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  1. #1

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    Coming from a classical background this just doesn't add up to me. I'm used to pieces that stay in the same key for whole movements and several pages of music.

    Is it really changing key that many times in such a short time? Did he really think about all that when he was writing it or did he more likely just put some chords together that sounded pretty?

    Could it not be analysed in terms of one key with some wonky chords in it and then maybe just one key change for the bridge?

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  3. #2

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    ‘Wonky chords’ is not an analytical term. Yes the song modulates from Ab to C to Eb to G and back to Ab. This is not unusual in songs written in the AmerIcan Songbook. The movement through tonal centers mimics the notes of an Abma7 chord.

  4. #3

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    You're gonna love "Unforgettable." Ends on the Subdominant.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  5. #4

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    For ATTYA what's amazing is the way the melody note pivots to the key change. It's a seminar in harmony.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  6. #5

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    Padraig--keep in mind...the melody might have come first.

    But yeah, jazz tunes rarely stay in one key. But if you're trying to play over "Unforgettable" using key centers, you're in for a world of frustration anyway.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by padraig View Post
    ...Could it not be analysed in terms of one key with some wonky chords in it and then maybe just one key change for the bridge?
    What does your ear tell you?

  8. #7

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    Jerome Kern was one of the great composers of American music. Back in the early to middle 20th Century, composers and lyricists were very sophisticated, and wrote great melodies and witty lyrics, mostly for Broadway shows. That mostly died when rock and roll took over, and poured oceans of schlock over music. It doesn't take a lot of talent to write "yeah yeah yeah", nor to write an entire song with only two power chords. The Great American Songbook is still alive because of the harmonies and lyrics, and might become the classical music of the future.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Jerome Kern was one of the great composers of American music. Back in the early to middle 20th Century, composers and lyricists were very sophisticated, and wrote great melodies and witty lyrics, mostly for Broadway shows. That mostly died when rock and roll took over, and poured oceans of schlock over music. It doesn't take a lot of talent to write "yeah yeah yeah", nor to write an entire song with only two power chords. The Great American Songbook is still alive because of the harmonies and lyrics, and might become the classical music of the future.
    Also...what we know as the standard types, AABA, ABAC, Rhythm Changes, etc. were not the "rule" in the early days. Those things came from the activity of those great popular composers. What we think of now as the various song forms were not so binding on them, because they were barely known. They also had a range of very different forms for the blues, whereas today we only know 12 bar, 12 bar with a bridge (pseudo AABA Blues) and maybe 16 bar blues. But they worked with more forms than that. The songs they wrote that became overhwelmingly popular also established a set of forms that became somewhat normative.

    But Jerome Kern, whom you rightly flag as a great one, was amazing at the forms he could develop. A tune like "I'm Old Fashioned" has a lot of twists and turns as you play it that you might not notice just listening to it.

    Maybe we need to revive some of the other GASB tunes? I really like Joe Pass' "Appassionato" album mainly because many of the tunes there were new to me. "That's Earl Brother," "Red Door," "Sleepy Time Down South" and "Stuffy" were wonderful surprises for me on that album.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    The Great American Songbook is still alive because of the harmonies and lyrics, and might become the classical music of the future.
    I think it already is the "classical music" of the future, that's why I like this stuff and want to know more about it. I just find it mad that there's no easier way of understanding a piece other than it changes key every few bars. That seems a very inefficient way of writing, almost like there is no key at all, it just goes where it wants.

    Or maybe there's a different way to understand it, like it's in one key but the harmony isn't diatonic or summat. I dunno.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by padraig View Post
    I think it already is the "classical music" of the future, that's why I like this stuff and want to know more about it. I just find it mad that there's no easier way of understanding a piece other than it changes key every few bars. That seems a very inefficient way of writing, almost like there is no key at all, it just goes where it wants.

    Or maybe there's a different way to understand it, like it's in one key but the harmony isn't diatonic or summat. I dunno.
    The song is modulating but the key center doesn’t move. All the things you are doesn’t change key signatures. We move through “keys of the moment” knowing that the song will shift back to its home key.

  12. #11

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    I love how the A section returns, a fourth lower. Are there any other GASB tunes that do that?
    Build bridges, not walls.

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe View Post
    All the things you are doesn’t change key signatures. We move through “keys of the moment” knowing that the song will shift back to its home key.
    Explain...?

  14. #13

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    An interesting thread, the GASB is a great source for Jazz players, although we might
    love BeBop, not all listeners are avid fans of it. but the Standards of which we speak
    are familiar to most listeners with a good ear.
    Having accumulated a large number of Real Books etc., I have a plethora of tunes to
    choose from, most of which were great vocal songs but are ideal for players to improvise
    upon eg., " I'm Glad There is You", The Folks who live on the Hill" ,My Foolish Heart"
    "Speak Low", "Spring is Here" "Violets for your Furs" etc., almost ad infinitum
    If they are unfamiliar to you , I suggest that you listen to some on YT if bored with
    churning out the same old hacks.
    just my 2p
    Last edited by silverfoxx; 05-28-2019 at 07:45 PM.

  15. #14

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    If the key actually changes, it will be indicated in the score. There are tunes which actually change keys, and that is specifically written. But ATTYA doesn't actually change keys, it just seems to, although the key signature never changes. It's convenient to think of it as changing keys for soloing, but it stays in Ab for the entire song. And it doesn't go where it wants, it goes where Kern intended it to go. He had a plan and he executed it perfectly.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by padraig View Post
    Explain...?
    Songs are free to modulate into keys of the moment knowing that the song will resolve back to its original key center. We don’t change the key signature within the sheet music every time this happens as it would be too difficult to keep track of. We treat these modulations with accidentals.
    For the tune Blue Moon in the key of Eb the B section modulates through three key centers. Eb, Gb and Bb before returning to its original key. The modulations give the sense the bridge is traveling to new places outside of the range of the A sections. We don’t, however, mark each of those short modulations with a new key signature in the sheet music as that would be too distracting to the reader. We use accidentals instead knowing that these short “keys of the moment” will resolve back to the original key center.

  17. #16

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    There's no law that says a song almost everyone would say is clearly in Bb major can't be scored with a key signature of Ab major, or A major... you'd just have a wonky score, hard to read, full of accidentals.

    From one perspective, the key is the key signature, whatever that might be on paper. From another perspective the key is really what almost everyone above says, and the score is wonky.

    But those are extreme cases; in actual practice it is parts of the song that deviate. It might be that the turnaround goes from the tonic major chord to the two chord being a thirteenth, before it goes "back into key" by changing to minor. Or there might be a longer section that deviates from harmonization.

    A single chord of the progression moving out of key for a second or two does not invoke a key change, and probably does not merit being considered as a key center shift or a re-assignment of "local key" or whatever... but a longer section might be thought of as having temporarily "moved".

    People have varying degrees to which they can bear a deviation or departure from the original key before they begin having trouble maintaining connection back to the key and begin to want to grasp where they are more clearly within the new context of it being a new moved key from the original key.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by padraig View Post
    Coming from a classical background this just doesn't add up to me. I'm used to pieces that stay in the same key for whole movements and several pages of music.
    Have you listened to Debussy? I don‘t pretend to be an expert but IMHO he is a master of avoiding the home key. This precedes ATTYA by half a century. I think you have that a lot in the second half of the 19th century, which is the music that the GASB composers were trained on.

    A little off topic:

    Much contemporary classical music doesn‘t really have one tonal center, although it is not atonal. I‘m thinking of Bernstein‘s Chichester Psalms which we are rehearsing at the moment. I sung a passage from John Rutter that moved to Ab minor (!) for some bars and then to A minor.


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