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I'm trying to create a "universal key" to learn more about the harmony and to be able to practice it easily in every key. Below is the intro for 'Bridge over Troubled Water'.

Generally, I see the harmony as progressing two keys upward the circle of fifths and then back to the main key. Some comments about my thinking:

  • 2.4: VIIo or V7b9 without the root.
  • 3.1: IV6 or an inversion of II-7. But because IV6 resolves to IV, IV6 seemed more appropriate. The bass can be seen as I/V, a resolution of the previous chord.
  • 4.1: At first I wasn't sure why 3.4 to 4.1 sounded so good, because you're going from a tertiary dominant to the main subdominant. Then I realized that IIø7 - V7 resolves naturally to an F minor, and that's the relative minor of this chord.

My question is: is this analysis right? Any major errors, or minor ones?

"Bridge over Trouble Water, mm. 1–6

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    It’s not clear what your question is – Todd Wilcox Apr 30 at 20:58
  • Hi @Daan. Welcome to Music.SE! Certainly wouldn’t want to be unkind in response to any post, especially not your first post. But what is the question here? Are you just asking if we agree with your analysis? If so, this might be better for chat, as it might not be a very useful post for future readers. – Bob Broadley Apr 30 at 21:03
  • Sorry! Clarified it. (I thought it was implicit.) – Daan Apr 30 at 21:06
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    Oh, I wasn't aware of the chat function. Hmm... so better to delete this post then? (I'm used to Stack Exchange for programming questions, but now that I think about it this generalizes less than those type of questions.) – Daan Apr 30 at 21:07
  • Where should I post this in the chat? – Daan Apr 30 at 21:25
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As a literal depiction of the chords, the analysis is fine and will allow you to transpose to other keys.

If a functional analysis is desired, I would do it this way (answers to your specific questions follow):

beat#
m.# 1 2 3 4
1 C[6-4]* " " V
2 IV " IV[6-4-2] CTo[4-3]/I**
3 I[6-4-2] I[6-4] ii[6-5]/ii V7/ii
4 VI/ii = IV " ii/i "
5 I " V7/IV "
6 IV " " "

*C[6-4] = "Cadential six-four". Also notated V[6-4] or I[6-4].

**CT = "Common-tone"


Specific questions

2.4

I interpret this chord as a common-tone diminished seventh chord attached to the following I chord. For more on common-tone diminished seventh chords see: A chord progression from Leavitt: how to analyze the diminished chord.

3.1

The chord here is a I chord in second inversion, with the C suspended from the previous chord. The suspension resolves on beat 2.

4.1

This one you nailed. In other language, this is a deceptive cadence (V - VI) in the key of ii (F minor), functioning also as IV in the main key. This is known as a "pivot chord": a chord which functions in two different keys simultaneously, facilitating a shift (a "pivot") from one key to the other — in this case, from F minor to Eb major.

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  • Thank you so much! Shouldn’t the inversion at 2.3 be [6-4-2]? – Daan May 1 at 11:47
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    @Daan Good catch. Fixed now. – Aaron May 1 at 13:53
  • One question about this chord though. I was under the impression that every note had to be accounted for in the chord quality. Hence I went with V7 (although I had my doubts). But you can just call this a IV chord? – Daan May 1 at 22:48
  • @Daan It's a fair question and a good example of the interpretative aspect of analysis. Your V7 label (more precisely, V[4-2]) is a literal representation of the notes in the chord, but my feeling was that it didn't function like a V chord. It's not exactly a IV chord either, however. It's a passing chord over a pedal Ab in the bass. But since my feeling is that it's serving to "extend" the IV chord, I labeled it as such. (This passing-chord quality would be more clear if the next chord were also a IV chord.) – Aaron May 2 at 2:12
  • Yeah, that makes sense. So I did the redid the notation, basically in line with yours, with one major exception: I did 2.4 to 3.1 as VIIo/V to C64. Look at this, example k: myweb.fsu.edu/nrogers/Handouts/Common-Tone_Dim_7_Handout.pdf – Daan May 3 at 12:29

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