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I am wondering how one would approach a Iminor - VII major progression. In a simple form something like: Am Am G# G# (just triads)

The idea rose from practicing melodic minor (in a jazz way, so same down as up). Although the VII chord of melodic minor is half diminished, the VII th mode in melodic minor is (again, in jazz) often used on dominant chords, hence my idea using a major instead of a b5 triad on the VII. My idea was to play A-minor over the I chord and A-melodic minor over the VII chord, thinking of this chord as a non resolving dominant, playing the altered scale (superlocrian) over it. Essentially i thought i would be able to play straight A-melodic minor over the whole progression, but this sounds 'not as it is supposed to be'.

The feel over the G# is very Lydian. Lydian dominant sounds good over the VII major, and lydian sounds even better (because the fourth, Db, clashes somewhat with the Am, changing it to a D (making a #4) was my idea).

The feel of this progession is also very chromatic mediant to me, which led me to think as Am as a substitute for Cmaj, making the progression a chromatic mediant. However, the feel gets totally different (obviously) when starting on a major, instead of a minor chord. So, i abandoned this idea.

My question: How would you approach this progression, thinking in a functional harmony way. I know how to approach it thinking of them as two seperate chords, but how are they connected?

I know you can play anything you want, but since i am no theorist ,but find it very interesting, i was wondering how one would approach this progression thinking of it as a whole instead of two seperate chords.

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  • That Ab is better named G#. Remember, each scale has one note of each name. – Tim Feb 13 at 15:06
  • Thanks for the reminder! – Stevestingray Feb 13 at 15:10
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Whether you think in terms of 'avoid notes' or wrap it up in modal phraseology there's still a basic principle that if a scale is going to 'go' with a chord, it shouldn't fight with the note that defines the quality of that chord, the 3rd. 'In a functional harmony way' perhaps you just have to accept that these two chords AREN'T particularly connected.

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  • Thanks, yes i'm close to accepting they are not praticularly connected, but i feel that every cadence has been analyzed and named (for instance, this progrogression looks somewhat like a reversed Neapolitan (?)?. The playing over the progression is not necessarily what i'm interested in. More the theory behind it. And if there is really no connection: So be it! :) – Stevestingray Feb 15 at 8:28
  • Yes, you can legitimise anything by labelling it! – Laurence Payne Feb 15 at 15:03
  • Humans love to name things! – Stevestingray Feb 16 at 9:21
  • Blues does exactly as you say it shouldn't... – Tim Feb 24 at 15:02
  • Hi Tim, i don;t understand your comment. Could you clarify? – Stevestingray Mar 3 at 15:43
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The notes themselves are G♯ A B C D E F♯, which is the Super Locrian mode of A minor. The 'altered scale' That gives a basic triad of G♯ B D and F♯. Making G♯m7♭5. A very close relative of Bm6! Also containing the main, useful notes of E9. That's why V works well. As ever, using the chord tones on the emphasised parts of the bar work best.

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  • Thanks! This makes sense. But instead of the m7b5 i'm using a straight up major triad (G#). This makes for a (when thinking towards the V) Emaj7#5, which does not lead back to the Am as well as the E9. – Stevestingray Feb 15 at 9:10

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