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help with a charlie brown christmas

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by sonicnuance, Oct 2, 2008.


  1. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I'm trying to learn the tunes from the CD and from a piano songbook but I'm feeling lost in the music theory. For "O Tannebaum" for example, I can't get a handle on what logic there is behind the chord changes. I have a lot to learn about jazz theory so please point me in the right direction.


    Thanks
     
  2. dkziemann

    dkziemann Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Endorsed by D'Addario
    The chord changes are in the key of F Major, it's very simple to get a grasp on. It's one of the most basic chord progressions

    I-ii-iii-VI-ii-V-I

    That comes out to

    FMaj7- Gm7-Am7-D7-Gm7-C7-Fmaj7

    The bridge is ii-V to Gmin7 and then a ii-V to Fmaj (with a quick I-vi-ii-V)

    And the last time on the A is the same, except instead of Am7 it's Am7b5


    It may seem like a lot, but you're dealing with one of the easiest progressions

    1-4-3-6-2-5-1
     
  3. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics

    Thanks for the reply
    I think you meant
    1-2-3-6-2-5-1 for that last line right?

    This may be a simple progression but I have a lot to learn...

    I think by your notation the capital roman numerals are major chords and the lower case are minor as in I-ii-iii-VI-ii-V-I
     
  4. Something that might help you with this is knowing that in a major key I is major, ii is minor, iii is minor, IV is Major, V is major, vi is minor, vii is diminished and your back to I being major. Also the circle of forths for a major key is helpful I-VI-vii-iii-iv-ii-V-I, any time you have chords in this order or a part of this order you have the chord changes that are considered by theorists to make the most sense and fit the best. After a while of hearing it, it does start to sound vanilla, but the chords that ascend by fourth seem to click.
     
  5. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I don't follow the cycle of fourths. I thought it would be C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G

    Thanks for your patience
     
  6. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics

    Uh, so I'm looking at the sheet music and can see some resemblance to what you are saying except:
    1) the start of the song is C7b9 F#m7 Gm7 Am7 D7b9... IV I+ ii iii VI which doesn't fit the description
    2) after the first 1-2-3-6-2-5-1 I see ii VI ii V ii which doesn't seem to fit the pattern.
     
  7. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    I'd say throw out that corny book and dig Vince Guaraldi's version. That's the chord progression these guys are telling you about.

    Also, learn the lyrics -- it will help you solo through the changes.
     
  8. yeah oops. that was supposed to be I-IV not I-VI and then iii-vi not iii-iv.
    What your talking about is just the circle of fourths of the 12 tones. I'm talking about the chords that are built by a scale. So what you can do, and this is a good lesson, is right out the scale for c major perhaps, the right out the two chord tones(3 and 5) that are in the key of C for each of the notes. So your first one would be C then E and G, the next one D then F and A. If you do this you'll find that in a major key with a major 7, you get I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii diminished, I. its nice to know those ideas then anytime your in a major key you can anticipate these "Circle Progressions" and be ready for the tonality of the next chord.
     
  9. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    The book I'm using is a transcription of Vince Guarldi's version of the tune

    Good point about the lyrics
     
  10. dkziemann

    dkziemann Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Endorsed by D'Addario
    The changes may be "corny" but you need to know the originals before you can learn how to functionally change them to sound "jazzier." Yeah, can substitute the Gm7 for an Eb7 chord, or even do something like a F Chromatic walk down to the D7, but it doesn't make sense to do that now until you understand how they work. You said yourself you're new to jazz theory.

    Don't throw out the corny changes until you can make sense of them.
     
  11. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    So let me share what I've learned and possibly you can set me straight


    The tune "O Tannenbaum" starts with the following progression:
    C7b9 F#m7 Gm7 Am7 D7b9 Gm7 C7 F C7b9

    Writing out the tones per chord gives
    C7b9: C E G Bb Db
    F#m7: F# A C# E# (or Gb A Db F) - this seems like a typo in the transcription
    Gm7: G Bb D F
    Am7: A C E G
    D7b9: D F# A C Eb
    Gm7: G Bb D F
    C7: C E G Bb
    F: F A C
    C7b9: C E G Bb Db

    So assuming I got this correct, I still don't see the logic in the chord progression. For example, it is written in the key of F but appears to have the following progression from the chords above:
    IV I+??? ii iii VI IV I IV

    Sorry if this is coming across as me being dense, but I do not see the logical pattern. I mean, I've heard about the mythical ii V I but where is it here?

    after this, the song does the following:
    Fmaj7 Gm7 Am7 Eb9 D7b9 Gm7 C7 F Am7 D Gm7 Cm7
    which if I'm not mistaken is
    I ii iii VII VI ii V I iii vi ii V

    Again... I don't get it

    I appreciate everyone's patience. I don't want to "wing it" with these tunes, I want to understand what is going on and I can't seem to grasp it yet.
     
  12. dkziemann

    dkziemann Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Endorsed by D'Addario
    Where did you get C7b9 as the first chord from?
     
  13. nypiano

    nypiano

    Feb 10, 2003
    NYC
    I think you guys are getting a little far afield here (C7b9 F#m7?) Are you including the pick up C7 as first measure? That would be confusing if you are rounding back and putting a DS or DC which would be on I (F). Not sure what the F#m is about unless you saw something in the sheet music that was supposed to be a F#o passing to G- or something.

    Guaraldi's version is much simpler than some of what you're posting here. The original post of I ii /iii /VI etc was pretty close to accurate. Although it should be noted that such a progression is an elaboration of I /VI when you are trying to just play freely.

    The bridge isn't just II V to F. It I VI (or #Io) II V/II V/I V

    The distinguishing feature of the Guaraldi's last A is it has a "wrap up" feeling via the iii7b5 (A-7b5) to VI (or Eb7 to D7 depending on your mood). Why don't you guys just transcribe the walking line from the recording? It's pretty clear and easy.
     
  14. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I'm not sure of the publisher, but my friend gave me a transcription. Its a piano transcription though
     
  15. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Yes, I think that C7b9 is most likely the lead-in chord.

    Here's a quickie chart off the top of my head with pretty standard changes. Naturally, jazz music is full of hip substitutions -- but like it was said, at least get the traditional melody & harmony in your ear first.

    I hope this attachment works.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    PS -- Thanks for bringing this up -- I have my first holiday gig in less than one month and it's time again to dust off the Christmas books!
     
  17. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    I appreciate the pdf - what did you use to create it with?
     
  18. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    That's Band In A Box.

    It's a great tool. It's cheap, and you can enter in all kinds of jazz chords -- and it will play it back for you while you practice. I use it to make easy-to-read chord charts for several of my groups.

    There's a good discussion about music software somewhere else as there are lots of great platforms on the market.
     

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