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In Joe Hisaishi's Merry-Go-Round Of Life, I'm trying to understand harmonically what is happening from measures 15 - 22. Below is my chord analysis in this G minor piece:

Measure 15: Bb/F [III]

Measure 16: Gmsus2/E [iv/ v]?

Measure 17: (A b2 b6 7) [V/v]???

Measure 18: Dm [v]

Measure 19: F/C [V/III]

Measure 20: Bb maj7 [III]

Measure 21: Am7 add4 [v/V]

Measure 22: Dsus4 [V]

I'm particularly interested how measures 16 and 17 work. For measure 16, The E in the bass works, since it's in the key of D minor (measure 18) and it is a half step down from the F in the bass in measure 15? It's hard to wrap my head around measure 17. In one train of thought, the F natural, Dflat (enharmonic to Csharp) and G natural are in the key of E minor (measure 18), but aren't in the key of A major, yet this seems like some type of A major chord? How do I analyze this chord/measure?

"Merry-Go-Round of Life" mm. 15-22

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  1. As a first step, there is an error in the arrangement. There should not be a Bb in the chord at m. 15. It should just be a Dm triad, which can be clearly heard in the original piece (link timed to m. 15).

  2. The next step is to recognize that the analysis from m. 15 to m. 20 is more simply given in D minor: i.e., the "key of v"

  3. Also note that the Db in m. 17 is better understood as C#.

  4. Finally, many of the notes are not chord tones but rather accented neighbor or passing tones. That makes the analysis much simpler.

With all of that in mind, here is a reduction of the score with analysis.

"Merry-Go-Round of Life" analysis

This clarifies measures 16 and 17. They are part of a standard ii-V-i progression in D minor. The key to understanding this is to interpret the melody A in m. 16 as an accented upper neighbor (i.e., not a chord tone), and, similarly, the two melodic Fs in m. 17 are passing tones (the first being accented).

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  • Transcription or arrangement mistakes shouldn't matter if the question isn't about the original piece but the version that's on the MuseScore site? Feb 26 at 10:27
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica Can you elaborate?
    – Aaron
    Feb 26 at 10:41
  • It was just about your pointing to an error in the arrangement. Even if something is different from some other arrangement, does it matter what there is in other arrangements, if the notes shown in the original post are literally what the OP is trying to understand. Feb 26 at 10:58
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica Well, the question is about Merry-Go-Round of Life, which isn't (quite) what the OP posted. I'd compare it to the many questions we get on French SE of the form "I can't understand this sentence" and it turns out there's a typo that explains why it doesn't make sense. Sure, they might still have some curiosity afterwards about what it would mean with the typo, but generally that's not really what they wanted to know — they wanted to clear up their confusion and there was a simpler answer, like there was here. Feb 26 at 13:17
  • @piiperiReinstateMonica Thanks, I understand now. In this case, I took the Bb to be a genuine error (@LukeSawczak's French typo) as opposed to a musical choice by the arranger. In the latter case I would definitely agree with you. In this case, it doesn't really affect the analysis, but it makes for a cleaner explanation to "correct" the arrangement.
    – Aaron
    Feb 26 at 13:27

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