Schubert’s Strange Path Home

Schubert’s Impromptu D.935, Op. posth. 142 – No. 2 is one of my favorite piano pieces. It has many delights, but what really caught my ear was the bombastic double forte section (m. 17-30 at 1:06). It takes us into the IV key and uses a clever trick to modulate back so that I barely noticed when we arrived back home.

Below are lead sheet-style chords under their functions, with simple inversion notation. I’ve transposed from Ab to G to get rid of the double-flats (I’m terrible playing/thinking in Ab). Continue reading  

Bury figured bass

Figured bass notation is already long dead, but musicians carry its corpse around to show off that they squandered valuable moments of their lives learning it. It also creates needless ambiguity. Is I7 a dominant seventh? Not in figured bass. Just try notating G7b9/B in figured bass. Yeah, let’s bury it already. And it can be so easy:

V9:2. You may have already guessed this is the dominant 9th chord in 2nd inversion. Easy.

ii7:3 is Am7/G in G.

I7 has a flat 7th on the tonic. Imaj7 is the diatonic variety.

You are freed to do Roman numeral analysis with some sanity.

Perry Como “No Other Love” chords

Intro)

   SubV   I
   Gb7b5  F  C(no3)/G  F/A  C7(no3)/G

Verses)

   I                                                            VII
   F            C9(no3)   Fmaj7  F6/C  F         C7(no3)/G  F   E7
1. No other     love  have I.         Only      my love    for  you.
2. Watching the night   go by         wishing that you    could be
3. Into    your arms I'll fly.        Locked in your arms  I'll stay

    ii         V/ii       V/V    SubV                I
   Gm/Bb       D7/A       G/B    Gb7b5               F
1. Only    the dream   we knew.     No other love.
2. watching the night with me      into the night I cry
3. waiting   to hear    you say   no other love have I.

Bridge)
              Eb: I       Vsus     V    V/ii
                                      C: I         Vsus    V
F                Eb/G   Bb7sus/F Bb7/F  C/E       G7sus/D G7/D
Hurry home, come home to me.              Set me free.

C: V/ii
D:  V        I             IV
                        F: V/V    V      Vsus  V
   A/C#      D             G7     C      C9sus C7
      Free from doubt and free      from longing.

End)

ii                    SubV     I
Gm7           Gm9    Gb7b5#9   F
No other love.  No    other    love.

Wonderful bits:

  • The early D7/A – G/B (a secondary dominant with no 7th) sounds like a key change to G, and rather than the bass rising to C it falls to the tritone sub root Gb7b5.
  • The bridge walks us through the keys Eb, C, D, and back to the home key F using mostly inversions.
  • The voice leading in the choir’s final cadence:
      G    Bb     D    F     A
     Gb    Bb   C     E      A
    F     A     C      F     A
    

Louis Cole “You’ll Believe Me” chords

Modulations are noted with ().

I)

    A           E7/A |             A   :||

V1)

    A                | E7sus         E7
        I saw the world   but didn't like it.

           (E)
    A      B7/A      | G#m7          C#m7
        Without you there I couldn't fight for

                       (A)                                          (D)
    F#m7             | E7sus/B   E7    | Amaj9     A6/9     | Amaj9 A7 A7sus
       our survival.   If you   need me  you'll believe me.

    D                | A7sus            A7sus/G
      Throw out your doubt that time is over.

                                   (A)
    D/F#    Bm7      | C6/9        E7   /F#  | (repeat intro)
       Just cry your fears into my shoulder.

V2)

    A                | E7sus     E7
        Grow tired as     as the days burn.

    A      B7/A      | G#m7           C#m7
       Sit down with me and watch the world turn.

    F#m7                    | E7sus/C   E13  /F# | Amaj9     A6/9    | A (bass G)
      I think you will learn  if    you need me    you'll believe me.

B)

    (F)
    F     /C   /F /G | /A /C            | C7sus     /G /A  | /Bb /G   C7

    (Db)
    Db   /Ab /Db /Eb | /F /Ab           | Ab7sus   /Eb /F  | /Gb /Eb  Ab7

    (A)         (Bb)             (B)                  (C)                (C#)
    A   /E  /F  F+/A | Bb /F /F# F#+/A# | B  /F#  /G  G+/B | C  /G  /G#  G#+/B#

    (C#m)    (B)                (Bbm)
    C#m      Em      | Bsus     D#m     | Bbm/F     F+ F/C | Bbm(9)   Bbm
    
    (D)
    D+/F Gm/F# Gm    | Dsus/G   D/F#    | Bm      Bm7/A    | Em7/B    A7sus A7

V3)

    D                | A7sus           A7sus/G
      Don't start to cry it's far from over.

    D/F#       Bm7   | C6/9           E7  /F# | (repeat intro)
       Look at who I am    I'm coming closer.

    A                | E7sus       E7
      Look on your face    doesn't ...

    A      B7/A      | G#m7           C#m7
       The big disguise        joy is painful.

    F#m7             | E7sus/C   E13  /F# | Amaj9     A6/9
        I just hope    if you    need me    you'll believe me.

Outro)

    A     Amaj7      | Am9               :||

Notes

This is a well done Pet Sounds tribute in harmony and arrangement. 3rd inversion dom7 chords; using them to modulate to nearby keys; bass solos centered around the 5th; lush V7sus chords.

There are several instances of what sounds like C6/9 or E7sus/C. My guess is these were originally E7sus/B as in the first verse, but the C bass (muted just before the vocal hits C#) made a nice trick for the ears, making the modulations back to A a little less cliche.

The bridge section at 1:30 has a clever modulation from C# minor to Bb minor: After C#m, the Em suggests the iv of B and indeed we follow with I – iii in B. However D#m is used to pivot again to Bb minor as Ebm is the iv. He uses a cadential 6/4 to really settle us in Bb minor. The following a capella part comes in sounding like Bbmaj with a flat 6 due to the low voice’s start on F (maybe an accident), but these two bars I think are really a fancy plagal cadence in D major: V+/iv – iv – Isus – I.

The E13s are voiced as E7 with the 13 only in the vocal. The Amaj9 to A6/9: I’m including the vocal in the maj7 – 6th harmonies.

Pitch Memory Survey

 

I posted a short survey of how people remember pitches without a reference note. This came about when a Redditor asked what key people sing “Happy Birthday” in (the correct answer being the key that the first/loudest singer chooses).

I, like most people, don’t have perfect pitch, and if someone sits at a piano and plays a popular song, I can’t tell what key they’re playing unless I see their hands. My “movable do” adapts immediately. Problem one for this survey is that, for me (and I’m assuming most others), tonality is “sticky.” Play C – G7 and ask me to sing a song, and it’s likely to come out in C or A minor. After a little longer maybe a closely related key like G or F.

I try to fight that in the survey by asking participants to listen to this “music” between questions. This is one track of Cm – Bdim7 slowly pitch shifted up two whole tones and another of Em – D#dim7 slowly pitch shifted down two whole tones, just trying to disorient the listener.

Anyway, the “answers” are below, but remember there’s no harm in being “wrong”. Perfect pitch memory/recognition is helpful at some tasks in music transcription, but relative pitch is the crucial one that allows you to enjoy and create the vast majority of Western music, recognize when notes are sharp/flat, etc.

Continue reading  

Deerhoof “Cast Off Crown” Chords

I1)

  This guitar part is loosely in E major, with a borrowed II chord, and a brief
  modulation to D major.

      ii    V    IV   II     iv of D   I of D
    F#m/C#  B    A   F#/C#   Gm/D      D

  This section is roughly E mixolydian. I believe the guitar is playing power chords
  but it may just be octaves sometimes. The bass and guitars here sound a bit
  improvised, moving independently but transforming these simple power chords into
  more complex harmonies (right):
  
    E      D5/G  E5/A  A5/B  => (Gadd9  Aadd9  B7sus)

    E      D5/B  E5/C  F5/D  => (Bm7    CM7    Dm7)

    C/G    Bb5/C C/F   F5/Eb => (C7sus  F      F7)

    C      Bb5/G C5/F  D5    => (Gm7    FM7    D)

    E      D5/G  E5/A  A5/B  => (Gadd9  Aadd9  B7sus)

I2)

  At 0:22 a blast of bluesy 7th chords in E, with a temporary dissonant C7#9 chord
  (distortion makes this chord hard to identify). These bar lengths are ad-libbed
  (31 beats total) and sometimes the chord changes on an eight note:

    8          6      7       10
    E7         A7     C7#9    F#m7

  The guitar falls out and some simple melodies outline E and A chords.

V)

  This section is in D dorian, but playfully borrows A and D from mixolydian. The
  Cm7 is a bit like a Neapolitan Eb chord (there's a real one later). These "add13"
  and "add11" are just B notes. Probably played as 5th fret of the G string and
  open B string.

    Dm7add13              Cm7         A7     D7add13     Dm7add13  G7add11
    Hey mister hey mister out of this picture.       I'm only the  sister.

  Now a long string of secondary dominant resolutions. This section lacks a strong
  tonal center, but roughly starts out in E dorian:

    V/V    V            i
    F#11   B11          Em7
    Royal- ty I learned I will become

  Now shifts to G major, though it doesn't fully resolve:

    V/V                     v/V              V7
    A7                      Am7              D13
    queen of the cast-offs. I will thrice refuse.

  This D13 is a real 13th [D F# A C E G B] (across multiple guitars), not just a D7
  with added 13th. I think the F# is only in the vocal.

V2) (same progression)

  At 1:27 the bass plays out of sync with the guitars in a wonderful way. Following
  a bar of Dm, the guitars play Cm7 and A7 over a full bar, but the bass seems to
  hold the Dm and cram the last two chords into the last 2 beats:

  guitars:    Dm7                  Cm7           A7
  bass:       D           D        D        Eb E C     A
           Oh lover oh lover,      where is the  thun- der?
  
  So the bass ends up playing D and E natural under Cm7, and C natural under A7.
  Maybe a mistake (?), but sounds amazing, as if those last 3 bass notes are 3
  different chords.

B) (1:56)

    F#m/C#  B  A  F#/C#  Gm/D  D

  Here the verse progression transposed up a whole step with some small
  variations. Before the B chord we have a real F Neapolitan.

    Em7        FM7  B  E7        Em7   A7

    G#11  C#11         F#m       B7  Bm7  E7

E)

  To end we get the intro guitar, not tuned up, but rather *down* a whole step.
  I think this is done for two reasons: So the bridge's E7 can lead into the Em
  (this major to minor change is almost thematic to the song), and so that we're
  spit out in the key of the verses.:

    Em/B   A   G  E/B   Fm/C  C    Dm

Deerhoof “Criminals of the Dream” Chords

I)

  See B2 section below. Starts in Eb major, ends in E major.

  A vocal melody is interrupted by a A-G-G bassline, making it sound like
  A7 harmony, but this is a trick. As the bass continues alone we start to
  hear this as what it is: 2-1-1 in G major. The guitars come in with G
  chords to confirm.

V)

  The verses starts in G mixolydian, with bass as a pedal. You can see the
  pattern they're building in the progression:

    G  C/G
    G  F/G  C/G
    G  C/G  F/G  C/G
    G       C/G  F/G  C/G
    G

  A bit of the pattern is then repeated in Eb mixolydian:

    Eb           Db   Ab
    Eb

V2) (with vocals)
B1)

  A lot happens in these 4 chords. The Bb is the V of Eb (shifting from
  mixolydian to ionian). The Db teases that we're back in Eb mixo, but
  instead of leading to Ab, we get harmonic planing down to a C major. The
  melody still has Eb, giving it a jazzy sharp 9 sound, and makes the
  following F chord sound like it functions as the V of Bb. So really the
  C is the V/V of Bb.

    V           VIIb    V/V (of Bb) V
    Bb          Db/Ab   C           F

  A full resolution to Bb is skipped in favor of 2 thrilling modulations:

    I      I
    Db     Eb  (We get a couple nice pentatonic lines here)

B2)

  We start in Eb major, slipping in a borrowed iv chord:

    I      iv          I
    Eb     Abm/Cb /Ab  Eb/Bb 

  The borrowed Abm is used to modulate to Gb major:

    ii   V        IV         V         V7      I
    Abm7 Dbadd9   Cbadd9/Eb  Db        Db7/Cb  Gb/Bb

  A i (Gbm) is used to modulate to E major:

    ii        I        ii   I  V7          I  iv       I
    Gbm/A     E/G#     E/F# E  B7sus/E     E  Am6/E    E

End)

  The G#m chords are dotted with brief A chords then we resolve to E:

    iii            V  I
    G#m7   A  x4   B  E

    v/II    II
    C#m7    F#7add11

Sleep Walk analysis

Sleep Walk” is pretty famous for its I – vi – iv – V verses, but there’s more interesting stuff going on, especially for 1959 top 40 radio.

  • The end of the bridge is a G7#9 (AKA the “Purple Haze” chord). The slide emphasizes this by sliding [D, G] up to [F, Bb] and back, and you can really hear the [B, F, Bb] in the rhythm guitar. I can’t think of any other top 40 song that used it so prominently; even “Purple Haze” mostly omits the major 3rd so it’s not as dissonant.
  • The ending is a G chord with the slide using a falling sixth interval: [G, E] – [Gb, Eb] – [F, D]. This is a common blues trick that turns a 6th chord (6 on top) into a 7th (7 on bottom).
  • The final cadence is pure jazz:
    • C6 [8-x-7-9-8-x]
    • G7b9+ [x-8-9-8-9-x] (root played only by bass)
    • C6add9 [x-10-10-9-10-10]