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Jenny Bray
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Session 4


The Roman Numeral system of chords which was described in Session three can be extended to include 'altered' chords. This involves the use of the additional symbols:-

M = major 7th.
x = dominant 7th
m = minor 7th.
o = diminished 7th.
ų = half diminished 7th
Examples:- IIx = D7 when in the key of Cmajor;
Im = Cm7 when in the key of Cmajor.
IIx = F7 when in the key of Eb
Also accidentals may be included.
Examples:- bIIIx = Eb7 when in the key of Cmajor;
#IIo = Ebdim when in the key of C.

At this stage you might be thinking "is all this really necessary?" It is if you want to be able to transpose from one key to another with confidence. For example if you think of Satin Doll in the Roman Numeral system (sometimes called the Juilliard System), the chords can be written in any key quite quickly.

Dm7   G7 Dm7   G7 Em7   A7 Em7   A7 D7   Db7   C   A7  
Dm7   G7 Dm7   G7 Em7  A7 Em7   A7 D7   Db7   C C
Gm7   C7 Gm7    C7 Fmaj7 Fmaj7 Am7    D7 Am7   D7 Dm7 G7
Dm7   G7 Dm7   G7 Em7  A7 Em7   A7 D7 Db7 C A7 ::

II     V II     V III     VIx III     VIx IIx      bIIx     I      VIx    
II     V II     V III     VIx III     VIx IIx      bIIx     I I
Vm     Ix Vm     Ix IV IV VI     IIx VI     IIx II V
II     V II     V III     VIx III     VIx IIx bIIx I VIx ::

From this second chart it is a simple matter to write out the chords for Satin Doll in any key.

Example :-

Satin Doll in Eb

Fm7   Bb7 Fm7   Bb7 Gm7   C7 Gm7   C7 F7 E7 Eb C7
Fm7   Bb7 Fm7   Bb7 Gm7   C7 Gm7   C7 F7 E7 Eb Eb
Bbm7  Eb7 Bbm7  Eb7 Ab  D 7 Ab  D 7 Cm7  F7 Cm7   F7 Fm7 Bb7
Fm7   Bb7 Fm7   Bb7 Gm7   C7 Gm7   C7 F7 E7 Eb C7 ::

Repeat the exercise at the end of Session 3 and perform 'Satin Doll' in Eb.

The Circle of Keys.

In Jazz, the harmonic patterns which occur most frequently move in minor-dominant, dominant-dominant or half-diminished-dominant patterns, through the wheel of keys. The movement is seen in the following diagram,; the motion is counter clockwise.

Cycle Diagram

The following typical examples employ the circle of fifths.

a) II - V - I

b) II - VI - II - V - I

c) IIIų - VIx - IIų - V - I

These chord sequences can be used as 'turnarounds' and as introductions. When playing in a jazz group in is important that the introduction, which is usually played on the piano, sets a good tempo and gives a clear lead into the tune. It is as well to let the group know that the intro is going to be four bars or eight as the case may be.

Here are three example of II V I chord sequences.

251 example

The first bar is a II - V - I in the key of Bb. (note that the accidentals obey the standard rules for each bar).

The second is in the key of Ab and the third is in Gb.

Notice the addition of 9ths and 13ths which help to 'spice up' the chords. Forgive the use of F# in the Gb chord. This should be written as a Gb but my software doesn't seem to like it!

continue the above pattern up to the key of Cmajor - (the next bar begins with Gbmin7). Practise the above pattern starting at different points of the circle.

We will now do a 'workshop' with another Jazz standard, this one written by Billy Strayhorn.

Take the A-train.

Here is the tune in the key of Cmajor. Click on the manuscript to hear the tune.

A Train example

Write out the chords in the Juilliard system and transpose into Bb. Repeat the rehearsal pattern as for Satin Doll.

Notes: The related scale for D9#11 is the whole tone scale beginning on the note of C.

The Juilliard notation for D9#11 is IIx(#11).

Lesson 5
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