# Notation question in blues: #V or bVI?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by emor, Apr 8, 2009.

1. ### emor

May 16, 2004
kcmo
Is one more correct than the other?

I was writing out a line to a blues tune, and in bar 10 it moves to the #V(bVI) for two beats and then back to the V7 for two beats.

At the blues jams I attend, when we have a progression like this, it is called out as having a #V; however, the line I was working on (in G) would have had to have been written with double sharps, had I stayed within the chord tones of the #V (D# Fx A# C#).

In a case like this would the more correct way be the one that is easier to read?

2. ### JtheJazzMan

Apr 10, 2006
Australia
if youre talking about roman numeral degrees i would never call the substitute dominant of the V chord a #V chord. its really a SubV/V

i would just write Eb7 | D7 | Gmin or Gmaj

problem solved

3. ### rEaLity|cheCk

Nov 6, 2007
assuming (let's say the song is in C) the chord is spelled Ab C Eb (add any extensions), function wise that chord is a bVI, because you said it returns to the V (dominant). roman numerals are there to define function, not necessarily the spelling of the chord primarily.

4. ### rEaLity|cheCk

Nov 6, 2007
oh i didnt see you said it was in G. so Eb G Bb.

5. ### emor

May 16, 2004
kcmo
Thanks for the replies.
So just moving the V7 up a half step would be considered a substitute dominant?
I thought a substitution was built off the tritone. (I've been trying to wrap my head around that).

6. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting MemberIn Memoriam

Well there's only one dominant chord per key - you could see it as a temporary key change.....

7. ### rdingess

Oct 26, 2008
Two options. Depends if you are doing just a plain Eb triad (or Ebmaj7 would function the same way), or an Eb7 (dominant quality).

If it is Eb7:
Secondary dominant.
(dominant of another chord within the key, besides tonic)

If you are in G, your dominant chord is D7.
Secondary dominant of that is A7.
Tritone sub of A7?
Eb7

If it is just Eb or Ebmaj7:
Modal mixture.

In G your vi chord is Emin.
In the parallel minor (Gmin), the VI chord is Eb.
You would just be borrowing from the minor mode of G for a second. Combining major and minor sounds from the same root...modal mixture.

Either way I'd call it a bVI(7?) in roman numeral analysis. The secondary dominant one can get messy, especially with the tritone sub. Normally secondary dominants are written V/V (or V/iii or wherever else you might be going...), but how messy is that to write: bII7/V.
Nah. bVI7 is legit.

Hope this helps.

8. ### jweissSupporting Member

Jul 5, 2007
Park City, Utah
Sorry if I missed it, are we talking about a minor blues?

If so, bVI - V - i is typical (and the way I've always seen it written.

Take a look at, for instance, "Mr PC". Usually the bVI - V is in bars 9-10 of a 12 bar minor blues.

typical chords for bars 9-11 are:

bVI7 --> V(alt) --> i6/9

with chord-scales:

bvi Lydian Dominant --> V altered --> i melodic minor

Hope that helps,

Jeff

9. ### PocketGroove82

Oct 18, 2006
Chicago
If you're writing out actual notes in a arrangement for others to read, then I would advise staying away from double sharps. Just write the notes enharmonically so they are easy to read and you will look like you know what you're doing and everyone is happy.

There is a pretty low probability that an intoxicated horn player at a blues bar will sight read a line containing double sharps correctly. Just write G nat. and he'll have a chance.

10. ### slybass3000Banned

Nov 5, 2004
By rules, the #'s are used when going up and b's when going down, so for ease to read, the passing chord would be Eb7 going to D7 instead of D#7. To continue on this,in bar 5 you have a C7 so if you use the diminished chord in the next bar it would be C#o7,not Dbo7,

Hope this helps,

Sly

11. ### Marc Piane

Jun 14, 2004
Chicago
this is why people don't write down the blues

12. ### Paul Warburton

Aug 17, 2003
Denver, Co.
I know, Marc. I dunno about you, but when I get them blues, it's all I can do to play 'em, let alone tryin' to write 'em down. That would kinda ruin the vibe anyway doncha know.

13. ### Marc Piane

Jun 14, 2004
Chicago
Plus how are you supposed to read after that many Old Style beers?

Not to put down the OP at all but I have played quite a few blues gigs in my day (being from Chicago and all). I have never seen a chart for a blues tune. I actually think there might be a city ordinance against the use of music stands in a blues club.

14. ### DogbertdayCommercial User

Jul 10, 2007
SE Wisconsin
Blaine Music LLC
I always think of it as the bVI chord.... but really I try not to write down the blues either... just get the melody and pick a turn around that fits

15. ### slybass3000Banned

Nov 5, 2004
I can tell tell that most of you don't teach.............(!).

Sly

16. ### Marc Piane

Jun 14, 2004
Chicago
I've taught for 15 years. No emptiness here. Just truth. Blues has always been an aural tradition. Discussions like this one always pop up every time we try to codify it. Most blues guys would laugh if they read this thread. Part of teaching is preparing your students for the real world.

17. ### slybass3000Banned

Nov 5, 2004
I didn't want to sound harsh but Blues is played in Big Band as well and it is important to write the right chords in harmonic context,

Sly

18. ### Marc Piane

Jun 14, 2004
Chicago
Yes but...
From the OP. It sounds like he is talking about straight up blues. Not Bird blues or big band. Maybe I'm wrong.

19. ### slybass3000Banned

Nov 5, 2004
Yes and he is talking about how to write it out which is OK too.
That is why from my experience as a former big Band bass player I wanted to explain the use of Eb7 instead of D#7 is better because it is easier to read and write and makes more sense in an analysis of the chord progression,

No offense,

Sly

20. ### JtheJazzMan

Apr 10, 2006
Australia
when i say substitute dominant i mean you are subbing the chord that would normally approach your target chord by a P5th. Eg, an A7 would approach the D7 by a 5th, youre then substituting the tritone, or transposing that A7 chord by a tritone if you like. both A7 and Eb7 share the same tritone, C# and G for the A7, G and Db for the Eb7.

Its just a more elaborate II V I progression.