4

If I have the following chord progression in a song in key of Bm:

Bm G A Bm

and then in the bridge a C major chord jumps in the progression, as below:

... D G A (C) Bm....

(C introduces the bridge and is followed by the tonic again)

How could be this 2nd-flat chord interpreted in terms of harmony?

According to my knowledges it:

  1. can't be some secondary dominant for this scale (in Bm the F is #)

  2. can't be a modal interchange (C is # also in Bmajor scale)

  3. is not a translation inside the minor scale (it belongs neither to harmonic nor to melodic minor scales)

6

...interpreted in terms of harmony

I suppose you mean an interpretation according to common practice or functional harmony. But that isn't the only way to analyze harmony.

I think it might help to think of what's going on in mostly linear terms.

You have one step-wise line ascending to Bm in G A Bm.

If you regard some of the chords in the next part as an insertion/telescoping - I will put that portion in brackets - you have a step-wise descent to Bm in D [G A] C Bm where D C Bm would be the simple descent, but the G A is inserted and kind of refers to a portion of the preceding ascending line.

There is a nice juxtaposing of the C# in the ascent and the "lowered" C natural in the descent. The two tones are associated with linear direction.

| improve this answer | |
4

We call this harmony, a major triad built on the lowered second scale degree, the Neapolitan. In the Classical style, it often functions as a predominant, moving to V and then to i (or I). But in other styles—like your example here—it can also function as a chord that moves directly to tonic.

And it actually can be understood as modal interchange, but not from minor: rather, it's actually borrowed from the Phrygian mode. B Phrygian is B C D E F♯ G A B, so the II chord in this key is C E G, that C-major triad. Because of this, we also call the Neapolitan the "Phrygian II."

| improve this answer | |
  • So, to put your first para. into context, in key Bm, the sequence is C>F#>Bm. – Tim Sep 15 at 14:08
  • And why not from B Locryan? Tks Richard – LeoAn Sep 15 at 14:10
  • And actually in my example the following chords are (C) - Bm - F# - - > and then the tonic Bm again, but I intepreted this F# as a major five from the harmonic minor scale as it is frequently used to increase the tension towards the tonic. Tks Tim – LeoAn Sep 15 at 14:18
  • @LeoAn You could conceptualize this as modal interchange with Locrian, but Locrian, at least in the Classical style, is often viewed as a "theoretical" mode and not one that's practically used. One of the reasons for this is that there's no perfect fifth above tonic, and thus no true V chord. As such, we prefer to understand is as coming from Phrygian. – Richard Sep 16 at 11:28
-1

There are various ways to hang a label in it. Neapolitan, Phrygian, ♭5 substitution (pity it wasn't a C7...)

Maybe the simplest way to legitimize it is this. You know you can always precede a chord with one rooted a 5th lower - remember that 'Cycle of 5ths diagram'? Well, add the 'rule' that a chord rooted a semitone above also works. Add it to your bag of tricks.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.