Analyzing Chord Progressions with Compound Chords

Discussion in 'Theory Zone - Guitar Theory Made Useful' started by RobertLyons, Jun 24, 2020.

  1. RobertLyons

    RobertLyons Blues Newbie

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    I am trying to analyse the following progression: Am C/G D/F# F E7 . If I use the SHR there is no Key which fits, using the compound chords. The tune is the Chet Atkins version of the House of the Rising Son. Any ideas how to analse this correctly?
     
  2. Paleo

    Paleo Root Finder

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    It's not the fact that you have "compound" chords that is causing the "problem" of establishing a key.

    ("Compound" chords can also be referred to as "slash" chords.)

    C/G just means you're playing a C chord (C E G) over a G note in the bass or lowest position, an inversion.

    Same with the D/F#. It's a D chord (D F# A) over an F# in the bass.

    Having chord tones other than the root note on the bottom doesn't affect the function of the chord.

    So you can analyze the progression basically as: Am C D F E7.

    However, the "problem" is the fact that these 5 chords, with or without the "slash", are not all in the same key, as you suggest.

    Which gives us some options in the way we want to approach this progression.


    We could see a combination of C Major and A minor, the relative keys of each other.

    Or it's one or the other, with chords "borrowed" from other related keys, modes or scales.

    Or a a combination of borrowed chords and "modal interchange" with Am, C and F from A Aeolian (or Natural minor), the D from G Major or A Dorian and the E7 from the A Harmonic or A Melodic minor.o_O

    Anyway you look at it, it's not a "simple" progression from any one key or mode.


    Some soloing approaches could be to make the "parallel" A scale changes (Aeolian, Dorian, Harmonic minor) when appropriate or play A natural minor (C Major) avoiding chord tones not in the scale or make it "simple" and just play A minor pentatonic over the whole enchilada.

    I'm sure other members will make other suggestions.:)
     
    #2 Paleo, Jun 24, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  3. RobertLyons

    RobertLyons Blues Newbie

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    Thanks Paleo for that explanation. I had guessed that it was a combo of G and its relative minor Em in order to account for the F# BUT I have no idea if you can even look at it like that. This is the second time this week I have had to deal with the F# in a tune where it works for the ear, but seems to be running around loose outside the dogpark of my limited music theory knowledge.
     
  4. Paleo

    Paleo Root Finder

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    You're on the right track finding a scale that will give you the F# over the D chord.

    But since G Major (Ionian), E minor (Aeolian) and A Dorian are all the same notes and Am is the tonal center, I'd call it A Dorian.

    Samo samo.

    For the E chord you need a G# which you get by raising the b7 of A minor and it becomes A Harmonic minor.

    So over all you can think A minor scale, raise the F to F# over the D and the G to G# over the E7.

    Playing 3 different scale sounds more complicated than it is because you're actually only changing 2 notes from the A minor scale.;)
     
  5. Randy S

    Randy S Blues Newbie

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    The chords really are kind of all over the place. The only thing I would add to Paleo's comments are that you could see the Am, C, and F coming from Am (i, bIII, and bVI) so you could play Am pentatonic and the D and E7 coming from A Major (IV and V) so you could play A Major pentatonic. As blues players used to mixing minor and major pentatonic that may be a good and somewhat simple way to approach it. As always the ear is the true test of what sounds good so without trying it I wouldn't swear that would work.
     
  6. RobertLyons

    RobertLyons Blues Newbie

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    Paleo and Randy, thanks for the great sugesstions. There are some nice sounding chromatic lines in raising the two chordal tones...E F F# and F# G G# over those chords...The Am altered scale sounds good with those runs acting as a repetative figure. So thank you very much for your imput.
     
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  7. Jalapeno

    Jalapeno Southeastern Michigan

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    If I remember correctly (it’s been years since I took Griff’s Theory course) Griff says in the preface to the course that for guitarists he specifically left out theory things like voice leading, four part harmony, cadences and other stuff that music students have to study in college because the vast majority of it isn’t of use to guitarists.

    Most of the time. :)

    Here is one time where knowing counterpoint instead of standard harmony would help in your analysis. (I’m going to vastly over simplify here because counterpoint is a two semester course of study where the first semester is a tightly controlled set of rules called species counterpoint and the second full semester is something called free counterpoint).

    Take a quick look at the melody of the song “The House of the Rising Sun” (also recorded many times as the “Rising Sun Blues”).

    [​IMG]


    It is a purely diatonic melody in the key of A minor. The first part (consisting of two phrases, leading to the climax in the next phrase) starts on the Tonic, the root of the key. It’s A in this case. The end of the second phrase ends on the Dominant, the fifth of the key. It’s E in this case. There are no sharps or flats and the melody is clearly, in my mind, in the key of A minor (I wouldn’t call it Aeolian mode because of the next part of my analysis, which is building the counterpoint).

    The melody makes a diatonic ascent - A, B, C and D, with a little leap back to the tonic, then continues starting at the tonic an octave higher and makes a diatonic descent A, G, E, D and finishes on the Dominant, the E (yes the F was left out but that is most likely a melodic decision, not a harmonic one, as it is… well… the melody :)

    So, normally in counterpoint, each “voice” has its own melody and you build counterpoint starting with either the bass line or the melody line, add the one that you didn’t do first, then fill in the middle voices.

    The melody of the song is pretty fixed and HotRS in arpeggiated form, in a lot of cases, has a rising bass line (mimicking the melody). A, C, D F, which then falls, A, C, E. As the chords change.

    But let’s look at a typical harmonization for the song, something like this:

    [​IMG]

    Ok, all that melody and bass line stuff is still just standard harmony, so where did the F# and G# (in the D major and E chord) come from? It could come from the key of A melodic minor (which has both an F# and a G# leading to the A root). It’s a possibility. It’s also why I don’t believe the melody is Aeolian mode.

    Anyway, on to the version you are analyzing.

    Chet, using a standard country and bluegrass technique of descending bass line, goes the opposite direction from a typical harmonization and creates a true counterpoint. The bass line descends while the melody rises. He gives us A, G, F#, F and E in the bass.

    So the way I’d think of this version is in counterpoint, rather than harmony. Although harmonically, it could be A melodic minor except the F# in the bass line wouldn’t normally fit in melodic minor (its F# when ascending and F natural when descending).

    Anyway, I prolly don’t know what I’m talkin’ about anyhow.

    Eric
     
  8. RobertLyons

    RobertLyons Blues Newbie

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  9. Jalapeno

    Jalapeno Southeastern Michigan

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    Yeah, I wouldn't bet the farm on it being in A melodic minor but I'm confident enough in my analysis to bet jmin's firefly :LOL:

    Eric
     
  10. RobertLyons

    RobertLyons Blues Newbie

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    Problem 2, which I think I have solved, but need to check with those who know.

    Corozon Espinado, by Carlos Santana, and which I have been working on for the past month, has the following progressions in the Key of Bm: Bm-Em-F#-D-A.
    You will quickly see that the v chord is a Major, not a minor. In Guitar Theory Made Useful, Lesson 17, which I am reviewing, Griff talks about how minor v chords are often turned into the Major for reasons related to the 5 mode of the Harmonic Minor Scale which is the Phrygian Dominant scale. My question is this: is this one of those times, or is there something else going on? I think it is, but can someone verify it?

    Here is the song, so you can see how Latin it feels....

    https://youtu.be/t6omUxqhG78
     
  11. Jalapeno

    Jalapeno Southeastern Michigan

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    If you harmonize the Bm scale:

    I : Bm
    ii* : C#dim
    III : Dmaj
    iv : Em
    v : F#m. <-- song uses F#Maj
    VI : Gmaj
    VII : Amaj

    All the chords fit, except the minor v is the Major V. That is precisely what your analysis discovered.

    I think you've got it!

    Eric
     
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  12. dvs

    dvs Green Mountain Blues

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    Re problem 2: I agree with Eric. Also, I had a listen to the youtube and I think the substitution is (dominant) F#7 in place of F#m.
     
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  13. Paleo

    Paleo Root Finder

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    A simpler way to think about it? At least for me.

    Raising the 3rd of a minor v chord makes it a Major V chord.

    The b3 of the v chord is also the b7 of the scale.

    So you are also raising the b7 to a 7 in the scale, changing it from natural to Harmonic minor.


    For your example in Bm, F#minor is the v chord in the Key.

    The A of the chord is the b7 of the B minor scale.

    Raising the A to A# changes the chord to Major and the scale you need to use to B Harmonic minor.


    Like the previous example, you can approach this by soloing in B minor, but play A# instead of A over the F# Major chord.


    Raising that one note creates more harmonic pull, more similar to a Major scale.

    Kind of killing two birds with one stone.

    Both the Major V chord and the half step leading tone created from 7 to 8 have more pull back to the i chord than the minor v chord and the whole step between the b7 and 8 did.

    In a way it's kind of like making the minor scale more harmonically "Major".

    Then in a Melodic minor scale you also raise the 6 making the minor 3rd the only difference from being completely Major.

    Although the 6 would be raised for a "melodic" reason.
     
    #13 Paleo, Jun 28, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
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  14. Paleo

    Paleo Root Finder

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    This snuck in while I was typing my response.

    I haven't listened to the song yet, but making the v chord a V7 chord rather than "just" a V is "usually" done and I would expect it.:)
     
    #14 Paleo, Jun 28, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
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  15. RobertLyons

    RobertLyons Blues Newbie

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    Very informative responses guys. Paleo, you are so right about that half-step from the 7 to the 8. Literally drags your fingers there. And that half-step between the 5 and 6 really defines that Latin sound. Yeah, I really like this scale and the intervals and fingering in the five boxes are nice and easy to slide up and around the board.

    I tried playing the F# as a V7, dvs, but in this instance it sounds a bit off. The straight Major sounds better to my ear. I also checked on UG PRO and it came up with an F# Maj as well. But you may be right. I guess I can ask Carlos next time I see him...lol

    Thanks again for your comments. The Guitar Theory Made Useful course is tremendous in helping to break apart the music and giving an understanding on what the thinking behind the structure is. For some reason, it also makes learning the piece and remembering it easier as well.
     
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  16. BoogieMan

    BoogieMan Blues Junior

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    Beautiful piece of music. Just to point out that at 2:18 minutes of the video we get a glimpse of the amp that gives Carlos his classic tone. Not that I'm partial or anything!
     
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  17. RobertLyons

    RobertLyons Blues Newbie

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    Hey Boogieman...being a bit partial myself, I thought you might be interested in this rig rundown of Carlos' real setup. If you have about a half million smackeroonis to spend, you can get the same ..lol Check out those two Dumble Reverbs!

    https://youtu.be/MBNm0Ax4Vzc
     
  18. Paleo

    Paleo Root Finder

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    @RobertLyons
    Don't know if you're an AAP member, but Griff has decided to dedicate a Theory Session in July to analyzing these two songs that you are asking about in this thread.:)


    Also glad you mentioned Griff's theory course. I'd forgotten that he discussed Harmonic and Melodic minor there. It was good for me to go back there and review, since my thoughts were based on his discussion in his "Harmonic Minor Scale" course.(y)
     
    #18 Paleo, Jun 30, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
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  19. RobertLyons

    RobertLyons Blues Newbie

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    Hi Paleo, yes I am an AAPer...have had the BGU course for years, but I decided to get serious about learning how to play about 6 months ago. Decided to join the AAP group in March ...for me, it has just been switching the lightbulbs on ever since. Also bought a $5 book by a Canadian guitarist called Play More, Practice Less, which has really helped me deal with my perfectionist tendencies. And helped to give the confidence to tackle things which I once thought beyond my reach. It linds echoes Santana's admonition that people always look for greatness in others, never themselves. It is when you reach for your own inner greatness that the music comes out. Or something like that.

    Looking forward to the July Theory courses and Griff's analysis of the pieces.

    Thanks for the Heads Up on this.
     
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