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Provide a harmonic analysis of Friesen's Zebra?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Tom Lane, May 31, 2017.


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  1. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I should probably just ask David and I probably will, but I'd very much like to hear educated analysis of this tune if you've got the time. I like the tune quite a bit and I think the melody and harmony work together in a very compelling way, but, the chord nomenclature is... unusual? As near as I can tell, it's a minor tune moving from Minor key center to Minor key center but some of the chord progressions are inexplicable to me. For instance, measures 9 through 11 sound like a ii V i but maybe that's my uneducated ear's bias. David has them notated as GbMaj7b5 | FMaj7b5 | Em11. I think I can explain that as II bIIo^7 i, a tritone sub for the V but still, a Major II chord? I don't see how I can classify it as a ii chord with a Major 3rd and 7th even though it has the b5. Oy vey! Parallel structures? A similar thing happens in the last 8 bars. There's a great recording of the tune on one of David's Circle 3 Trio albums - great band!

    Zebra.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
  2. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Well, the first chord "Cmin/maj7 #5" (with the 9 in the melody), is a horse of a different color.
    Not sure I've seen or heard this nomenclature before. I'd like to see how this is voiced.
    Thanks, Tom.
    (I'll prepare myself for another of your classic Mega-Threads!!!)
     
    Tom Lane likes this.
  3. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    And, in furtherance, here's a YouTube recording from the album: Zebra - Circle 3 Trio
     
  4. vilshofen

    vilshofen

    Dec 27, 2007
    Casablanca
    Tom, what a great find! It reminds me of "Humpty Dumpty" for some reason. Tried that link but the recording is, er, "banned." This one works - it's the 2nd tune in, at c. 4:30.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
    Tom Lane likes this.
  5. Scruffy_Johnson

    Scruffy_Johnson Inactive

    Jun 29, 2017
    Are you asking to analyze this with Common Practice Period Chord Labels?

    Why?
     
  6. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Common practice period? What's that? and why is that a "why" question?
     
  7. Scruffy_Johnson

    Scruffy_Johnson Inactive

    Jun 29, 2017
    Your original post implied that there is some Key Center, or Harmonic Function occurring. Maybe not. Perhaps the composer simply liked the flow of chords. In other words, there aren't any common harmonic practices (i.e., V7 - I, iiø7 - V7 - i), More in the direction atonality. Free.

    I don't think one can analyze this kind of music the same way one analyzes Beethoven, C. Parker, or Beatles.
     
  8. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    There are definitely portions of the tune that conform to conventional Western harmony, and others that I don't know about, that's why I asked. I asked David about this tune this week. I asserted that it's mostly a minor tune. He disagreed and said it's a Minor/Major tune. His response had me reevaluating my previous conclusions.
     
  9. Scruffy_Johnson

    Scruffy_Johnson Inactive

    Jun 29, 2017
    I agree with that. It's the portions that don't fit the "CPP Rules Book" that caused me to post.

    I think the composer's analysis is perfectly complete.

    ;-)
     
  10. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Not really what I was asking for....
     
  11. Scruffy_Johnson

    Scruffy_Johnson Inactive

    Jun 29, 2017
    No problem. I misinterpreted what you were asking.

    I will be looking out for further comments.

    ;-)
     
  12. It is fairly traditional jazz chords, no resolution. It isn't twelve tone. There is a series of more and less dissonance, dark and light consonances and unstable moments caused by the b5s and sus chords. Just because the chords changes are not II-V-Is (except the II-V-I in the second line) doesn't mean you can't analyse the harmony.

    Also, the purpose of a chord chart is for ease of playing. As @Don Kasper says, a more detailed look at the voicings might reveal that those chords are inversions of more traditional changes. A quick glance reveals that F minor II-V-I and the b9 of the E chord in the second bar is an F, so maybe it is around F. Another quick glance notes it moves between E and F (a common jazz tool used by Monk and many modal composers). The Major and minor is fluid, but again, that is common in jazz as well as blues. It certainly doesn't sound "out" or awkward when they play it!
     
    Tom Lane likes this.
  13. This is a REALLY unintelligent statement. There are chord changes. Something happens when each of these chords change to to the next. The function of the harmony is to create the sound that occurs at each of those moments. You don't get to deny something exists because you don't understand it.
     
  14. Scruffy_Johnson

    Scruffy_Johnson Inactive

    Jun 29, 2017
    Maybe you could read the Original Post, before you bloviate off course.

    OP said: "As near as I can tell, it's a minor tune moving from Minor key center to Minor key center but some of the chord progressions are inexplicable to me."

    Perhaps I should've stated that the OP explicitly indicated that there are Key Centers - not me.
     
  15. There are key centers and where there are chords there is harmonic function. Even if each chord is it's own key center there is still a pre-given key for at least four beats. The II-V-I in F minor gives us 12 beats of F minor. Further study would no doubt reveal more. At 24 bars it isn't even an asymmetrical form. Theory is measurement not law.
     
  16. Scruffy_Johnson

    Scruffy_Johnson Inactive

    Jun 29, 2017
    If you had read MY posts, you and I are sort of on the same page. Although I don't agree with: "Even if each chord is it's own key center there is still a pre-given key for at least four beats". However, you can hear it anyway you want.

    One might see that measures 5-7 could be "analyzed" as being in "F Minor" (likely "F Melodic Minor").

    One might even go as far as analyzing ms. 8 & 9 as being in the psuedo-Key Center of "F Double Harmonic" (F, Gb, A, Bb, C, Db, E, F). Dbma7#5 (bVII) - Gbma7#11 (bII), resolving to F (I). Yeah, that Gbmaj7b5 chord probably should be labeled: Gbmaj7#11.

    Measure 10 in "F Lydian"? Suggesting the chord in m. 10 is Fmaj7(+11).

    But, now what?

    The point I was making, in my first post, was: why analyze this with The New Old Rule Book? I don't see the reason for doing that. I don't see/hear much identifiable Harmonic Function (Subdominant, Tonic, Mediant, etc.) with this piece (I need to hear a couple chord changes before sticking on a "Key Center" label, if at all). Maybe YOU only need one chord to label a Key Center, so go ahead and assign harmonic function labels, as you please. I guess then every chord might as well be a "ONE Chord"? But then, there's no REAL function.

    Maybe this piece is truly a series of ONE-chords, in different Key Centers.

    The OP was attempting to use some version of CPP Analysis: "For instance, measures 9 through 11 sound like a ii V i but maybe that's my uneducated ear's bias. David has them notated as GbMaj7b5 | FMaj7b5 | Em11. I think I can explain that as II bIIo^7 i, a tritone sub for the V but still, a Major II chord? I don't see how I can classify it as a ii chord with a Major 3rd and 7th even though it has the b5."

    That IMPLIES Key Centers and Harmonic Functions.

    Hope this is less unintelligent, for you.
     
    Don Kasper likes this.
  17. This sort of outlines the limits to your thinking. Harmony can have MANY other functions beyond what you list. A piece like this might not be for you. It is an advanced piece. I can sort of see what it would take to "get to the bottom of it", someone like Kasper is probably better equipped. It is certainly not random nonsense. The real point is the chord changes of this song exist and something happens when they are played the function of the harmony is produce that sound.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Sorry - the argumentative member has been previously banned several times for trolling in exactly this manner and keeps returning under different usernames. Please report any new user profiles that seem to be a new incarnation of this person.
     
    damonsmith likes this.
  19. The old "you can't stand a stuffed goat on painting" argument. When in fact you can and you can even put a tire on the goat.
     

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  20. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    FYI - While it is not a strict "12 Tone Tune", the melody uses all 12 pitches of the Chromatic Scale.
    More later...More Coffee!
     
    vilshofen, damonsmith and Tom Lane like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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    Apr 17, 2021

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