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  1. #1

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    Hi everyone, kind of new to playing through changes and need some advice.
    Don't really understand, what chord progression does this song exactly have and from what key it is derived?
    Also, not sure about soloing scales on Gmin7/? and Db7 (mixolydian over this chord doesn't really sounds right to me, but it maybe the problem is in my ears).
    Would be very grateful for the explanation. Thanks!

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    The Aebersold play along book shows the scales for each chord. The track has Ron Carter on bass, very fine!

  4. #3

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    Like most jazz tunes, this song isn't in just one key but transitions amongst several. For the most part the A section is in F minor. The 7th of the Db7 chord isn't in that key, though, and the Db7 to C7 change itself uses a couple of jazz concepts that can't be done within the confines of a single key:

    Tritone substitution chords
    Secondary dominant chords


    A tritone substitute is the dominant chord whose root is a tritone away from another dominant chord. For example, Db7 is the tritone sub of G7, and vice versa. Tritone subs are interchangeable with one another. That is, G7 can always sub for Db7 and vice-versa. Suppose your chord progression is I IV V7 I in C (C F G7 C) - you could substitute Db7 for the G7 and it would work: C F Db7 C. It sounds different than the "vanilla" progression (in a good way) and it always works. I'll skip the theoretical explanation for why it works; you can look that up in a lot of places. Similarly, you can always substitute G7 for a Db7 dominant chord; for example, I IV V7 I in the key of Gb is Gb Cb Db7 Gb. You could substitute G7 for the Db7 and it will work: Gb Cb G7 Gb. (Maybe a better-sounding example is I vi ii V I changing to I vi ii bII I; eg C Am Dm G7 C becomes C Am Dm Db7 C. I'm too lazy to rewrite the above now, tho!)

    A key characteristic of the sound of a tritone sub is the sound of a dominant chord root resolving down a half step to another dominant chord root. That's exactly what we have with Db7 to Csus7. (Think of Csus7 as a sub for C7, which is the V7 chord in F minor.) As we noted above, the tritone sub for Db7 is G7, and tritone subs are interchangeable with one another. Thus, we COULD look at the Db7 to Csus7 change as a reharmonization of G7 to C7.

    Recall from the first paragraph above that the key signature of F minor has the accidentals Bb Eb Ab Db. From the standpoint of functional diatonic harmony, G7 (spelled GBDF) is absolutely NOT in the key of F minor because it contains TWO out-of-key notes: B and D are NOT in the key signature of F minor. Yet G7 most certainly is a dominant seventh sound, and the root movement of G to C is just like a V-I root movement in the key of C. Thus, the dominant sonority and dominant root movement of this out-of-key chord, G7, makes it function like a dominant, even though it's not in the key and its not constructed on the V step of the key; we call this a secondary dominant: a dominant that is borrowed from another key and functions just like a dominant does in the secondary key. Putting it another way, when we use a secondary dominant, we put the song temporarily into the key that the secondary dominant is borrowed from. If we played G7 in place of Db7 in the fifth bar of Song For My Father, G7 would act as V in the temporary key of C, and the C chord that we resolve to would temporarily function as both I in the key of C and V in the key of F minor. Its a classic "pivot-chord modulation."

    Because a diatonic key has exactly ONE naturally occurring dominant chord (on step V), a secondary dominant (which is a dominant that is constructed from a root that is NOT step V) CANNOT be created without introducing an out-of-key accidental. Thus, you cannot create a secondary dominant OR a tritone sub within a single diatonic key. Try it. I'll wait....

    So the Db7 to C7 change does not exist in a single key. That's why you can't analyze it in a single key. No worries, learn diatonic harmony first, then chromatic harmony. Walk before you run :-)

    When comping, try subbing D9 for Db7 and C7#9 for C7sus. You'll find this to lay very naturally under the fingers in IIIpos to IIpos.

    Soloing suggestions for the Db7 to C7...

    1) Simplest
    Play Db mixolydian then C mixolydian. As a stretch goal, learn to do this without simply sliding your fretting hand down one fret: it will force you to learn to break out of "position playing."

    2) Better
    Try Ab dorian over the Db7 and then Ab ionian (major scale) over the C7. At least you only have to think about one root this way.

    The Ab dorian scale will give you a nice Db dominant sound and the Ab Ionian (major) scale will essentially superimpose C Phrygian over the C7.

    Ab Dorian is like playing Gb major scale from the second step to the second step:
    Scale notes: Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb Ab
    Analyzed over Db root: 5 13 b7 R 9 3 11 5

    C Phrygian is like playing an Ab major scale from the third step to the third step. It's a really nice way to get an altered dominant sound.
    Scale notes: C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C
    Analyzed over C root: R b9 #9 11 5 b13 b7 R

    If you don't know your modes, you'll need to work on that first, but this approach will imply interesting sonorities very strongly in your line.

    3) Requires a bit of finesse, but pretty easy

    Use Db minor over both chords, but avoid playing C over the Db7 chord*, since its a major 7th instead of a b7th. One way to do this is to play Db Dorian over the Db7 followed by Db mel minor ascending over the C7.

    Playing Db dorian over Db7 will give you the sound of Db13#9. The only note that differs between Dorian and Mixolydian is the third. The b3 sound you get out of Dorian will sound like #9 over the rest of the band playing Db13 if you do it right.

    Switching to Db melodic minor ascending is easy because only one note differs between that and Db Dorian: the 7th goes from a minor 7 to a major 7. The underlying chord change to C7 will turn your vanilla Db minor into the "Super Locrian" scale, which provides an altered dominant sound:

    Db mel minor scale notes: Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb C
    Analyzed over C root: b9 #9 3 #11 b13 b7 R

    4) Variation: Take the tritone sub out of your solo while the band still plays it
    Instead of soloing over the TT sub Db7, solo on the non-substituted chord of G7, which you can realize as G mixolydian or D dorian or even D mel minor, facilitating an easy switch to D Aeolian as the upper partials of C7 or G dorian (G-6 or E-7b5 if you want to arpeggiate) to express the sound of C7. If the band is playing the Db7 to C7 and you play the Db7 as G7, your D mel minor will be super-locrian to their Db7. To keep the super-locrian tension up, flip it again when they switch to C7: play F#7 (eg C# mel minor) over their C7; its an easy transition down to F-7 or C-7. (All the horn players reading this are now cussing out all guitarists. Again, learn to do this without sliding down one fret and you'll be a better player for it!)

    Hope this helps!

    SJ

    * I hate the idea of "avoid notes" - who has time to think about that while playing - but it had to be said. In practice, you'll learn to hear ways to use these modes without thinking about "avoid notes", especially if you emphasize arpeggios over scales. Basically I've learned both, so I pretty much think arpeggiated but the scales are in my muscle memory and in my ears when I want to add passing tones. Since I mostly think chord tones, I don't have to worry about "avoid notes" because there are no avoid notes in a chord. Any time I use an "avoid note" its because my "mind's ear" hears that note in the line I want to express; typically, as a passing tone or as the anticipation of an impending resolution.

    PS/Update: this has been bugging me ever since I hit the Submit button: the other reason I hate the idae of "avoid notes" is that there really aren't any, given sufficient skill at conceptualizing and realizing musical ideas. But this question was about getting started at improv, not about how you'll learn ways to break just about any rule later on.
    Last edited by starjasmine; 03-12-2020 at 02:55 AM.

  5. #4

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    Simplest orientation I could think of:

    Fm9 - Ab major VI
    Eb9 - Ab major V
    Db9#11 - Ab melodic minor IV
    C7#9 - Db melodic minor VII

  6. #5

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    Sounds great if you play F minor blues but really lean into the b5 on the Db7 chord

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by bako
    Simplest orientation I could think of:

    Fm9 - Ab major VI
    Eb9 - Ab major V
    Db9#11 - Ab melodic minor IV
    C7#9 - Db melodic minor VII
    F blues, mate.

    thats the simplest

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by starjasmine
    Like most jazz tunes, this song isn't in just one key but transitions amongst several. For the most part the A section is in F minor. The 7th of the Db7 chord isn't in that key, though, and the Db7 to C7 change itself uses a couple of jazz concepts that can't be done within the confines of a single key
    i have to correct this. It is correct if you replace the word key with mode. The key remains F minor throughout.

    we say a blues is in the key of Bb even though it has chromatic chords.

    so this distinction is worth making even if it seems pedantic. Modal changes within a key centre have been common for several hundred years. Usually the melody gives more of a sense of the key than the chords (unless you have a very good grasp of harmony which at this stage the student won’t)

    I think it’s worth emphasising that the technical info in your post requires a few years to get around. Luckily it is not necessary to play this tune. I would advise getting inside the melody and starting there.

    many chords such as 7#9 are the result of a diatonic melody being written over a secondary dominant harmony.

    melodic minor modes will not make you sound like jazz. Listening to jazz musicians and learning some of their licks is a better idea.

    If you can’t make a blues scale sound like jazz you will have no more luck with any other scale. Please bear this in mind for the future.

  9. #8

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    Once you have some good ideas with the blues scale, practice the chord tones until they are second nature. Also learn some of Horace Silvers solo.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    F blues, mate.

    thats the simplest
    Yes so for the simplest way to stay out of trouble. The melody itself
    is largely made up of that collection. I am often not the best resource
    for the simplest solution. F blues still leaves me wanting to add
    at a minimum G and E as needed.

    Almost all chromatic notes are possible for tonal interaction with this song.
    "A" being the most conflicted in the F minor key center.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Sounds great if you play F minor blues but really lean into the b5 on the Db7 chord
    I'll take "What would Reg do?" for $300, Alex :-)

    Seriously, though, I deleted this suggestion from a version of my answer that I didn't post because the C is kind of problematic there, and I was trying to provide suggestions that avoid those "avoid notes." :-)

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    i have to correct this.
    Then you'd better be correct :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    it is correct if you replace the word key with mode.
    Not just "no" but "HELL no!"

    Substituting "mode" for "key" is not an improvement:

    Like most jazz tunes, this song isn't in just one mode but transitions amongst several. For the most part the A section is in F minor.
    The 7th of the Db7 chord isn't in that mode, though,and the Db7 to C7 change itself uses a couple of jazz concepts that can't be done within the confines of a single mode

    Breaking that down,
    Like most jazz tunes, this song isn't in just one mode but transitions amongst several. For the most part the A section is in F minor.
    - Much of this song is just F minor. The melody is not particularly modal; neither is most of the harmony.
    The 7th of the Db7 chord isn't in that mode, though,
    - The 7th of Db7 is Cb aka B natural. It's in F Phrygian, but not Aeolian or Dorian. Judges award a half-point on this one.
    and the Db7 to C7 change itself uses a couple of jazz concepts that can't be done within the confines of a single mode
    - The Db to C7 change can indeed be played entirely in D mel minor ascending; various flavors of Db mi can also be used without much thrashing.

    "Correction" seems mostly refuted...

    Using modes as pathways to certain sounds requires the soloist to shift from mode to mode in his or her thought process, but that is not the same as the melody or harmony using or transitioning between modes. The listener does not hear modal melody or harmony just because the soloist happens to be thinking "F dorian."

    I will grant you that the chords in the first four of the bridge could be viewed as "kinda modal" but I think a better label is "non-functional chromatic harmony." Modal harmony avoids progression and resolution, particularly dominant-tonic functinality, doesn't it? This entire melody is very functional, not too chromatic, and resolves very definitively against the chords going by. The cadences are like boulders. So I'd say this song has very little to do with modes. Now, modes as a paint-by-numbers approach to improv is a great way to get your feet wet, and most of the posts in this thread are indeed providing some recipes that the OP can try out. And those recipes call for thinking of modes as a way to navigate the harmony and the fretboard, but they are just educational aids. They have little to do with what's going on OUTSIDE the soloist's head.

    OK, let's move on to finding the common ground that I'm sure is there once we clear up some miscommunication.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    The key remains F minor throughout.
    Perhaps we disagree about what it means to be "in key." In the context of an explanation for the OP who probably does not have much formal training in harmony, I'm using the diatonic definition of "key" as key signature as a starting point, then move on to point out that chromatic functional harmony allows things like secondary dominants without considering them to change the key of the piece overall. But one critical distinction that you either missed or do not agree with is that a secondary dominant does temporarily place the harmony into another key. That may be slicing it a bit fine for the beginner, but it's important to explain very clearly the difference between being solidly in-key and the variations that begin to fuzz this definition. Diatonic harmony distinguishes definitively between "in-key" and "out-of-key" notes, and that clear understanding makes it easier to understand whether chords are in-key or out-of-key. In turn, that makes it easier to understand the difference between a diatonic melody that might include an appogiatura or cambiata without straying out of key and true chromatic harmony that utilizes out-of-key notes and chords, functionally or non-functionally, in ways that may or may not change key. Whew - that last sentence contained a bit much, but I know that you have the background to unpack the terminology.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    we say a blues is in the key of Bb even though it has chromatic chords.
    At face value, this statement is true. But it glosses over a lot of things that are stumbling blocks for beginners, especially guitarists who think that "Blues in Bb" means the same thing as a sheet of standard notation that has two flats in the key signature. That is the point that needs to be clear. Modern chromaticism does not work like strict diatonic harmony, and it is misleading to suggest otherwise.

    A band playing a blues shuffle in Bb does define a Bb key center at times, and at other times, the perceived key center shifts very clearly into other places. But they are not playing strictly in one key; they're mostly using chromatic harmony that borrows notes and chords from other keys quite liberally. That is very different from playing Silent Night in Bb, which is solidly diatonic in exactly one key. Equating a Bb blues with a strictly diatonic functional piece like Silent Night in Bb is the kind of thing that just confuses the hell out of beginners.

    So. I'm not saying that Blues in Bb doesn't establish a Bb tonal center a lot of the time. But I am saying that it is not in ONE key, in the sense that there is no single key signature that contains all the notes of the blues scale. The moment you use a dom7 for I or IV, you are again NOT strictly in one key signature. It's important to be clear about these things when explaining to a beginner how harmony works.

    Context is the thing... everyone on the bandstand knows what "Blues in Bb" means, and they might even know that Silent Night in Bb doesn't work the same way as Bb blues, even if they can't explain why. But this post was an attempt to explain why, so, sorry old chum, I have to call you on this, since it was in the context of calling me on this :-)

    OP, we're essentially saying that "the key of X" means one thing in an orchestral score and another in a blues or rock band. In the jazz band, it might mean either. Ideally, you develop the ears and the theoretical knowledge to discern the difference.

    In the context of SFMF, "Key of Fmi" is more like the blues/jazz definition: it's a key center that allows liberal use of chromatics and the substitution of out-of-key chords to create color and spark interest.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    so this distinction is worth making even if it seems pedantic.
    Now, there's something we agree on 100 percent!

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Modal changes within a key centre have been common for several hundred years.
    I am struggling with the fact-check here. Maybe in Impressionist music. Maybe for a little less than 200 years at the outside. I'm no music historian, but you seem to be equating Gregorian chant or Renaissance music with Maiden Voyage... or perhaps the first four of the B section of SFMF. I wouldn't go there.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Usually the melody gives more of a sense of the key than the chords (unless you have a very good grasp of harmony which at this stage the student won’t)
    I would say that this is false as often as it's true. Unique and unexpected reharmonizations are the coin of the realm in much of jazz. This statement is reasonably applicable to SFMF, but not so much to Nefertiti. As a rule of thumb for the OP, it's not bad, but the OP seems to have been saying that listening to the melody was not giving adequate clues for the Db7 to Csus7 change.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I think it’s worth emphasising that the technical info in your post requires a few years to get around. Luckily it is not necessary to play this tune. I would advise getting inside the melody and starting there.
    Absolutely true. I wasn't too sure what the OP knows and doesn't know, and I wanted to do more than just give recipes for playing Db7 to Csus. I did give recipes, but I tried to explain why they work. I wanted to answer the implied question "Why can't I analyze this in one key?"

    In any event, I thank you for your thoughtful answer, Christian. I'm sure the OP enjoyed watching his thread light up!
    Last edited by starjasmine; 03-13-2020 at 01:57 AM.

  13. #12

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    "Mode" implies a fixed collection of intervals with a centric pitch.

    "Key signature" is a starting reference pitch collection (scale) based on western historical precedent. While it can sometimes provide all the note content to a given composition it falls short of what is implied around the concept of key center.

    Major key expansion starts with secondary dominants and diminished and also includes all manner of borrowing from other keys as long as the tonal center hierarchy is maintained.

    Minor keys are messier from the get go. The key signature only represents as relative minor (aeolian) which is lacking in a V7 chord. A minor melody without at least a natural 7th, I would consider modal.
    For minor keys, some level of modal mixture is the norm. This was the driving force behind the evolution of the harmonic minor and melodic minor
    variants.

    Song For My Father is squarely in F minor, integrating common elements of modal mixture harmony.

    Blues harmony throws in yet another curve of the 7th chord not only serving in a dominant function but also a key center which freely borrows from major and minor realities.

    Modal mixture, although it alters the note collection, does not represent a true modulation which requires at least a temporary establishment of an alternative tonic (home base).

  14. #13

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    while I appreciate starjasmines detailed reply to the OP..I find very often the OP question gives more information than the replies..in this case a jazz classic - song for my father-..in a minor key with decending dominant chords in whole steps and the classic minor flavored bVI7/9--V7 resolution..

    a new player not really familier with minor key behaviour in jazz..starjazzmine-in my view gave WAY too much info to digest for a fairly simple progression...and the suggestion that it is in several keys at that..(if we are going to be strictly "technical" -any note or chord not using the scale note of the key signature is a "key change of some kind"..actual or implied) but in reality these are usually harmonic/melodic devices that may just be substitutions or even simple approach or melodic / harmonic passing structures- examples such as tri-tone chords/scales and secondary dominant "borrowed" structures

    so in my experience I have to agree with the view that this tune is in ONE minor key..but uses elements of .harmonic and melodic scales behaviour..with decending chords that approach the V7

    there is no prolonged cadential set up (ii-V) to establish a true key change in the progression...and the many jazz / popular tunes that borrow chords within progressions that are not considered key changes ..even though from a tech outlook they could be considered such

    Heres That Rainy Day..all the things you are...Body & Soul..could well be tunes to argue for key changes...but tunes like All Blues is a blues..though some may have a bar fight to say its not..

    which brings up the behaviour of Blues..and its many variatiions and why is it considered in a key when it brakes harmonic/melodic rules..(the more the better!!) of Diatonic scale behaviour..but thats for another day..

  15. #14

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    @bako and @wolflen your answers got me to look at this again and I now must correct my correction to Christian's correction of my original post...

    Quote Originally Posted by bako
    Song For My Father is squarely in F minor
    At first, I thought "no, what about that bridge that so clearly establishes Eb as its tonal center?" and then it hit me: bVII is a textbook sub for iv in a minor key. That Eb7 in the first two bars of the bridge is as if the bridge started on iv (Bb-) and then went to i (F-). Making the whole song absolutely in F minor, chromatic functional harmony, no modal anything involved.

    Yeah, I know @wolflen, TMI, but I'm a "why does that work?" player. I want to know why it works, so I can use it in ANY song. Not explaining things clearly and correctly will just push the OP towards being yet another guitarist who really doesn't understand why some lick works or how to use it in other songs.

    BTW I did not say that use of an out of key note means you are in another key. The appogiatura/cambiata reference was an explicit acknowledgement of that fact; perhaps you misread:

    Quote Originally Posted by starjasmine
    a diatonic melody that might include an appogiatura or cambiata without straying out of key
    Is this horse dead yet?
    Last edited by starjasmine; 03-14-2020 at 05:18 AM.

  16. #15
    Wow, guys really amazed by the amount of feedback here, thanks to all of you!
    Yep, i really have poor knowledge of harmony and wanted to "understand" the song.
    I understand this Fmin key argument, it's my bad, maybe i didn't ask a question correctly.I clearly understand, that all chords from the song are not derived from one particular key, but Db7 and Gmin7/C chords are not obvious to me. So i asked that question to find out, what are those chordal concepts, so i could be able to choose scales for soloing and voicing/substitutions for comping.

    Thanks again!

  17. #16

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    ...this song isn't in just one mode but transitions amongst several. For the most part the A section is in F minor.
    The 7th of the Db7 chord isn't in that mode, though,and the Db7 to C7 change itself uses a couple of jazz concepts that can't be done within the confines of a single mode

    Like most jazz tunes, this song isn't in just one mode but transitions amongst several. For the most part the A section is in F minor.
    - Much of this song is just F minor. The melody is not particularly modal; neither is most of the harmony.
    The 7th of the Db7 chord isn't in that mode, though,
    - The 7th of Db7 is Cb aka B natural. It's in F Phrygian, but not Aeolian or Dorian. Judges award a half-point on this one.
    and the Db7 to C7 change itself uses a couple of jazz concepts that can't be done within the confines of a single mode
    - The Db to C7 change can indeed be played entirely in D mel minor ascending; various flavors of Db mi can also be used without much thrashing.
    Yes, yes! That reads a lot better! That is exactly how I would put it.

    TBH my main problem is 'key' is vague. Mode has a very specific meaning - usually a certain 7 note organisation of notes. Key is looser, often analogous to a collection modes and harmonies acting according to the laws of tonality. I really think of it as a classical, common practice idea TBH. We wouldn't talk about the 'key' of an Arabic Maqam really, would we? And within Wester tonality, that bVI7 (Db7) chord is pretty standard.

    I'll give a very specific example.

    Lets take the example of a the Db7 chord. This chord has existed in common practice within the key of F minor since at least the late 17th century. It's so standard it's part of the basic harmonisation of the minor scale that you would learn as a child - the rule of the octave.

    So its use is considered completely standard, vanilla even. It's not a sub for anything, it's the basic thing. There are many other examples, but that's the most relevant one. So in the sense that say - Mozart - understood a key, that Db7 chord wouldn't be thought as a chord outside the F or Fm key but would be thought outside the mode, right?

    This hasn't told us how to improvise on it of course, so maybe this concept of 'key' is not actually helpful to us (more reason to get rid of it, no?).

    Well we do use it to some extent. But both you and I hit that Db7 and we do something to negotiate it (as it lasts for two bars.)

    But - I would say should be utterly plain to anyone who knows a few tunes, that Db7 is so unbelievably common in the minor key, we should get used to dealing with it as a matter of course, as part of the 'system of commonly occurring chords, diatonic or otherwise, that tend to happen in the key of Fm.' maybe.... key?

    (Song for my Father is obviously not a GASB song, but nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the chords.)

    OTOH mode has a very specific meaning. We can talk about modal mixture within a key, for instance. Theorists often do this - for instance, the songs of Cole Porter are well known for that.

    So: the way I see the value of key in a practical sense is this. I doubt any of this is unfamiliar to you, but:

    1) You can actually play on this key over a progression, provided you use your ears and construct strong melodies and the progression isn't too chromatic. This is how people used to improvise in the 1930s - according to Ethan Iverson - Basie would often not play IV7 but instead IV6 to allow soloists like Lester Young more freedom to improvise diatonically. You still see this a bit during bop with examples such as Miles's solo on Now's the Time full of false relations (for instance maj7s on dom7s) with the accompaniment.

    (So early on, you get this dual practice where people treated something like the Rhythm 'A' as a generalised bluesy key, and the 'B' as a series of separate tonal centres. Gershwhin implies that in his melody, for instance.)

    2) You can modify this key to express chromatic chords - for instance play a #1 on the 6 chord, b7 on the I7 chord, and so on, right? And in this specific example - b5 on the bVI7 chord.

    3) You can identify sub-tonalities within the main key and heavily tonicise them. This I associate with Parker. So you could set up a separate key and play into it. Most usually with Parker that's going from IV7 to Iim, and IIm becomes a temporary minor key. So we can have keys within keys right?

    4) Build out modes from a each chord, treating each chord as an individual entity - the ultimate version of nested tonalities, maybe.

    By jumping straight to 3 and 4 you immediately start taxing the student's brain before they get a chance to play music. There's nothing wrong with that info, but steps 1 and 2 have validity.

    Now you might say - if you do 1) you might play wrong notes, to which I say - yes. But they have to learn to hear it, right? Learning from the melody is a really important thing too, because the melody is so often much more diatonic and offers a simple pathway through the tune.

    Modern chromaticism does not work like strict diatonic harmony, and it is misleading to suggest otherwise.
    Modern chromaticism? OK, look the OP is asking how to play for Song For My Father. I don't think he's at that level yet.

    Besides, modern chromaticism is - what exactly? Parker? Schoenberg? Rosenwinkel?

    Equating a Bb blues with a strictly diatonic functional piece like Silent Night in Bb is the kind of thing that just confuses the hell out of beginners.
    The Blues is not a special case, it's a special sauce. What you can do on the blues you can do on any tune.

    TBH talking about any of this shit too early is a distraction from learning stuff they can use right away in a practical way and learning to use their ears. We should not be expecting beginners to invent music from theoretical raw materials.

    Context is the thing... everyone on the bandstand knows what "Blues in Bb" means, and they might even know that Silent Night in Bb doesn't work the same way as Bb blues, even if they can't explain why. But this post was an attempt to explain why, so, sorry old chum, I have to call you on this, since it was in the context of calling me on this :-)
    But you could play Silent Night in a bluesy way, no?

    I'm generally in favour of not explaining harmony. I think we do too much explaining. I think we can be cleverer than that.

    OP, we're essentially saying that "the key of X" means one thing in an orchestral score and another in a blues or rock band. In the jazz band, it might mean either. Ideally, you develop the ears and the theoretical knowledge to discern the difference.
    It's ALWAYS quite vague and complex.

    Singer says 'All of Me in G'
    Melody says - we are setting up secondary dominants moving in fourths and a temporary modulation to IIm in bar 7
    Harmony says - 'optional borrowings from the parallel minor key in bar 26
    And so on.

    And you know what? The song is in fucking G. In that sense the 'key' has a very real, concrete and practical meaning.

    In the context of SFMF, "Key of Fmi" is more like the blues/jazz definition: ...
    Now, there's something we agree on 100 percent!
    Sure: but in jazz all key centres allow this. Look guitarists are stuck in their chords, they often lose sight of the overall tonality. They forget that playing a melody within the prevailing key is even an option. This is a massive failure in the way we teach jazz top beginners IMO. We try to tidy up their playing before there is anything to tidy.

    I am struggling with the fact-check here. Maybe in Impressionist music. Maybe for a little less than 200 years at the outside. I'm no music historian, but you seem to be equating Gregorian chant or Renaissance music with Maiden Voyage... or perhaps the first four of the B section of SFMF. I wouldn't go there.
    So, research common practice harmony. Modal mixture is common. Most often minor in major, but major in minor is also common. Neapolitan 6th chords can be thought of as originating from the parallel Phrygian mode. Lydian in Ionian for secondary dominants, etc etc. The term 'modal interchange' exists within classical music theory.

    Song for My Father first 4 is what would be called a Lamento ground bass in Baroque Music. Heinrich Beiber's Passacaglia for violin is a good example. OTOH we have 'Hit the Road, Jack.' That harmonisation - Fm Eb7 Db7 C7 - very common in 30s music etc.

    I would say that this is false as often as it's true. Unique and unexpected reharmonizations are the coin of the realm in much of jazz. This statement is reasonably applicable to SFMF, but not so much to Nefertiti. As a rule of thumb for the OP, it's not bad, but the OP seems to have been saying that listening to the melody was not giving adequate clues for the Db7 to Csus7 change.
    We are talking about a song with 4 completely conventional minor key, chords in it, not Bill Evans.

    Absolutely true. I wasn't too sure what the OP knows and doesn't know, and I wanted to do more than just give recipes for playing Db7 to Csus. I did give recipes, but I tried to explain why they work. I wanted to answer the implied question "Why can't I analyze this in one key?"
    The question is common, but badly framed. I would take that student and get them playing music. I can't do that here, and I hate it.

    In any event, I thank you for your thoughtful answer, Christian. I'm sure the OP enjoyed watching his thread light up!
    Too much information was given too early. As usual. Oh well, at least we had fun.
    Last edited by christianm77; 03-15-2020 at 12:02 PM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by tvorog
    Wow, guys really amazed by the amount of feedback here, thanks to all of you!
    Yep, i really have poor knowledge of harmony and wanted to "understand" the song.
    I understand this Fmin key argument, it's my bad, maybe i didn't ask a question correctly.I clearly understand, that all chords from the song are not derived from one particular key, but Db7 and Gmin7/C chords are not obvious to me. So i asked that question to find out, what are those chordal concepts, so i could be able to choose scales for soloing and voicing/substitutions for comping.

    Thanks again!
    My basic advice would probably be just get the chord tones of Db7 (1 3 5 b7) of the chord and see how they lie with respect to the notes of the overall key. For instance if you lean on the Cb (b5) of the blues scale you are playing one of the important chord tones - b7.

    Get used to expressing that sound. You should never have to ask ‘what to play over’ a chord progression because the best way of getting started is simply to play ‘out of the chord’

    that can even be the grips you use for comping, for instance

    x 4 3 4 2 x

    The you can experiment with more extended versions of the chord like Db9, Db13, Db7#11 and so on

  19. #18

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    I would change the word "mode" to "mood". I believe that catching it is the "key"

    btw I am not entirely joking. Listen and relisten the original recording, and wonder how this simple thing could be so unique, an so full of feelings? I am trying to catch that with no success...

  20. #19

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    Yea... dead horse. For tvorog, maybe too much info, but as Christian said above, there is nothing wrong with having FUN.

    So tvorog.... you sound like you might be good player, but new to jazz. Any or all of the suggestions could work.
    The approach to playing tunes is to make or have some type of analysis, an understanding of what the tune is musically. Generally it's not that complicated and has room for expanding. That's what you usually do when playing tunes in a jazz style. As some said above... it's just a Min Blues, A A B form.

    Saying that does imply a lot, melodically as well as harmony... yea rhythmically also. Hell i love getting Blue. There are probably a lot of differences between what and where I go with Blues as compared to most... I can make Giant Steps a Blues.

    But for the Beginner... yea Fmin Blues A A B form. And from the melody and chords... you get...
    F-7 is I-7, Eb7 is bVII7, Db7 is bVI7 and C7 is V7.... Simple... that's where you could start from.

    You could get more technical and call the chords other relationships... but why. When you actually play a tune in a jazz style... your going to expand all the chords into chord patterns, have different functional relationships from which you'll develop.
    (use different concepts and approaches to create musically organized sources for more chords and note collections and how they are related to each other.)

    Anyway use Fmin pentatonic pattern, (like the melody)... F Ab Bb C Eb, maybe add the missing Blue Note... the #11 or "B"

    You get... F- Blues Pentatonic pattern... F Ab Bb B C Eb.. Now add notes from F- aeolian.. the G and Db.

    You get... F- Aeolian Blues Pent. Pattern... F G Ab Bb B C Db Eb. You have more than enough notes to work with.

    This isn't how I play or even how I approach soloing... But if your still somewhat a beginner to playing in a Jazz Style and don't understand Jazz Harmony concepts... this might be a mechanical approach for teaching how to create some type of musically organized approach for expanding F- blues into a jazz sound.


    Personally... I use Tonal Targets. I have enough technical skills to organize Tonal Targets within the Form of the tune and create relationships and develop them. Tonal Targets are just having physical points within the Tune and it's Form... the space thing. Those TT's become the end of a melodic, harmonic, rhythmic phrase. A micro space within the Macro that have musical relationships. I then musically organized the connections between those tonal targets. Which are from... what's implied from the tune, an arrangement or just where a tune can go during performance.

    For Blues I somewhat use the expanding approach as above... Expanded Blue Note Approach. Just using expanded chords or harmony to create more Blues Notes.

    example... For F-7 in SFMF... I almost always create Chord Patterns. Chord Patterns are just series of chords that become and imply the original Chord.

    You can have the chord pattern have one Tonality, like a Tonic and still have One Function, have Duel Function or even a micro functional pattern within the Chord Pattern. Modern usage is for Chord Patterns to have One single function.
    example... old school...The F-7 above becomes F-7.. C7b9b13, with F aeolian and C phry. Dom. from HM. So what happens is those two chords become One. The Key or Tonality of... (F-7 C7alt). I'm expanding the Blue Notes, adding E nat.. Most Chord Patterns have more chords and create the perception of motion or repeat. That old groove thing...

    So with SFMF I would have chord patterns for all of the basic 4 chord of tune and usually have versions of those CP's that would help imply what I'm doing... Different versions between choruses, help with the bigger picture etc...

    Anyway... I usually don't use HM, I like MM and use those chords to help harmonically frame Blue notes.

    I generally use same basic harmonic references as Wolfen and bako posted... just expanded.

  21. #20

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    This tune doesn't seem to have that many recordings by A-list players, probably because like "Take Five" and a few other cross-over hits, it just seemed too much the property of the original composer or band.

    Von Freeman, however, has an interesting slow take on it, which just so happens to also be a good jam-a-long recording for learning the tune. Von simplifies the melody just a bit, ditching the triplets in service of making it a bit on the funky side.



    Billy Wallace drops it down to Bb and adds some personalized harmony.

    Billy was new to me, but he was on one of Max Roach's late-50s LPs, and scuffled around the scene as a jazz and pop backing musician for another decade, before moving to Denver in the early '70s and becoming a local legend, being the pianist who knew all the tunes and mentored the youngsters.

  22. #21

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    Hey 44... nice versions... yea the tune has just been played too many times for too long.

    I've been playing a version like the Andy La Verne arrangement from the mid 90's, and a few other personal arrangements which are all harmonically a little more interesting to play. Although audiences still love the original from Horace.



    Although when Breckers were playin with Silver back in Boston area back in the 72 or 73, I saw Breckers with Horace at Jazz Workshop... man..I always remember Liberated Brother...



    even later with Bob Berg in Italy here's Liberated Brother...These were fun days, I was lucky to be playin around.



    Even the old Benson version with the F-maj feel from 60's

  23. #22

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    George Benson version:


  24. #23

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    to me the horn lines in the melody make the origional sound best...growing up in NYC..the only radio station that played SFMF was a "latin/jazz" show with Synophny Sid as DJ..he played many top latin groups of the day..so my early association with SFMF was that it was a latin flavored tune..as it was in the mix of tunes with Joe Cuba and Mongo Santamaria Tito Puente Eddie Palmieri and many other latin stars

  25. #24

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    F-7 is the tonic, right?

  26. #25

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    Minor 7 tonic is unusual.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    George Benson version:

    Benson is great as usual. This tune is for him too.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    Minor 7 tonic is unusual.
    with the same elan we also could say: "dominant7 tonic is unusual, what a weird idea". ...except blues is not unusual. Catch the mood.

  29. #28

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    Yea... what a shock. And when one plays a F-7 to Bb7 vamp.... the II- V7 becomes the tonic. And maybe even when one plays F-7 to C7alt... that I V becomes a tonic, maybe even a modal like tonic... Sorry trying to keep it light. Yes that's the approach I've been playing, composing and arranging for decades.

    Yea Wolfen same here, I made chart of SFMF back when it first came out, I've always been a huge Horace fan, as well as Blakey... the messengers, that was my early days.

    yea have played SFMY as well as most of Horaces's tunes all my life. I mean the messengers were like the training ground for popular Jazz musicians. Silver and Blakey.

  30. #29

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  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    Minor 7 tonic is unusual.
    not by the 60s

  32. #31

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    Yea... Now that the thread has moved to "Harmony".

    With F-7 as tonal Target... the Tonic.... (has been forever), The diatonic "functional subs" of that F-7 or F-9 are, Down a diatonic 3rd to Dbma7 or up a diatonic third to Abmaj7....

    If you simply expand diatonic functional harmony organization using modal tonalities with functional principles. You'll even get more chord patterns. "Modal Interchange or expanded Borrowing... or just traditional Borrowing using Relative and Parallel organization for Diatonic Subs.

    Man I'm old.... and most of this common practice harmony or melodic BS wasn't new or difficult to hear and incorporate into playing back when I was a kid.

    I will say what I've always said.... everything is difficult and complicated when you don't have your technical skills together, Really spend more time on getting your chops together than playing slow beautiful thought out or rehearsed lines and chord progressions. Everything become easy to play when you have technical skills, chops.

    All those one liners about... slow will become fast or even fast will become slow are all BS.

  33. #32

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    As a virus shut-in, I have too much time on my hands.

    I couldn't make it through all the detail above. I'm afraid to go to the pharmacy to get my Adderall.

    That said, here's another idea.

    Principle: start somewhere and change things as little as possible

    So, you start on Fm7. Let's assume the key is Fm. Strum the chords and scat sing a melody. But I digress. This is more about math.

    Key of Fm:

    Over the Fm7: F G Ab Bb C Db Eb.

    Now you have an Eb7. Chord tones are Eb G Bb Db. They're all in Fm! The left over notes are F C and Ab. The F makes it an Eb9. That will work. The C makes it an Eb13, that will work too. The Ab is the 4th. That makes it an Eb11 (or, with the F and C, an Eb13). That note should be handled with a little more care, although it can work fine in a good melodic statement. To sum up, pretty much, you're still in Fm and all your Fm stuff will work.

    We come to Db7. That's Db F Ab B. Three of those notes are in Fm. The B is not. We change as little as possible. Fm contains both notes a half step away from B. What do we do? I'd suggest omitting the C. Why? Because it's the major seventh and it will conflict with the dominant sound of Db7. You can leave the Bb. It's the 13th. What about the other notes from Fm? They are G and Eb. Eb is the 9th, so it's going to sound fine. G is the #11. Try it. What could go wrong? To sum up, you have to alter one note from Fm. You need a B instead of a C.

    C7sus. C F G Bb. All present in Fm. What about the other notes? They are Ab Db Eb. #5, b9 and #9. They all may work, depending on what sound you want. Nobody can tell you what you're going to like.

    So, to sum up the point of this post, one simple way of dealing with this tune (and many others) is to pick a tonal center and then adjust it, always as little as possible, to account for the notes that don't fit. Some of what I've just gone through will line up with what others have said about the mode names. If that's helpful, great. TBH, I can get a little overwhelmed by it, but I came to it after decades of doing it this way -- tonal center, chord tones and scat singing.

    Some players can take a bit of theory covering an new (to them) sound - and incorporate into their playing. I wish I could do that, but I've mostly failed trying to do things that way. I think I've learned most efficiently when I've heard and seen a guitarist play a sound that I like -- and been able to identify which note(s) against which chord(s) created it. Obviously, it would be better to be able to do this from any instrument, from a record or a chart or an explanation of theory. But, apparently, that doesn't work equally well for everyone.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Man I'm old.... and most of this common practice harmony or melodic BS wasn't new or difficult to hear and incorporate into playing back when I was a kid.
    I always blame the education system, but truth of it is that there is much less harmonic pop music now. You don't ever have to play a standard if you don't want to, so you can play pretty much modal tunes, vamps and so on. (Look on instagram at the stuff that gets tagged #jazzguitar... I don't want to be a purist, but a LOT of shred on hip-hop and Neo-soul grooves...)

    It was hard enough for me, and I grew up with The Beatles on the stereo, and things like Soundgarden, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and Nirvana a few years later... songs with cool changes, yes, but not always the GASB common practice ones. And not AABA song forms so much... So I didn't hear the GASB patterns and at first they sounded REALLY corny to me.

    Now - what do you have? Hip hop? EDM? Djent? I don't mean to be down on it, all music can be great when done well, but it's not feeding you much trad harmonic information or song forms. So when you get to jazz... well, you have to start from square one.

    I get the impression things were different for working musicians a few decades back.... You don't have to be a jazzer to know Sinatra songs etc, even if only by ear.