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Provide a harmonic analysis of Friesen's Zebra?

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

  1. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Here is my "NOT a Harmonic Analysis", but just a pragmatic cheat sheet that I think might be helpful to the discussion (or lack thereof!)

    In m.1-2, the chord, as named, Cmin/maj7/#5, sounds very Diminished to me. I've written a possible voicing on the sketch below. I'm not sure if the composer meant for a "Diminished" sound there, but on the recording, it seems that the performers are tending toward Diminished sounds.

    In m.3-4, I hear another Diminished sound there - I'm not sure why the composer chose to write "E7b9/G#", as there is a lot of root movement in the bassline to "B" (diminished) sound there, esp. during the piano solo. (Yes, E7b9/G# is a very "G# diminished" sound, with "B diminished" sharing Melodic DNA - same collection of notes/just starting on a different note for us "Chord/Scale" folks.)

    In m. 8, Dbmaj7#5, I've written a possible voicing shortcut/nomenclature that can be helpful in suggesting that chord-type - simply play an Fmaj triad with a Db in the bass. I've indicated this shorthand for all subsequent "Xmaj7#5" chords. Some refer to this as a "3 over 1" voicing, as it is a major triad starting on the major third, "3", with the "1" (root) in the bass.)

    The Xmaj7b5 chords I've renamed "Xmaj7 #11" as my ears and eyes like to associate the #11 in a Major (or Dominant) chord. I reserve the "b5" for Minor chords. (YMMV).
    I've provided a 3 note voicing for the Gmaj7#11 chord in m.33-34, as a suggested structure that can be transposed for other chords.

    Finally, truth be told, if I had to perform this tune, I would rewrite some chord symbols in my preferred nomenclature, esp. m.1-4, AND spend a s**t ton of time at the piano to get comfortable with the harmonic movement(s) that are a bit nebulous, (in terms of Key areas, etc.)
    Tom Lane likes this.
  2. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    OT - the guitarist on the recording is Larry Koonse, from Los Angeles, and is one of the most beautiful, unique and cliche-free musicians on the planet.
    Tom Lane likes this.
  3. hhalt

    hhalt Hans Halt

    Nov 26, 2010
    Reno, Nv
    I agree that the first chord is diminished because you can raise any notes in the chord to create tension - F# raised to G# and A to B. Labeling it as he did is actually a clear way to get the sound he was after. Interesting that on the solo, the pianist was using maj/min 7th, not diminished. This makes the second chord sound like a G7b9 to my ears. i-V7b9.
    Don Kasper likes this.
  4. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Thanks so much Don. Let me give this a few days serious consideration... some how my ear tells me the recording works, but the chart may be different.
    Don Kasper likes this.
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