Sunday, 22 April 2012

Night and Day a kick-at-the-can analysis

Night and Day (Cole Porter) a preview to posting on All About Jazz (Forum)

Here’s a ‘kick-at-the-can’ in the department of analysis with a look at the harmonic structure of this song. The form is largely AAB with each section as 16 bars totaling 48 bars which is a little unusual. It makes it a little easier if those 16 bar sections are divided into two 8-bar phrases i.e. || A8 B8 ||A8 B8 || C8 (‘the bridge’) finishing with B8 || B8 appears three times in the tune.

In C major the first chord Cole Porter uses is an Abma7. Abma7 appears as a Subdominant Minor function in C (bVIMa7) which acts as a predominant to G7 in section A8. Abma7 appears as a bVIma7 in both the parallel harmonic minor scale, ‘C’ harmonic minor and in C natural minor (C Aeolian). Subdominant minor chords will all have a b6 of the key as in iimi7(b5), ivmi7,  bVII7, ivmi6 (and ivmiMa7), bVIma7, and bIIma7. Common practise informs that ivmi7 is often coupled with its related V7 chord bVII7 (Bb7). All of these chords can act as a predominant and are often used to travel directly to a *tonic area itself with the flatted 6th of the key providing the impetus to resolve. Only the dominant chord has more urgency to resolve than subdominant minor chords do. For an even weaker motion to the tonic, subdominant (iimi7, IVma7, IV6, and occasionally bVIIma7) category chords can be used. The major *tonic is a ‘I’ major chord (Ima7 or I6) but other tonic areas: iiimi7 and vimi7 can be approached from the dominant as deceptive cadences. The relative minor vimi tonic could use vimi7, or vimi6 derived chords.

Current lead sheets in C major (the much maligned Real Book—I recall seeing a picture of Bill Evans with a copy), in common practise use Dmi11(b5) as the first chord and that’s quite often over the dominant ‘G’ bass pedal tone. The thinking perhaps is that Dmi7(b5), being in C major, could have a 9th (E) which precedes the ‘E’ note as a melody note that is the 13th in the G7 chord that follows. When trying to figure out the tonality of chord-scales, a combination of the melody and the chord might at least partially indicate the collection of notes used to harmonize or even improvise. So in this case, Dmi11(b5) could have (but doesn’t need to have) a 9th in it. These chords are generated by the context of the key in which they appear.

Dmi11(b5) will occur naturally as:

vii/I major Eb in this case—(locrian mode connection—it has a b9 in it),

ii/I harmonic minor —(mode 2 of the harmonic minor connection—it has a b9 in it),

ii/I harmonic major—(mode 2 of harmonic major connection—it has a natural 9 in it).  The hard part about using the harmonic scales is dealing with the augmented 2nd that occurs in these scales i.e. when improvising giving the listener the ‘harmonic’ sound without making the ‘dreaded’ augmented 2nd leap, which in this case is from Ab—B or vice versa .

Lastly, vi/I melodic (ascending form) vimi9(11)(b5) as Dmi9(11)(b5) is vimi9(b5) of ‘F’ melodic minor.

Even though Dmi7(b5) is found in a Half-Whole diminished it is used more as a convenient collection of extensions of an associated dominant chord found in these symmetrical scales: for example in the case of Dmi7(b5) / D7 = D7(#9#11).

When using Dmi7(b5) as a predominant, the scale choice of the related dominant chord that most conserves the key of C while continuing the sound of the bVI of the key (C) is G13(b9) (G harmonic-major-dominant). For more color, try G13(b9+11), using the Half-Whole diminished. Scale-chords can be flexible choices and are likely context driven or more to the tastes of the individual player.

The form A8 consists of 2 – four bar ii—V—I in C major with the borrowed subdominant-minor color as described = 8 bars. B8 which is largely under discussion in this forum, follows a descending chromatic line cliché often referred to as the bV ending cliché as in #IVmi7(b5)— ivm7—iiim7—biiiDim (viiDim/ii?)—iimi7—V7 ||. The descending chromatic root sequence creates a powerful impetus for this progression.

I could hazard a guess as to the derivation of F#mi7(b5) [#IVmi7(b5)]. The secondary V7/V7 in this case D7 could be a point of departure for F#mi7(b5) taken from the 3rd of D7 as the root (F#). The scale which best conserves the original key of C major for a D7 would be D Mixolydian and translating that to F#mi7(b5), which is often a voicing for D9—where 9 (E) replaces the root (D), is F# Locrian. For a richer color on D7 [F#mi7(b5)], D13#11 uses D Lydian b7 as found in Ellington’s “Take The A Train” (3rd and 4th bars). In F#mi9(b5) this translates to a scale that in common practise is called Locrian natural 9 (F# G# A B C D E F#).

The source scale for both the D13+11 and F#mi9(b5) is  ‘A’ melodic minor. As to the function of #ivmi7(b5), is it merely an inversion of D7? What function category can it be from? Is it a tonic area? *Tonic major areas can be defined as I major, iiimi7 (deceptively), vim7 (deceptively) or any inversions of those chords. Tonic Minor areas are usually based from the relative minor key, which in the case of C major is Ami. The minor chord could be Ami7 (Aeolian), which doesn’t help the cause for an Ami tonic area related to F#mi7(b5). But, an inversion of Ami6 = F#mi7(b5) which could be found in either F# Locrian (sourced in G major) or, with an available 9th as F#mi9(b5) using F# locrian natural 9 sourced in A melodic minor. So the justification for calling F#mi7(b5) a tonic area should be valid.

If there is an argument about F#mi7(b5) being derived from the augmented 6th chords for example Ab7/Gb and a related Dim7 chord, F#Dim7 (or any inversion), note that the augmented 6ths generally precede the tonic chord/V(bass), not the ivmi7 as it does here. The F#Dim7 chord which is related to the Ab7/Gb chord sounds strikingly different than F#mi7(b5) does in the context of this song, remembering that a Diminished 7th chord will sound with a Major 7th in it as well as the Diminished 7th but, would exclude the ‘b7’: ‘E’ natural to be used as a passing tone only. In this song the ‘E’ note (the 7th of F#mi7[b5]) is held as a melody note.

Fmi7 (ivm7) the next chord, supports the melody of the song and is the most obvious chord to use in this voice-led context (whereas F7 would strongly sound like a sub V of the next chord Emi—again, chord voicing in context might enable this to work though). What extensions and what scale could be available for Fmi7? Fmi7 is associated with C major as iimi7/Eb major. Eb major in terms of C major can be described as the relative major (Eb) of the parallel minor (C minor). Eb major is the relative major of C minor therefore, C major can be said to relate to Eb major in this way. The scale/chord choice would essentially be F dorian or mode ii of Eb major and supports extensions 9, 11, and (even) 13. Other choices have different sources for example Fmi in Db major (F Phrygian) and Fmi in Ab major (F Aeolian). These particular choices may create surprising and creative directions—not necessarily changes that would be acceptable on a gig with a singer who’s playing with you for the first time, but F Phrygian and F Aeolian contain some interesting triadic color combinations that would be worth exploring in a given creative situation. Other paths that may cross one’s mind regarding reharmonization ideas could include substitutions for the Fmi7 chord. Since we’re coming from F#mi7(b5), F#mi7(b5) could used as the related iimi7 of B7 substituting for Fmi7). At first I had trouble liking that choice because if B7 is used the melody is on the very strong sounding major 3rd. But if it is voiced properly with a musical dynamic it could work especially if loaded up with more dense extended voicings.

The next chord is Emi7. Fmi7—Emi7 is a simple chromatic step but in this case if one can assume that Emi7 is a tonic area (somewhat deceptively but very common) then the function of Fmi7 to Emi7 could be called Subdominant Minor traveling to a ‘Tonic’ area which mimics the Sub V/Emi. Subdominant Minor chords traveling to a Tonic area chords do have some impetus and urgency because of the b6 factor—bVI (Ab) has the urgency to fall to the 5th (G) of the Tonic I chord (C major) or in this case the 3rd of Emi7. Emi7 is iiimi7 and is therefore closely aligned to Cma7 so in fact, it could also read as a Cma7 or Cma9/E. The chord-scale choices could then start with either the C major scale or E Phrygian depending on the root note—it’s the same collection of notes. E Aeolian would work as well. E Dorian will have that C# in it which might disturb the C major tonality as in the C# is being played in the tonic area of C major and creates an avoid situation with a b9 in the C major tonality. Other associated harmony such as A7 or Emi7—A7 or A7/E should work in a creative playing situation and one can take it from there as to chord-scale application.

The chord that is popularly known as viiDim7/ii i.e. D#Dim7—Emi7 i.e. B7(b9)/D#) travels to Emi. But, in this case the EbDim chord (biiiDim7) is not traveling to Emi but is traveling via voice leading to the iimi7 chord Dmi7. This fact invokes a review of diminished 7th chord functional possibilities. There are essentially three Diminished 7th chord functions:

1) Dominant: (viiDim/ii)­

2) Auxiliary: (I—IDim7—I) and from V7 —VDim7—V7 and as an approach chord #IVDim7—Ima7/V

3) Passing: (iiimi7—biiiDim7—iimi7)

Diminished 7ths generate a lot of color. Talking here about the 3rd function above, the Passing Diminished 7th as in iiimi7—biiiDim7—iimi7. Here it’s about voice leading the Eb and Gb notes fall to D and F notes respectively. It’s almost as if biiiDim7 is construed as being a D7b9 chord so it’s virtually a change of chord quality on the same root as in D7b9(/Eb) — Dmi7 and easily uses Eb Whole-Half diminished (or as D7(b9): D Half-Whole diminished (the same scale). So then, we arrive and Dmi7 —G7 and the B8 section is over.
Making the case for the (in the vernacular “bV”) #IV cliché as originally used in B8. The original progression before any reharminzation was #IVmi7(b5)—IVmi7—iiimi7—biiiDim7—Dmi7—G7—C. Although the root motion and the motion of each third is chromatic, each chord quality is not the same but is varied in a definite particular way so even though the root and 3rd motion is chromatic step by step, the 5th (and the 7th) of each chord, will not necessarily move chromatically step by step. Using the progression above in C major, starting with F#mi7(b5), the 5th is C, in the next chord Fmi7, the fifth is again C by the next chord Emi7 the 5th moves down a ½ step to a B note. In the next chord EbDim7, the 5th is a diminished 5th Bbb or enharmonically 'A', so the motion there is that of a whole step. The next chord is Dmi7 and there again the 5th is an 'A' note but now being a perfect 5th above the root in this chord. The 7th of each of these chords, occur in a similar but not exactly the same, way as the 5th. The underlying strength of this progression is the chromatic motion of the roots and the 3rds. The variety and interest in this strong progression, are the changes in color of each chord that is provided by the changing qualities of the 5th and the 7th of each of these chords—not to mention potential chord extensions. 

This section A8 B8 is repeated of course.

The “Bridge” section I find can be hazardous when playing chorus after chorus of 48 bars. One has to really pay attention to the form of this piece. Part of the problem is that C8 virtually plays in the same tonal areas that A8 is played in, namely Eb major —C major.  The Abma7 or Dmi7(b5) found in A8 is a different chord than Ebma7 found in C8, but it is arguably in the same general key area and, in the same number of bars of the form i.e. Ebma7 for two bars followed by two bars of Cma7 in C8. The chords generated in A8 are essentially from C natural minor, which is truly sourced in the relative major Eb major and in that way follow the same routine as C8.

Speaking of the B8 progression, once the function and purpose of the ‘original’ progression is established, related V7 (and sub V7 and perhaps sub iiVs) chords with a variety of scale-chord-extensions can be interpolated with each chord in the original progression. It would appear as if each chord in the original progression is some sort of a ii chord, each with a minor 3rd.  It would be creative and fun to double-up the harmonic rhythm i.e. || F#mi7(b5)—B7 || Fmi7—Bb7 || Emi7—A7 || EbDim7 (Ebmi7?)—Ab7 || Dmi7 DmiMa7 (A7?) [Bebop cliché?] || Dmi7—Ab7-G7 (Db7) || This is the merest of an outline of some of the possibilities implied by these changes.

I've enjoyed reading the other comments from those that submitted on the same topic. There’s always a fresh perspective and something new to be learned from that. Thanks for this indulgence it has been a good learning experience (for me).

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