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I'm wondering how to best go about analyzing this chord progression from the Billy Joel classic, "Vienna".

The song is in Bb-Major.

The first chord is an augmented I chord (I+), which seems strange. Maybe the #5^ is meant to create more brightness, or maybe it's borrowed from the relative minor's leading tone.

The second chord appears to be a German augmented sixth chord of scale degree 6, though it doesn't resolve the way this chord would.

The third chord is a D# fully diminished seventh chord in second inversion, though I don't know where this chord comes from.

Next is the Eb-major chord in second inversion.

Finally, there appears to be a C half diminished seventh chord in second inversion, then the dominant F7 chord, and finally the tonic Bb chord.

I'm trying to figure out how to explain all the strange chords and determine ways they can be analyzed. Any insights would be much appreciated!

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    The "D# fully diminished seventh chord" probably shouldn't be spelled like that in a piece with E flats in its key signature. The best spelling will use E flat instead of D sharp. – Dekkadeci Apr 3 at 6:31
  • So a better spelling might be A C Eb Gb, and this is an A fully diminished seventh chord. The D# and F# were probably used to create a static looking chord change that might have been easier for others to read. – Lennon_Ashton Apr 3 at 7:01
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The last 4 measures are o.k. and your analysis too. The first 4 bars are so weird that I thought of a typo or that B.J. was not able to write down what he meant to “say”. I know this sounds pretty arrogant especially as I don’t know his other compositions and whether he was educated in song writing. Sure he was a better singer than I. And if he wrote other songs with similar strange chords (strange respective to pop music) I would apologize and say he knew what he did.

Anyway also your analysis of this weird chords of the beginning is quite right.

I’ve tried to notate the chords like it would make more sense to me, knowing that I’m leaning myself far out of the window:

Mind that my analysis will not fit to the notes and chords of the arrangement that you’ve posted. enter image description here

(I’m not interested to edit the bars where it’s written “text”:)

In bar 2 it would be th 3. inversion of I7 with augmented 5th, in bar 6 the V7 and V13 and bar 7 the tonic.

Now I’ve looked up in google and found many arrangements (also settings for bands) with exactly identical chords as your example. So it is definitely no typo.

https://www.google.com/search?q=billy+joel+vienna&safe=active&rlz=1C9BKJA_enCH812CH813&hl=de&prmd=ivsn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiu19zS2rThAhWtxoUKHVNMAXYQ_AUoAXoECAsQAQ&biw=1024&bih=653

  • I appreciate your helpful answer! Thanks! – Lennon_Ashton Apr 3 at 22:28

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