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Six..... vi or VI?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Youngspanion, Dec 12, 2018.

  1. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    I cannot find through the search function the answer to this. Probably because I haven't asked the 'right' way. But Here goes on the a new thread.

    In the chord progression of 1, 6, 2, 5 and in the Jazz standard, "Ive got Rhythm", I cannot understand the Six chord. Is it a VI or a vi. Major or minor. I've seen it explained, in the key of Bb, like this. Bb, G7, Cm7, F7. And I've seen it explained like this. Bb, Gm7, Cm7, F7.

    Please explain.
  2. The original is vi (minor).
    Steve Freides likes this.
  3. As I understand it, what's important is the dominant movement of the root (in 5ths down G -- C, C -- F, F -- Bb).
    The rest is "variable", depending on the melody/scales used or suggested. (You can add major or minor in randomly to this bass progression, all options would work.)

    Bb, Gm7, Cm7, F7 would be obvious as the whole progression could use Bb major scale.

    ii-V-I progression is very common in jazz, that explains Cm - F - Bb quality.

    G or Gm is the least 'defined by theory', I would say. G would sound more dominant, Gm suggests less 'dramatic' harmonic movement.
    Youngspanion likes this.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    What we now call Rhythm Changes is a tune/hamonic structure that evolved over time, undergoing numerous reharmonizations. Mark Levine has a nice chapter describing the evolution in his Jazz Theory Book. He starts with what he calls "more or less original" changes for the first 4 bars:

    Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 7.28.33 AM.

    Then shows a variation that evolved later in the 30's that replaces the diatonic chords with secondary dominant and diminished function chords:


    Then shows a further evolution with altered dominants used in bebop playing:

    Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 7.36.38 AM.

    I think Mark does a really nice job presenting this topic and many, many others in this book, which I highly recommend as a reference for the theory curious to have on their shelves. :)

    Eventually jazz musicians overlaid all kinds of reharms over the form of Rhythm, and professional musicians are expected to be able to deal with various versions in real time when playing the tune, often from soloist to soloist and even from chorus to chorus at times. Here are a few of the many reharms and subs that have been used over the years:

    Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 7.41.38 AM.

    Link to full PDF here.
  5. jasonrp


    Feb 19, 2015
    Are you asking why? It has to do with Chord harmony. The chords you make are using only notes from the Bb scale: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A. To make your G (6) using only notes from the Bb scale it'd be G (1) Bb (b3rd) D(5) F(7) Flat 3rd = minor chord

    If I'm telling you stuff you already know, sorry. I wasn't sure if your question was broad or I've Got Rhythm specific
    Reiska likes this.
  6. Youngspanion

    Youngspanion Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    I think the explanations about the evolution of the chord changes make the most sense to me and answer the question I posted.
    Thank you
  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    I think I've mentioned this before, but since Chris mentioned a text book, allow me to recommend a classical music theory text that I think, at least for its beginning chapters, is great for all disciplines.

    Harmony and Voice Leading, by Edward Aldwell and Carl Schachter.

    I buy copies of the 2nd edition, which is just fine, on ebay for $5-10 apiece.

  8. marcox


    Dec 10, 2007
    Thanks for the tip, Steve. I picked up an inexpensive used copy on eBay and am working my way through the first chapter.
    Youngspanion and Steve Freides like this.
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    @marcox please let us know how it goes and if you have questions.

    marcox likes this.

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