w w w w w bw w˙
˙ n˙ ˙
A bmaj7 D b9 E bmaj7 B b7
bbb
F9 Fm 7

& w nw w bw w ..
w bw w ˙ ˙

Clifford Brown used an extended step progression in this excerpt. The step line was interrupted with
neighbor tones, an inverted 3-5-7-9 arpeggio, and octave displacement. The line pointed to the third of
every chord in the progression and moved toward the seventh which resolved to the third of the subse-
quent chord. Some of the sevenths were delayed and resolved as 4 - 3 suspensions. This illustrates the
dual nature of some notes. The Eb over the F7 is the seventh and points to the Db, the third of Bbm. The
E b is both the seventh of F7 and the upper neighbor to the Eb. Not matter which analysis and term is
used, in both roles, the Eb is a dissonant note wanting to resolve to the Db. The simplified step progres-
sion is shown on the bottom line.

9.51
Cm7 F7 B bm7 E b7
œ œ œ œ nœ œ j bœ nœ œ bœ œ
3
b
& b b b 34
j
œ
3

J œ nœ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ

b œ œ œ œ 7œ
3

& b b b 34 œ
7 7 3
œ œœœ œ
7 3 3
œ nœ bœ œ œ œ

A bmaj7 3 F7 3 3 B bm7
3
b
3

& b bb œ Œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ
nœ ˙
b b
3
œ
3 7 3

&b b œ nœ bœ œ œ œ

Ex. 9.52 is another step progression example from Clifford Brown. Brown’s line incorporated the har-
monically clear thirds in almost every measure. All twelve of the chromatic pitches were used, but never
at random. All chromatic tones were resolved in predictable ways. The Db was a chromatic passing tone
between D and C in the pick-up measure. In m.3, the C# and the A# pointed up to the chord tones D and
B. The D# in m.5 indicated a shift to the key of E minor, and was the anticipated third of B7. The G# in
m.7 clarified the key of E major. The Gn in the last measure verifies the return to the key of G. The step
line was twice interrupted by octave displacement. In both cases of octave displacement, Brown leapt
from the harmonically clear third up to the ninth before descending again.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 205

9.52

Am7 D7 Gmaj7
# c nœ
& ‰ Jœ ‰ b Jœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ b œ Œ ‰ œJ # œ n œ œ œ n œ # œ œ ‰ j œ œ œ œ
#œ œ
# bœ
3 - 9
œ œ œ nœ œ
& c œœœ œ œœ

F #m 7 B7 Emaj7 Am 7 D7
#
& œ œ œ # œ Œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ # œ œ œ # œ œ ‰ n œj œ n œ œ œ Œ
3

# 3 -
œ œ œ œ œ
9

& œ œ #œ œ #œ nœ œ œ

This simple step progression framework may not seem like enough for an interesting piece of music, but
it is the basis for one of the most familiar melodies of the twentieth century. Judy Garland sang it in an
early disaster film about tornadoes. Play the simple framework below while singing the complete
melody. What devices were used to create this melody out of a simple descending scale?

9.53

&c ˙ ˙ w w w w w w w

A step line is often suggested by any harmonic progression. Learning to hear progressions usually in-
volves being able to hear the one voice that indicates the change. The root of the F chord may not at
first seem like the best choice to begin the step line below until examining the rest of the line. The Eb is
the note that points to the Bb chord and resolves to the harmonically clear third of Bb, the Dn. The Dn
must become the Db to accommodate the Eb7 chord. The C is the natural choice for the first inversion F
chord for two reasons: (1) it is the logical resolution of the Db, and (2) is a third above the bass note.

9.54

F F7/A Bb E b7 F/A D7 Gm7 C7 F


˙ b˙ ˙ b˙ ˙
&b c ˙ ˙ bœ œ œ

?b c b˙ ˙ ˙
˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


206 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

Ex. 9.55 is a embellished version of the simple framework in ex. 9.54. The notes on the downbeats of
mm.2-3 are anticipated giving a rhythmic push to the line. There is more angularity created using arpeg-
gios over the D7 and Gm7 chords.

9.55

F F7/A Bb E b7 F/A D7 Gm7 C7 F


œ œ b œ œ œ b œ j 3

& b c #œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ ‰ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ
3

œ œœ œ

OTHER VOICES as GUIDE TONES

The third often proves to be the clearest note to begin a guide tone line. Beginning with the third in-
sures the line will build dramatic intensity as it moves away from the consonant third. The third is often
approached by the seventh of the previous chord which descends step wise from the dissonance to the
consonance. Ninth chords are common in jazz, which makes it possible to have five separate voice lead-
ing lines occurring at once using the root, third, fifth, seventh and ninth of the chord as beginning
pitches. All of these notes have linear harmonic implications. Lines may begin on chord tones other
than the third. While these other pitches may be chord tones, and therefore harmonically specific, they
may not be as clear as the third in establishing the quality of the chord.

GUIDE TONE LINE BEGINNING on the THIRD

Thirds resolve to sevenths when chords are separated by a fifth. Progression no. 13 suggests a harmoni-
cally specific guide tone step progression that begins on the third and eventually returns to the same
pitch after sixteen measures. The guide tone line never moves more than a whole step. The octave dis-
placement in mm.11-12 keeps the line in the staff. Because it is preceded by a backdoor dominant, the
guide tone for the Ebmaj7 chord is the fifth, Bb. The Bb resolves down a half step to the essential tone An,
the third of the F7 chord.

9.56 Guide Tone Line No. 1: Progression no. 13 with line beginning on the third
E bmaj7
b B bm7 E b7
b
Dø7 G7 9 Cm7 F7

& b b c .. w w w w w w bw w
3 3 7 3 7 3 7

A bmaj7 D b9 E bmaj7 B b7
bbb
F9 Fm 7

& w nw w bw w ..
w bw w
3 7 3 3 7

This etude follows guide tone line no. 1. In the first few measures, the guide tone is elaborated by move-
ment up and down the diatonic scale returning to the guide tone. Many other notes are used in addition
to the guide tones, and some other guide tone linear implications may be found. 3-5-7-9 arpeggios are
found in mm, 9, 15 and 16.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 207

9.57 ETUDE based on Guide Tone Line No. 1:


E bmaj7
b9
b j Dø7
j
G7

& b b c .. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ #œ nœ œ œ œ
B bm7 E b7
bbb j ‰ œj
Cm7 F7
œ œ œ œ #œ œ . œ
& œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ bœ œ œ œ J œ bœ œ
A bmaj7 b b
j
bbb
D 9 E m aj7

& œ œ ‰ nœ bœ œ œ bœ œ œ Œ ‰ j œ œ œ
œ œ bœ œ ˙ . œ œ œ œ
B b7
bbb
F9 Fm 7

& nœ œ nœ œ œ œ œ Ó ‰ n œj œ œ b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ b œ œ œ œ # œ ..
œ œ #œ œ
GUIDE TONE LINE BEGINNING on the SEVENTH

The seventh is a dissonant tone and creates motion to the third of the next chord. The first guide tone
line began with thirds that moved to sevenths. Thirds lead to sevenths and sevenths lead to thirds. This
guide tone lines reverses the location of sevenths and thirds from the guide tone line shown in ex. 9.56.
Beginning on the seventh creates an initial dissonance note which alternates with consonant notes as
the previous line.

9.58 Guide Tone Line No. 2: Progression no. 13 with line beginning on the seventh
E bmaj7
b B bm7 E b7
b
G7 9

& b b c .. w w
Dø7 Cm7 F7
w nw bw nw bw w
7 7 3 7 3 7 3

A bm aj7 D b9 E bmaj7 B b7
bbb w w w
F9 Fm7

& w w w w ..
w
7 3 9 7 7 7 3

The etude shown in ex. 9.59 follows the above guide tone line no. 2. The third of F7 is preceded by its
upper neighbor, Bb, which is also the seventh of the Cm7 chord, and preceded by its lower neighbor, G#.
This idea is sequenced over Bbm7 - Eb7. There are two lines suggested in mm.9-11: the top of the line fol-
lows the G - G - F of the guide tone line above, the C - Cb - Bb suggests the parallel measures in guide
tone line no. 1.

Jazz Theory Resources


208 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.59 ETUDE based on Guide Tone Line No. 2:


E bmaj7
b9
b œ œ n œ œ œ œ b œ œ œ b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ nœ œ œ œ Ó
Dø7 G7

& b b c .. ‰ œ. œ
J
B bm 7 E b7
b j j
Cm7 F7

& b b Œ ‰ œ œ œ #œ nœ œ . œ Ó Œ ‰ œ œ œ #œ œ ˙ .
J
Œ

A bm aj7 D b9 E bm aj7
b j j
& b b ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ . œ Ó
œ
B b7
b ‰ œj œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ .
F9 Fm7

& b b ‰ œj ‰ œj œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ œ Ó
J
..

GUIDE TONE LINE BEGINNING on the FIFTH

Playing the consonant fifth alone over the root in the bass reveals nothing of the chord quality. Both
major and minor chords have a perfect fifth, and the quality will remain unconfirmed until a third has
been sounded. The harmonic implications of a guide tone line beginning on the fifth will be vague. As
thirds lead to sevenths and sevenths to thirds, the fifth resolves to a ninth. The fifth of the Dø7 becomes
the b9 of the G7 which resolves to the fifth of the Cm and so on. Creating lines using the fifths and
ninths will require the use of thirds and sevenths elsewhere in the line or will depend on outside ac-
companiment to verify the quality of individual chords.

Fifths must be perfect on major and minor chords. This does not prohibit using a chromatic leading
tone to the fifth. Half diminished chords have diminished fifths. On dominant chord, fifths can be low-
ered or raised. The thirteenth or flatted thirteenth may substitute for the fifth in a dominant chord.
When using a guide tone line of fifths and ninths, the loss of harmonic clarity by not using the funda-
mental thirds and sevenths is exchanged for the available color combinations of altered ninths fifths
and thirteenths available on the dominant chords.

9.60 Guide Tone Line No. 3: Progression no. 13 with line beginning on the fifth
E bmaj7
b B bm7 E b7
b
Dø7 G7 9 Cm7 F7

& b b c .. w w w w w ˙. œ w ˙ . bœ
5 5 9 5 9 5 9

A bm aj7 D b9 E bmaj7 B b7
bbb w w
F9 Fm7

& w w ˙ . b œ ..
w w w
5 9 7 (13) 5 5 9

This etude follows guide tone line no. 3. The first line begins with and leads up to a Bb guide tone, but
emphasizes the third in the second measure which clarifies the major chord quality. In several measures,
after sounding the guide tone fifth, the line will reach towards the third for harmonic clarity.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 209

9.61 ETUDE based on Guide Tone Line No. 3:


E bmaj7
b
b œ œ œ œ Œ ‰ œj œ œ œ # œ
Dø7 G7 9

& b b c .. Œ ‰ j œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ n œ b ˙
œ
B bm7 E b7
bbb j ‰ œj b œ œ œ
Cm7 F7

& œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ ˙ ‰ n œj
bœ œ œ œ nœ œ ˙ bœ nœ
A bm aj7 D b9 E bmaj7

& bbb ‰ œj œ n œ b œ œ ‰ œ . ‰ j ∑
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙
B b7
bbb œ œ nœ œ œ Œ ‰ Jœ œ œ œ œ œ œ b ˙ .
F9 Fm7

& œ n œ œ Œ ..
œ œ œ nœ œ œ

GUIDE TONE LINE BEGINNING on the NINTH

As fifths resolve to ninths, ninths resolve to fifths. Guide tone line no. 4 begins on the ninth, and the
ninths resolve to fifths when the chords are separated by fifths. The very dissonant ninth (Eb) of the Dø7
chord could resolve to the fifth of G (Dn) or remain as the b13 (Eb) of the G7. The b13 can resolve down
to the fifth of G7. The fifth of G7 then becomes the ninth of the Cm7 and so on. The ambiguous and
colorful ninths and fifths may require the clarity of thirds and sevenths to be included in the line or in a
separate accompaniment. This guide tone line leads to the third for the Eb chord in m.11.

9.62 Guide Tone Line No. 4: Progression no. 13 with line beginning on the seventh
E bmaj7
b B bm7 E b7
b w w Dø7
w ˙ ˙
G7 9
w
Cm7
˙ b˙
F7

& b b c .. w ˙ b˙
9 9 13 5 9 13 9 13

A bm aj7 D b9 E bmaj7 B b7
b w
F9
w w
Fm7
˙ b˙
&b b w ˙ ˙ w w ..
9 13 5 3 9 9 13

This etude follows guide tone line no. 4. The melody line suggested a seventh to third resolution from
the Dø7 to the G7, as relief from the obscure harmonic information provided by the ninths and fifths.

Jazz Theory Resources


210 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.63 ETUDE based on Guide Tone Line No. 4:


E bmaj7
b
b b c .. Œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ œ
‰ œJ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ J œ
Dø7 G7 9

& b œ nœ ˙

B bm 7 E b7
b
&b b œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ ‰ œJ b œ n œ œ b œ œ œ œ œ b œ ˙ .
Cm7 F7
Œ

A bm aj7 D b9 E bmaj7
b
& b b ‰ œj œ œ œ œ œ œ œ n œ b œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ n œ œ œ œ œ ∑

B b7
3

b j
œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ # œj œ œ b œ ˙
F9 Fm 7

& b b ‰ œj œ # œ œ œ œ œ œ . œ Ó ..

FIVE GUIDE TONE LINES at ONE TIME

If all four of the guide tone lines occur at once then five part harmony is the result. It is important, as an
improviser or composer of melodic lines, to learn to think of the harmony as a consequence of the
lines and not a separate unrelated vertical entity.

9.64
E bm aj7
b B bm7 E b7
b w ww Dø7
ww ˙˙ ˙
G7 9
ww
Cm7
˙˙ b b ˙˙
F7

& b b c .. ww w w ˙ ˙˙ w ˙ ˙
w
b ww
˙ b˙
b ˙˙ b ˙˙
w w w n ww bw n ww bw ww
? b c .. w w w w
bb w

A bm aj7 D b9 E bm aj7 B b7
b
F9
ww ww
Fm7
˙˙ b b ˙˙ .
& b b www ˙˙ ˙˙ w w ww nw bw ˙ ˙ .
b˙ ˙ ww ww nw
w w ww
? b w b ww w w w w w ..
bb w w
GUIDE TONE LINES with DECEPTIVE RESOLUTIONS

The first four guide tone lines should have been easy to hear. The resolutions that occurred were what
most would expect; there were no surprises. Since these lines and their voice leading are common and
anticipated by most listeners, it is important to learn what they are and how they work before trying to
do the unexpected. After mastering the expected, one has a better chance to understand and effectively

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 211

use the unexpected resolution. Here are a few possible guide tone lines which move against expectations.
Since most of the voice leading lines tend to fall (a seventh resolves down to a third; a ninth to a fifth; a
suspended fourth resolves down to the third) then it is not surprising that the unexpected lines move
upward. There is a great deal of tension created by the following ascending guide tone lines. The tension
that the ascending guide tone lines create can be an effective tool in constructing a dramatic improvisa-
tion or composition.

The line in ex. 9.65 begins on the fifth of Eb. Instead of the Bb resolving down to the fifth of Dø7 and
then becoming the ninth of G7 as it did in guide tone line no. 3 (9.60), the Bb moves up to the C, the
seventh of Dø7. The motion is still smooth, but contradictory to expectations. The C, as the seventh of
Dø7 points down the Bn, the third of G7. If it resolves up, the dissonance is compounded by the unex-
pected ascension and the resolution to the very dissonant #11 of the G7. The C# dissonance is appeased
somewhat by the resolution to the relatively less dissonant Dn, the ninth of Cm. The D moves up to the
Eb, a dissonant note to the Bbm7, but also the dominant of the new key of Ab. The Eb moves up to En, or
F b, the flat ninth of Eb, which begs to resolve back down to Eb, the fifth of the next chord, Ab. It defies
gravity again moving to the F over the Ab, a relatively calm dissonance. The G and Ab are comparatively
relaxed over the Db7 and seem to point up to the Bb. Instead, the unexpected An occurs before resolving
to the Bb. The Bb had previously at this point in the progression moved down to the An, but here moves
up to the Bn, the #11 of F7. The Bn moves up to the consonant fifth (Cn) of Fm7 and then to the #9 (C#) of
Bb. A guide tone line like this generates tension partly because of the unexpected resolutions. That most
step progressions and guide tone lines descend and the fact that this line ascends contributes to the
sense of mounting urgency.

9.65 Guide Tone Line No. 5: Progression no. 13 with ascending line
E bmaj7
b B bm7 E b7
b
Dø7 G7 9 Cm7 F7

& b b c .. w w w nw
w w w #w
A bm aj7 D b9 E bm aj7 B b7
bbb
F9 Fm7

& ˙ ˙ nw w nw nw w #w ..
w

Jazz Theory Resources


212 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.66 ETUDE based on Guide Tone Line No. 5:


E bmaj7
b
b
G7 9
j œ
Dø7

& b b c .. ˙ . œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ . œ œ œ ‰ # œJ ˙ .
B bm7 E b7
b œ œ œ Ó œ œ
3
œ n œ œ œ bœ
&b b œ œ b œ œ
Cm7 F7
Ó œ œ œ n œ œ œ œ œ
E bmaj7
A bm aj7
b œ . nœ bœ œ Œ
D b9
œ œ n˙ œ œ nœ bœ ˙ œ œ nœ
&b b J Œ ‰ b œJ œ œ ‰ J

œ œœœœ œ 3 B b7
F9 3

b ‰ œ œ nœ œ œ Ó ‰ œJ œ œ œ œ œ œ b œ œ b œ b œ œ ..
Fm7

&b b œ

The guide tone line in ex. 9.67 begins on F, the ninth of Eb. It resolves down to the ninth of Dø7, but to a
En rather than an Eb. An Eb would be the expected pitch in this context where Dø7 is either the viiø7 of
Eb major or the iiø7 of C minor. The En brightens the typically dark half-diminished chord. The En could
easily resolve down to an Eb, the b13 of the G7 chord, but instead moves up to the F, the seventh. The F
could resolve as expected to the Eb, the third of Cm, but moves up to the very dissonant F#. The F# points
to and finally resolves as a leading tone to the G. The G moves smoothly up to the Ab, the seventh of
B bm7, but does not resolve down to the expected third of Eb, resolving up instead to the dissonant An.
The An points to the Bb and finally moves to it over the Abmaj7. The Cb over the Db7 points back down
to the Bb, but in keeping with this example, moves up to the relatively consonant Cn over the Eb chord.
The Dn, the thirteenth of F7, is approached from a chromatic passing tone, C#. The Dn moves up to the
seventh of Fm7, Eb. The unexpected resolutions continue as the Eb moves to En rather than the antici-
pated Dn. The dissonant En points up to the F and brings the progression back to its starting point.

9.67 Guide Tone Line No. 6: Progression no. 13 with ascending line
E bmaj7
b B bm7 E b7
b
Dø7 G7 9 Cm7 F7

& b b c .. w ˙ ˙ nw w #˙ ˙ w w nw

A bm aj7 D b9 E bmaj7 B b7
b ˙ . #œ w w w nw
F9 Fm7

&b b w bw w ..

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 213

9.68 ETUDE based on Guide Tone Line No. 6:


E bmaj7
b
b
G7 9

& b b c .. Œ ‰ œj œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ n œ œ œ œ n œ œ œ œ œ
Dø7
Ó
œ œ œ œ
B bm 7 E b7
bb ‰ j 3
Cm7 F7

& b #œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ n˙ œ œœ œ

A bm aj7 D b9 E bmaj7
b
& b b œ ‰ œj œ œ œ b œ œ œ b œ œ œ œ n œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œj # œ # œ # œ
œ
œ nœ œ
B b7
b œ œ Ó œ œ œ œ œ œ œ3 œ n œ . œ
3

& b b œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
F9 Fm7

J Ó ..
œ

MULTIPLE GUIDE TONE LINES: COMPOUND MELODIES

Single lines may be created which suggest two or more individual lines. There are excellent examples
from all style periods, with some of the best known found in Bach’s compositions for solo cello and
solo violin. In order to distinguish two independent lines within a single line, the two lines should be
separated by an interval larger than a third. Any smaller interval between them and it will be difficult to
distinguish two independent lines.

The following examples are single line melodies which imply more than one independent melody line.
Often one of the implied lines will be more active and the other more passive. In this beautiful example,
Bach suggested two melodies separated by the interval of a sixth. The reduction of the two lines is shown
below. The line on the top is the more active; the one on the bottom more passive.

9.69 J. S. Bach: IV. Choral, Cantata No. 140, Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme (1731)

b
&b b c j œœœ œ œ œ œ œœœ œ œ Œ
œ œ œ œ œ
b
&b b c w œ œœ ˙
w œ ˙

Jazz Theory Resources


214 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

Bach’s single line could have been easily adapted for two instruments as shown below.

9.70

b j
&b b c œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œœœ œ œ œ Œ
œ ˙. œœ œ œœ œ
J
Here is a familiar line from Gershwin. The voice leading suggests the progression: IV - iv - I - V7/V - V7 -
I in the key of G. The bottom staff illustrates the two suggested step progression guide tone lines.

9.71

# cœ œ
& œ œ b œj œ œ œ œ
J bœ œ #œ bœ nœ œ w œ Œ Ó

# .
& c˙ œ œ ˙ bœ œ w œ Œ Ó
Œ ‰ Jœ b ˙ ˙ #œ nœ ( w œ)

Compound lines also have a home in folk music. The bottom staff in ex. 9.72 illustrates the two suggested
guide tone lines. The range between the two contrary step lines begins as sixth apart and moves to a uni-
son.

9.72 Home on the Range

# 6 j j
œ œ œ . œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ. œ œ œ. œ ‰
& 8œ œ œ œ œ
# Œ. Œ.
& 68 ‰ ˙.
œ. ˙.
œ. ˙
Œ. œ. œ œ ˙.

Keith Jarrett played this long passage that suggested two independent lines. The top line was the more
active, but both were relatively simple as this was the beginning of an improvisation. The simplicity of
the individual lines prevented the entire melodic line from being cluttered.

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 215

9.73
Bb
‰ b œj
Gm7 Cm7 F7

b j
& b c ˙ œ bœ ˙ œ œ œ . œ œ œ œ ‰ œj œ œ œ œ œ . œj œ œ œ
‰ J‰ J œ

B b/D Gm7 Cm7 F7 Bb

b œ œ œ œ œ œ
&b œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ nœ œ

Three lines may be suggested as shown in the following examples from Bach. The independent lines
cannot be too complicated or the clarity of the whole may be lost. The lines in the Menuet example are
separated by a sixth and a fifth which helps the listener discern the separate parts. The top line begin-
ning on Bb is the primary line, with the line beginning on D as a secondary line. The third line on the
bottom suggests the bass movement.

9.74 J. S. Bach: Suite No. 1 for Cello Solo, Menuet II

? b b 34 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ # œJ
œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ
? b b 34 ˙˙ .. ˙˙ .. ˙
˙ #˙ .
˙. ˙. ˙ ˙˙ ..

Each entrance of the compound melody from this Bourrée is separated by a large interval to ease the
perception of the independent nature of the lines. Although played by the cello solo, the line could eas-
ily be orchestrated for three separate instruments grouped as shown.

9.75 J. S. Bach: Suite No. 3 for Cello Solo, Bourrée I

œ 3.
œ œ œ œ œ œ
3.
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
1. 1.
? 22 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
2. 2.

USING LINEAR IMPLICATIONS of HARMONIC VOICE LEADING to CREATE


COMPOUND MELODIES

Review the basic voice leading principles: thirds resolve to sevenths, sevenths to thirds, fifths to ninths,
and ninths resolve to fifths. The ninths of dominant chords may be n9, b9 or #9, but they still resolve to
the fifths. The fifth of a dominant chord may be replaced by a n13, b13, #11 or b5. Any of these substitute
pitches behave as a fifth and resolve to the ninth of the subsequent chord. Two voices usually remain
stationary (3 & 5 become the 7 & 9 ) and two voices move down a step (9-5 and 7-3).

Jazz Theory Resources


216 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.76 Pairs of voices alternating motion


Dm9 G9 Cmaj9

˙ 9 moves to 5
˙˙ 5 becomes 9
ww
& c ˙˙ ˙ w
5 becomes 9 9 moves to 5
3 becomes 7 7 moves to 3

? c ˙˙ ˙˙ w
7 moves to 3 3 becomes 9
w

A single melodic line can be a compound melody by following two distinct guide tone lines implied
from the harmony. Guide tone lines that follow voice leading may begin on four possible notes (apart
from the root played by the bass): the third, seventh, fifth, and ninth. Compound melodies can be cre-
ated by following two of these implicit lines in one single melodic line. Referring to the example above,
a voice pair may move parallel at the same time or in oblique motion where one voice is stationary and
the other moves. Two lines that move obliquely are easier to manipulate since they are active at oppo-
site times in the progression. There are six possible pairing combinations. The pair of guide tone lines
could begin on the:

• 3rd & 5th parallel motion


• 3rd & 7th oblique motion
• 3rd & 9th oblique motion
• 5th & 7th oblique motion
• 5th & 9th oblique motion
• 7th & 9th parallel motion

Melodic frameworks based on the guide tone pairs and short melodic examples are illustrated below us-
ing each of the six pairs over an excerpt from progression no. 25. The repetition of the ii7 - V7 - I pro-
gression down a whole step lends itself to the use of sequences as a developmental tool.

The most harmonically specific pair of lines follows the third and seventh, and this may be why it is the
most commonly used pair. The third is stable and provides the harmonic clarity of chord quality
(major or minor). The seventh is the primary note of dissonance which moves one chord to the next:
the seventh usually resolves down to the next third. The top line begins on the third and suggests the
voice leading 3 - 7 - 3, while the second line suggests 7 - 3 - 7. The voices do not move at the same time
but alternate. The Eb is the third of Cm7, is the most consonant note and does not need to change for
the F7. The Bb, the seventh of Cm7 is the dissonant note that must change in order to arrive at the F7.
The Bb - An is the first voice that moves the line to the next chord. The motion is then answered in the
primary voice resolving the dissonant (over the F7) Eb to the Dn. A note that may be consonant over
one chord becomes dissonant over the next, as the Eb changed its classification from the Cm7 to the F7.
The lines are sequenced in the final two measures.

9.77 Guide tone line suggesting two independent lines beginning on the 3rd & 7th
Cm7 F7 Bb B bm 7 E b7 Ab

b˙ bœ
3
Π7
œ
3 3
Π7 3

&c ˙ ww b˙ bœ ˙ œ ww
Œ Œ
7 3 7 7 3 7

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 217

9.78 Possible melodic line from guide tones


Cm7 F7 Bb B bm7 E b7 Ab
bœ bœ œ œ #œ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ bœ œ œ w
&c #œ œ œ ‰ Jœ œ #œ

The pair that follows the third and fifth is also harmonically clear because of the presence of the third.
These two pitches should be separated by the interval of a sixth and not a third if the line is to be per-
ceived as compound. If they are separated by only a third they will be too close to hear the separate
voice leading. This pair of voices wants to move at the same time. The Eb and the G are chord tones of
Cm7 and neither voice has to move anywhere for the F7, as G is the ninth of F7 and Eb is the 7th. Using
the Gb, the b9 of F7, suggests a chromatic line (G - Gb - F) and creates motion where there was none. The
lines are sequenced in the final two measures.

9.79 Guide tone line suggesting two independent lines beginning on the 3rd & 5th
Cm7 F7 Bb B bm 7 E b7 Ab


3
Œ œ
7 3 3
Π7 3

&c w b˙ œ w
œ b˙ w œ b˙ bw
Œ Œ
5 b9 5 5 b9 5

9.80 Possible melodic line from guide tones


Cm7 F7 Bb B bm7 E b7 Ab
bœ ‰ j œ ‰ œ œ . j bœ œ œ œ w
&c œ bœ J œ ˙ œ bœ bœ

The fifth of a chord by itself can be ambiguous. It does not reveal the chord quality. It can lead to a col-
orful line as it resolves to the ninth of the next chord. The voice pair in ex. 9.81 uses the ambiguous and
colorful line beginning on the fifth and the harmonically clear line that begins on the seventh. A good
compound line can be created using this pair of voices as they resolve at different rhythmic points in
the progression. The G as the fifth of Cm becomes the ninth of F7. As above, a Gb can be used to create
the chromatic line G - Gb - F. The independent lines are easier to hear when separated by the interval of
a sixth rather than separated by a third. The lines are sequenced in the final two measures.

9.81 Guide tone line suggesting two independent lines beginning on the 5th & 7th
Cm7 F7 Bb B bm7 E b7 Ab
b9
˙
5
Œ bœ 5
w ˙
5
Œ bœ b9
bw
5

& c bœ ˙ w bœ ˙ w
Œ Œ
7 3 7 7 3 7

Jazz Theory Resources


218 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.82 Possible melodic line from guide tones


Bb B bm7 E b7 Ab
œ œ œ bœ œ œ . œ
‰ b œJ œ œ œ œ œbœ w
Cm7 F7

&c bœ œ œ J Œ ‰ J b œ #œ œ

The voice pair that follows the third and the ninth must be separated by the interval of a seventh. No
sense of independence would be perceived if they were separated by only a step. These two voices alter-
nate their motion. The line beginning on the third provides the stability and the line from the ninth
provides color. Instead of the fifth over the dominant chords, a b13th was used. Using the b13th creates
the chromatic line: D - Db - C over the Cm7 - F7 - Bb. The b13 of F7, Db, is often erroneously labeled a #5.
In this case it must be a b13 following the rule that an altered note wants to continue in the direction in
which it has been altered. If it was a #5, a C#, it would suggest the chromatic line C - C#, - D, which it does
not. To soften the harshness of the interval between the third and ninth, it may be filled in by an arpeg-
gio, although the starkness of the large interval can be appealing.

9.83 Guide tone line suggesting two independent lines beginning on the 3rd & 9th
Cm7 F7 Bb B bm 7 E b7 Ab
b13( #5)
Π9 9
Π9 b13( #5) 9
c
& b˙ œ b˙ w œ b˙ bw
Œ œ w b˙ Œ œ w
3 7 3 3 7 3

9.84 Possible melodic line from guide tones


Cm7 F7 Bb B bm7 3 E b7 Ab

& c bœ œbœ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ ‰ j œbœ œbœ œ


bœ bœ œ œ bœ œ bœ ˙

The pair of lines following the ninth and fifth assumes the fundamental chord tones, the thirds and sev-
enths, will be supplied elsewhere in the accompaniment or inferred by the listener. These two voices al-
ternate their motion. Both levels of the compound line will be colorful especially when using the possi-
ble alterations over the dominant chords. A b13 and a b9 are used over the dominant chords below, cre-
ating two chromatic lines: D - Db - C and G - Gb - F. The Gb (b9) and Db (b13) notes over the F7 chord are
obviously borrowed from the parallel key of Bb minor. There are several familiar jazz standards which
use this pairing in developing the melody.

9.85 Guide tone line suggesting two independent lines beginning on the 9th & 5th
Cm7 F7 Bb B bm7 E b7 Ab
b13( #5) b13( #5)
9
Œ bœ 9 9
Π9

& c Œ˙ œ b˙ ww ˙ œ b˙ bœ b b ww
Œ
5 b9 5 5 b9 5

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 219

9.86 Possible melodic line from guide tones

Cm7 F7 Bb B bm 7 3 E b7 Ab

& c œ œ œ b œ b œ ‰ œj œ . œ
J Ó ‰ œJ œ b œ œ n œ n œ œ b œ œ œ b œ ˙

This pairing is rarely if ever used with much success, but is possible. The lines must be separated by a
sixth and not a third to maintain their independence. This separation is part of why the pairing is weak,
as it puts the colorful ninth below the fundamental seventh. The line may sound like it is in the wrong
key. These pitches, rather than suggesting Cm7 - F7 - Bb, seem to suggest a compound line using the third
and seventh of Gm7 - C7 - F.

9.87 Guide tone line suggesting two independent lines beginning on the 7th & 9th
Cm7 F7 Bb B bm 7 E b7 Ab
7
Π3 7 7
Π3 7

& c b˙ œ b˙ œ w b˙ œ w
Œ w Œ œ b˙ bw
9 b13( #5) 9 9 b13( #5) 9

9.88 Possible melodic line from guide tones


Cm7 F7 Bb B bm7 E b7 Ab

& c bœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ ˙ . Œ bœ Œ
œ bœ bœ œ œ œ ˙ .

GUIDE TONES in ARRANGING and COUNTERPOINT

Guide tone lines are helpful to arrangers and to musicians on the job who are “faking” arrangements.
The melodies to many popular jazz standards follow the harmonic guide lines previously discussed. The
arranger must determine which line the primary melody follows and then determine the best path for
the secondary line. If the primary line begins on the third, then the improvised or arranged secondary
line could begin on the seventh. To prevent the secondary melody line from being active at the same
time as the primary line choose a secondary guide line that is stationary when the primary line moves
and moves when the primary line is stationary.

The root cycle of progression no. 1 make it an excellent vehicle for this demonstration. Three guide
tones lines are shown below. Without rhythmic context or melodic movement this example has no sug-
gested style. By adding idiomatic melodic and rhythmic figures to the lines they can be transformed
into any style setting: Baroque, classical, swing, or Latin. The guide tone lines establish the harmony;
there is no pressing need for guitar or piano to play chords in order for the listener to discern the har-
monic progression. Any three instruments could play the parts. The top and middle voice move in al-
ternate measures. The top part moves C to Bb while the second voice remains on F in the first two mea-
sures. The second voice move F to E while the top voice remains on Bb in the second two measures. This
alternation continues to the end of the phrase. The alternate motion will help keep the parts rhythmi-
cally independent.

Jazz Theory Resources


220 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.89 Three-part guide tone framework without “style”


Dm7 Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 B bmaj7 Eø7 A7 Dm

&b w w w w w w w w
7 3 7 3 7 3 7 3

&b w w w w w w w
#w
3 7 3 7 3 7 3 7
?b c w w w w
w w w w
Adding characteristic stylistic elements can make this framework swing. The bass line walks quarter notes
making sure each new root is approached stepwise. The melodic rhythms anticipate downbeats, putting
the guide tone notes on the upbeats. Only diatonic scale notes are used for elaboration. The lines are
rhythmically independent: when one moves the other is stationary creating dialog between the upper
voices. The two lines take turns moving the music forward.

9.90 Three-part guide tone framework in light swing jazz style.


includes rhythmic anticipation & diatonic embellishments

j ‰ œj œ œ œ œ œ œ Ó
Dm7 Gm7 C7 Fm aj7

&b Ó ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ Ó
7 3 7 3

&b œ œ œ œ ˙ ˙ ‰ œj ‰ œj œ œ œ œ ˙ ˙ ‰ œj
œ œ
3 3 7 3 3 7 3
?b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
œ
B bmaj7
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œj œ .
Eø7 A7 Dm

&b Ó ˙ œ œ œ œ w
7 3 7 3

&b œ œ œ œ ˙ ‰ j
˙ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ w
œ œ
3 7 3
?b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ w
œ œ œ

Jazz Theory Resources


Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity 221

AVOID NOTES?
The guide tones have all been shown with whole and half notes as if they must occur on a downbeat.
This was just for illustration. The musical examples have shown that there is much flexibility about where
the guide tones occur in actual melodic settings. The guide tones are often anticipated in a jazz swing
style, as illustrated in ex. 9.90, and they may also be delayed. When they are delayed, the pitches that
may occur on downbeats are often what some jazz educators have called “avoid” notes. Are there notes
to avoid? This list of “avoid” notes usually includes the fourth degree over a major chord. A book could
be filled with common examples of improvisations and compositions that prove this wrong. It would be
better and more accurate with actual performance practice to explain that all twelve pitches work at any
time, but not equally. Because of the pitch hierarchy, some are consonant (chord tones), some disso-
nant (related diatonic pitches) and others even more dissonant (the remaining chromatic pitches). It
would not be desirable to leave arbitrary dissonances scattered around like dirty laundry on a dorm
room floor. But the use of these dissonance, these “avoid” notes actually propel the music forward. The
tensions they create are like the tension of a bow that propels the arrow, or how the gravitational force
of a planet can be used to help catapult a spacecraft like a slingshot.

So rather than “avoid” notes that are dissonant, think of them as paths pointing towards the consonant
notes. This does not excuse the improviser or composer from any responsibility, rather it insists they
must be able to identify consonant and dissonant notes, and realize that as the harmony progresses, the
classification of a note may change. The third of a major chord must be recognized as the consonant
goal note for harmonic clarity and that chromatic pitches a half step above (the “avoid” note fourth)
and the chromatic note below (the leading tone) are dissonances that can be used as pointers.

Visit a beginning improvisation class and you will hear many lines that stop on these “avoid” notes. The
students know the notes are dissonant, they can hear the harmonic conflict, they are just too inexperi-
enced to know which way to go to resolve them and so they stop. Given the opportunity, they usually can
sing or play the correct resolution, but are not yet adept at finding the note in real time. Panic usually
wins and the “wrong” note is left hanging in the air. This scenario was probably what led many educa-
tors to the term “avoid” notes.

The dissonant tones are pointers that propel the music forward to the consonant tones. So rather than
avoid those notes, they may be just the ones to aim for in order to achieve forward linear motion. First
learn the tones that clarify the harmonic setting and then learn the notes which create tension and mo-
tion that point back to those consonant tones.

Avoid notes are taken to the limit in this next setting based on the framework illustrated in ex. 9.89. The
resolution to each guide tone note is delayed because the upper neighbor tones to the guide tones occur
on the downbeat. This creates the ancient device known as a suspension. There is a 4-3 suspension in ev-
ery measure. When the seventh of one chord is held into the next measure it becomes the dissonant
fourth, the “avoid” note that pulls to the harmonically clear third. The dissonance on each downbeat
propels the music forward. The bass pattern helps create a Bossa style. The rhythmic activity moves
from one voice to the next and only in the last two measures are they active at the same time.

Jazz Theory Resources


222 Chapter 9 Harmonic Specificity

9.91 Three-part guide tone framework in bossa style.


includes rhythmic delays creating 4-3 suspensions
Dm7 Gm7 C7 Fmaj7

&b ∑