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Thread: Chord Functions on Other Than Major Keys

  1. #16
    Carrots!! All_Ľour_Bass's Avatar
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    I didn't want to have to go and retype all of this:
    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...7&postcount=51
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    Be different.

    Do it for the OATMEAL.

  2. #17
    Registered User urucoug's Avatar
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    Wow, I think this post will have to be another one of those that I study for a while before it clicks. Thanks for the input

  3. #18
    Registered User xyzzy's Avatar
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    Regarding the appending of the "flat" prefix when discussing minor-key III, VI, and VII, I tend to encounter these chords more often as borrowed (modal interchange) chords while playing a song in a major key. So the relationship/distinction between a iii vs. bIII, vi vs. bVI, or viio vs. bVII which might occur in the same song, to me (admittedly relatively new at this) seems much more sensible and reveals more clearly that I'm just dropping the root note of the chord one semitone.
    Last edited by xyzzy; 10-16-2010 at 05:44 AM.

  4. #19
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Yes, it's one of those things that can be seen either way. As I grew up with the upper case being Major and the lower case being minor I'm at ease with iii, but, I now understand why bIII is used and I recognize it for what it is.

  5. #20
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    My original Harmony training used IIIm rather than iii (in major keys) and bIII rather than III (in minor keys). The beauty of this system from my perspective is that the use of flats or sharps (across all modes) for the chord designations matches exactly the scale formula for that particular scale degree (the root of the chord).

    For example in C major we refer to the 3rd as "the major 3rd or using arabic numbers the 3" and the chord for that root (in this diatonic setting) would be assumed to be minor (IIIm) as is the case with all major keys.

    Next example in C minor where we refer to the 3rd as "the minor 3rd or using arabic numbers the b3" and the chord for that root (in this diatonic setting) would be assumed to be major (bIII (major)) as is the case with all major and minor keys.

    So in C major: Em = IIIm
    So in C minor: Em = IIIm

    So in C major: Eb (major) = bIII (major assumed)
    So in C minor: Eb (major) = bIII (major assumed)

    Given the setting at college, it was easier and less prone to confusion to use the uppercase Roman Numerals where the default type of chord is based on the major scale and the default number designation for a chord (using Roman Numerals) is equal to the default number for that chord's root as a scale degree (using Arabic Numerals) - complete with sharps and flats.

    This method becomes very handy and concise when you get into analyzing complicated harmonic passages. The newer mixed-case Roman Numerals system has some advantages in some aspects but becomes more complicated and harder to read for the types of music I care about. I use Roman Numeral notation for chords on most of my lead sheets and let people tell me what key they want to hear it in. I believe this helps me become more key-agnostic in my thinking. YMMV

    Using the mixed-case system - you would have a different designation for the same chord depending on the type of key (major vs minor):

    In C major - Bb would be a bVII chord
    In C minor - Bb would be a VII chord

    Using the upper-case system both of these chords would be a bVII irrespective of the nature of the key. There are of course other examples where the same chord would have different names based on the same tonic (but in different tonalities).

    cheers,
    Last edited by Jed; 10-15-2010 at 07:53 PM.

  6. #21
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    My original Harmony training used IIIm rather than iii (in major keys) and bIII rather than III (in minor keys). The beauty of this system from my perspective is that the use of flats or sharps (across all modes) for the chord designations matches exactly the scale formula for that particular scale degree (the root of the chord).

    For example in C major we refer to the 3rd as "the major 3rd or using arabic numbers the 3" and the chord for that root (in this diatonic setting) would be assumed to be minor (IIIm) as is the case with all major keys.

    Next example in C minor where we refer to the 3rd as "the minor 3rd or using arabic numbers the b3" and the chord for that root (in this diatonic setting) would be assumed to be major (bIII (major)) as is the case with all major and minor keys.

    So in C major: Em = IIIm
    So in C minor: Em = IIIm

    So in C major: Eb (major) = bIII (major assumed)
    So in C minor: Eb (major) = bIII (major assumed)

    Given the setting at college, it was easier and less prone to confusion to use the uppercase Roman Numerals where the default type of chord is based on the major scale and the default number designation for a chord (using Roman Numerals) is equal to the default number for that chord's root as a scale degree (using Arabic Numerals) - complete with sharps and flats.

    This method becomes very handy and concise when you get into analyzing complicated harmonic passages. The newer mixed-case Roman Numerals system has some advantages in some aspects but becomes more complicated and harder to read for the types of music I care about. I use Roman Numeral notation for chords on most of my lead sheets and let people tell me what key they want to hear it in. I believe this helps me become more key-agnostic in my thinking. YMMV

    Using the mixed-case system - you would have a different designation for the same chord depending on the type of key (major vs minor):

    In C major - Bb would be a bVII chord
    In C minor - Bb would be a VII chord

    Using the upper-case system both of these chords would be a bVII irrespective of the nature of the key. There are of course other examples where the same chord would have different names based on the same tonic (but in different tonalities).

    cheers,
    Thanks Jed, that looks like an ideal system. (I admit I would initially be confused if I saw "IIIm" used to refer to Em in the key of C minor - I would have guessed Ebm, which I would think would be more common than Em - but I can see it makes sense within the overall major-key-referenced system.)

  7. #22
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by urucoug View Post
    That seemed to be just for keys that are major! Does it change at all for minor keys (which chords act like tonics/subdominants/dominants)? Are there other keys besides major and minor?
    In response to your original question...
    It's not so cut and dry which key you are in many of the times. Is it C major or is it A minor. Well If the if there is no Am chord you would definately say it's C major, right?

    Let's say that you are soloing with a C major scale, try the experiment of, instead of resolving on the C note... try resolving on the A note.

    Hmmmm... that sounds like home too! You have a C major 6 (same as Am7)

    Let's say it's the other way around. There is an Am chord but no C major chord. So you proceed to solo in the key of Am. Now resolve on the G note. It's the same thing. You have an Am7 chord (same as C major 6)

    My point is this. Whether your progression is major or minor does not change the fact that you can switch that feeling at any point.

    An F chord is still to be treated as a possible sub dominant and a G chord as a Dominant even in the key of Am.
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  8. #23
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    In response to your original question...
    It's not so cut and dry which key you are in many of the times. Is it C major or is it A minor. Well If the if there is no Am chord you would definately say it's C major, right?

    Let's say that you are soloing with a C major scale, try the experiment of, instead of resolving on the C note... try resolving on the A note.

    Hmmmm... that sounds like home too! You have a C major 6 (same as Am7)

    Let's say it's the other way around. There is an Am chord but no C major chord. So you proceed to solo in the key of Am. Now resolve on the G note. It's the same thing. You have an Am7 chord (same as C major 6)

    My point is this. Whether your progression is major or minor does not change the fact that you can switch that feeling at any point.

    An F chord is still to be treated as a possible sub dominant and a G chord as a Dominant even in the key of Am.
    I think you're risking some confusion here.

    It's not really possible to switch the tonality of a progression at any point by how you improvise over it. You can certainly end your phrases on notes other than the tonic, or other than chord roots, but that's a different thing.
    Eg, if you resolve to a G note over an A minor, you have simply resolved to the 7th of the chord - not changed the major or minor "feeling" of the progression.
    Likewise if you end a phrase on C - that's just the 3rd of the chord, not a new root. (If the bass plays C, different matter - that's what would turn it into a C6 chord.)
    Of course these things affect the sound, but they don't change the tonality.

    And strictly speaking a G is never a dominant in the key of A minor. And it makes no sense to "treat" it as a dominant. It is what it is - the subtonic chord. The dominant is E.
    Of course, if the following chord was C, then it would act as dominant of that chord - either a secondary dominant in A minor (V/III), or (perhaps more likely) the dominant in a modulation to the relative major.
    It is true that an F chord can have a subdominant function in A minor - because it can lead to the dominant, E, as a sub for Dm.

  9. #24
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    No Jon, actually my post has a lot of truth to it. I have found... (later in my career) that when in the key of C major, there is nothing really stopping me from giving it that Am or C6 tonality. It is very possible to blur the lines in a very deliberate way.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    It's not really possible to switch the tonality of a progression at any point by how you improvise over it. You can certainly end your phrases on notes other than the tonic, or other than chord roots, but that's a different thing..
    There are many, many , many songs that go from a major tonality to it's relative minor tonality. It's probably the most common change. No new chords are introduced but the song instead of wanting to resolve to Am, now resolves to C major. Or visa versa...



    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Eg, if you resolve to a G note over an A minor, you have simply resolved to the 7th of the chord - not changed the major or minor "feeling" of the progression. .
    Yes.. true... you have created an Am7, the thing to be aware of is that it is the same chord as the Cmajor 6. This same chord,whether its C major6 or A7, no mater if the key is Am or C major, the same chord is a good resolving chord. Those notes A C E G seem to be resolving notes no matter what key you are in. Therefore the I chord and the vi chord serve the same function.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Likewise if you end a phrase on C - that's just the 3rd of the chord, not a new root. (If the bass plays C, different matter - that's what would turn it into a C6 chord.)
    Of course these things affect the sound, but they don't change the tonality.

    .
    Of course I am not talking about landing of the third of fifth, that does not change anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    And strictly speaking a G is never a dominant in the key of A minor. And it makes no sense to "treat" it as a dominant. It is what it is - the subtonic chord. The dominant is E.
    Of course, if the following chord was C, then it would act as dominant of that chord - either a secondary dominant in A minor (V/III), or (perhaps more likely) the dominant in a modulation to the relative major.
    It is true that an F chord can have a subdominant function in A minor - because it can lead to the dominant, E, as a sub for Dm.
    I think that the G chord can very well be a dominant in the key of Am just as well as the E7 can be a dominant in the key of C major. I say this because in my experience, I have played many songs where the tonality toggles between major or minor and its relative.

    No matter what you call it, it can still be treated the same. In the key of C major, if the next chord is E7, then A harmonic minor would fit best. (just as if it were the dominant)


    Check out this example, You have a progression in C major and the last two chords are G C. Now as a soloist, you have decided to end on the A note , making the last chord C6 or Am7. It still serves the function of a full cadence.
    Last edited by Los Boleros; 10-17-2010 at 05:14 PM.
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  10. #25
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    No Jon, actually my post has a lot of truth to it. I have found... (later in my career) that when in the key of C major, there is nothing really stopping me from giving it that Am or C6 tonality. It is very possible to blur the lines in a very deliberate way.

    There are many, many , many songs that go from a major tonality to it's relative minor tonality. It's probably the most common change. No new chords are introduced but the song instead of wanting to resolve to Am, now resolves to C major. Or visa versa...
    I think we may be talking at cross purposes. Of course, compositions modulate as you say - move from one key to another, and very often between relative major and minor.

    I thought you were saying you could impose an Am tonality on a C major piece (or vice versa), by melodic improvisation.
    This is not possible by definition (defining the words key and tonality properly). We can only have one key at a time.
    That's a different thing from stressing (say) an A note on a C chord. It makes it C6, or possibly even Am7 - it doesn't turn the key into A minor, doesn't change the tonality.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    Yes.. true... you have created an Am7, the thing to be aware of is that it is the same chord as the Cmajor 6. This same chord,whether its C major6 or A7, no mater if the key is Am or C major, the same chord is a good resolving chord. Those notes A C E G seem to be resolving notes no matter what key you are in. Therefore the I chord and the vi chord serve the same function.
    Again, you're being a little vague with your terms, IMO.
    The I and vi chord can indeed serve the same function, but it depends on the key.
    Am can substitute for C major in key of C (as can Em). But vice versa doesn't work.
    In key of F major, Am will perform the same (tonic) function as F. C won't.
    In key of G, OTOH, Am and C are more equally interchangeable, as subdominant chords.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    I think that the G chord can very well be a dominant in the key of Am just as well as the E7 can be a dominant in the key of C major. I say this because in my experience, I have played many songs where the tonality toggles between major or minor and its relative.
    Yes, but that's re-defining the word "dominant".
    Strictly speaking it means the 5th note of the scale; and hence the chord built on that degree; and (hence) any chord which will perform a similar function to that (V) chord.
    E7 is the dominant 7th in the key of A minor. The other chord with a dominant function in that key is G#dim(7).
    G is the dominant of C major; the other dominant function chord in that key is Bdim (Bm7b5).
    G can resolve to Am, in an aeolian cadence, but that doesn't make it "dominant". G-Am is a very different sound from E-Am.

    Yes, of course, songs often juggle between major and relative minor. That doesn't make a G chord dominant in A minor.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    No matter what you call it, it can still be treated the same. In the key of C major, if the next chord is E7, then A harmonic minor would fit best. (just as if it were the dominant)
    Well yes, E IS the dominant of Am.
    In C major, it's a secondary dominant (V/vi), but can also represent a modulation to A minor - and often does, as you say.
    And it does "matter what you call it", otherwise we talk at cross purposes!
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    Check out this example, You have a progression in C major and the last two chords are G C. Now as a soloist, you have decided to end on the A note , making the last chord C6 or Am7. It still serves the function of a full cadence.
    Yes, I wouldn't dispute that. But what you do as a soloist hasn't changed the tonality or the key. You have simply made the final chord a C6, if the bass is still playing C.
    If the bass also moved to A, then the final cadence would have been turned into an aeolian one, G-Am. (Which could, I think, also be termed a deceptive cadence, in the light of the exptected C major ending. Not sure about this.)
    IOW, the bass rules, not the soloist. (Unless the soloist IS the bassist, or - as a pianist eg - manages to hit a lower note than the bass.)

  11. #26
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post

    I thought you were saying you could impose an Am tonality on a C major piece (or vice versa), by melodic improvisation.
    This is not possible by definition (defining the words key and tonality properly). We can only have one key at a time.
    Why do you think there can only be one key t a time? Just for the sake of simplicity? Because it's easier to keep track of perhaps?

    If for example the key was natural Am and the particular chord at the time was also Am, we would be (most likely) be using A Aeolean. Could we not chose to solo with A Dorian instead and impose Am6 tonality? (As long as there are no other notes that would conflict)


    There are many ways to think about things and maybe we are talking about the same thing in different ways. That's the beauty! Music theory is an attempt to analize and explain what happens naturally when music is played. However, no globally accepted theory is the only hot dog stand in town. How boring would that be?

    While some people will prefer to derive everything from one parent key. IE in the key of Am, the Dm chord could be thought of as 2,4,6 or we can think of it as 1,3,5 as it applies to the Dm. Both methods work and I tend to use both.

    The bottom line is always the music. When you are playing, it doesnt matter if you are thinking for dominant, dorian, A6 etc... or we are thinking chicken, triangle, eraser. What matters is what the listener hears.


    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Strictly speaking it means the 5th note of the scale; and hence the chord built on that degree; and (hence) any chord which will perform a similar function to that (V) chord.
    E7 is the dominant 7th in the key of A minor. The other chord with a dominant function in that key is G#dim(7).
    G is the dominant of C major; the other dominant function chord in that key is Bdim (Bm7b5).
    G can resolve to Am, in an aeolian cadence, but that doesn't make it "dominant". G-Am is a very different sound from E-Am.
    yes So G7 is the Dominant of C major but does not the C major Scale exist within the Am scale? Since the Am Scale does have a C major Chord, the G7 chord functions as the Dominant of C still.

    Of course there are many ways to view music. Some prefer to see a progression and apply a rule over the whole thing but in my opinion, music is better viewed on a chord by chord basis. To me, it is better to know the relation between the chord you are on and the one you are going to.


    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    IOW, the bass rules, not the soloist. (Unless the soloist IS the bassist, or - as a pianist eg - manages to hit a lower note than the bass.)
    The bass does not always play the root. One of my favorite bassist I play with... (one of the top upright bassists in the SF Bay Area) when I am in Am, she likes to play F# or even D sometimes. (Go figure)

    For the most part, a bass line will tend to concentrate on the 1 and 5 of the chord but there is nothing stopping them from playing what ever they want.

    I have to stick to my guns and say that the tonality of a piece can be influenced by the improvisation of any of the musicians.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post


    And it does "matter what you call it", otherwise we talk at cross purposes!
    We wouldn't want that!

    In reality, we are using the same terms. It is so very easy to get off-topic but I do believe the original posters question was:
    Quote Originally Posted by urucoug View Post

    That seemed to be just for keys that are major! Does it change at all for minor keys (which chords act like tonics/subdominants/dominants)?
    My answer to that is that in Am, the F and G chords still act as the subdominant and dominant but only as they refer to the C chord. It's the relation that does not change. C major can also act as the tonic but thereby temporarily changing the tonality. (This is something I see all the time)
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  12. #27
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    On another note... I just saw the new movie Jack @$$... I thought it was nicely done but the book was better!
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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    Why do you think there can only be one key t a time? Just for the sake of simplicity? Because it's easier to keep track of perhaps?
    Well, the way I've always understood "key" is referring to the overall tonality of a piece, not to individual chords:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_(music)
    http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory31.htm
    - as such, you can't have more than one key at a time, unless you have polytonality, which (AFAIK) was something Stravinsky and other 20thC composers tried.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    If for example the key was natural Am and the particular chord at the time was also Am, we would be (most likely) be using A Aeolean. Could we not chose to solo with A Dorian instead and impose Am6 tonality? (As long as there are no other notes that would conflict)
    We could, sometimes. The "key" would still be A minor, the mode would just have changed.
    In traditional key-based music, this would sound wrong, but in a lot of modern music this might be acceptable.
    In a real sense, a lot of jazz and rock is "post-tonal", and concepts of key are much more fluid. But tonal centres tend to hold.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    There are many ways to think about things and maybe we are talking about the same thing in different ways. That's the beauty! Music theory is an attempt to analize and explain what happens naturally when music is played. However, no globally accepted theory is the only hot dog stand in town. How boring would that be?
    "Boring" maybe, but it would enable us to discuss music without getting confused.
    Of course, we can define words how we like to ourselves, but in conversation with others we need to use generally agreed and accepted definitions, otherwise we get nowhere.
    This is nothing to do with the "beauty" of music. A verbal language whose meaning changes from person to person is not "beautiful" - it's not really language at all.
    The definition if "key" does vary a little, but it always refers to an overall category: either a scale from which melodies and chords are drawn, or (better and more traditional) the tonal centre of a tune.
    Eg, in the broadest useful sense, we can have something in the "key of A", which may change from one A-root mode to any other, even major to minor. But these changes will be written into the piece, not open to the whim of a performer - unless of course the performer is solo and improvising (composing as he goes along).
    There's no useful way (that I can see) in which "key" can refer to something we can change just by how we resolve an improvised phrase. There are better words to describe what happens when we do that - IOW, to the sound it makes (which is different from a key change).
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    While some people will prefer to derive everything from one parent key. IE in the key of Am, the Dm chord could be thought of as 2,4,6 or we can think of it as 1,3,5 as it applies to the Dm. Both methods work and I tend to use both.
    Yes, but this isn't a matter of key.
    In any case, Dm is 2-4-6 relative to C, not to Am. In A minor, a Dm chord is 4-6-8 (or 4-6-1).
    In the key of A minor, A is always the tonic, the keynote. D is the 4th degree of the scale, and the root (1) of the Dm chord. You can think of the notes of the chord relative to either, of course, but it makes no difference to the key. If you think of D-F-A as "1-3-5", the key is still A minor, if that's the key of the sequence.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    The bottom line is always the music. When you are playing, it doesnt matter if you are thinking for dominant, dorian, A6 etc... or we are thinking chicken, triangle, eraser. What matters is what the listener hears.
    Of course. But what matters to us when we are discussing these things is that we call a chicken a chicken and a triangle a triangle!
    So we don't call a "root" a "key", because it confuses two quite different terms. As is plain here, you wouldn't know what I was talking about, and I wouldn't know what you were talking about!
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    yes So G7 is the Dominant of C major but does not the C major Scale exist within the Am scale? Since the Am Scale does have a C major Chord, the G7 chord functions as the Dominant of C still.
    Yes, but you're ignoring the factor of "key".
    Part of the problem, admittedly, is we have no other name for a scale other than to use a single note to refer to it. So we call the notes ABCDEFG (in any order) the "C major scale" - even though we might be using the notes with a different tonal centre (keynote) than C.
    So we must make a distinction between the C major "scale" and the C major "key". In the C major "key", C is keynote, or tonic. An Am chord would be vi, and A would not be the keynote in any sequence in key of C (no matter what we thought as we played it).
    In the A minor key, conversely, A is keynote or tonic. A C chord in that key would be III (or bIII) and C would not be the keynote in a sequence in that key. We could still use the phrase "C major scale" to describe the set of notes we are (mostly) using, but it risks being misleading. "A minor scale" would be better.
    (IOW to say the scale of C major "exists within" the A minor scale is a confusing statement. It's like saying modes exist "within" keys, which is a common misunderstanding of how modes work - and causes no end of confusion. Certainly, the two "scales" are the same notes; and the two "keys" are relative.)

    The idea of chord "function" refers to a key (relates to a tonic), not to a scale (set of notes). The "dominant" is the note and chord on the V step. That's defined by how we define the tonic.
    Key of C (or Cm): G = dominant
    Key of A (or Am): E = dominant
    G7 can't be a dominant chord in the key of A minor, anymore than E7 can be a dominant chord in the key of C.

    Either of them can be secondary dominants, of course - of other chords in the key. When composing, we can use G7 to resolve to C, whatever key the music is in overall. The key centre temporarily becomes C. If it remains in C, then we have modulated.

    When improvising (say in key of F), and we get a Gm7-C chord change, we could play a B natural on the Gm7 chord to lead to a C note, and thereby imply a G7 chord (secondary dominant). This doesn't change the key to C, it merely tonicises the C briefly (which is likely to be a C7 chord, V of F). The key remains F major, no matter how we treat those two chords.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    Of course there are many ways to view music. Some prefer to see a progression and apply a rule over the whole thing but in my opinion, music is better viewed on a chord by chord basis. To me, it is better to know the relation between the chord you are on and the one you are going to.
    I agree. But one doesn't ignore the key (and certainly doesn't change the key) by doing that.
    Personally, I like to see the overall picture (the wood for the trees), and then to look chord by chord. One has to be aware of how each chord functions within the key, though of course (in functional jazz at least) chords can move through (imply) different key centres as they go.
    Being aware of the overall key doesn't prevent the use of chromaticism when moving from chord to chord.
    IOW, none of this is about how we play. You probably play in a very similar way to me. It's about how we define what we are playing.

    The conventional music theory terms are all related to how music sounds - and once they lose touch with that they become useless. So "key" refers to one sound, "root" refers to another, "mode" to another, etc. If we mix them up, we confuse each other, and possibly ourselves.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    The bass does not always play the root. One of my favorite bassist I play with... (one of the top upright bassists in the SF Bay Area) when I am in Am, she likes to play F# or even D sometimes. (Go figure)
    Well, that would depend - I guess - on what chord comes next.
    If she plays D on an Am chord, that would likely be when it's being followed by a D7. (Ie, I've seen that quite often, and sometimes done it myself.)
    An F# under an Am chord would also be chosen with regard to context - eg in key of E minor, if Am is followed by B7, or in key of A minor if the Am is followed by F (a descending line A-G#-G-F# is a common device to make a long Am chord more interesting).
    The chord remains Am, although one can easily argue that Am/D is some kind of Dsus, and Am/F# is F#m7b5. Whether the name needs changing depends on what makes best sense of the progression, functionally.

    IOW, this is all about context - which seems to be the element you are glossing over, or preferring to ignore. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, although I think I'd find it hard to enjoy music that way - and certainly a lot harder to play music, seeing each chord as a separate entity. IMO, that risks making a sequence disjointed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    For the most part, a bass line will tend to concentrate on the 1 and 5 of the chord but there is nothing stopping them from playing what ever they want.
    Agreed. My point is that this has no effect on the "key", and very little effect (if any) on chord function. A bassist may often seek to enhance a chord function - eg by playing a raised 3rd on a minor chord to move a half-step up to the root of the next.

    It's true the note a bassist chooses to play can alter the chord identity:
    C with A bass = Am7
    Am with F# bass = F#m7b5
    Am with F bass = Fmaj7
    - but it would be highly unlikely for a good bassist to choose to play such notes on the downbeat of the chord in question, unless that change in chord type suited the context (ie if the new chord performed the same function as the old one).

  14. #29
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    I have to stick to my guns and say that the tonality of a piece can be influenced by the improvisation of any of the musicians.
    Well, we have to agree to disagree on that (according to my understanding of the word "tonality") - unless all the musicians decide to modulate the same way.
    That can happen, perhaps on a nod; they might all decide to move into another key at some point. But if the chord sequence remains the same - with the same tonic chord - then the tonality remains the same.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    In reality, we are using the same terms. It is so very easy to get off-topic but I do believe the original posters question was:
    My answer to that is that in Am, the F and G chords still act as the subdominant and dominant but only as they refer to the C chord.
    Yes.
    So - because it's "only as they refer to the C chord" - they are "secondary" subdominant and dominant. The primary subdominant in A minor is Dm, and the primary dominant is E - which could be Em in A aeolian, but more likely E or E7.
    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros View Post
    It's the relation that does not change. C major can also act as the tonic but thereby temporarily changing the tonality. (This is something I see all the time)
    Well, modulation to the relative major is indeed very common, in composed sequences. But improvisers can't impose that if the sequence doesn't do it.
    If a C major chord occurs in the key of A minor, an improviser may make more or less of that chord, eg stress its major quality, phrase so as to end positively on a C. That doesn't change the tonality of the piece. The key hasn't suddenly become C major. You've just heard a strong III chord, that's all.

    This may seem a narrow point, but it's about getting the terminology right, so we know we're talking about the same thing(s).
    I mean, I think I know what you're talking about, and I would probably agree with your overall view on music - but the way you are using terms like "key" and "tonality" (too broadly IMO), I can't be sure.

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