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Author David Luebbert
Posted 9/3/06; 5:54:09 PM
Msg# 4906 (top msg in thread)
Prev/Next 4905/4907
Reads 885

Understanding the chord changes for Miles Davis' Four "Four uses 4/4 meter. What's the form? The Four progression falls into two 16 bar sections which add up to 32 bars in total. The first twelve bars of these two sections are identical, with the last four bars taking different paths through the harmony to lead back to the progression's beginning. You could call the first 16 bars the A section and the second 16 bars, the A' (A prime)section since the last 16 is the A section with a diferent tail attached starting in the 12th bar for variation's sake. What's the game? The ii-V-I progression was used as the foundation of thousands of show tunes from Broadway and Hollywood and in jazz originals. By the early 1950's, when this tune was written, this cliche was almost entirely juiced, squeezed of its musical meaning. A groove by that time had been worn so deeply into listener's brains that a composer could use this expectation to generate suprise by intentionally jumping out of these tracks to land on a new harmonic destination. The game in Four is to set up the sound of Eb Major very strongly using a EbMA7 chord repeated twice, then a number of times set up the ii-V portion of the ii-V-I cliche in different keys to make it seem that it would take us outside of Eb Major but then always slide into a sensible sounding chord that is different than the I chord that would be expected to finish the cliche. The unexpected chords that take the place of the expected I chords, Fmi7 and Gmi7, are all in Eb Major and serve as aliases of the EbMA7 chord. This progression is like a fast drive through Eb Major with loose steering that points us off in the direction of other keys which we quickly correct and aim back down the path of Eb Major. The ii-V sequences that were chosen for the feints into the alternate keys, were Abmi7-Db7 and F#mi7 B7. When the feint is towards Abmi7-Db7 the unexpected resolution is Gmi7. When we feint towards F#mi7-B7, the correction is Fmi7. These are arranged so that we hear a downward sliding ramp of mi7 chords (Abmi7-Gmi7-F#mi7-Fmi7) in the middle of sections and a shorter downsliding ramp (Gmi7-F#mi7-Fmi7) as we approach the end of each section. These slides by mi7 are unexpected and really catch your ear. When we play the second 16 bar section of the tune, the shorter downslide of the mi7 chords (Gmi7-F#mi7-Fmi7) occurs twice as fast as it happens the first time through the sequence in the interest of increasing the speed of harmonic motion at the end of the form. In many of the places the Fmi7 and Gmi7 chords occur you could substitute EbMA7 instead. There are versions published in different fakebooks that notate the changes in this manner. This causes the downward slide of mi7 chords to be notaionally obscured, and blurs the slide feeling somewhat, but the sliding effect is still audible. What are the moves? The sequence of two chords at the end of the progression Fmi7 leading to Bb7 will finally lead you back to the EbMA7s at the beginning of the A (bars 1 thru 16) and A' (bars 17 thru 32) sections. In the first repeat, Fmi7 appears in bar 15 and B7 appears in bar 16. In the second repeat, both of these chords are compressed into bar 32 The first two bars of the sequence are EbMA7. These chords are the home base of this progression. You will leave home in bar 3 and you're ear will spend the rest of the progression being teased as the progression nearly comes home a number of times but then veers away. The chords of bars 3 and 4 are Ebmi7 and Ab7. When your ear hears the transition from EbMA7 to Ebmi7, you'll probably experience a falling sensation, because the pitches G and D in EbMA7 both fall a half step to Gb and Db in Ebmi7 while the pitches Eb and Bb are played the same in both chords. Your ear is lead in a new direction by the Ebmi7 and Ab7. These are the first two chords of a ii-V-I chord cliche in the key of Db Major If the composer was going to complete the cliche, the chord that appears in bar 5 should have been DbMA7. In this instance, the progression takes a turn in a mildly suprising direction and ends up on Fmi7. Fmi7 is not a total suprise because the chord is a very strong relative of DbMA7. These two chords share three of their four pitches. The gory details: All of the notes of Fmi7 (F, Ab, C, Eb) are part of the scale which sounds best with Db MA7, the Db MA7 scale (Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, and C). Because Fmi7 is the chord that is built on the third scale step of Db Major, music theorists label Fmi7 as a iii mi7 in Db Major. The first three tones of Fmi7 (root, minor 3rd and perfect 5th) serve as the major 3rd, perfect 5th, and major 7th of the DbMA7. The 4th note of Fm7, Eb, would add a 9th to a DbMA7. To put a different way, you can build a DbMA9 chord by adding a Db root below a Fmi7. A DbMA9 just sounds like a DbMA7 with a little color added. The Fmi7, also, has a double meaning, because it's also a very close relative of the EbMA7 that began the piece. The gory details All of the notes of Fm7 (F, Ab, C, Eb) are also part of the Eb major scale (Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, and D), which sounds best when played with EbMA7. Because Fmi7 is the chord that is built on the second scale step of Eb Major, music theorists label Fmi7 as a ii mi7 chord in Eb Major. Because your ears are very used to hearing minor chords as the beginning of a ii-V-I cliche, it's probably mildly suprising to hear that the Fmi7 is held for another bar in bar 6 instead of immediately proceeding to Bb 7. Also, holding the Fmi7 for two bars alerts your ear that this chord somehow has equal importance with the EbMA7 we started with. It's increased duration is marking it as having special significance. What is that? We won't know till we've listened farther. Bar 7 is a Abmi7 and bar 8 is a Db7. This is the beginning of a ii-V-I cliche that should end with a GbMA7. Is a GbMA7 played in bar 9? No ma'am., it's a Gmi7. Why does Abmi7-Db7-Gmi7 work? Two reasons. First, three notes of Db7 slide easily up or down into pitches of Gmi7 while the fourth is left alone. The gory details The spelling of Db7 is Db, F, Ab, Cb. The spelling of Gmi7 is G, Bb, D, F. In Db7 the Db slides up a half step to D in Gmi7, the F is left unchanged, the Ab slides down a half step to G, and the Cb slides a half step down to Bb. Second reason, it's been a frequently heard harmonic move in many other pieces of music to play sequences of ii-V patterns moving down by half step. Your ear is somewhat primed to hear Abmi7-Db7-Gmi7-C7-F#mi7-B7-Fmi7-Bb7 in succession as far as the composer may wish to carry the pattern. Is bar 10 the expected C7, that we would get from a sequence of iimi7-V7 units sliding down by half step, when the last chord was Gmi7? It's not, it's F#mi7 followed by B7 in the second half of the bar. It's as though the C7 was skipped after G7 in the sequence and we continued to the next chord pair that we would expect to hear. The mental link between these chord groups threads through the mi7th chords rather than the 7th chords in the pairs of the sequence. Bar 11 is the Fmi7 we would expect next but it's held for the whole bar rather than the two beats we might have expected from the tempo established in bar 10 Bar 12 is Bb7 which is the V7 that would follow a ii7 chord of Fmi 7. If we look back to bar 7 with it's Abmi7, we'll see that with occasional visits to the most usual 7th chord which would follow a mi7th chord, we've visited Abmi7, Gmi7, F#mi7, and Fmi7, a series of minor 7th chords built on four descending chromatic root pitches. Looking back to the Fmi7 of bar 5 and 6, it seems it was held for double duration to let us know that we were going to use it as a jumping pad to leap away from it and then step back down to it by half steps using a sequence of mi7 chords. If we were going to complete the ii-V cliche setup in bars 11 and 12 (Fmi7-Bb7), we would have played EbMA7 which would be the I chord which completes the cliche. That would have taken us all the way back home to the EbMA7 that began the piece. That doesn't happen though. The sequence moves to Gmi7 instead in bar 13. This is an extemely close relative of EbMA7, since it shares three of its four notes with EbMA7. The Gmi7 here acts as an alias for EbMA7 and stands in its stead. So we nearly got home, but missed the bag. Funny enough, we have magically teleported back a little on the chord path we've just run towards EbMA7. We're back again on the Gmi7 last encountered in bar 9. In the A section, we're just going to run that sequence again using the same chord order and timing (Gmi7 in bar 13, F#mi7 B7 in bar 14, Fmi7 in bar 15, Bb7 in bar 16), which this time will slide across EbMA7, the home plate, as we wrap back to the beginning of the form in bar 17. In the A' section, in the interest of generating excitement at the conclusion of the form, we're going to run the sequence at a faster tempo two beats per chord rather than 4 beats per chord, and we will leave out the B7 that has followed F#mi7 twice before in the section. That will give us Gmi F#mi7 in bar 29, Fmi7 and Bb7 in bar 30, reaching Eb6 in bar 31. Eb6 is just a bit more consonant sounding than EbMA7, so its appropriate to use at the end of the form. If we're ending the performance we play EbMA7 in bar 16 of A'. If we are playng another chorus of the tune, we do Fmi7 and Bb7 to set up the ii-V-I cliche which completes just as we reach EbMA7 again in bar 1. Hints for the improvisor For concert key instruments Scale spectrum: Eb Major, Db Major, Gb Major, E Major You'll need to be able to invent ideas in these four tonal areas Bar 1 and 2 : EbMA7 - play notes from Eb Major scale Bar 3 and 4 - Ebmi7 and Ab7 - play notes from Db Major scale iimi7-V7 pattern in Db major Bar 5 and 6 - Fmi7 - plsy notes from Eb Major scale iimi7 of Eb Major Bar 7 and 8- Abmi7 and Db7 - play notes from Gb Major scale Bar 9 - Gmi7 - play notes from Eb Major Bar 10 - F#mi7 and B7 - play notes from E Major Bar 11, 12 - Fmi7, Bb7- play notes from Eb Major scale Ending 1 Bar 13 - Gmi7 - play notes of Eb Major scale Bar 14 - F#mi7 and B7 - play notes from E Major Bar 15 and 16 - Fmi7, Bb7- play notes from Eb Major scale Ending 2 Bar 13, first half - G mi7 - play notes of Eb Major Bar 13 , second half - F#mi7- play notes of E Major Bar 14, 15 and 16 - Fmi7 Bb7 | Eb MA7 | Fmi7 Bb7- play notes of Eb Major For Bb instruments Scale spectrum: F Major, Eb Major, Ab Major, F#Major You'll need to be able to invent ideas from these four tonal areas Bar 1 and 2 : FMA7 - play notes from F Major scale Bar 3 and 4 - Fmi7 and Bb7 - play notes from Eb Major scale iimi7-V7 pattern in Eb major Bar 5 and 6 - Gmi7 - plsy notes from F Major scale iiimi7 of F Major Bar 7 and 8- Bbmi7 and Eb7 - play notes from Ab Major scale Bar 9 - Ami7 - play notes from F Major Bar 10 - G#mi7 and C#7 - play notes from F# Major Bar 11, 12 - Gmi7, C7- play notes from F Major scale Ending 1 Bar 13 - Ami7 - play notes of F Major scale Bar 14 - G#mi7 and C#7 - play notes from F# Major Bar 15 and 16 - Gmi7, C7- play notes from F Major scale Ending 2 Bar 13, first half - G mi7 - play notes of Eb Major Bar 13 , second half - F#mi7- play notes of E Major Bar 14, 15 and 16 - Fmi7 Bb7 | Eb MA7 | Fmi7 Bb7- play notes of Eb Major For Eb instruments Scale spectrum: C Major, Bb Major, Eb Major, Db Major You'll need to be able to invent ideas from these four tonal areas Bar 1 and 2 : CMA7 - play notes from C Major scale Bar 3 and 4 - Cmi7 and F7 - play notes from Bb Major scale iimi7-V7 pattern in Bb major Bar 5 and 6 - Dmi7 - play notes from C Major scale iimi7 of C Major Bar 7 and 8- Fmi7 and Bb7 - play notes from Eb Major scale Bar 9 - Emi7 - play notes from CMajor Bar 10 - Ebmi7 and Ab7 - play notes from DbMajor Bar 11, 12 -Dmi7, G7- play notes from C Major scale Ending 1 Bar 13 - Emi7 - play notes of C Major scale Bar 14 - Ebmi7 and Ab7 - play notes from Db Major Bar 15 and 16 - Dmi7, G7- play notes from C Major scale Ending 2 Bar 13, first half - Emi7 - play notes of C Major Bar 13 , second half - Ebmi7- play notes of Db Major Bar 14, 15 and 16 - Dmi7 G7 | C MA7 | Dmi7 G7- play notes of C Major

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Last update: Monday, September 4, 2006 at 8:27 PM.