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Autumn Leaves and ii-V-I  

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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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15/07/2010 5:57 pm  

I think I finally understood the ii-V-I progressions and how they are used in songs. I have been working on Autumn Leaves these weeks. I always read this song (and also many jazz songs) uses the ii-V-I. So, I have searched this progression in the chords.

In G major, the song starts with Amin7, D7 and Gmaj7, and then a Cmaj7. It is a ii-V-I and a IV (Cmaj7). I guess the IV is a kind of turnaround.

Then, it comes F#min7b5, B7 and Em (and another Em). Initially I didn't understood this progression. The root notes shows it is a ii-V-I as well. After some reflexion and review of the used chords, I guessed it is a ii-V-I in minor! In E minor, Em is the i, B7 is the V, and F#min7b5 (a half-diminished!) is the ii (or is it vi-III-vii_dim?).

I thought it was enough and the author uses this two progressions in an alternate way, major and minor, but curiously (or not) E minor is the relative minor of G major! Awesome!

Now I have a couple of issues where I need some help, I am not able to explain them by myself.

The first one. The last four measures are Cmaj7, B7b9 and Em. I don't see the use of Cmaj7. Cmaj7 is C-E-G-B. I'd expect a F#min7b5 as in the other progressions. F#min7b5 is F#-A-C-E. The difference is G and F#, very similar chords but they sound different. Could they be interchangeable? I guess its use is related to the F#min7b5, B7b9, Emin7, Eb7, Dmin7, Db7 (and Cmaj7), it moves chromatically.

The second issue. The ii-V-I and also with the turnaround VI. The root notes move in fifths... or fourths, it depends on the reference is fixed. I mean A is the fifth of D, D is the fifth of G, G is the fifth of C (V of V?). I am studying a book for walking bass lines (Ed Friedland) where it is very usual these progressions "in fifths" that have a good jazz feeling. Is there a relation?

Very happy with my new discoveries but with new open questions.

Thanks!


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(@kingpatzer)
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15/07/2010 7:53 pm  

There's a lot of great work on this song out there so you'll get plenty of answers.

But there's a piece you're missing here that'll help you a lot.

Take a look at the first four chords:


Amin7 | D7 | Gmaj7 | Cmaj7 |
ii | V7 | I | -- In G
vi | II | V7 | I | -- in C

Whenever you see that V of V movement in Jazz, expect that you're seeing this sort of slide through a new key of the moment. It's rarely perfectly clear, and there are other reasons for that type of movement) but the whole idea of ii-V-I shows up in all kind of places in jazz.

Now let's keep going:

The 2 in B is C#min7, which has the notes C#, E, G# and B. Now, one thing everyone learns about chords very quickly in jazz is that the two most important notes are the 3 and the 7. The 3 in this chord is E, the 7 is B. Which also happen to be the 3 and 7 of CMaj7.

It is not incorrect (though certainly takes a bit of a reach) to see this as:

CMaj7 | F#7 | B7
ii | V7 | I7 -- In B

if we stipulate that the CMaj7 is functioning as a rootless C#mMaj7b5 -- a very odd chord no doubt, but useful for seeing how the ii-V-I idea can continue.

Your question about F#m7b5 and C7 hits another nail on the head. Again, it's the 3 and the 7 that really matter. And the 3-7 in C7 is the SAME as in F#m7b5, just in an inverted order. And you get to have a V or I as well. So it's all good.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


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(@alangreen)
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15/07/2010 8:18 pm  


Amin7 | D7 | Gmaj7 | Cmaj7 |
ii | V7 | I | -- In G
vi | II | V7 | I | -- in C

You sure about that? D7 and GMaj7 both contain F#, which doesn't exist in C Major.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
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(@kingpatzer)
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16/07/2010 12:37 pm  


Amin7 | D7 | Gmaj7 | Cmaj7 |
ii | V7 | I | -- In G
vi | II | V7 | I | -- in C

You sure about that? D7 and GMaj7 both contain F#, which doesn't exist in C Major.

Yes it is not perfectly consonant, but it works in that sort of context. It is not a pure diatonic chord, but that's ok.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


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 Nuno
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16/07/2010 1:02 pm  

Your question about F#m7b5 and C7 hits another nail on the head. Again, it's the 3 and the 7 that really matter. And the 3-7 in C7 is the SAME as in F#m7b5, just in an inverted order. And you get to have a V or I as well. So it's all good.
That's cool!

Thank you very much for the answers. The explanation about Cmaj7 and F# half-dim was very good.

On the other topic, I did read you can substitute the vi in a I-vi-ii-V with a dominant seventh chord. It is not diatonic but it seems these things works in jazz.


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 Nuno
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25/07/2010 3:27 pm  

Hi again,

Firstly, I made a mistake the other day and I've edited my initial post. Cmaj7 is C-E-G-B (I wrote C-E-G-A, I wrote the notes of C7 rather than Cmaj7).

The original chord in the progression ii-V-I is F#min7b5, i.e. F#-A-C-E. Thus, the 3rd and 7th do not coincide in Cmaj7 and F#min7b5 chords, they do in C7 and F#min7b5.

Then, is there a double substitution F#min7b5 -> C7 -> Cmaj7 or I'm missing anything again?

Thanks!


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(@coolnama)
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26/07/2010 11:20 pm  

C-E-G-A isn't C7 its C6 my friend

C-E-G-Bb is C7

F#half diminished is F#-A-C-E but if you do a Cmaj7 chord with the F# as the bass you would get

F#-C-E-G-B ( u could put the A in there to get the b3 in )

So thet G in there would be the b9 which is a pretty common thing to put into jazz, and the B is the 11 which is a pretty dissonant interval, which is also used in jazz.

Idk why'd u'd write it Cmaj7, but u could write it Fmin7b5 with just some added tensions ( b9 and 11)

Or F# bass over Cmaj7 like a slash chord uh F#/Cmaj7 ( or is it backwards ? )

Or you could just play Cmaj7, you've got F#'s 5th and 7th ( C and E) and b9 and 11 ( G and B)

So yeah, I think the bass should prolly play F# first and then you can play around with the Cmaj7 notes if you are walking or something .

I wanna be that guy that you wish you were ! ( i wish I were that guy)You gotta set your sights high to get high!Everyone is a teacher when you are looking to learn. ( wise stuff man! ) Its Kirby....


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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27/07/2010 7:19 pm  

C-E-G-A isn't C7 its C6 my friend
You are right! Thanks for the comment also!

Anyway, I was trying to understand the KP's comment on the chord substitution. His reasoning is you can substitute two chords if the 3rd and the 7th coincide in both chords and, very interesting, they can be "swapped".

The chords in the "original" (Real Book) score are Cmaj7 and F#min7b5. The KP's comment works on C6 and F#min7b5 but not with Cmaj7 and F#min7b5.

I was looking for additional info and I found a great lesson on the main site by Tom where he explains many possible chord substitutions. There I got some new ideas: C is a tritone up from F#. Although the tritone substitutions are in the preceding chords (the chromatic descent), it is a good way to resolve the progression.

Cool song!

Edit: I fixed a mistake.


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(@kingpatzer)
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28/07/2010 12:14 pm  

C-E-G-A isn't C7 its C6 my friend
Anyway, I was trying to understand the KP's comment on the chord substitution. His reasoning is you can substitute two chords if the 3rd and the 5th coincide in both chords and, very interesting, they can be "swapped".

Actually any chord can be swapped for any other chord to the extent that they share at least some pitch classes. The most important tones in 7th chords (dominant and major 7ths) are the third and the seventh.
The chords in the "original" (Real Book) score are Cmaj7 and F#min7b5. The KP's comment works on C6 and F#min7b5 but not with Cmaj7 and F#min7b5.

*nod* My bad, not sure where my head was at with that one.
I was looking for additional info and I found a great lesson on the main site by Tom where he explains many possible chord substitutions. There I got some new ideas: C is a tritone up from F#. Although the tritone substitutions are in the preceding chords (the chromatic descent), it is a good way to resolve the progression.

Cool song!

Tri-tone substitution is about dominant 7th chords. The tritone is the interval from a major 3 to a minor 7, or 3 whole steps. That interval is maintained in two chords, and goes back to my comment about the 3 and 7 being the most important tones in a chord.

A C7 and F#7b5 are tritone substitutions for each other.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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28/07/2010 1:12 pm  

*nod* My bad, not sure where my head was at with that one.
No, I understand you meant. I was trying to verify if I had understood well. Thank you again! :D
Tri-tone substitution is about dominant 7th chords.
Yes, I think the tritone substitutions are in the previous chords: F#min7b5-B7-Em7-Eb7-Dm7-Db7-Cmaj7. I think it could be a V of V progression from B7 to Cmaj7 but there are two tritone substitutions in the Eb7 and Db7 (A7 and G7, respectively). And also it coincides that there are three whole steps between C and F#.

But I don't know if I have started to understand or interiorize it but it seems the Cmaj7 chord is the best chord for that measure.


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(@jmb-d)
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09/10/2011 12:46 am  

Just found this thread... a bit late to the dance, but I'm here now.

My bass teacher gave me Autumn Leaves a few months ago, and the result has been a side trip into the land of music theory, minor scales, modes and how they relate to chords in a particular scale, etc.

We're finally at the point where I understand enough to get back to play connecting notes between the chords and know when to play what and how it fits in the grand scheme of things.

In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don't wobble. -- Yun-Men


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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10/10/2011 5:23 pm  

That's so cool! Theory always helps to understand what we are doing, in music and in other disciplines.

Enjoy!


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