# Question on Theory?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by tocoadog, Jun 9, 2005.

Apr 10, 2005
I've only been a member a few months now, so if this question has been asked before, feel free to lock this thread and hopefully point me in the right direction.

Okay, my question. I've seen progressions as follows:

[Key of F major]

F7..Bb7..F7..Cmin7..F7.

Okay, when I see this when the progression is in the key of F major, I see the I, the IV, and then the V is minor tonality. But my question is...why is the C minor in this case? Are you not out of the key? Or maybe I've answered my own question in that the key isn't in F major but in Bb7, meaning the C is the ii?

I got this progression from here http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=125536 (sorry don't understand how to link).

I think I'm wrong in assuming the key was Fmajor when in fact the key is actually Bb7?

Any thoughts? Do I have my theory right? Don't blast me, cuz I'm dumb

Thanks for any replies.

2. ### Tash

Feb 13, 2005
Bel Air Maryland
That could be it. F7 is the V7 of Bb.

Its also possible that the v is simply being "borrowed" from the paralell minor. This is a common compositional technique, however in this case it looks like the Cmin7 is indeed a ii and is prepareing the dominant (F7).

Either way it doesn't sound dumb. You could make a fairly logical argument for either analysis.

3. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting Member

Well, as Tash says - it sounds like a ii-V7-I in Bb - but I think you have to appreciate that most Jazz tunes will change key and even a Blues changes key!

You can't assume that if a tune starts in one key, it will stay there all the way through.

4. ### Tash

Feb 13, 2005
Bel Air Maryland
If your playing jazz its safe to assume that it WON'T

5. ### slybass3000Banned

Nov 5, 2004
This is the first 4 bars of a major blues in F. In Blues harmony, the first and IV chords have a dominant color even if they don't really function like one. So, the F7 is the I7(Mixo) and the Bb7 is the IV7(mixo) and the Cmin7 and F7 are used to go to the IV chord with it's own II-V. So you can use on every dominant chord the mixo scale of the chord and on the Cmin7 use the Dorian mode.
Hope this will help,
SB

6. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting Member

I think, you are missing the point there - so what we were saying is that a Blues sequence does actually change key at that point - so in every Blues, you can feel the big key change after the first four bars - in most Jazz tunes you will have several key changes and several ii-V-Is in different keys.

7. ### JimmyM

Apr 11, 2005
Apopka, FL
Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
You are all making too much out of it. You're trying to play music like you're figuring out an algebra problem. Just because a key is specified doesn't mean you have to stick to just those notes. Accidentals and chords out of the key of the song happen all the time. No reason to let it throw you. Just remember to play Eb instead of E when you see the Cm.

Music theory is great. I use it all the time. But if you become a slave to it, you find yourself agonizing over things like this. Don't get caught up so much in the straight-line approach of theory. Theory exists not to show you what you can't do, but what you CAN do. Theory says to you, "Hey, that Cm doesn't exist in the key of F!" You tell theory, "You're not the boss of me!" and put it in anyway. Theory understands your need to expand beyond its rigid boundaries. By learning its rules, you discover that the only rules are the ones you impose on yourself.

So lighten up and just play the chord and don't worry about being able to explain it on a scientific level. You've got more important things to do.

By the way, an F7 and Bb7 are out of the key of F, too! But don't worry about it...just play 'em!

8. ### Richard Lindsey

Mar 25, 2000
SF Bay Area
No, I don't think a blues changes keys in any meaningful sense. In a way, you could argue that it's the most diatonic of all music, from the perspective of root movement--I, IV, V. After the first four bars, you're just going to the IV. No need to make it more complicated than that.

But really, I think we get into trouble when we try to apply standard functional harmony to blues. It just doesn't work the same way. For example, 7 chords really do act as tonics in blues, whether we like it or not. You can't referee rugby by the rules of American football.

9. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting Member

But this is related to the question actually asked - so the Cmin7 F7, are acting like a ii-V-I in Bb and I think this is the difference between an "ordinary" Blues and a "Jazz Blues" - so you have all these ii-V-Is included.

Personally I believe that the whole feel of the 2nd four bars of a Blues are a key change and many musicians have said this to me - I appreciate your point that the original Blues is nothing to do with functional harmony - but when you start looking at a Jazz Blues, with a lot more chords - then that's the only way to explain it easily in words , in a forum like this!!

10. ### Richard Lindsey

Mar 25, 2000
SF Bay Area
I agree that the Cm7-F7 is a ii-V-I to Bb, but I wouldn't consider it a modulation, which it would be if it establishes a new key. I think it's just ii-V of IV--basically a secondary dominant thing.

The whole basis of the use of ii-V in jazz is that you can use them to get almost anywhere, because they suggest a destination so strongly. But their use doesn't mean that you have actually established a new key--it takes more than one dominant chord to do that. For example, if you have a progression that goes | Fmaj7 | Em7b5 A7 | Dm7 G7 | Cm7 F7 |, have you really established four keys?

11. ### ryco

Apr 24, 2005
97465
If it is an F blues the Cm7 is prob for effect. m3 in the V could just be a "blue" note. Cool effect.

12. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting Member

If you were a Jazz soloist looking for ideas, or a composer looking to write an "interesting" melody, than it may well make sense to think of them as 4 different keys with inherent possibilities for note choice....?

It's what you want to do - you can play a tune like "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" and say "it's just a Blues" or you can think of it as a really nice, unique tune with interesting harmonies that has roots in the Blues, but has more chords and possibly more key changes....?

I suppose you're getting at something like Parker's "Bues For Alice" - is it just an altered Blues that you can just play as an F Blues with alterations as you want, or do you treat every chord on its merits?

So do you say - it was written this way intentionally and if I don't say something about each chord, then I'm not actually playing "Blue for Alice" - I'm just jamming on an F Blues.... ?

But what I was really saying in the end, is that to explain why you have that ii-V7-I going to Bb - you have to make some reference to a notional key centre - otherwise it gets very convoluted - it's just easier to say it's a ii-V7-I in Bb - like a kind of short hand ...there are different ways of seeing it, but this is the easiest way to write and explain to somebody else who's asking!!

13. ### Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting Member

That's exactly the sort of misunderstanding, that makes me want to say here - it's a ii-V7-I in (or going to) Bb!!

14. ### Richard Lindsey

Mar 25, 2000
SF Bay Area
I'd just say it's a ii-V to the IV.

Where I think we're getting off the tracks is with the idea that every V, or ii-V, implies a new key. It doesn't. Plenty of different ii-Vs can be used in ways that don't require postulation of a modulation. By modulation I mean really establishing a new key, not just passing through a small area where a nondiatonic scale is required.

For example, consider a tune that starts with one bar of Fmaj7, then one bar of Dm7. Now, are you modulating when you go to the Dm7? No, you're just going to the vi in the key. Now, suppose on the last two beats of the Fmaj7 bar you play instead Em7b5-A7. Have you modulated now? Still no--you've just gone to the vi, only by way of a subsidiary ii-V. You're still in F. You briefly suggested Dm, but you didn't really modulate, at least as I understand the term. Same thing if you do something like E7-A7-Dmaj7 in D. The E7 doesn't mean you're actually establishing the key of A in any meaningful way, it's just a II7 acting as a V7 of the V7.

15. ### mmuel817

Jul 26, 2003
Steven's Point, WI
if your in Bb major, the c minor 7th might just be a secondary dominant. ive only been through AP music theory last year at my high school, but that seems like it might be reasonable and nobody has brought it up? if i'm not even close just ignore me and let me suffer in my ignorance haha it does seem like it would fit better to have a minor v7/V to the V7 rather than a minor ii to the V7.

16. ### Richard Lindsey

Mar 25, 2000
SF Bay Area
If it's a minor chord it doesn't really function as a dominant, more or less by definition.

17. ### mmuel817

Jul 26, 2003
Steven's Point, WI
good call man. i just thought i might throw out my idea and learn something new too. we could pretend it was right though

18. ### ryco

Apr 24, 2005
97465
Thanks for the education! I wouldn't want to pass any bum advice. It's just when I saw Bb7 mentioned I figgered the whole key issue was ambiguous. Forgive me for any ignorance cuz it's a pain UNlearning wrong info. peace

19. ### Tash

Feb 13, 2005
Bel Air Maryland
Exactly. I had a long discussion with my older brother regarding the use of a Major II in a minor blues progression. Usually that's going to be a secondary dominant: V of V.

In this case its a v of V...not really a secondary dominant (remember that the Major 3rd of a dominant is the leading tone and is responsible for much of the pull towards the tonicized pitch).

In order to consider something a modulation you need to move to a new key, establish the center by playing through the key and then candence. V-I is not a modulation. V-I-ii-vii-V-I probably is

20. ### JimmyM

Apr 11, 2005
Apopka, FL
Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
If I had seen this discussion when I first started playing, I would have quit on the spot. This discussion is exactly why I'm against note-scaling theory and prefer just to use chord theory.

Note-scalers look at that chord progression and start fighting to find a mode to play over it that fits the key of the song and get frustrated when they can't find the exact rule that applies across the board. Chord theorists don't worry about all that stuff and they just say, "Oh look...an F7...better remember to play an Eb instead of an E when I'm walking."

I'm not blaming you all for overblowing this progression. For some reason, schools actually teach you to think like that. The most important thing is to make music. If you analyze it to such a point, you're going to make the music you play as dull and unimaginative as it sounds reading about it.