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#1046386 - 07/21/08 11:41 AM Chord Progressions: Minor Key
TryingToPlay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Raleigh, NC
I'm a bit puzzled about minor key chord progressions. Let me illustrate:

A basic chord progression found in lots of tunes is the vi, ii, V7, I. So in the key of G, we have Emin, Amin, D7, G.

Is there a corresponding progression for the key of G Minor? If so, how does it work? Is it similar to the above? Is it rather based upon the key for which G Minor is the relative minor (Bb)? Or is there no relationship at all? Or is it the case that there are no "typical" progressions associated with minor keys?

Thanks for any help you can provide.

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#1046387 - 07/21/08 12:41 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
jjtpiano Offline
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Registered: 06/19/08
Posts: 213
Loc: Jamestown, NC
Two minor tunes I can think of go like this:

Summertime: Gmin (three bars), G7 (one bar); Cmin (two bars), Amin7(b5) one bar, D7(b9) one bar; Gmin (three bars, F7 (one bar); Bb (2 beats), Gmin (2 beats), Amin7(b5) 2 beats, D7(b9) 2 beats, Gmin (two bars).

Basically, the progression goes Gmin - Cmin - Gmin - Bb, Gmin, Amin7(b5)D7; Gmin. I noted some modulating chords at the end of each section above.

Slow Hot Wind (in the key of Gmin) would use just Gmin and Cmin with an occasional D7(b9) thrown in to get you back to Gmin.

Play through them a couple of times to get your ear attuned.

If you have a particular minor tune in mind, let me know and I can send you the changes for it.
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#1046388 - 07/21/08 02:49 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
TryingToPlay,

the progression in minor keys is

iim7b5-V7b9-im

So in the key of Gm, the progression would be

Am7b5 - D7b9 - Gm

Now you can look at this also as part of the circle of fifths in the Major Key to which it is relative.

In which case it is the progression:

vii-iii-vi in the key of Bb, but the iii is turned to III7 (minor turned into a Dominant).

Thus resulting in the same chords

Am7b5 - D7b9 - Gm


Although in major chords we do 4-7-3-6-2-5-1 chord progressions to go through the circle of fifths, in minor progressions it doesn't have the same circle since the minor progression it just a subset of this. 4-(7-3-6)[/b]-2-5-1


These progressions are discussed heavily in the Autumn Leaves Thread.

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/32/5653.html

See "Important Topics" sticky above.


This is kind of advanced question so hopefully this is making sense to you.
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#1046389 - 07/21/08 04:20 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
TryingToPlay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Raleigh, NC
Thanks for your responses. I didn't follow all of it nor all of the suggested thread, but let me see if I get, at least, the basic concepts:

Using the circle of fifths, if I'm in the key of G, I might have have a progression which jumps 1/4 around the table, so I go from G to E(min) to A(min) to D(7), and back to G. Or further around the circle from G to B(min) to E(min) to A(min) to D(7) and Back to G (Or even conceivably 1/2 way around to F# and back). And it typically is the case that, as suggested above, the intermediate chords are typically minor (except for the penultimate seventh).

Also, Jazzwee suggests that at least sometimes (or maybe generally), this progression starts with a 1 jump ahead on the circle -- in the key of G starting w/ C (perhaps min) -- before the jump backwards.

And Jazzwee -- when you mention the minor subset, are you also saying that -- for the minor keys, the maximum jump back is (always/typically) no greater than 1/4 circle? And is it always the case for these minor keys that the jumped to chord is a b5 and the next a b9 or is that merely a likely (and perhaps optional) jazz alteration?

A little confusion factor: jjtpiano shows a Bb as part of the Summertime progression. Not clear where that comes from. Perhaps that is related to modulation, which I have no understanding of at all.

One other somewhat related item, but not at all strictly minor key, and perhaps a lot more significant. Many of the theory lessons I see talk about how these progressions are pervasive in pop (and classical) tunes. But when I look through my fake books, I don't see them. I see mostly lots of exceptions. (I understand 1,4,5 is used in lots of traditional tunes, and I'm excluding those). Or maybe I'm just not interpreting things properly. Interested in any insights you have relative to this.

Thank you.

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#1046390 - 07/21/08 08:33 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
TryingToPlay, it's really hard to visualize movements in intervals of 1/4 of the circle or or 1/3 of the circle since the circle is not in alphabetical order.

You have to think in terms of movements in intervals of 5ths or 4ths depending on the direction, clockwise vs. counter-clockwise in the circle. This is the same movement by the way, just in opposite directions.

This is how the circle of 5ths (or fourths) is structured.

A movement of a fifth up from C goes to G (C-D-E-F-G)
A movement of a fourth down goes from C to G (C-B-A-G)

This movement is quantified as notes in the scale, not in piano keys (half notes).

Perhaps you can rephrase the question in this context.

One other thing, looking at a tune and deciphering what degree of a scale you're at (eg I to vii) isn't always helpful because of something called modulations. Many tunes change key in the middle of a progression.
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#1046391 - 07/22/08 12:56 AM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
jjtpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/08
Posts: 213
Loc: Jamestown, NC
Gmin is the relative minor of Bb. Summertime is an unusual tune in that it goes to the "relative major (Bb)" if you will (the F7 chord gets you there), then turns around back to the aeolian minor. That's where all the Ebs come from (the Amin7(b5) and the D7(b9).
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#1046392 - 07/22/08 01:14 AM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
TryingToPlay, in the Autumn Leaves thread I have given a link to, check the lesson Scale Degrees. You'll probably benefit from an alternate explanation that I gave there.
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#1046393 - 07/22/08 06:34 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
TryingToPlay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Raleigh, NC
Thanks for the responses.

I think I may have to do a bit more examination before I can chat intelligently on this subject. I'm a bit confused by jazzwee's comment about it being difficult to visualize movements around 1//4 of the circle. My confusion stems from the fact that the book, "How to Play Piano Despite Years of Lessons" spends many pages discussing the importance of backward jumps around 1/4 of the circle. I assume I'm missing some significant distinctions here.

Also, I have no idea what the aeolian minor is. So it's likely I need to go back to the drawing board for a bit.

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#1046394 - 07/22/08 08:04 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
jjtpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/08
Posts: 213
Loc: Jamestown, NC
The aeolian minor is the scale of the parent (Bb major) key starting on the sixth tone. In the key of Bb, the sixth tone is G. The aeolian minor scale, then, is G - A - Bb - C - D - Eb - F.

Note the interval between the fifth tone and the sixth tone is a half step. This is the signature of the aeolian minor, sometimes called the tonic minor or the relative minor.

If you are in G minor, and you want to communicate that this is the relative, tonic or aeolian minor, you play the turnaround with a amin7(b5), D7(b9). In both chords the altered extension, (b5) or (b9), is Eb.

I mentioned it because we were talking about Summertime, and I assumed you wanted to know how G minor related to the key signature (2 flats).
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#1046395 - 07/22/08 09:31 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
 Quote:
Originally posted by TryingToPlay:
Thanks for the responses.

I think I may have to do a bit more examination before I can chat intelligently on this subject. I'm a bit confused by jazzwee's comment about it being difficult to visualize movements around 1//4 of the circle. My confusion stems from the fact that the book, "How to Play Piano Despite Years of Lessons" spends many pages discussing the importance of backward jumps around 1/4 of the circle. I assume I'm missing some significant distinctions here.

Also, I have no idea what the aeolian minor is. So it's likely I need to go back to the drawing board for a bit. [/b]
I think you just have a terminology problem. We don't say you jump "1/4" of a circle we jump a "fourth" of a scale back. This may be the same thing. The fraction 1/4 doesn't make sense (there are 12 notes and 1/4 of that is 3 which doesn't relate to anything).
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#1046396 - 07/28/08 01:45 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
soundinstyle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 8
 Quote:
Originally posted by TryingToPlay:
I'm a bit puzzled about minor key chord progressions. Let me illustrate:

A basic chord progression found in lots of tunes is the vi, ii, V7, I. So in the key of G, we have Emin, Amin, D7, G.

Is there a corresponding progression for the key of G Minor? If so, how does it work? Is it similar to the above? Is it rather based upon the key for which G Minor is the relative minor (Bb)? Or is there no relationship at all? Or is it the case that there are no "typical" progressions associated with minor keys?

Thanks for any help you can provide. [/b]
The progression that you are referring to is falling fifths, which is common to either major or minor keys. So, the vi chord is a fifth above the ii chord, the ii chord is a fifth above the V chord, and the V chord is a fifth above the i chord.

I think where you're getting confused is that the chords of major and minor keys have different qualities.
In a major key, the chord qualities look like this:
I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - viiº - I

A minor key (harmonic)
I - iiº - III - iv - V7 - VI - VII - I
or without the added 7 (natural)
I - iiº - III - iv - v - VI - viiº - I

You can use falling fifths in either a minor or major key, but the qualities of your chords will be different.

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#1046397 - 07/28/08 02:31 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
TryingToPlay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 111
Loc: Raleigh, NC
soundinstyle, thanks for your response.

I'm a bit confused by a couple elements of your example.

When you refer to chord quality, are you talking about whether the chord is minor, diminished, augmented, etc? If so, then doesn't the quality of the chord used in a progression often depend upon the melody note?

Also, I would have thought that the 1 chord in the key of G minor would be Gmin, not G as suggested by your example. Doesn't the Roman numeral "I" imply the major chord? Or maybe that was just a typo in your post. Or maybe I just don't understand at all the notions you are attempting to clarify with your example of chord qualities in a minor key.

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#1046398 - 01/05/09 03:05 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
soundinstyle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 8
Hi there,

I know this five million months too late--but yes, I did make a typo. Sorry about that! It should just be "i".

Chord quality does indeed refer to whether the chord is minor, diminished, augmented, etc. However, the quality of the chord does not really depend on the melody note; the melody note could always be some kind of passing tone, like an appoggiatura, a passing note, or a neighbor note (Google these for more complete explanations). Sometimes, the melody note could be used to complete the chord, but I believe that in tonal harmony the melody note is not usually used to define the chord.

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#1046399 - 01/07/09 07:30 AM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
majones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 331
Loc: Deep East Texas Piney Woods
Let me throw this into the mix:

There are two factors in play.

1.) The progression - I IV V I or i iv v i or any other conceivable combination take care of the rest, tension, climax, resolution, back to rest journey[/b] the chords move to satisfy the verse's[/b] need to start a thought and bring it to closure, so a new thought can be introduced in the second verse. Then...

2.) The make up of the chord, i.e. notes in the chord should be comfortable with the melody notes being played over it. This of course happens when each have some of the same notes. As the I IV V or i iv v chords contain every note in a scale you can just rely on these three chords, i.e. if you are using the IV (or iv) chord and your ear tells you something is not harmonizing you have a 50% change the I or V (i or v) will. If you guessed wrong well, you have a 100% chance the other chord will harmonize.

That way works fine in the fleshing out process and most simple three chord songs rely upon this process. One other way would be the addition of extensions (notes) to the chord that is no longer harmonizing until you add a note that IS found in the melody.

The balancing act that should happen is that the progression structure and the harmonization of the melody line are both satisfied.

Major or[/b] minor this basic "rule" is the starting point.

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#1046400 - 01/07/09 08:01 AM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
Studio Joe Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
The basic three chords for a melody written in a minor key are i, iv, and V7(the V being major). Many songs in a minor key include chords borrowed from the relative major, but then it's not a 3 chord song anymore.
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#1046401 - 01/07/09 08:16 AM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
majones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/21/07
Posts: 331
Loc: Deep East Texas Piney Woods
That is correct, however, I believe the V7 comes into play with the melodic minor. Harmonic minor and Natural minor would still have the v and we are so used to adding the 7th I'm sure it could sneak in there.

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#1046402 - 01/07/09 08:59 AM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
mkorman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 180
Loc: Connecticut, USA
As I see it, a whole piece is generally not in melodic minor. Typically, the melody is in melodic minor, and the harmonies are in harmonic minor. A v-i progression in minor might sound a bit odd. Not that it never happens, but it won't sound as final as a V-i or V7-i.

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#1046403 - 01/07/09 09:18 AM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
As I understand it, if you are talking harmonies, you are most likely in the harmonic minor.

In the harmonic minor the V chord is a major and V7 is a dominant seventh.

Example
A harmonic minor scale is
A B C D E F G# A
The V Chord is E G# B (a major chord)
The V7 Chord is E G# B D (a dominant seventh chord i.e. a major chord + the seventh at a minor third above the 5th)

There was a series of you tube videos posted called "How Music Works." The example of a group of singers singing in melodic minor shows how unexpected to modern ears the harmony sounds if you are singing (or playing) in melodic minor.

Here's a link to the channel that had that you tube video series:
http://www.youtube.com/profile%3Fuser%3Dtimegrinder%26view%3Dvideos

Rich
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#1046404 - 01/08/09 07:57 AM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
Studio Joe Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by DragonPianoPlayer:
As I understand it, if you are talking harmonies, you are most likely in the harmonic minor. [/b]
Good observation and good play on the words (harmonies & harmonic) if that's what you intended.
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#1046405 - 01/08/09 04:34 PM Re: Chord Progressions: Minor Key
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
\:D
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