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I have no formal training in music theory, so my question might be phrased a bit clumsily.

There is a kind of jazzy chord progression I enjoy very much, the one which, from the top of my head, I think is in the refrain of Frankie Valli's "Can't get my Eyes off you". (Correct me of I'm wrong). It's like a ii-V-I, but starting further up.

If played in C, I start out with an Fmaj7 major chord, and move just move down the circle of fifths, in a easy fingered pattern that I have a feeling a lot of you will know what I'm talking about.

After I reach Cmaj7, I lead back to the first chord in the progression with an A7 chord. (If anyone can tell me a formal name for this kind of chord progression, it would be much appreciated)

These are the 8 chords exactly:

FACE FABD EGBD EGAC DFAC DFGB CEGB AC#EG

So, except for wondering if this progression is a common thing that has a name, I'm wondering about the second chord here, FABD. What exactly is this chord? It seems to be a diminished chord with one of its notes raised a semitone (G# to A). Am I even supposed to play this chord like this? (I mean, I think it sounds good, but have I just trained my ear to like it?) Is this type of progression usually played with a regular dim chord at this position?

I hope I have stated my inquiry clearly, and I appreciate any information anyone might have to help me!

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I'm wondering about the second chord here, FABD. What exactly is this chord?

In root inversion, the chord would be written BDFA. It consists of root, m3, d5, m7. Since the 5th is diminished but the 7th isn't (otherwise it would be an A♭, as you note), this chord is called a B half-diminished seventh chord. It is notated as Bm7♭5 ("B minor-7 flat-5") or as Bø7.

For comparison:

  • B diminished = B-D-F
  • B diminished seventh = B-D-F-A♭
  • B half-diminshed seventh = B-D-F-A

wondering if this progression is a common thing that has a name

The full progression you have written is: FM7 - Bm7♭5 - Em7 - Am7 - Dm7 - G7 - CM7 - A7

As you point out, with the exception of the last A chord, the rest of the sequence just follows the circle of fifths. Naturally, it is called a Circle Progression, and it is pretty common in both classical and jazz. I'm not sure there's really a specific name for adding the final A7 chord, though. I'd almost consider it more of a passing chord. It looks like it wants to lead to D minor.

EDIT: The final A7 is an example of a turnaround, which is a way to add harmonic movement to what would otherwise be a single, prolonged chord. There are many types of turnarounds, and they don't necessarily have individual names.

  • Dm = DFA. Dm7 =DFAC.Dm9 =DFACE. Pretty well back to the first chord- FACE. Almost a completed circle ? – Tim Sep 23 '14 at 18:59
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    Well sure, but it would be a complete circle even without the A7, since CM7 leads back into FM7. – Caleb Hines Sep 23 '14 at 19:35
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Good info above, but I think the progression for the jazzy part of the tune is simply this (in E): ('-' == minor, sorry for the jazz shorthand)

F#-7 B9 E6 C#-7

F#-7 B9 E6 C#7(#9)

Or if you prefer, back in C:

D-7 G9 C6 A-7

D-7 G9 C6 A7(#9)

This is just a ii-V-I based progression, very common in jazz. The fourth chord prepares to go back to the ii (somewhat weakly), as does the eighth chord (with more strength!).

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