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  1. #1

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    So, chord functions are a thing.

    How do people find them useful and what actually are they when you get down to it?

    (I’m not asking for advice on how to do functional analysis I know how this works, I’m more interested in what people think they may have got out of the concept.)

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    ...chord functions...
    They are very useful when someone wants to sing for fun and accompany, for example, on the guitar.

  4. #3

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    The biggest thing I'm concerned with regarding chord functions is identifying resolution and tension in a tune...almost everything is I or V...

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    The biggest thing I'm concerned with regarding chord functions is identifying resolution and tension in a tune...almost everything is I or V...
    I-can be major or minor
    V- is always a major

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    I-can be major or minor
    V- is always a major
    Right, I or i, I should say.

    Both are places of rest, V is a place of movement, of "pull."

    This of course, doesn't apply to some stuff, Modal, some Shorter tunes, etc...but it applies to enough to be crucial.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    The biggest thing I'm concerned with regarding chord functions is identifying resolution and tension in a tune...almost everything is I or V...
    I find it more useful to think of IV (and iv) as their own categories, rather than lumping them into V.
    Last edited by BigDaddyLoveHandles; 12-03-2021 at 03:39 PM.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    So, chord functions are a thing.

    How do people find them useful and what actually are they when you get down to it?

    (I’m not asking for advice on how to do functional analysis I know how this works, I’m more interested in what people think they may have got out of the concept.)
    Do you mean as a compositional tool or as an analysis tool?

    Clearly it's proven useful as a compositional tool, especially for popular styles, in order to come up with progressions that sound pleasing (and familiar) to the listener.

    For analysis towards improvisation and comping arrangement, I think it's useful for coming up with good voice leading ideas. You can argue that functional analysis is not that necessary for finding good voice leading but maybe it helps if the composer had a particular voice leading idea in mind and all you have is chord charts to reverse engineer it.

    If you take a tune with a very functional progression and reharmonize it in an anti-functional way that still works with melody, you'll get a different result, right? Whether it'd be better or worse depends on the specifics and the listener.

  9. #8

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    Chord functions. What are they for?

    To keep the theorists happy. Apart from that, just play 'em, that's what they're for.

  10. #9

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    Christian's OP with the line "chord functions are a thing" made me think of this exchange from one of my favorite movies of recent years...

    It might also be pertinent to this conversation.


  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    The biggest thing I'm concerned with regarding chord functions is identifying resolution and tension in a tune...almost everything is I or V...
    Barry Harris fan are you? I like it.

    C6 diminished scale is I6 inverted and G7b9 ( no root ) inverted again and again.....I, V, I, V over and over.

    As for the OP question: if I run across a tune I'm unfamiliar with the harmonic analysis usually puts it in perspective.

  12. #11

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    Honestly, I'm not really sure exactly what it means.

    I know, and use, the notion (learned from Warren Nunes) that Cmaj7, Em7, Gmaj7, Am7 are more or less interchangeable.

    Same for Dm7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 (both camps) and Bm7b5.

    This is basically dividing everything into tonic and dominant, bearing in mind that Warren played standards.

    Similarly, I know that all melodic minor chord voicings are interchangeable (from Mark Levine) and the various voicings can be used in different ways.

    I've read Nettles and Graf, so I probably know, or should know, a few other things.

    Knowing what can be interchanged with what is usable, especially in comping. If you know Warren's "exchanges" it immediately gives you more options for comping. You can use it to get different notes on top of your chords and thereby put some melody into your comping. This is typical of what pianists do, but I think guitarists don't do it as routinely.

    I'm aware that Dm7 can be a iim in Cmajor or a iiim in Bbmaj, or vim in Fmaj. I don't think about it, at least not quite like that. If I know the tonal center and the chord tones, the issue, if I thought about it, is whether to play B vs Bb and E vs Eb. I just go by ear. As an aside, I'm aware that people talk about a variety of scales over, for example, a specific dominant chord. To me, it's mostly adjustment of 5ths and 9ths and can be done by ear as easily as with all the nomenclature.

    This is not a recommendation. Players who know and use more theory often get hipper sounds than I get. OTOH, one of the greatest solos I ever heard was great melody and rhythm but pretty much inside the harmony.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Honestly, I'm not really sure exactly what it means.

    I know, and use, the notion (learned from Warren Nunes) that Cmaj7, Em7, Gmaj7, Am7 are more or less interchangeable.

    Same for Dm7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 (both camps) and Bm7b5.

    This is basically dividing everything into tonic and dominant, bearing in mind that Warren played standards.

    Similarly, I know that all melodic minor chord voicings are interchangeable (from Mark Levine) and the various voicings can be used in different ways.

    I've read Nettles and Graf, so I probably know, or should know, a few other things.

    Knowing what can be interchanged with what is usable, especially in comping. If you know Warren's "exchanges" it immediately gives you more options for comping. You can use it to get different notes on top of your chords and thereby put some melody into your comping. This is typical of what pianists do, but I think guitarists don't do it as routinely.

    I'm aware that Dm7 can be a iim in Cmajor or a iiim in Bbmaj, or vim in Fmaj. I don't think about it, at least not quite like that. If I know the tonal center and the chord tones, the issue, if I thought about it, is whether to play B vs Bb and E vs Eb. I just go by ear. As an aside, I'm aware that people talk about a variety of scales over, for example, a specific dominant chord. To me, it's mostly adjustment of 5ths and 9ths and can be done by ear as easily as with all the nomenclature.

    This is not a recommendation. Players who know and use more theory often get hipper sounds than I get. OTOH, one of the greatest solos I ever heard was great melody and rhythm but pretty much inside the harmony.
    Well, my understanding of ‘function’ is based on a similar sort of understanding; what I think of as applicability or utility; so it’s the understanding that Em swaps in for C, Bb7 for Dm7b5, Db7 for G7 and so on. So these chords aren’t the same, obviously, but have some quality of sameness that allows you to interchange them to some extent and categorise them, if you want, back to the basic three triads of a major or minor key, I IV V.

    Where this gets more complicated is
    1) jazz isn’t that preoccupied with resolving the leading tone; so classical theorists may regard Em as a dominant function as it had the B in it, whereas jazzers would tend to hear a B as a perfectly acceptable note to add to a C chord, so to my mind the difference between the functions is somewhat lessened (meaning that there’s something between 2 or 3 basic functions)

    2) it can be ambiguous. Bb7 can be thought of as Dm7b5 and therefore Fm6 and therefore minor IV but also as a replacement for G7, or backdoor dominant. To preference either is to neglect a common usage in jazz. I actually think this is a feature, not a bug.

    3) chromatic harmony gets really open to interpretation. Arguments have raged for a century over Wagner’s Tristan chord. Theorists have their own definitions that you can choose to accept or not. I do wonder if Wagner would have had time to write any music if he spent time thinking about this stuff lol.

    So anyway I was chatting to Jens about this and he really didn’t seem to like my hazy way of looking at it. He seems very definitive or binary about chord functions.

    I see the value of chord functions as more about chord subs and soloing ideas, so I tend to ground my ideas in that. To me there are two or three basic chord qualities and two basic functions, but tbh a lot of harmonic knowledge is gleaned by looking at changes and solos and comparing. I’m a bit suspicious of neat systems because they all become internally inconsistent sooner or later.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by WILSON 1
    Barry Harris fan are you? I like it.

    C6 diminished scale is I6 inverted and G7b9 ( no root ) inverted again and again.....I, V, I, V over and over.

    As for the OP question: if I run across a tune I'm unfamiliar with the harmonic analysis usually puts it in perspective.
    It is if you play it in drop2s. There are other ways of playing the scale.

  15. #14

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    Yesterday I was listening to some Coltrane solos/1960 in Paris/ .. wondering what these chord functions are for?
    There was so much expression in the saxophone and its sound.Extreme playing.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    It is if you play it in drop2s. There are other ways of playing the scale.
    You mean if I play it in drop3s it's something else?

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by WILSON 1
    You mean if I play it in drop3s it's something else?
    You can borrow notes from the diminished into the 6 chord, use different types of contrapuntal movement including oblique and suspended motion; all sorts of stuff…

  18. #17

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    It is important to understand what is meant under 'functions'

    Functional tonality? Then for me chords represent functions, so i rather think not in chords in fucntions... each function has its character - or rather meaning, its intensity and its relations with other functions.
    What does it givet o me? it give a relationship that form artistic language...

    The problem of traditional functional analysis in jazz is that in most cases in jazz music it is too simple to be really effective in general sense. In classical music the realtionships between the keys are important... functions rule on the huge territories and inside these territories there are other relationships with the same functions involved. all this can create very complex expressive system that allows to create something like novels in music...

    In other words... in jazz it does really give that much for this style... (tension/release may be defined by other relationship than functional tonality too).


    I think that jazz harmony extended the idea of function ... and with that jazz harmony 'de-generalized' make more casual.
    for me in jazz almost every harmonic unit can become a function and an expression of function (be a chord)...

    Like

    mi7 chord may function as maj7 so chord quality may become a function.

    But even particular chord like Cmaj7 can become a function

    Anything can be anything.

    It is actually essentially totally opposite to functional tonality where with its centralized universal approach ....

    Yesterday I was listening to some Coltrane solos/1960 in Paris/ .. wondering what these chord functions are for?
    There was so much expression in the saxophone and its sound.Extreme playing.
    Exactly... other parameters become more important than traditional functions: and they can be even beyond pitch -related qualities but something like tone, sonoric intensity, dynamics etc.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    You can borrow notes from the diminished into the 6 chord, use different types of contrapuntal movement including oblique and suspended motion; all sorts of stuff…
    ...don't forget contrary motion ...yes I get all that, but mr beaumont's #3 post alluded to all things trucating to I, V, I, V and that triggered the thought about the C6 diminished scale...which produces that, regardless of any borrowing or movement.

    I take mr beaumont's point to be that you can look at all kinds of harmonic analysis with extensions and tensions but the big parentheses are around I and V.

    I think his sequential reasoning is good considering the spirit of the OP, that is: what have you gotten out of the concept?

  20. #19

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    hi everyone who cares about this stuff

    (if everything in tonal type tunes can be thought of as V or I ....)

    are the BH exponents saying that the
    so called ‘6thdiminished’ scales harmonised in thirds can represent these
    I and V sounds in some kind of linear
    organised fashion , and that that is useful ?
    i’ve played around with them but have yet
    to find much practical uses

    many thanks all

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    hi everyone who cares about this stuff

    (if everything in tonal type tunes can be thought of as V or I ....)

    are the BH exponents saying that the
    so called ‘6thdiminished’ scales harmonised in thirds can represent these
    I and V sounds in some kind of linear
    organised fashion , and that that is useful ?
    i’ve played around with them but have yet
    to find much practical uses

    many thanks all
    Yes. Correct; with your improvisation.


    Addendum: Holy Shit I posted on the FUNCTION thread and have no idea what a Function is!

  22. #21

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    There are only two types of function*, moving or stable. In G7 - C, the G7 is moving and resolves to the C which is stable.

    In the major scale, whether chords are moving or stable depends on their function*.

    * the word function can be used in two different ways.

    Chords in a major scale can be grouped as dominant or tonic and they can be substituted for one another. C, Em and Am are tonic, Dm, F, Bo, and G7 are dominant.

    (F in the key of F is stable, in the key of C is moving)

    But whether they are moving or stable depends on their function. In Em - Am - Dm - G7 - C, the Em is moving, Am is stable, Dm is moving, G7 is moving, C is stable. How to tell? By the sound.

    Same with a minor key. Or any progression. Or with altered chords. Or any other person's theory.

    That's all. It's that simple.

    Examples:

    Take Blue In Green:

    BbM7#11 -moving
    A7#9 - moving
    Dm7 - moving
    Db7 moving

    Cm7 - moving
    F7b9 - moving
    BbM7 - stable
    A7b13 - moving

    Dm69 - moving
    E7#9 - moving
    Am9 - moving
    Dm9 - moving

    The only stable chord is in the middle somewhere which is why it can loop endlessly.

    Take So What:

    Dm7 ----- Ebm7 ----- Dm7

    Both these chords are stable. The Ebm is quite happy sitting there by itself, it doesn't need to go back to the Dm.

    Take ATTYA:

    Fm7 - moving
    Bbm - moving
    Eb7 - moving
    AbM7 - stable

    DbM7 - moving
    G7 - moving
    CM7 x 2 - stable

    The changes in this kind of standard are usually predictable.

    So the word 'function' is always relative to the chord's function/purpose within a form. It's never inherent within the chord itself. How to tell? By the sound. If you can't tell, you're stuffed.

  23. #22

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    Mind you, why anyone should care, I don't know. So apart from that, just play 'em. Then their function is to be played. Simple.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    There are only two types of function*, moving or stable. In G7 - C, the G7 is moving and resolves to the C which is stable.

    In the major scale, whether chords are moving or stable depends on their function*.

    * the word function can be used in two different ways.

    Chords in a major scale can be grouped as dominant or tonic and they can be substituted for one another. C, Em and Am are tonic, Dm, F, Bo, and G7 are dominant.

    (F in the key of F is stable, in the key of C is moving)

    But whether they are moving or stable depends on their function. In Em - Am - Dm - G7 - C, the Em is moving, Am is stable, Dm is moving, G7 is moving, C is stable. How to tell? By the sound.

    Same with a minor key. Or any progression. Or with altered chords. Or any other person's theory.

    That's all. It's that simple.

    Examples:

    Take Blue In Green:

    BbM7#11 -moving
    A7#9 - moving
    Dm7 - moving
    Db7 moving

    Cm7 - moving
    F7b9 - moving
    BbM7 - stable
    A7b13 - moving

    Dm69 - moving
    E7#9 - moving
    Am9 - moving
    Dm9 - moving

    The only stable chord is in the middle somewhere which is why it can loop endlessly.

    Take So What:

    Dm7 ----- Ebm7 ----- Dm7

    Both these chords are stable. The Ebm is quite happy sitting there by itself, it doesn't need to go back to the Dm.

    Take ATTYA:

    Fm7 - moving
    Bbm - moving
    Eb7 - moving
    AbM7 - stable

    DbM7 - moving
    G7 - moving
    CM7 x 2 - stable

    The changes in this kind of standard are usually predictable.

    So the word 'function' is always relative to the chord's function/purpose within a form. It's never inherent within the chord itself. How to tell? By the sound. If you can't tell, you're stuffed.

    I see what you mean. Thanks!

    MOVING.

  25. #24

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    Nothing is stable for ever...

  26. #25

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    The wikipedia article is interesting:

    Function (music) - Wikipedia

    So harmonic function did not become an explicit concept until very late in the 19th century - so all that classical music got written without composers thinking much about Roman numerals and dominants. All that stuff was there of course, but it was all baked into part writing rules.