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Can the ii be Major?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Rick Martin, Dec 27, 2002.

  1. A while back my teacher and I made chord charts for two old Cab Calloway big band numbers. "A Chicken Ain't Nuthin But A Bird" and "Poppas In Bed With His Britches On". We charted both songs like this:
    Eb/// Bb/// Eb/// Bb///
    Ab/// Db/// Eb/// Eb///

    He sez "What key?" and I sez "Ab" and he sez "Right".

    I sez, "it's like a I, IV, ii, V in Ab", and he sez, "Right, and it starts on the V". And I sez, "Right".

    Now I live in a different town and I show these charts to my new teacher who is a six string player and when he and I start jamming to the recording we find out that the ii chord sounds awful as a Bbm and sounds hep as a Major. It's like that in both songs. The ii chord only sounds right as a Major.
    Whassup wit dat. I thought the ii had to be minor.
  2. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    It depends on the function. When you see the ii as a major chord, it's probably the V of V.

    For example,

    in the key of C, the ii would be Dm, but if it's major, it's probably the dominant of C's dominant which is G. So it's like a temporary key change to G. (for a measure or two).

    Chris A.:rolleyes:
  3. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Lots of Ellington/Strayhorn tunes use this change
    "A train" is an obvious one.
  4. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    It would be clearer and more accurate to say dominant not major

  5. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    So in this progression of "A Train"...


    ...would the D9 chord be a V of V?
  6. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    What's a "hep?"
  7. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    In answer to the original question, yeah, II can be major. It's often used, like Chris says, as a V of V, or V7 of V. But not always. How many pop songs have you heard that do things like : C D7 F C (in the key of C). I've heard loads. In the case of A Train, it's not really functioning as a V of V, because D9(#11) resolves to Dm not to G, and the Dm then goes to G7, then back to C (ii V7 I in C).
  8. hep = hip = in the know, as in "hep to the jive"
  9. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Ok. Thanks Moley. :)

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