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( Ryuichi Sakamoto "Loneliness" )

after the sudden change to [B] part at measure 7, a chord progression

Dbm7 Fm6 F#m7 F#m6 appears.

I can't figure out where this chords came from.

Edit: We were in key of Gm, but how does this chords appear ? (Dbm7 Fm6 F#m7 F#m6).

where did this chords came from ? did the song suddenly modulate to another key ? if it did, to what key ? and how ?

or are this chords modal interchange chords ? in this case, I can't seem to find what modes did this chords came from .

I could understand the [A] section's 4th and 7th measure's Bbm7 chord, Which is a modal interchange chord from Locrian mode. But I can't seem to figure where the [B] section's chord's came from..

  • 2
    I think you mean "where did these chords take me"? Not where they came from. They may have "come from" anywhere, including a random number generator. At each new chord, press "pause" and find out the answers to two questions: (1) which note (or notes) feels like a probable home note at this point, (2) what scale or scales (and their associated set of chords) feel suitable at this point? The answers to those two questions define "where I am now harmonically". Each new chord potentially changes the answers to the questions, and therefore the sense of where I am harmonically. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 6:36
  • Maybe we see clearer when you exchange F#m by Gbm? Gm-Bbm are related like Am-Cm (or as you write iii-flat), this is the parallel of the relative chord of the tonic. The same "modulation" he makes Bbm to Dbm. If Dbm is now the Tonic Dbm the Gbm would be the Subdominant chord. I'd have more problems to explain Fm. Looking back to Bbm it would be the minor Dominant. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 10:03
  • I am not sure what your question is. Is it how to notate the progression properly? What is the Bb-7 doing there? Or what key are all these chords in?
    – user50691
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 19:47
  • Hi Hyun, can you please edit to clarify, as per ggcg's comment. Then we can take this back off hold.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 23:05
  • I edited the question, I hope it got more clear what I'm asking. Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 5:34

2 Answers 2


Here’s my take on it based on playing chords and scales over it and feeling the tonic. The written key signature (two flats) doesn't reflect the key changes.

  • Gm : i of Gm
  • Bbm7 : i of Bbm
  • (repeat)

  • “Dbm7” : i of C#m, or iv of G#m

  • Fm6 : i of Fm (the “6” is just extra flavor, Cm feels wrong, but Fm6 - C7 - Fm6 is OK)
  • F#m6 : iv of C#m, or i of F#m
  • (repeat)

If you want to question and validate this (you should), play the scales of those keys or modes (if you want to see the Fm6 as F dorian), and play cadences that lead to the claimed tonics. For example, to validate the claim that the F#m6 is a iv of C#m, press pause there and play F#m6 - G#7 - C#m.

For me, the Dbm7 - Fm jump has two possible “meanings” or interpretation: it also feels like a jump from iv of G#m a.k.a. Abm, which would mean a three-semitone change of tonic from Abm down to Fm.

The thing about such harmony jumps is that there are multiple plausible interpretations being “tracked” at the same time.

If you ask why these jumps "work", well - it seems that all the key changes (except when it wraps around from F#m to Gm) can be seen as three-semitone tonic jumps, which is common in jazz. But I'd challenge you to present a key change or chord combination that does not "work". Basically any combination of chords and/or keys makes you feel something. Whether you like that feeling, or whether you can create a melody that takes advantage of the feeling, is another question.

Anyway, thanks for the question, it's a nice tune I hadn't heard before, and it was fun to play over. Here's my polka reduction of the song.

Too bad the reduction didn't help you to feel the tonic jumps more strongly. :)


If we want to look for larger groupings, it would be well to look at the melody, whose smooth movements make up for the jerky chromaticism of the harmony.

In the A section, the melody is diatonic in G natural minor. The Bbm7 might be heard as a neighbor chord to Gm7, since just 2 notes move by half steps and back (D-Db; G-Ab).

In the B section, the melody is mostly diatonic in Db major, suggesting we view the harmony as i-iii-iv, although the modal mixture is then heavy. The tensions on the Fm chord are not diatonic, although they can be viewed as chromatic passing tones (Eb-D-Db; Ab-G-Gb). The F#m6 chord then leads directly back to Gm, as if it is a substitute for F#°7 (= vii°7).

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