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

  • 1
    Could you please clarify your question? It's not clear to me from the video. – mistercoffee66 Nov 20 '19 at 16:53
  • 1
    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 '19 at 17:19

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)


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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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? – Lyra Nov 21 '19 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). – Albrecht Hügli Nov 21 '19 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! – Albrecht Hügli Nov 21 '19 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... – Lyra Nov 21 '19 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? – Lyra Nov 21 '19 at 18:05

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    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 – piiperi Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '19 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. – Albrecht Hügli Nov 21 '19 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). – Albrecht Hügli Nov 21 '19 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*? – Albrecht Hügli Nov 21 '19 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). – Lyra Nov 21 '19 at 17:58

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 '19 at 17:30
  • 1
    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? – piiperi Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '19 at 18:24
  • 1
    I translated from spanish "campo armónico" since I am not a native english speaker – Juan Topo Nov 20 '19 at 18:49
  • 1
    @JuanTopo - Eb/F and F7 share F and Eb., not only F. Eb/F is sometimes called F11. – Tim Nov 20 '19 at 22:21
  • 1
    @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. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '19 at 23:21

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.