5

So I came across a song in which the chord progression consists mainly of 7 chords, but they don't seem to be secondary dominants.

It sounds very jazzy and I am aware that jazz compositions sometimes contain all these 7 chords, but I have a hard time analyzing it from a tonal point of view.

Here is the progression :

Cm7 - Eb7 - D7 - Ab7 - G7

I know it might sound very basic, but I really couldn't come up with something more precise for the moment.

6

The E♭7 and the A♭7 are both tritone substitutions which wile not exactly being secondary dominants very much take the role of them tonally and are often analysed as such. The E♭7 will want to take you to D7 and the A♭7 will want to take you to G7 just like the D7.

I've seen tritone substitutions marked before as "tt" so if doing Roman Numeral analysis you may see this:

X:1
L:1/4
M:
K:C Minor
V:1 clef=treble
"i7(Cm7)"[C E G B] "tt(Eb7)"[E G B _d] "(V7/V)D7"[D ^F A c] "tt(Ab7)"[A c e _g] | "V7(G7)"4[G B d f]||
%

More formally and what I would do is note the proper function of the tritone substitution like this:

X:1
L:1/4
M:
K:C Minor
V:1 clef=treble
"i7(Cm7)"[C E G B] "V7/ii(Eb7)"[E G B _d] "V7/V(D7)"[D ^F A c] "V7/V(Ab7)"[A c e _g] | "V7(G7)"4[G B d f]||
%

Notice how both the D7 and A♭7 have the same exact function in this analysis which is very much intentional as the serve almost the exact same function.

  • I would add that the Ab7 not only has the same function, but creates more tension as it contains the notes of an altered D7 (D7b9b5) so the listener feels a greater need for resolution to the V7. It's common in jazz to play a V7 and alter it before resolving and the substitution here accomplishes that. – mikeford Mar 3 '17 at 1:27
0

Another analysis of Cm7 - Eb7 - D7 - Ab7 - G7 would be:

i - G7/V/V - V7/V - G7 - V7 or a German Sixth of V7/V then V7/V followed by the German Sixth (in C-minor) then V7.

It's sort of a i-V7 sequence with first a Secondary Dominant inserted i-V7/V-V7 then each of these is preceded by a German Sixth. This not the only analysis but it does show that the pattern isn't out of place in Common Practice Period Harmony. The functional relationship between the Eb7 - D7 (and the Ab7 - G7) is different from the more jazz-oriented analysis in Dom's response. Here these two are Subdominant-Dominant (or Predominant-Dominant according some authors) rather than Dominant-Tonic relations. Of course, these two sound the same (but may accompany different style melodies.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.