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II chords vs. ii chords: qua?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Brad Barker, Jun 14, 2002.


  1. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    is there a difference between these chords?

    i can safely assume that these are chords built off of the second degree (eg. D in key of C maj.).

    but is there any difference in a II and ii? is the former major, the latter minor? is one diatonic and the other unrelated to the other chords?

    thanks for the help in advance!
     
  2. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Major is usually expressed in upper-case Roman numbering, while minor is expressed in lower-case. Can't say that I've seen it written "II", on purpose at least.
     
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Technically speaking, if you were to write an analysis of "II" on a piece of notated music, you'd be indicating a major triad built on the second scale degree of the key. So yes, it would be different from a ii chord.

    But I've seen some older books and charts which used all uppercase Roman numerals to denote diatonic harmonic analysis, so it's not completely cut and dried. This reminds me of the other thread where there was a big discussion going on about whether it is common to use a natural sign when changing from a sharp to a flat. Turns out that it used to happen, but doesn't happen anymore. My impression is that the practice of using uppercase Roman numerals to denote minor chords is at the very least on the way out if not almost completely gone.
     
  4. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    i kinda understand...

    but


    um...major triad? so this wouldn't be modal right?
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Technically speaking, no, it wouldn't be modal. But sometimes people use an uppercase Roman Numeral when they really MEAN to signify a minor chord. A case in point is Jamey Aebersold's Vol. 3 playalong, "The II-V7-I Progression". Once you're inside the book, it's obvious that he intends to be describing a ii chord. But the volume went to press in the '70's, and has remained that way ever since. I notice that this kind of thing happens a lot more with Jazz notation - which is a younger artform than traditional "Legit" notation, and therefore is less codified.

    All of which emphasizes the point that when you see an uppercase Roman numeral where you suspect it should be a lowercase (to denote minor) you should check out what system of notation the author is using before getting all screwed up by unfamiliar nomenclature.
     
  6. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    A must have. Great book.
     
  7. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    super-thanks.

    i understand perfectly now.

    if all else fails, use context and best judgment. good lesson for many things, i suppose.

    and as an aside, i've never been aware of playing a II-V-I or ii-V7-I. mainly I-IV-Vs.

    these are similar, correct?

    eg: D-G-C as opposed to G-C-D
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    The I-IV-V progression contains the IV-V-I, which has been a common cadential progression for centuries. As to the question of whether ii-V-I and IV-V-I are similar...

    Yes, they are VERY similar. Both the ii and IV are classified as Subdominant function chords, s the basic motion of Subdomonant to Dominant to Tonic remains intact in both progressions.In my experience, the IV-V-I is more common in "classical" and pop music, and the ii-V-I is more common in jazz. Interestingly, the jazz version of the ii-V-I actually contains the typical Legit or Pop version of the IV-V-I, since jazz harmony typically uses upper extensions on the diatonic chords.

    For example, a typical IV chord in the key of C would be spelled: F, A, C, while a ii-7 chord in jazz would contain at least D, F, A, C.... the Pop IV is contained in the jazz ii. This explains a lot about why they feel so similar in function.
     
  9. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    This is probably redundant at this point (due to the great info thats been posted already) but you did ask:

    The minor ii IS diatonic.
    The Major II is NOT.
     
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    intrestin' and important to know. i didnt know majors were written capitals & minors were lower case. good stuff! :)
     
  11. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    me neither!

    [head explodes]

    okay, let me re-read this...

    alright, i have a little more handle on this...

    all i really wanted to know was if the roots would be the same, but played in a different sequence (D, G, C as opposed to G, C, D, for example). well, these would be different keys...but you kinda get where i'm coming from, right? the same shape, but the root is viewed at a different place...

    and fwiw, i wouldn't be able to identify a ii-V-I if i heard it.


    one final word (for now!): would a suspended chord be labelled as "IIsus4", per se? would an add 9 chord be labelled as "Iadd9"?

    also, if a song is in a minor key, would the "one" chord be a "i"?

    (well here goes my promise...): does mike dimin's "chordal approach" book contain this sort of info?
     
  12. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    From what I've been told (and I hope I'm correct on this), yes, it'd be "i".

    This is how I learned it:

    Harmonization of Major Scale:
    I ii iii IV V vi viiº
    C Dm Em F G Am

    Harmonization of Minor Scale:
    i iiº III iv v VI VII
    AmC Dm Em F G

    (This is actually showing the Aoelian Mode of the Major Scale)

    Hope this helps,
    Stephanie
     
  13. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    Also (without complicating things :eek: ) keep in mind that in many shorthand notation situations a diminished chord (without the seventh degree) is usually labelled as "min b5" instead of the little circle by the B chord, because the little circle would represent adding the forth degree (1, b3, b5, [bb7])( bb7=6th) to indicate a fully diminished chord. A half diminished (1, b3, b5, b7) would be indicated by putting a slash through that little circle. The reason I point this out is the B chord in your example would be half diminished if taken to the forth degree and the (full) diminished symbol used here might be confusing to some later on.

    And, yes, I have seen the little circle with a 7 added to indicate a fully diminished chord.
     
  14. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Oops! Ah, thanks for pointing that out. :) I should've written mb5. I think I may have complicated things myself. LOL.
     
  15. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    The little circle with the slash is half diminished, or minor 7 flat 5, which come out of harmonizing the Harmonic minor scale. We use this most if the time in pop and jazz because it gives us a dominant 7 for the V chord, making the resolution stronger. So it's ii(m7b5) to V (usually b9) to i.
     
  16. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    I understand that these are the chords derived from the maj, min keys. I understand the roman numeral numbering and the subdom, dom, tonic resolution...

    But why do you say "Harmonization of Major Scale" - what does the word harmonisation mean in this instance, i.e. how is the scale benig harmonised by representing the chords in this way?

    If I'm truly missing the point here, please tell me! :)
     
  17. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Howard, it means that chords we get are built by stacking diatonic 3rds on each note of a scale. For instance, with C major if you stack 3 more notes in 3rds on top of the root you get a Cmaj7 chord. The same thing the the 2nd (ii) you get a Dm7 chord. Etc, etc.
     
  18. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Aah, I understand, thanks. :)

    Diatonic meaning that it relates to a scale made up of tones & semi-tones (I looked that up in the dictionary)... which makes a diatonic 3rd an interval of a 3rd within a scale made from tones & semi-tones, e.g. major or natural minor.

    So from the dictionary definition I just read, a scale with an interval of three semi-tones is not diatonic? What is it then?!

    All the theory I've learnt so far seems perfectly logical, but there's so much terminology (and variation) to get to grips with.
     
  19. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    3 Semi tones is a minor 3rd. Diatonic means that it's in the key. So a minor third up from the root in C major (Eb) is not diatonic (that would be E), but a minor 3rd up from the 2nd in C major (D to F) is diatonic. From harmonizing the scales in this (diatonic) fasion, we end up with the qualities that outline common harmony.

    Clear? Or did I just screw it up more?
     
  20. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    No, that's good. I'm there!!

    the dictionary definition threw me a bit, i'll not go reading that again.

    ta
    H