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Thread: Help needed - Progression harmonic analysis

  1. #1
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    Help needed - Progression harmonic analysis

    Hello, my friends

    I need your help in understanding a progression I came up with when jamming with my guitar. It sound good so I wanted to know what is it but....some doubts appeared.

    This is the staff:
    Progression.jpg

    Initially I tried to see if it was based in a major scale but it seems not ot be the case because:

    1 - The accidentals (D#, A#, G#) do not fit into a specific major scale. It could be BMaj scale but then we have that F when it should be an F#.

    2 - The chords' qualities do not match. They are all major chords (except a sus4).

    But then I remembered the enharmonic spelling and I could make it based on the EbMaj scale (D#, A#, G# => Eb, Bb, Ab).

    This was a possibility since the beginning because I was jamming on top of a little piece that I wrote in F Dorian mode (at least an attempt).

    As far as I understand this progression is a some kind of an F Dorian progression but I can't understand how to interpret the harmonic analysis regarding the chords because, as I said, they are all major chords.

    I came up with a possibility which I don't know if it is correct or not.
    We have the following chords:

    (FMaj - FMaj7) - (EbMaj - EbMaj7) - (Bbsus4 - BbMaj) - (AbMaj6) - (FMaj)

    I put them in brackets to separate them in 4 different classes (considering F chords as I chords):


    (FMaj - FMaj7) - I chords

    (EbMaj - EbMaj7) - VII chords

    (Bbsus4 - BbMaj) - IV chords

    (AbMaj6) - III chords

    (FMaj) - I chord

    Can we consider a diatonic substitution and think of the VII chords as V chords and the III as I?

    I'm not sure about this because of the chords' qualities. Comparing the chord tones between chords, in general they match but there are some "cases" like, for example, the EbMaj chord shares two tones only with the Bbsus4 and the EbMaj7 has common tones only with Bbsus4 and with BbMaj (this one only because of the 6).
    It seems as if these four chords transit from one to the next by changing gradually the common tones (I see it as a ladder):

    _________________________________
    EbMaj (1-3-5 / Eb G Bb)
    Eb Bb Eb G
    _________________________________
    EbMaj7 (1-3-5-7 / Eb G Bb D)
    D Bb Eb G
    _________________________________
    Bbsus4 (1-4-5 / Bb Eb F)
    F Bb F Bb Eb F
    _________________________________
    BbMaj (1-3-5 / Bb D F)


    Also, the AbMaj6 has two common tones with the FMaj just because of the 6.

    If this line of thought is correct, can I consider this progression as a I-V-IV-I (F Dorian Turnaround, I think)?

    BTW, I know the key signature is missing.
    Last edited by rbarata; 04-26-2012 at 11:14 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    (considering F chords as I chords):

    (EbMaj - EbMaj7) - VII chords
    If F is your I, then Eb is actually bVII.

    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    (AbMaj6) - III chords
    Similarly Ab would be bIII.


    If you're thinking it's some sort of I/IV/V progression in F major where does it follow that it has anything to do with F Dorian???
    Last edited by walternewton; 04-27-2012 at 12:46 AM.

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    If F is your I, then Eb is actually bVII.
    Yes, but I working in the EbMaj scale. The same goes for the Ab.

    If you're thinking it's some sort of I/IV/V progression in F major where does it follow that it has anything to do with F Dorian???
    Probably nothing. I'm considering FMaj as the I chord but in the context of the Eb Maj scale. Therefore, I have chords such as EbMaj, BbMaj and AbMaj. Doesn't it give the piece a modal flavour?


    One question...
    In a modal piece what is the key? In this case, I'm using the EbMaj scale but starting on F. Shall I consider F as my Tonic or is it Eb? In my point of view F should be the Tonic.

    What is confusing me in this example is that the chords that I'm using are a mixture of apparently unrelated things. They are all major...if they were taken from the Eb major scale the F should be a Fm chord, for example.

    But now I'm seeing another possibility...probably I'm working in the FMaj scale and I'm borrowing lots of chords from the parallel minor. But even this doesn't match 100% because of the several D's (should be Db).

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Yes, but I working in the EbMaj scale.
    not entirely.
    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Probably nothing. I'm considering FMaj as the I chord but in the context of the Eb Maj scale.
    But F major has an A natural, so it isn't "in the context of" the Eb major scale. It could be in Eb lydian.
    Or if F really is I, then it could be F mixolydian. But then Ab doesn't fit .
    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Therefore, I have chords such as EbMaj, BbMaj and AbMaj. Doesn't it give the piece a modal flavour?
    Not IMO. It sounds like some typical rock piece with borrowed chords.
    Ignoring the pedal bass, there's a strong sense of resolution in bar 3, from the Bbsus4 to the Bb triad - making it feel like Bb major (Ab being bVII).

    But the constant F bass does reinforce the sound of F as keynote. The Eb and Ab are then borrowed chords, from the parallel minor (or parallel dorian or aeolian if you like). This is a common sound in rock music, of course, and probably explains why you like the sound.
    (Personally I don't like the E natural clashing with the higher F in the 2nd chord, nor the D clashing with the high Eb in the 3rd chord. The descending line is nice, but I would lose the higher clashing notes. But then it's your piece -YMMV There's nothing "wrong" with it, and such clashing notes do sometimes occur in the bass, in passing. Just my taste )

    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    One question...
    In a modal piece what is the key? In this case, I'm using the EbMaj scale but starting on F. Shall I consider F as my Tonic or is it Eb? In my point of view F should be the Tonic.
    Well, as I said, you're not using the Eb major scale, not exclusively.

    If F is your keynote (and I think it is), then it's in the key of F (major), and you need a 1-flat key sig with accidentals for the Eb and Ab.

    If you had no E natural in the piece - and there is only one - then you could argue for F mixolydian. It's then debatable whether the best key sig is 1 flat (suggesting F keynote) or 2 flats (indicating the prime scale in use).
    IOW, while a key signature only specifies the primary pitch collection - not key - most people recognise them as indicating either a major key or its relative minor. I.e., most people seeing a 2-flat key sig are going to think the key is either Bb major or G minor; F mixolydian won't occur to them. (That wouldn't stop them playing it accurately of course, but the focus on an F keynote (and bass note) might cause some mild bafflement.)

    So I'd say your key sig ought to be 1 flat (F major).


    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    But now I'm seeing another possibility...probably I'm working in the FMaj scale and I'm borrowing lots of chords from the parallel minor.
    Exactly .
    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    But even this doesn't match 100% because of the several D's (should be Db).
    Just because you borrow some chords from the parallel minor doesn't mean you need to borrow the whole scale! You're just borrowing, not changing the whole tonality. You can still use the diatonic Bb major, Dm or Gm (from F major). Of course, if you borrow the bVI chord or minor iv (or iidim or bVII7) from F minor, then you'll need a Db note - but only then.

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