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  1. #1

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    Hello all,

    I've been working on transcription and ear training. Right now, I'm not doing solos note for note. I'm focusing on learning how to pick up a tune by ear, and do it quickly. My goal is to be able to hear the head of a standard and know, more or less, the melody and the changes.

    I've noticed a stumbling block for me is hearing secondary dominants and modulations. I figure that secondary dominants are the easier problem to address, so I'm focusing on that first.

    I generally know THAT a secondary dominant is being played, but I can't reliably discern which one it is (ie, I hear that a secondary dominant is being used but I won't know: is that V7 of vi, or V7 of IV? Is that I7 going to IV, or III7 walking up to IV? And so forth.)

    I know in a general sense the only answer is to keep at it, keep transcribing tunes. But I wanted to see if anyone had any helpful tips or advice. Listening to and playing bass lines has helped, but I'm still not at the point where I can hear it all "in the moment" without checking against my instrument.

    Thank you!

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  3. #2

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    We all learn to recognize those fundamental blocks in our own ways. I learned the sound of SDs before I knew what they were, before I ever heard of theory. I'd learned a tune called All Of Me, and I knew there was a III7... then a VI7... and it sounded great. Not like the diatonic chords that "belonged" there, but fine just the same. Having internalized that, when I learned what they were going to, how to hear SDs and the following chord as one, then I got why they were there.
    One piece that helped me a lot was I Got Rhythm, and all the Rhythm Changes tunes. I came to know III VI II V I as a chain of chords that formed a major river of harmony that I could use to navigate hundreds of tunes by. Yeah, I didn't think in roman numerals first, but after I had the sound, they took on the names and now that particular index of SDs is way down and unshakable.

    I really think playing specific targeted tunes that possess a particular SD combination as a feature helps you to learn and see them in a familiar and usable way. Find a tune that has a SD feature, or take a tune you know and find the SDs in it. You may have an AHA! moment and then you'll know "Hey that's the sound of bar VI or ..." and that gut sense is what helped me a lot.

    I had the sound before I had the device, but now they're one in the same. You'll find it your way. Be patient. This was the process with me and it took time but it's all there now.

    Diatonicism
    Dominants going to diatonic points
    Dominants going to dominants
    Dominants in tritone sub configurations
    Dominants going to tritone sub dominants

    That's how I hear the heirarchy of harmony in jazz vehicles.

    Take it or leave it, that's my .02 cents. Good luck ibnushd!

    David

  4. #3
    Thanks for the reply. Your point about a "hierarchy" of harmonic devices makes good sense to me. I also have learned to hear IMaj to III7 from listening to All of Me (and Georgia), but I can't always hear it in other contexts. I'll keep at it.

    Your point about patience hits home. Very frustrating to realize everyone I play with can hear tunes instantly on the bandstand while I have to sit down with a record and listen on repeat. But, I gotta work with the talent/lack thereof I was given, and getting angry/embarrassed/frustrated does not help me progress.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by ibnrushd View Post
    Hello all,

    I've been working on transcription and ear training. Right now, I'm not doing solos note for note. I'm focusing on learning how to pick up a tune by ear, and do it quickly. My goal is to be able to hear the head of a standard and know, more or less, the melody and the changes.

    I've noticed a stumbling block for me is hearing secondary dominants and modulations. I figure that secondary dominants are the easier problem to address, so I'm focusing on that first.

    I generally know THAT a secondary dominant is being played, but I can't reliably discern which one it is (ie, I hear that a secondary dominant is being used but I won't know: is that V7 of vi, or V7 of IV? Is that I7 going to IV, or III7 walking up to IV? And so forth.)

    I know in a general sense the only answer is to keep at it, keep transcribing tunes. But I wanted to see if anyone had any helpful tips or advice. Listening to and playing bass lines has helped, but I'm still not at the point where I can hear it all "in the moment" without checking against my instrument.

    Thank you!
    Good question. My experience, overall, is that some sounds are easy for me right away and others take forever.

    Maybe this will help -- if you know it's a secondary dominant then there's only one thing you need to figure out: what is the root? Once you know the root and that it's a dominant chord, you know you can add a 3rd and a 7th, omit the 5th, and make some decision about the 9th (including to leave it out, if you're not sure).

    So, my thought is to focus on singing the bass line to the tune -- and do enough ear training so that you know which note you're singing based on knowing the previous note and hearing the interval.

    So, for All of Me, you start in C, singing root 5th, say. C G C G "why not take" E B E B. etc. Can you hear that the C went to an E?

    Not the only way to do it. In fact, I think I'm more sensitive to the 5th of C becoming the 3rd of E7. I can hear that shift very easily.

    With I7 going to IV, I think you focus on the b7 going to the 3 of the next chord. That's a blues move and should be easy enough to identify. And, of course, focusing on the bass note will help.

    So, I guess it comes down to this. Learn a simple bass part for each tune and learn to sing it. Maybe sing the arpeggio for each chord while you do it.

  6. #5

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    The cool thing about determining secondary dominants is any one of them could be taking a a tritone sub direction.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    The cool thing about determining secondary dominants is any one of them could be taking a a tritone sub direction.
    Plus once you've gotten those sounds in your ear, you can reharmonize on the fly. They open the doors for all sorts of substitutions and they provide a beginning for all sorts of beautiful options.
    ibnrushd, you're lucky to be playing with others who you may feel are more advanced compared to where you are now. Your mention of this reminded me of disasters in musical adventures that really knocked me around. If you are persistent and really put some time in regularly, listening to recordings, seeing live music as much as you can, giving yourself a regular diet of standards and tunes, it'll come. There's no shortcut, but there's much to be said for playing as much as you can and loving the process. Find a duo partner; that alone will speed things along more than you'd ever imagine.
    I have a thread here where I throw out a tune a week. I don't expect anybody to learn them thoroughly, but as a collective exercise, being exposed to that much music, even if you have failures and fumblings, will make you a stronger player. I introduce elements like secondary dominants, point them out and I have arranged tunes and commentary so the process can also strengthen your awareness and theoretical knowledge.
    Either way, commentary on the forum will give you advice and stories but time with a piece will be the teacher.

    Are you studying at a school, with a teacher or in any regular way?

    David

  8. #7

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    I think the clearest way to get a grip on secondary dominants is to use them to elaborate on the harmony of three chord songs.

    Noone studies reverse engineering without first learning engineering principles and applying them to problems.
    Yet that is the way music is often taught. Start with three chords and learn how to elaborate on them.

    Even better start with a two chord tune, for what you learn to be immediately applicable to standard repertoire it is best if the tune is diatonic and in a major key. Something like Birmingham Jail is good. Always work on real tunes that you like not abstract examples. Your emotional connection to real tunes will make the connections that you make as you experiment memorable.

    D.

  9. #8
    Cosmic,

    Tritone substitution and "false resolutions" are definitely very interesting to listen to but I've realized I need to proceed in a logical order and nail down the basics with total confidence.

    Rpjazzguitar,
    Advice on hearing bass lines is great. I've been singing playing bass lines, as well as singing one while playing the other. I will keep doing that. It is harder for me to hear the bass live/on records though. It's low and mushy. I can hear them quite easily while practicing them in guitar but in a live situation it's harder. Old records often don't have clarity in the bass, although some do have amazing recorded bass sounds.

    David,
    I have no teacher, I'm just learning on my own. I use this forum, youtube, and I have some books on music theory. I like to play music with others but it is humiliating!

    I will check out your thread. I really need to transcribe more tunes. Learning one a week sounds like a good idea. Hopefully as my ear improves it will be less laborious.

  10. #9

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    It can be hard to hear the bass on recordings.

    You might consider practicing with IRealPro. It's a phone app and costs about $10.

    The backing tracks are decent and there's a mixer where you can adjust the volume of each instrument.

    You can have only bass, if you prefer.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post

    Diatonicism
    Dominants going to diatonic points
    Dominants going to dominants
    Dominants in tritone sub configurations
    Dominants going to tritone sub dominants

    That's how I hear the heirarchy of harmony in jazz vehicles.

    David
    Hi David I'm also exploring secondary dominants at the moment. Was wondering what you meant by your last line in the heirarchy ? By tritone sub dominant do you mean the IV of the substituted tritone . Sorry if I am being dense this is all new.

    cheers

    Will

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by WillMbCdn5 View Post
    Hi David I'm also exploring secondary dominants at the moment. Was wondering what you meant by your last line in the heirarchy ? By tritone sub dominant do you mean the IV of the substituted tritone . Sorry if I am being dense this is all new.

    cheers

    Will
    No not dense at all. In short, a secondary dominant approaches the target chord from the fourth below (fifth above) as G7 > C. You can also approach that C from a half step above as Db7 > C. That's because the two dominant chords G7 and Db7 share the all important 3rd and 7th notes. They're a tritone apart. Make the 3rd into a dom 7th, the 7th into the 3rd and you've got the other chord. They're kin that way and therefore interchangable.
    It's so common that once I see a cadence is leading to a chord in a conventional II V7 I, I'll often approach that as II bII7 I, cuz I like that movement. Preceed the sub with its own dominant or tritone sub and you've got lots of possibilities. Good easy progression to recognize.

    David

  13. #12

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    Hearing the voice leading activities relative to the original key is crucial for me for the common ones. I suppose another way to say that is hearing the non-diatonic guide tone lines, or simply just hearing what's happening that's not diatonic, since none of the secondary dominants are truly diatonic.

    For major keys:

    V7 of IV - you're going to hear the b7 of the key

    V7 of ii - you're going to hear the #1 of the key

    V7 of V - #4 of the key

    V7 of vi - #5 of the key

    For minor keys:

    V7 of iv - nat 3 of the key

    V7 of V - #4 of the key

    V7 of bVI - b2 of key

    etc

    These help me, for what it's worth!
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by ibnrushd View Post
    Rpjazzguitar,
    Advice on hearing bass lines is great. I've been singing playing bass lines, as well as singing one while playing the other. I will keep doing that. It is harder for me to hear the bass live/on records though. It's low and mushy. I can hear them quite easily while practicing them in guitar but in a live situation it's harder. Old records often don't have clarity in the bass, although some do have amazing recorded bass sounds.
    When I first started transcribing basslines, I'd use the Aebersold recordings. They often feature great bassists, and the bass is almost always very clear and easy to isolate. Also, the bass players are going to give it to you a little straighter than in a live situation. Once you start to hear and understand the language of upright basslines in jazz, it will be a lot easier to hear what's going on in live recordings or on big band stuff.

    Some of my favorite Aebersolds for basslines:
    Ron Carter's work on Cedar Walton, Wayne Shorter, Charlie Parker, Horace Silver sets
    Sam Jones on the Cannonball Adderly set
    Christian McBride on Hot House (with Tain Watts on drums!)

    I'd be happy to post some transcriptions of Christian McBride if anyone is interested. A little understanding of the mechanics of upright bass is really helpful in understanding note choices: open strings and such are extremely prevalent and used a lot to facilitate changing positions, etc.

  15. #14

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    I think the best way to understand and hear Sec Doms it to identify them as they occur in a song you know well. that helps to memorize the sound. all of the theory understanding wont help if you don't hear a sound! so find an example of sec dom happening on each degree and associate that sound with a specific song then when you hear that sound in another situation you'll still recognize it. After you get the basic ones you'll get better at hearing the more difficult to hear ones.
    good luck
    all the best
    tim

  16. #15

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    Tim ? /anyone ? any tunes you can suggest that stand out as having obvious secondary dominants as a good place to start.

    Will

  17. #16

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    Has Anybody Seen My Gal/ aka Five Foot Two.

    All of Me

    Sweet Georgia Brown

    All for cycle movement. Very basic.

  18. #17

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    I learned III7 > vi from the beginning of There Will Never Be Another You. (I think most folks play it vii7>III7>vi, but its what I associate with the I to vi movement.)

  19. #18

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    Say you are going from C to F, make that F a Dm. Now put the dominant of D in, A7.

    So,C to F becomes C A7 Dm and to get back to C you go through G7.

    OK now it's C to G, break that down to a dominant pair. C to Dm G7. Again you can target the Dm with it's dominant and get the same progression.

    You'll learn more if you look at simple tunes and work towards swing harmony for lots of reasons but this one alone is enough to justify the effort.

    Developed progressions often obscure structure and are arbitrary in a way that a three chord trick is not.

    I tried to develop my ear and wasted YEARS before realising that a good three chord trick is the foundation that playing by ear stands or falls on.


    D.

  20. #19

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    I would add that singing is the best way that I internalize anything.

    With secondary dominants, you have to train the ear to hear the tensions that land into the target key.

    You are really focused on the guide tone line as it travels throughout the key.

    For instance, in Rhythm Changes--the bridge

    D7 to G7 to C7 to F7 to Bb6

    A guide tone line could be

    F# to F to E to Eb to D

    relate that back to Bb major and you have

    b6 5 b5 to 4 to 3rd (really hear the notes, not just as chromatics)

    In that nefarious Lady Bird secondary dominant you have a Bb7 to Cmaj you have several choices

    Bb going to C

    b7 going to 1 in C

    Ab going to G

    b6 going to 5 in C

    D going to E (or C)

    2 going to 3 (or 1)

    and so on.

    The key to secondary dominants is to always reference the home key

    Jake was referencing this and I went a little overboard explaining. I'm obsessed with ear training. The more of it I do away from my instrument, the better it sits in my ear when I play with my instrument. Sometimes the instrument gets in the way of the ear training for me--but once it is solid in my ear than it is solid on my guitar.

    There's some courses on secondary dominants that an old teacher put out if you are interested in singing through changes. Let me know, and I'll post a link if he still has them.

    Lastly, make sure that you do these against a drone in the home key. Everyone on this thread is talking about hearing the function instead of theorizing. Establishing the key with a cadence or drone will help you hear this chords as the a means to make the home key sound interesting with movement. Problem is, we often lose sight of the home key when dealing with these harmonies.

    Home key of All of Me is C

    Home Key of Rhythm Changes is Bb

    Home Key of Cherokee is also Bb (that bridge is a doozy, but try singing guide tones of the chords against Bb-->you hear the resolution instead of just seeing chords on a page)
    Last edited by Irez87; 02-07-2018 at 12:59 AM.

  21. #20

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    First off, I’d like to give you kudos on taking the initiative to learn tunes and changes by ear and not from the Real Book. Many don’t and I believe that to be a big mistake. It is certainly a harder path in the beginning but I promise it will pay off a lot more in the long run, not only for your ears but also your memory. You will remember the tunes and changes better than by reading them. Also, working on bass lines is another very good thing. It will suite you in solo situations, help your ear and more. Also, hearing it “in the moment” will take some time. Once you can hear and know what the changes are when casually listening to a record, you’ll be on your way to being able to hear something on the spot in a live situation and be able to respond to it. Now to address the secondary dominant part of your post.

    First, there are a few givens with secondary dominants. 1) all secondary dominants have at least one accidental or out of key note (they all have one except V of III which has two.) 2) Their tensions are diatonic. This helps keep them grounded in the key. 3) There are only five of them: V/II, V/III, V/IV, V/V and V/VI. There is no V/VII. You will see other dominants besides these in a key, such as the Lady Bird example of bVII but they’re not secondary dominants.

    So including the regular dominant of the key, there are six dominants, three of them are major resolutions and three of them are minor resolutions. V/I (V of the key), V/IV and V/V are resolving to a major chord (or at least a major triad in the case of V/V resolving to a dominant.) V/II, V/III and V/VI are minor resolutions. The trick here is that their tensions reflect the resolution that’s coming up. The major resolution dominants will all have natural 9s and 13s and the minor ones will have b9s and b13s (technically speaking, if you add diatonic tensions to V/II it has a natural 9 and b13 but nobody plays it that way. They play a b9. This is the only exception to the above rule.) My long winded point is, if you hear a secondary dominant with a bright sound, it’s a V/IV or V/V if it’s not V/I. If it’s a dark sound, it’s going to V/II, V/III or V/VI. This will at least help you narrow your target choices in half.

    Another thing to note is very often secondary dominants are accompanied by their related II in jazz and these will reflect the dominant that’s coming up. The major resolving secondary dominants will come with a regular min7 chord: Ex in C, G-7 C7 Fmaj7. The minor resolving dominants will come with a min7(b5). Ex in C, B-7(b5) E7(b9) A-7. Hearing what type of II is being played can also help give you context as to what resolution to expect. Of course there are exceptions like Night and Day where it’s D-7(b5) G7(b9) Cmaj7. But the whole point of that is to ALLUDE to a minor resolution and then surprising the audience with a major one.

    I, like some responders here had been playing these changes for awhile before assigning secondary dominant names to them. I thought of them as a II-V to F or a II-V to D- etc. but I was used to playing them and had established the sound in my ear for quite awhile, so assigning the names after was quite easy. So my tip to you, besides transcribing, is to make little 4 and 8 bar progressions with these to hear how each one sits against the home key. Here are a few.

    One bar each: Cmaj7, B7, E-7, E-7
    Or Cmaj7, C7, Fmaj7, Fmaj7.
    Do that with all of them and you’ll start to get a feel for each one’s sound. Then you can make an 8 bar string combining more than one secondary dominant at a time: Cmaj7, B7, E-7, A7, D-7, G7, Cmaj7, Cmaj7. Then you have Parker blues type things that have the Iis included.

    Also, the point of secondary dominants is to momentarily highlight the chord you’re going to and to give a sense that you’re almost modulating to that key but aren’t. So it may help to play the difference between the diatonic version and the dominant version side by side. Ex first play: Cmaj7, A-7, D-7, G7 and then play: Cmaj7, A7, D-7, G7. This will help solidify in your ear the difference between the diatonic chord and the dominant chord and what it’s actually doing.

    My final words are thoughts on tunes that will help you get a feel for each in real context. Take the A Train has a V/V both in the A section and the end of the bridge. There’s also a V/IV at the end of the second A section going into the bridge. There Will Never Be Another You has V/VI in the first few bars and V/IV soon after. It also has V/II after leading to a V/V. The last section of On Green Dolphin Street has a V/VI soon followed by a V/III. V/II you can find almost anywhere because it’s so often used in any tune with a I-VI-II-V and in turn arounds.

    Sorry for the long response but I hope you find it useful!

    Best,
    Noah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  22. #21

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    [QUOTE=Noah D'Innocenzo;843862]First off, I’d like to give you kudos on taking the initiative to learn tunes and changes by ear and not from the Real Book. Many don’t and I believe that to be a big mistake. It is certainly a harder path in the beginning but I promise it will pay off a lot more in the long run, not only for your ears but also your memory. You will remember the tunes and changes better than by reading them. Also, working on bass lines is another very good thing. It will suite you in solo situations, help your ear and more. Also, hearing it “in the moment” will take some time. Once you can hear and know what the changes are when casually listening to a record, you’ll be on your way to being able to hear something on the spot in a live situation and be able to respond to it. Now to address the secondary dominant part of your post.

    SNIP
    Sorry for the long response but I hope you find it useful!

    Best,
    Noah

    Great post.

    I don't really have anything to add, but I'll offer this anyway. In There Will Never Be Another You, the tune starts on Ebmaj7. It then moves to a Dm7b5 G7b9 Cm7. So one way to learn it is that it starts in Ebmaj and goes to the relative minor which is Cm, by way of a ii Vb9.

    But, I think it's more useful to really try to hear the bass line move from that initial Eb, down a half step to D. If you can hear that much, then you know you're going to play a chord with D as a root. The next thing you need to hear is that it's a minor sound. That gives you the root and b3 (the melody note), which is enough to act like you know the tune if you're comping.

    Next, you have to pick a 5th. Most charts show a b5, but, the natural 5 doesn't have to sound horrible. What will make it sound horrible is when somebody else in the group plays the b5 and, suddenly, everybody is looking unhappy and facing your direction for some reason. So, you drop the A to an Ab. Hopefully, you can sound out that it's got a b7. The natural 7 would make it min/maj which would sound very different and rarely be placed that way in a tune. The 6 sounds too dark.

    If you can hear that this D wants to move to something else, i.e. that it doesn't feel like the resolution at the end of a tune, then G7 would be a good guess as to the next chord. And, since ii V's are common, then the chord after that may be a Im.

    After that, you have to be able to hear that bassline going to C, B for a moment, and then land of Bb. You have to be able to hear that chromatic movement down. If you do, you've got the next chord, Bbm7, and it leads you into another ii V I.

    On my chart, the following chord is a Db7#11, but what I hear when I play the tune is that Ab major going to Abmin. I then hear a chromatic movement of the entire chord. The chart says Ebmaj7, but I hear it as Gm7. The chart lists the next chord as Cm7, but I tend to hear another ii V, meaning Gm7 C9+9 and then F.

    That F is actually an F7. It does to Fm7, which is the ii in the next ii V I.

    So, I would strongly recommend playing through the tune while emphasizing all those bass notes.

    The key to secondary dominants and, for that matter, learning tunes, is to hear where the bass goes.

    And, btw, if you can follow this path through the tune, you may well be able to pick a random key and play the tune without difficulty.