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  1. #1

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    I'm working on this old R&B song "If you want me to stay" by Sly and the Family Stone. Jazzing it up a little.

    Ran across a video where a couple guys play something like

    3m 2m 5dom 1maj #4ø 7alt

    I could be wrong so correct me in this case... but if this is about right, we have a 25 to tonic followed by a minor 25 to 3m (which is a sub for tonic). That 2 in the minor 25, is it considered a #4, flat 5, something else? And why?

    Here's the video.


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  3. #2

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    I don't know about all that hi-fallutin' language but they're just playing

    | Am | Gm C9 | FM7 | E7/B E7#9 |

    | x7755x | x5544x 8x87xx | x8.10.9.10x | 7x675x x7678x |

    That's the tonic Am, then ii-V into F, then 7 and 7#9.

  4. #3

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    Hey, that is "Sunny" with spicy part left out, can't hear anything other than it.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    I don't know about all that hi-fallutin' language but they're just playing

    | Am | Gm C9 | FM7 | E7/B E7#9 |

    | x7755x | x5544x 8x87xx | x8.10.9.10x | 7x675x x7678x |
    Ah! For some reason I heard the E7/B as a halfdiminished chord, but looking again this makes sense. Looks simple with slash harmony, but the B is b5/#4 no? Wouldn't this chord also be spelled Am13(11) or something like that? And function as 2 in a minor 25?

    That's the tonic Am, then ii-V into F, then 7 and 7#9.
    Isn't the Am a 3m which subs for the tonic F?

    EDIT I think this 7x675x might be 7x774x which is Am11, a chord you see a lot in R&B.
    Last edited by frankhond; 10-19-2021 at 09:08 AM.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Ah! For some reason I heard the E7/B as a halfdiminished chord, but looking again this makes sense. Looks simple with slash harmony, but the B is b5/#4 no? Wouldn't this chord also be spelled Am13(11) or something like that? And function as 2 in a minor 25?

    There could be Bm7b5 there instead of E7/B reinforcing E7 with alts leading to Am which is definitely a tonic.
    It is VIb (F) which is more of a sub -- of IVm in this case, with secondary dominant prepended.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Danil
    There could be Bm7b5 there instead of E7/B reinforcing E7 with alts leading to Am which is definitely a tonic.
    It is VIb (F) which is more of a sub -- of IVm in this case, with secondary dominant prepended.
    Ah, interesting. If Am is the tonic (i.e the song is in Am), what is Gm then? The Bb in Gm is 4 of F, but b2 of the Am scale?

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Ah, interesting. If Am is the tonic (i.e the song is in Am), what is Gm then? The Bb in Gm is 4 of F, but b2 of the Am scale?
    Gm and C7 are secondary dominant for F to add some energy to the chord movement. Bb doesn't belong to Am, but that is a moving part of harmony tension is good there. You can go perfectly well trying to outline it.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Danil
    Bb doesn't belong to Am, but that is a moving part of harmony tension is good there.
    My head just exploded

    But listening to the melody on the record, it makes sense. Thanks for helping me figure this out!

    EDIT the melody on the record ends on an E at the E7 chord. But E is 5 of A, and my ear wants to resolve it down to an A note, not to an F note.
    Last edited by frankhond; 10-19-2021 at 06:55 AM.

  10. #9

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    Eh? The note is A but the chord is FM7.

    Look, drop all this clever complication stuff, just be simple about it. It's a very simple, ordinary song. Am - Gm/C7 - F - E7. That's all.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Eh? The note is A but the chord is FM7.
    You are right, what I wrote made no sense. Edited to hopefully make more sense.

    Look, drop all this clever complication stuff, just be simple about it. It's a very simple, ordinary song. Am - Gm/C7 - F - E7. That's all.
    It's actually about me writing it down in the correct Nashville notation. And it doesn't hurt to understand the function of the chords.

    R&B often use ambiguous key centers (for example what key is D'Angelo "Chicken Grease"?) so listening to where the melody wants to go seems relevant too.

  12. #11

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    The guy with the white 'strat' , when soloing, is using the Am pentatonic. Don't think he's considering any harmonic movement

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    It's actually about me writing it down in the correct Nashville notation. And it doesn't hurt to understand the function of the chords.
    Can't help you with any of that. To my mind the function of any chord is to make the music sound the way you want it to. If it serves that function then it's the right chord :-)

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Can't help you with any of that.
    That's ok, I got plenty of help from you and @Danil already, thanks!

    To my mind the function of any chord is to make the music sound the way you want it to. If it serves that function then it's the right chord :-)
    The "function of a chord" is concrete terminology, and (since you are on this forum) you know it :-)

  15. #14

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    Why aren't you using roman numerals? It's not a min2 5dom 1 it's a ii V7 I. The Nashville system is just a sloppy knockoff of the roman numeral system, there's no reason to preserve it.

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    Why aren't you using roman numerals? It's not a min2 5dom 1 it's a ii V7 I. The Nashville system is just a sloppy knockoff of the roman numeral system, there's no reason to preserve it.
    What I wrote here was just a sloppy knockoff off NN, typing in a forum isn't very good that way.

    I was using roman before but got sold on the practicality of NN after some sessions with people, having to quickly jot down and transpose stuff... NN is just more readable to me and I can write it faster. A guy was writing down the songs with chord symbols, and whenever the singer or someone else said "can we play it in Dm instead" he got upset because he had to change what he had written. So I don't wanna be that guy...

  17. #16

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    The "function of a chord" is concrete terminology, and (since you are on this forum) you know it :-)
    Yes, I know it. But look how I've maintained my sanity

    Oh, all right, if you insist. NNS doesn't write in minor keys, they're related to the relative major key, in this case C major.

    | Am | Gm C7 | FM7 | E7 |

    | 6- | 5- 1dom | 4 | 3dom |

    If Am is the tonic key, Gm is non-diatonic to A minor but functions as the ii of C7 which is the V of FM7, which is also the VI of A minor. E7 is the V of Am.

    If C major is the tonic key then Gm is the bVm, C7 is the Ib7, FM7 is the IV, and E7 the V of vi (Am).

    It's going to get pretty confusing juggling both systems. So poo, I say :-)

  18. #17

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    Well, I'm thoroughly confused. Good luck OP.

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    Well, I'm thoroughly confused. Good luck OP.
    I would be confused too... but there is only confusion if one insists on taking things too literally.

    It's a

    ||: 6- 25 to 4 min25 to :|| in C

    or

    ||: i ii V to bVI min ii V to :|| in Am

    or

    ||: 3- 25 to 1 min25 to :|| in F

    And while Am notated in roman is perhaps the nicest option here, neither is satisfactory. I would argue that this early R&B is example of harmony that can't be well described by tonal analysis. And it only gets worse as we approach contemporary R&B. There are alternative harmony models proposed (search YT) but they are kind of crap too. For now I'll stick to the NN version in C and just remember the specifics... or make stuff up on the spot... in the words of Barry Greene "chord qualities don't matter, just use what sounds good".

  20. #19

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    It'll all go over much better in person when you can say "do it like this" and play the thing.

  21. #20

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    in the words of Barry Greene "chord qualities don't matter, just use what sounds good".
    I'd go for that :-)

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    there is only confusion if one insists on taking things too literally.
    Then you must be very, very literal, frankhond!

    I'll do it again because you're not actually listening, if you don't mind my saying so.

    There are three distinct things here. The number system, the roman system, and chord function, They can't be all put together like you've done here:


    ||: 6- 25 to 4 min25 to :|| in C
    The number system doesn't do '2 5 to 4'. That's function speak. The number system just numbers the chords and what type of chords they are. And only in major keys.

    Do you play the guitar? You wanted to know what they were playing in the video. You're saying 2 5 to 6- but it's not. You can tell that just by looking at his fingers.

    'I'll stick to the NN version in C and just remember the specifics... or make stuff up on the spot.'
    That's exactly what you're doing, unfortunately, making stuff up on the spot. And I've no idea why you're doing it. And neither has anyone else here, apparently.

    What exactly are you trying to do? And why?

    If you haven't vanished, that is...

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    I'm working on this old R&B song "If you want me to stay" by Sly and the Family Stone. Jazzing it up a little.

    Ran across a video where a couple guys play something like

    3m 2m 5dom 1maj #4ø 7alt

    I could be wrong so correct me in this case... but if this is about right, we have a 25 to tonic followed by a minor 25 to 3m (which is a sub for tonic). That 2 in the minor 25, is it considered a #4, flat 5, something else? And why?

    Here's the video.

    ... it make sense.
    Gentlemen, you play this tune brilliantly with a great feel and taste.
    You are enjoying this song at the highest level.
    Last edited by kris; 10-20-2021 at 04:41 AM.

  24. #23
    “Then you must be very, very literal

    They can't be all put together like you've done here

    And I've no idea why you're doing it

    That’s ok, it will all turn out fine in the end. I got the help I needed.

    The process is there to support the work, not the other way around.

    First to understand, literally if needed. Then throw it away.

    Peace.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    “Then you must be very, very literal

    They can't be all put together like you've done here

    And I've no idea why you're doing it

    That’s ok, it will all turn out fine in the end. I got the help I needed.

    The process is there to support the work, not the other way around.

    First to understand, literally if needed. Then throw it away.

    Peace.
    I understand.
    I am jazz musician.
    You are great players-that was all I wanted to say.
    My head is full of jazz theory and it bothers me sometimes.
    I like your playing very much.
    I was misunderstood again.My poor English...sorry
    ps.
    I correct my post.Now is ok...I hope.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danil
    There could be Bm7b5 there instead of E7/B reinforcing E7 with alts leading to Am which is definitely a tonic.
    It is VIb (F) which is more of a sub -- of IVm in this case, with secondary dominant prepended.
    In the Aebersold book I have for Sunny, it is a Bm7b5 instead of that E7/B stressing the F (b5).

    Either one sounds fine to me but I do tell my rock\blues friends to just play a E7 with B as the root (muting the low E), since when I mention flat 5 chords they go crazy on me and that is a common voicing for them.