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After playing the progression:

Dm9 Gmadd6(add9)

FM7(13)

C9 Gmadd6

FM7(13)

Going back to the Dm9 right after this sounds pretty bad. I assume this is because the C9 implies a key change from minor to major (D minor to F major). If left out, this sounds fine.

Why does the C9 chord function like that? I think that the progression sounds nice by itself, but would like to repeat it once more but it's being prevented by that.

  • If you could share some more information about the style, instruments or tempo, or if you have an audio sample, that would be very helpful. – Alex Y Nov 26 '18 at 23:01
  • @Jay I think it's the harmonic rhythm that this sequence produces. I counted 6 chords in your specification. Since you are moving the tonal center (justifiably by including C9) within 6 chords, and you would like the Dm9 to feel like "home", you need to adapt the pace of the chord changes to the melody, or include additional chords. This is how harmony works - it's the whole "harmonic phrase" that counts, and since you're speaking of major/minor, at least some tonality can be assumed. When moving tonal "centers" you need to time the changes to coincide with the general structure. – Agnes K. Cathex Nov 30 '18 at 16:42
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One possible explanation is that the FM7(13) is really the same chord as the Dm9; only the bass changes.

The FM7(13) will likely include something like E A C D up top (or something like it), which are the exact pitches you'll have in the Dm9. You may want to add in an F in the upper voice of the Dm9, but of course you had that F in the bass of the FM7(13).

Especially since you're playing this after what seems like a full measure of FM7(13), the Dm9 just isn't enough to actually sound like a change in harmony, and so the harmonic rhythm suddenly stagnates.

(Note: You could make a very good case that the C9 and Gmadd6 are the same chords with just a change in bass, but a) this could just be jumping to an inversion of the dominant C9, and b) this makes it a one-measure harmonic rhythm, not an FM7(13) that lasts for more than a full measure.)

One way that may add in some interest and allow you to move into a Dm9 would be to give it a little tonicizing chord. Something as simple as an A7/E that connects from the FM7(13) into the Dm9 makes the progression sound much better to my ears.

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