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Bm7b5, E7, Fmaj7 are of course the 2nd, 5th and 6th degree of A harmonic minor, but if I'm in Fmaj what are they?

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    A harmonic minor isn't a key - it's a scale.
    – Tim
    Apr 15, 2022 at 12:11
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    That is correct
    – Clabis
    Apr 15, 2022 at 12:17
  • Honestly, I'd rather ditch the notion that you're in F major for the entire chord progression. Tonicize/modulate to A minor if necessary.
    – Dekkadeci
    Apr 15, 2022 at 12:32
  • What have you established as the key around that point in the piece? There may be no need (apart from academic) to be in F.
    – Tim
    Apr 15, 2022 at 13:24
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    @Clabis it seems your question is unclear. Is Bø E7 Fmaj7 a progression, or just three chords appearing at various times? Could you edit your question to include the progression, perhaps with what is preceding it, for the context? Apr 15, 2022 at 19:57

2 Answers 2

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In the key of FMaj, the chords Bø7 and E7 are the ♯ivø and VII7, respectively. FMaj, of course, would be the I.

In jazz, the ♯ivø and VII7 chords commonly appear in progressions like this:

| Bø7 E7alt | Amin7 D7alt | Gmin7 C7 | FMaj7   |

which are characterized by a sequence of ii-V's that take us around the circle of 5ths.

The ♯IVø also frequently appears in progressions like this (as we see in Night and Day by Cole Porter):

| Bø7       | B♭min7      | Amin7    | A♭dim   |
| Gmin7     | C7          | FMaj7    |         |

Note: for convenience I've written Bmin7♭5 as Bø7, but they mean the same thing. I've tried to write an answer that:

  • accepts the stated assumption that the key is FMaj,
  • identifies the function of the given chords (as requested), and
  • provides examples of how those chords typically appear.
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  • This answer takes the OP's clear progression, moves the half diminished seventh chord into different harmonic contexts of sequential and parallel harmony, and then tries to label Bø7 as F:♯IVø before the F: ii V I establishes F as tonic. Before those endings in F there is no reason to identify Bø7 as F:♯IVø. In the first case Bø7 actually sounds like Am:iiø7, in the second case I see no point in RNA for the parallel motion. Just label the ending ii V I. Not everything needs RNA. And, again, neither has anything to do with the OP's progression. Apr 18, 2022 at 13:46
  • The think that especially bothers me about this misuse of RNA is there can be a legitimate reason to use an altered #IV label: an augmented sixth chord. German augmented sixth chords normally get a label like Ger+6, but you could also write it in RNA as #IV+6/5, which makes sense, because the chord actually has subdominant function. Apr 18, 2022 at 14:06
  • @MichaelCurtis, the OP marked this as the official answer; in my mind that suggests you've misread the question. I don't think the chords were intended as a progression. The sorts of reasons you've provided about why Bø7 is not in FMaj reveal wide gaps in understanding of jazz harmony, IMHO. I've corrected a typo; I meant to write ♯ivø.
    – jdjazz
    Apr 18, 2022 at 19:49
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Something unnecessarily and un-helpfully complicated!

Analyse it in relation to the tonal centres it DOES visit.

Bm7♭5, E7 are standard approach chords to A minor. But instead of the expected resolution to that chord, we have an Interrupted Cadence (I think Americans call it a 'Deceptive Cadence') to F. What happens next? Maybe F major persists as the new tonal centre, so it makes sense to start analysing in F major from that point on. Maybe it's just an interrupted cadence in A minor, so it makes sense to keep analysing with that key centre.

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    Who downvoted this? Why? It so concisely explains the whole story including a sensible way that F major might be tonicized. With notation even! So we don't need to guess about voicings, etc. Apr 15, 2022 at 14:10
  • Good point about 'from this point on'. Which still leaves the original 3 chords around Am. +1.
    – Tim
    Apr 15, 2022 at 14:43
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    I think there's a good chance this answer has misinterpreted the question. The OP doesn't mention a chord progression | Bø E7 | F∆ |. The chords are simply in a list. The chord progression could be something like: | Bø E7 | Am D7 | Gm C7 | F∆ | which is not uncommon in jazz. Laurence, I think your answer doesn't apply to that scenario. I think it's premature to say the Q is premised on unnecessary and unhelpful complications when there are many unanswered questions (what's the genre, what's the full chord progression, is the stipulation of F∆ purely hypothetical or inferred from other info?)
    – jdjazz
    Apr 15, 2022 at 18:46
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    @LaurencePayne, I'm also wondering now if you agree that it's impossible for the key center to be FMaj during the progression Bø-E7-FMaj. I wouldn't normally expect that type of strictness from you, which is why I think I'm misunderstanding your answer. The example you shared has very insightful analysis; I love the progression you wrote out. But your first two sentences give me the impression that a rule exists prohibiting the analysis of Bø-E7-FMaj using a tonal center of FMaj.
    – jdjazz
    Apr 15, 2022 at 21:59
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    @ jdjazz You don’t choose tonal centres, they arise. Sometimes clearly and inarguably, sometimes more ambiguously. Sure, you can give any chord a functional label relating to any arbitrary tonic. And yes, if the quoted chords were not in sequence, my answer would probably have been different.
    – Laurence
    Apr 16, 2022 at 0:45

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