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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningComposition, Arranging and Theory(Moderator: zemry) Someday My Prince Will Come - Chordal Analysis
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stutzand

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« on: Dec 23, 2011, 12:05AM »

I'm trying to analyze 'Someday My Prince Will Come' and I am getting consistently stumped. Should I be analyzing it as a mode? This isn't for homework or anything, I just want to play the tune, but I can't get past this stage of learning a tune.
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 23, 2011, 12:46AM »

What version are you trying to learn?
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 23, 2011, 12:51AM »

I'm trying to analyze 'Someday My Prince Will Come' and I am getting consistently stumped. Should I be analyzing it as a mode? This isn't for homework or anything, I just want to play the tune, but I can't get past this stage of learning a tune.

Explain. What set of changes are you using? Are you transcribing it from a recording? Which one? Do you understand basic keyboard voiceleading? Where are you having trouble? It's certainly not a "modal" tune, it's perfectly, diatonically major with small discursions into other, closely related  tonalities.

S.
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 23, 2011, 12:57AM »

I'm using the leadsheet from out of the Real Book 6th edition.

What's messing with me most is the augmented chords thrown in there. I can't figure out what key I should be moving in to.
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 23, 2011, 01:11AM »

I'm using the leadsheet from out of the Real Book 6th edition.

What's messing with me most is the augmented chords thrown in there. I can't figure out what key I should be moving in to.

Think of them as V7 chords moving to a minor...V7 aug. or V7 alt. (V7[#9 b13])

S.
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« Reply #5 on: Dec 23, 2011, 01:21AM »

The challenge of playing over songs with difficult changes is to make them sound like easy changes. More easily said than done, but you need to hear something to play over it.

I would practice it at two extremes--on the one hand, force yourself to follow every change, using chord tones if necessary to create melodies. On the opposite side, try to find the simplest melody that fits over it, the way original melody fits. Look for the common tones between chords, which will help you find natural sounding melodies. Holding a note across two relatively unrelated chords (like D7+ going to Ebmaj7) makes for a very natural improvisation. Find a figure you can play in both measures and repeat it so you don't sound like you're floundering around keeping up with the changes. Look for diatonic or chromatic lines that fit the chords.

Another approach would be to play the melody and vary it as much as your ear allows. Also, scat sing over a recording of the tune. You can hear those changes better than you think. Play an entire chorus with only a D above bass clef, and make it as interesting as you can.

I believe it's counterproductive for beginning improvisors to view songs as a series of key centers, for a variety of reasons. However, every time I bring it up I get slapped around by a bunch of music teachers, so don't listen to me on that. If you want to take that approach, you can play in Bb major (and the relative minor) through a lot of the tune and switch to Eb major for a couple of bars in the second half.

Songs like this--where the original changes work perfectly and beautifully with the melody but are atypical as freestanding changes--can be very challenging to play over. This one really does have a natural shape to it, though, that will get under your skin after a while. Just try everything you can, and especially listen to how other players have successfully cracked the nut. Obviously Miles' version. Herbie and Chick did a 'dual grand piano' version that's full of ideas.

When you get discouraged, let it rest and blow over an easier tune.
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 23, 2011, 04:12AM »

One other idea:

Listen to someone whose playing you admire play over these changes. 

Then play your own chorus. 

Sometimes the other player's solution will infect you!

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« Reply #7 on: Dec 23, 2011, 08:35AM »

T\ Holding a note across two relatively unrelated chords (like D7+ going to Ebmaj7) makes for a very natural improvisation.

It's the V+7 of G minor going to the bVI Maj7 of Gmin, they're quite related...  The D natural of course sound beautiful... as does the Bb, the A (even though it's technically not a chord tone it works if you use it right), the Eb (the b9 of the D+7)... 

but the movement is in the F# to G... those passing tones are just as important as the common tones.  That movement "is" the harmony... and the melody.

Those augmented chords are always acting as a "V" of some sort in this tune.  Remember, even though "Bb" is the "key center", you want to think of being able to tonicize the other chords in Bb... mainly the ii (Cminor), the vi (Gminor) and the IV (Eb major).  Have you had a theory course?  All of those aug. chords are secondary dominants, no rule saying they always have to be followed by a "I". 

hint... to figure out how to tonicize these, think of the V chords in relation to these... and think of the leading tones.  If you have a Gminor coming up, learn how to use that F#, when you have a Cminor coming up, learn how to use that B natural.

The chords are a function of the melody... learn the melody, or better yet, the melodies inherent in the song.  Just learning scales to play over the changes doesn't quite convince the listener... you want to hear why those scales work.

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stutzand

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« Reply #8 on: Dec 23, 2011, 01:34PM »

So the #5 in the D and G chords has no real purpose, then?
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 23, 2011, 05:11PM »

So the #5 in the D and G chords has no real purpose, then?

D7 is D, F#, A, C.

D7#5 is D, F#, A#, C.

Yes, it has a real purpose.
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 23, 2011, 05:23PM »

So the #5 in the D and G chords has no real purpose, then?

who said that?  Play a D7 and a D7(#5)... they sound very different.  

That "#5" can also be a "b6" depending on which chord/scale relationship you are thinking of.

If your D #5 scale is based on the G harmonic minor or G melodic minor (D Eb F# G A Bb C D or D E F# G A Bb C D respectively) then it's really a "b6", not a #5... but convention still dictates that you notate the chord as a "#5".

If you plan on using the D whole-tone scale (D E F# G# A#/Bb C D) then you would call it a "#5" because that's exactly what it is.  

If you want to base it on the "super-locrian" scale (D Eb F Gb Ab Bb C D)  you've got your b9 & #9 (2nd and 3rd scale degrees), and your b5 and #5 (the 5th and 6th scale degrees).  This is the 7th mode of the Eb harmonic minor...  It also contains a D, an F#, an A#, and a C.

Sorry, I guess I meant to say a Bb... but the #5 is an A#, right?... there's a difference.  And this is all just scratching the surface.

These are the kind of answers you get from making theoretical inquiries.  

How did I learn this stuff?  I transcribed Miles.  I didn't even think about the theory stuff until after I'd figured out what sounded good on the tune... and then I learned what to call it.  Maybe I don't know it as well that way...  but it works better than learning a bunch of scales and trying to make them fit.
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« Reply #11 on: Dec 23, 2011, 06:10PM »

D7 is D, F#, A, C.

D7#5 is D, F#, A#, C.

Yes, it has a real purpose.


Thank you... not what I meant.

who said that?  Play a D7 and a D7(#5)... they sound very different.  

That "#5" can also be a "b6" depending on which chord/scale relationship you are thinking of.

If your D #5 scale is based on the G harmonic minor or G melodic minor (D Eb F# G A Bb C D or D E F# G A Bb C D respectively) then it's really a "b6", not a #5... but convention still dictates that you notate the chord as a "#5".

If you plan on using the D whole-tone scale (D E F# G# A#/Bb C D) then you would call it a "#5" because that's exactly what it is.  

If you want to base it on the "super-locrian" scale (D Eb F Gb Ab Bb C D)  you've got your b9 & #9 (2nd and 3rd scale degrees), and your b5 and #5 (the 5th and 6th scale degrees).  This is the 7th mode of the Eb harmonic minor...  It also contains a D, an F#, an A#, and a C.

Sorry, I guess I meant to say a Bb... but the #5 is an A#, right?... there's a difference.  And this is all just scratching the surface.

These are the kind of answers you get from making theoretical inquiries.  

How did I learn this stuff?  I transcribed Miles.  I didn't even think about the theory stuff until after I'd figured out what sounded good on the tune... and then I learned what to call it.  Maybe I don't know it as well that way...  but it works better than learning a bunch of scales and trying to make them fit.


Ah, okay. I was just trying to understand what it was functioning as in the progression. Thank you!
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« Reply #12 on: Dec 23, 2011, 09:12PM »

So the #5 in the D and G chords has no real purpose, then?

The purpose of the aug chord is to allow the Bb in the melody.

The first two notes are the five and one, which are the most expected notes in music. There are thousands of songs starting with those two notes.

But they throw a little curve by having the second chord be rather unexpected. I love this type of songwriting (Stevie Wonder and Jobim do it a lot). A simple, mostly diatonic melody with some surprising chords, which are subtly functional.

I was humming this song just in my head after posting, and picturing myself playing it entirely in Bb major (except the ii-V-I in Eb). The notes I missed the most were (as ExZacLee pointed out) the F# (in the Gm sections) and the B natural (in the Cm sections). And those happen to be the only two non-diatonic notes in the melody. Even when it transitions to Eb, the Ab is never played in the melody.

This song has a beautiful shape, and it possesses its own internal logic. Don't learn it as a bunch of scales--figure out how it works. Learn the melody, the common tones, and the moving lines, and you'll have it in no time.
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« Reply #13 on: Dec 23, 2011, 11:17PM »

Learn the melody, the common tones, and the moving lines, and you'll have it in no time.

Thank you! By 'common tones' do you mean the notes that are shared between chords as opposed to the 'moving lines' being the chromatic changes between the chords?
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« Reply #14 on: Dec 24, 2011, 01:00AM »

Thank you! By 'common tones' do you mean the notes that are shared between chords as opposed to the 'moving lines' being the chromatic changes between the chords?

Yes--common tones are notes that are shared between adjacent chords. Because of the upper extensions of chords, there are more of them than you think, including ones that aren't expressly part of the chord symbol.

You're trying to gain mastery over the shape of the song, so you don't sound as though you're careering wildly from one change to the next. Finding a note or even a melodic figure that can be carried across is one way. Finding natural sounding 'moving lines' is another. Especially when playing multiple choruses, you want to be able to play a first chorus that sounds like a walk in the park.
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« Reply #15 on: Dec 24, 2011, 02:09AM »

Makes sense to me!

Thanks everyone!
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« Reply #16 on: Dec 24, 2011, 06:18AM »

So the #5 in the D and G chords has no real purpose, then?

OK Stutzand, here it is in a nutshell.

Go get some harmonic knowledge. There are literally hundreds of books available...the Mark Levine "Jazz Theory Book" is the best of the bunch as far as I am concerened...and learn your harmony. With the exception of the very occasional musician like say Chet Baker (who knew absolutely nothing at all about harmonic theory but seemed incapable of playing a bad note on any set of changes), we all have to understand the basic rules of mainstream jazz harmonic practice if we are to be able to play tunes like "Someday My Prince Will Come" without stepping all over ourselves. It's not rocket science...well, it is, but the actual "theory" is really fairly simple. The rocket science part comes when you try to make real music out of it. In my opinion a couple of weeks or so of real study at a good-sounding keyboard (preferably a well-tuned, fairly high level acoustic piano) is enough for anybody with a well functioning brain to get the basics down. After that? Good luck. 45+ years after I was first shown the basic reasoning behind tonic->subdominant->dominant->tonic jazz theory by Heb Pomeroy and John LaPorta at Berklee I am still finding new variations on the old rules. I am finding them myself and also being shown the results of others' efforts, contemporary musicians like Mike Longo and Cecilia Coleman plus past masters like Duke Ellington, Chico O'Farrill, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Bob Brookmeyer. It's the laws of the universe made small enough so that us little humans can grasp some part of them.

If you want to learn how to play chess, first you have to learn the rules regarding how the individual pieces move.

Like dat.

Good luck. It's a long journey, bet on it. But worth every step.

Later...

S.
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« Reply #17 on: Dec 24, 2011, 09:01AM »

I have a kind of backwards approach for you to try.I'm going to take it that you already can improvise.That being said,can you sing an improvised chorus over a recording of the rhythm playing the changes.If the answer is yes,then sing an improvised chorus and record it.Sing another improvised chorus and record it.Now write down what you just sang and you will probably start to understand your harmonic language as Sabutin put it so well.Once you visually see what you are hearing,you should be able to see the relationship to the harmony,melody,rhythm of the tune.As I said a little backwards way of working,but sometimes I find working backwards is the best way. Just some food for thought.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL!!!

Bob
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