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What is the function of the Eb/F chord. How does it relate to the Dm harmonic field?

The question comes from 0:30 time at

Thank you

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    Could you please clarify your question? It's not clear to me from the video. Nov 20, 2019 at 16:53
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    I'd like to know what is the function of the Eb/F chord. That is, how does it relate to the Dm harmonic field? The sheet appears at 0:30 in the video
    – Juan Topo
    Nov 20, 2019 at 17:19

4 Answers 4

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To understand Eb/F you could start first with Cm/F. This fits well in a bar 5-6 of a Blues in C when you play the head motif just in c-minor instead od transposing it a fourth up: it‘s quite obvious that Cm/F is identical(similar) with F79. So in the Blues F9 is the IV79.

Eb/F (F7911=F11)contains just one 3rd more than F9 and this new note is the 4th. So it could also be written as F9sus4 but Eb/F can be read and deciphered much more quickly.

What is the harmonic function of a Eb/F in the Dm tonality?

The passage in the video could as well be interpreted in F: vi (V7)/IV

Mind that Dm can be read as substitution of F6. The example could probably be played as well in F.

After watching the video I can confirm that we are actually in F. The harmonization will be extended to A7 as secondary dominant of Dm.

Now you may eventually already have checked that a melody turning to the super dominant can be introduced by secondary dominant7 (V7)/ which I notate in parenthesis and a slash. You can as well consider the whole progression as secondary (IV-V)/Bb or even (iii-IV-V)/IV in F.

I think the point that the song is in F and the passage in question is a secondary (IV-V) to the subdominant Bb makes it quite easy to understand what’s happening.

We find quit often a similar progression in minor ii7b5-V/i

or ii7b5-V/vi e.g. in Yesterday (Beatles)

Perhaps you now understand that in these first bars the similar functions are used:

Level 1:

ii-V (Cm-F in bar 2) and Em7b5-A7 in bar 4 (second half)

Edit

I'm surprised that this answer ins not clear: Dm Eb F is a secondary progression (iii-IV-V) to Bb like Em A7 is a secondary progression (ii-V7) of Dm. I have nothing to add or delete to this answer except that actually I was expecting that someone will tell me that the passing chord (ii-V7) in Yesterday is not quite correct! It is (IIm-V) of VI but follow by a vi. (i.e. Bm7-E7 -> Am)

The example of the Blues I could have deleted as there is no context with the progression above, but it makes clear how Cm and F9 are related.

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  • this is the most confusing and wrong answer I have ever seen, so I'm voting down, I can't believe you suggest the tonality changes to F, while it's clear the progression is still inside Dm and doesn't modulate at any point. Are you sure you have watched the correct video in the question above, pointing to time 0:30?
    – Emerson
    Nov 21, 2019 at 16:04
  • I agree that it can be confusing as I started explaining the relation of Cm7 and F79 with the Blues example. But it was exactly the way I was approaching to your question without seeing the chord progression. Now why are you so convinced that is Dm? Only because in the first bar it's notated Dm? You say:*I can't believe you suggest the tonality changes to F, while it's clear the progression is still inside Dm and doesn't modulate at any point.* That's accurate what it does: from second bar we are in F with a short extension to the subdominant. IV-V/IV (bar 2-3)and the ii-V/vi (bar 4-1). Nov 21, 2019 at 16:39
  • You surely know that Dm is the relative chord of F and Dm7 is identical with F6. It is quite usual that a song begins with vi ii V7 I (and it's a kind of nitpicking when we discuss whether this is not i iv bVII III in minor: Listen to the Concerti Grossi by Handel) To demonstrate that my answer is not wrong I beg you to watch the video 2:12... You wouldn't say we are now in Gm? - and look how t the melody is underlined in bar 3: Bb Gm C7 -> Fmaj7. here we have exactly what I am hearing without looking at the chords: ii V7 -> F. and then the ii-V7 of the vi. My problem was rather the next Gm! Nov 21, 2019 at 16:55
  • The reason I'm convinced it's Dm is quite obvious. You probably are not familiar with simple progressions. I will have to go back to the video to write the progression again...
    – Emerson
    Nov 21, 2019 at 18:02
  • So here is what we have in the video: | Dm | Eb/F (wrong notation - should be just F) F | Bb | C | analyses: || I | V/VI | VI | VII || The last chord is a VII, in this symmetry it implies that it's still in Dm and that it's going back to the tonality, since the FUNCTION of the VII chord in Minor Key is of a dominant. Is that clear?
    – Emerson
    Nov 21, 2019 at 18:05
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They are passing notes, so it's all an F7 chord, V/VI, dominant of Bb. It's not standard notation as the bass should not be on the 9th (Eb/F?). There are only 3 inversions for analysis to make sense: 1st (3rd on the bass), 2nd (5th on the bass), 3rd (7th of the bass).

In other words, it's badly notated. It's only an F7 employed as a secondary dominant.

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    I think you could say generally without looking at the video (I didn't watch it) that Eb/F in F is an F7, dominant for Bb. Kids these days look at Youtube too much and play songs too little. ;) +1 for your answer by the way Nov 20, 2019 at 18:22
  • @Lyra, don’t you mean V/IV? Btw. I don’t think its bad notated, it’s just an alternative notation which I use too in my head as a shortcut, as it’s easier to understand the progression. I have to admit I have some problems first when starting thinking in Dm. Nov 21, 2019 at 7:53
  • @piperi: it is a secondary iv-v/IV like we also often find a secondary (ii-V) Of course we could also consider the noues of Eb as passing tones but it makes sense to interprete them as (IV-V) of Bb, above F, where F would be a pedal point. Actually this is a similar discussion as: is C/G the second inversion of the tonic (I46) or a dominant chord with suspended 4th and 6th (V46). Nov 21, 2019 at 8:07
  • @Lyra: my question you mean V/IV implies we were in F. So I'm trying to understand what you're explaining. I know the triads and the functions (R.N) of a D-minor scale. . Eb->F7 is IV->V of Bb = IV in F. Now in Dm this would Eb/F (IV) and F (V) of B, and Bb is VI of Dm. I've got it! ;) (But in F you can better understand what (Eb-F)/ Bb could be. So I've understood your answer now). But I still don't understand your comment:* (C7 is the dominantof G*? Nov 21, 2019 at 17:53
  • @AlbrechtHügli, good to know things make more sense now! C7 is not in the question, I was just trying to show that your suggestion of V/IV wasn't right, but actually V/IV would be D7 not C7. Sorry about the comment mistake. I wrote above C7 is the dominant of G, which is wrong. C7 is the dominant of F. I meant to say D7 (V/IV).
    – Emerson
    Nov 21, 2019 at 17:58
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You can use Eb/F like you would use F7: for moving to a Bb based chord. Try it: whenever there's an F7 chord in any song, replace it with Eb/F. Do you like how it sounds? There are many other substitutions for F7, for example Cm and B9.

The most important note here, when using it as harmonic leverage to move towards a Bb chord is Eb. The other notes of Eb major chord, G and Bb, are not as important. Not all notes in a chord are equally important. We're using these macro building blocks that have at least three notes and we call them "chords", but it doesn't mean that you need a whole chord to affect the "harmonic field" like you say. You don't, you can move the harmony around even with single individual notes. Chords are just more powerful weapons, like "harmonic explosives". The more notes there are, the greater the destructive potential. But with careful placing of even small devices, individual notes, a skillful player can do big things. Listen to, for example, jazz sax soloists who play with only drums as the accompaniment. It's not a polyphonic instrument but the players can still manipulate harmony.

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  • OK, but what is the theoretical justification? I can see that Eb/F and F7 only share one note (F). To move to a Bb I would use a B7, which shares the tritone with F7
    – Juan Topo
    Nov 20, 2019 at 17:30
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    Not all notes in a chord are equal. For some reason we're using triads a lot and calling three-note combinations "chords", but it doesn't mean that you need "chords" to affect the "harmonic field" like you say. Good term by the way, did you invent it? Nov 20, 2019 at 18:24
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    I translated from spanish "campo armónico" since I am not a native english speaker
    – Juan Topo
    Nov 20, 2019 at 18:49
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    @JuanTopo - Eb/F and F7 share F and Eb., not only F. Eb/F is sometimes called F11.
    – Tim
    Nov 20, 2019 at 22:21
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    @Tim the F note in Eb/F isn't very important as a harmony influencer, it's more like a rather colorless, odorless non-operation, compared to the Eb. The F just adds a bit of extra flavor to the Eb note, IMO. It just occurred to me that it might be better in general to emphasize the importance of understanding the role of each individual note separately. Many students (?) seem to think of chords too much as stand-alone musical entities, almost like physical objects and laws of nature, instead of cultural and practical conventions. Nov 20, 2019 at 23:21
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Eb/F with respect to Dm? Key, Tension, & Tonality is important.

Albeit missing harmonic opportunities, simple options include seeing Eb/F in Eb Lydian (as SubDom, adding b9 & #5 further asserts this, as does adding b7 & #5 for a Blue [I has either 3/b3] Tonality) or Eb Ionian (as Tonic, adding b9 & #11 further asserts this, as does adding b9 & b3 for a Blue [I has either 3/b3] Tonality), given the suspended (avoiding I's 3rd, ∆7, and especially #5) nature of the 7sus chord built.

If D Minor is meant as iim to C Major (typically relative minor to F as IV chord, extendable with 6 & 9, typically SubDom, 'building tension'), as is implied by it being Dm/C as Dm7 being followed by G7 as C's V7, which supports a SubDom to Dom movement of Tension in Major Tonality in Key of C (homed to D) ...

... Eb/F cannot (with its Eb/b3 and Bb/b7) be in C Major (D Dorian Minor), but rather, especially as a 2nd bar after a SubDom chord in C Major, like Dm or F variants, lifts the harmony into Eb Lydian, most effectively as Tonic as a temporary tensionless moment, albeit in another key, as Eb Lydian Tonic in a Blues Tonality, that is, with a b9 & b7 on Eb Lydian for Eb Lydian TONIC BLUE as {Eb,E,F,G,A,Bb,C,Db,D} or Bb Ionian TONIC BLUE {Bb,C,Db,D,Eb,E,F,G,A}.

If D Minor is meant as VIm in F Major (typically relative minor to F Major, implying that D has a b6, Bb, rather than a 6, the B it'd be for a ii in C Major), and often in a Tonic ('[temporarily] released tension') Tension for F Major (homed to D) ...

... Eb/F cannot (with its Eb/b3) be in F Major (D Aoelian Minor), but rather, can (also) be seen as lifting the harmony into another Key/Tonality/Tension, with among choices, Eb∆7(#11)/F {F,eb,a,bb,d} making Eb Lydian TONIC BLUE as {Eb,E,F,G,A,Bb,C,Db,D} on F, or Eb∆7b6/F {F,eb,bb,b,d} making Ab Lydian SUBDOM MINOR as {Ab,Bb,Cb,Db,D,Eb,E,F,G} on F, noting how D & E tonicize Eb as the SubDom key centre atop F.

If D Minor is meant as Im Tonic in what truly is D Minor (and not just an Aeolian/vi or Dorian/ii relative minor of F or C)--D Melodic Minor, which, for it's full 9-note Key/Tonality/Tension, for D/Minor/Tonic can be seen as D Lydian Minor with added 11 & b9 or (as, to me, Minor Harmony arrives by the IV/Lydian's 3rd or I/Ionian's 6th being flattened), less appealingly, D Dorian with added b5 + b9, noting that the b9, the Eb, tonicizes, 'forces as home' the I, the D ...

... Although the Eb can be the tonicizing b9 for D Lydian Minor in a SubDom function, Eb/F, in the context of Dm as Im(∆), perhaps following the Eb/F, but not necessarily, is likely best seen in Eb Lydian SUBDOM MAJOR {Eb,F,F#,G,A,Bb,B,C,D}, with the F# being Ebs #9 and the B being Eb's #5. Note how Eb/F is effectively expanded by added, first the A {F,A,Bb,Eb,G} and moving it to the B {F,Bb,B,Eb,G} prior to moving to a Dm∆ {D,A,C#,F}.

Happy to discuss a 9-note framework for Key, Tonality (I Major, I/vi Blue, and I Minor), and Tension (SubDom, Dom, Tonic)!

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  • Blimey! That's a sledgehammer of an answer!
    – Laurence
    Jul 19, 2023 at 19:49
  • Hi Laurence. On your profile, the "'Notes outside the scale do not necessarily affect the tonality'. Walter Piston, Harmony." is super-cool. Thx. Hadn't encountered. Will seek. On Gmail, Elliot Jul 20, 2023 at 20:12
  • Yes, a chromatic note/chord doesn't HAVE to be analysed as a modulation, a 'borrowing' or a new 'tonal centre'. Perhaps it's just chromatic!
    – Laurence
    Jul 20, 2023 at 23:02

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