Unfortunately this question has been closed as off-topic:

What is this Chord Progression

But the arrangements from Take 6 sound very special and interesting to me: I couldn’t identify at “first sight” the means of chord-technique that makes it sound so jazzy.

The album was critically acclaimed, receiving Grammy Awards in both the jazz and gospel categories. "In a diverse selection of songs, Take 6 merges an a cappella sound with gospel and big-band jazz arrangements... Their harmonies and melodies are consistent throughout this outstanding collection of songs," said Craig Lytle for AMG

Are these all seventh chords? And If yes, where are the 7ths lying?

  • Are you asking specifically about the recording in the linked question, or are you asking generally? Either way, it would be helpful if you'd link to one or more recordings in your post, even if it's the same recording. – Aaron Oct 19 '20 at 8:24
  • I mean this video, but I guess there are many other similar 6-voice settings by this group, e.g. over the hill is home ... – Albrecht Hügli Oct 19 '20 at 10:49
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    It used to be called 'close harmony' singing. Oh rats! I was half way through transcribing it when Tim mentioned someone had done it. – Old Brixtonian Oct 19 '20 at 13:18
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    @Albrecht I was using the piano, and looping the audio. Yes - good practice :) – Old Brixtonian Oct 19 '20 at 17:06
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    @OldBrixtonian - correct on both counts, sir! – Tim Oct 20 '20 at 5:08

Yes, as the comments say: these are close sevenths and ninths chords that produce this typical acapella jazzy sound. The seventh lays often in the 5th part (close to the bass note).

Here is the full transcription:

  • Why would anyone need to sing this in F#? F or G would be just as good - easier to transcribe, and easier to play, should someone wish to compress it all down to the grand stave. – Tim Oct 19 '20 at 14:59
  • Eventually G was too high for the Soprano (resp. counter tenor) and F too low for the Bass. Maybe there exist already a transposable file in musescore. It is ieasy to read this here above in F - letting drop the sharps and changing naturals in to flats. – Albrecht Hügli Oct 19 '20 at 15:14
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    I bet it was in G originally. Once they knew it they could sing it at any pitch, depending on how the top and bottom singers were feeling. Putting it down a semi made the bottom B almost unreachable by the bass. You can hardly hear it but it is there. You don't often hear a bass sing a bottom B. – Old Brixtonian Oct 19 '20 at 17:44
  • Here is the YouTube video -- in case you want the full YouTube functionality including full-screen. – Rosie F Oct 20 '20 at 16:53
  • see my new question concerning speak my Lord (Erik Leidzen) – Albrecht Hügli Oct 20 '20 at 19:28

The chords do have jazzy sevenths, ninths, etc. sometimes voiced very close together like a semitone, sometimes with quartal/quintal voicings and so on, but my subjective feeling is that somehow the voicings and notes alone don't create the whole effect. Something more is needed and that is the singers, the human voices.

Here's an example of two six-voice chords, first with a piano sound and then the same chords sung (with a heavy dose of MIDI-enforced pitch correction)

Do you agree? In my opinion, the chords, when played on a piano, don't feel that special, but when they're sung, that's when the magic starts to happen.

  • I also think the factor human voice is very important. – Albrecht Hügli Oct 19 '20 at 20:04
  • There's some kind of processing on the original but I'm not sure what. Apart from the soloists there's no vibrato. It's extremely precise (apart from the end of the first line, where the end of the word 'sleeps' is oddly ragged: 'sleeps-ps'). It's difficult harmony to pitch accurately. I think all those things create what you call the magic. – Old Brixtonian Oct 20 '20 at 12:35
  • @OldBrixtonian AFAIK, these questions are related to orchestration - it's not just the notes, it's what instruments play the notes, and different instrument combinations can create very different sounds for the same notes. Someone asking about the chords might actually be interested in reproducing the whole sound, not just the notes. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Oct 20 '20 at 18:22

I think the chords are a bit more complicated than 7th and 9ths. In fact they're at that end of the jazz harmony spectrum where chord names aren't much use: where 11's and 13's don't leave anything out, and where it might be better to call them eg D/C7 (D over C7), meaning C E G Bb D F# A and so on, and to use I, II and III to show any inversions: DII/F#7(no1, no5), meaning A# E A D F# - at which point the part becomes un-sight-readable or unreadable and a written-out part, with actual notes, is preferable!

Thanks to the OP for pointing out Take 6 and to Albrecht for insisting it stay open. Interesting. I wish we were allowed to raise subjects with just "Here's something interesting". We could always decide later what question had been answered!

  • Agree. Maybe this is something for the meta? – Albrecht Hügli Oct 20 '20 at 10:06
  • @AlbrechtHügli I need to read up on Meta. I'm still newish here and don't quite get how it works. – Old Brixtonian Oct 20 '20 at 12:37

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