I have been playing through You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To. I have a pretty good grasp of the song and the chord functions up to the final section. I am interested to know the function and substitutions for the final 8 bars.

My lead sheet has it as: D#diminished7, C/E, G#diminished7, Am7 D9, Ab7, D7b9, G7, C6, Bm7b5, E7b9

Where are these chords coming from, particularly the diminished chords, what was the thinking behind these substitutions and how would you approach playing over them?

Thanks very much!

4 Answers 4


I don't want to speculate on how representative that lead sheet might be of the original song, but the question about the dim7 chords in the posted chord progression can be answered regardless.

Dim7 chords are symmetric and there are many plausible explanations for why they "work" or what they do. One way is to not think about it, just play the dim7 in different songs and different contexts, and you'll learn how it works naturally. Another way is to see them as dominant chords, and because of the dim7 chord's symmetric nature, each dim7 can be seen as four different dominants. See this answer about how it works: Why don't diminished 7 passing chords work going downhill?

For the G#dim7 -> Am7 step this is clear: G# is the third of E7 and G#dim7 works as dominant for A-based chords. Or you can think of the G# as a leading note to A.

Why does the D#dim7 -> C/E step work? The D#dim7 doesn't work as a G7, so it's not a dominant for C? No, but it could work as a B7, which is a dominant for E ... so, bass goes to E, but the rest of the harmony goes to C?

Like I said, you could just as well play the song from the lead sheet, maybe play it in different keys, and learn the D#dim7 -> C/E step as an atomic basic ingredient that doesn't need any further explanations. Just like you probably don't need a theoretical explanation for why subdominant IV chords sound like they do. You just use them and that's it. :)

For me personally, one such "atomic" progression is C - Cdim7 - Dm7 - G7. Why does that work going to Dm? Maybe because there's the downwards motion of the minor third E-G -> D#-F# - > D-F ? But is that a reason? Can you generalize that and use it in other contexts?

  • 1
    @Babaluma It's actually a so-called answer. ;) Did you already try the suggestions? For example the idea "dim7 works as a dominant", take any song with a dominant seventh chord, for example C7, and substitute the chord with a dim7 rooted at the chord's third or seventh, for example C7 becomes Edim7. Or keep the bass the same, C7 --> Edim7/C (which is actually the same as C7b9) Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 18:32
  • 2
    Yes I am right now, I have been trying this out and it is very helpful and opens up a lot of cool possibilities:) I take your point that it is just a way of explaining it but to understand I need to try examples out and listen! By the way the point about the minor thirds has also opened my eyes to looking more closely at this type of motion within chords. I will also read the other link thanks
    – Babaluma
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 18:44
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    @Babaluma Awesome! It's great if people actually try out and apply the ideas instead of being content with logical-sounding bedtime story explanations (however correct they might be), because learning only happens in practice, when you taste the sounds and see the colors. For more dominant substitution wonders, check out half-whole diminished scales and how Barry Harris talks about it on Youtube ... though it's dangerous to watch Youtube, because it steals your practicing time and gets you hooked on brainless entertainment and attention wh*ring disguised as "learning". Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 19:26
  • yes pipieri absolutely. It don't mean **** unless you actually sit down and play it ...
    – danmcb
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 14:57

I didn't compare the chords with any recording, so let's just assume they are correct. I hear that part in C major, so C is the I. My analysis would be

| V7/III | I | V7/vi | vi | V7/V subV7/V | V7/V V7 | I | [iim7(b5) V] => vi |

V7/III (D#dim7 which is just a rootless B7(b9)) resolves to I, which works because you have the E in the bass of the C chord (and even if you didn't have the E in the bass it would work as a deceptive resolution). Ab7 is the tritone sub of D7, and the last two chords are a iim7(b5) V leading to vi (i.e., Am).


There are (at least) two classic uses of dim7 chords in this style of harmony:

  1. As a substitute for the V7 resolving to a minor. Eg Bdim7 to C minor. This works because the Bdim has everything G7b9 has, except the root. And the dominant G7b9 sounds pretty going to minor (the Ab and B natural colour notes are also great in the C minor scale).

  2. Going to a major 7 - eg Cdim7 to Cmaj7. This is because the voice leading is appealing, rather than being a substitute. Here you get Eb leading to E and F#b to G. You hear jazz guys like Getz and so on do this a lot.

In this end sequence, we have both of these (in the other order). With them also being relative major and minor, and C/E sets up an E bass note just before the G#dim7 meaning you get even more of a hint of E7b9 without actually going there.

The other bars are pretty much "round the houses" cycle of 4ths - the Ab7 being a tritone sub for D7 (but that looks to me like a Real Book "addition" anyway more than anything else).

  • It's funny, I think the voice leading works particularly well the other way, from maj7 to dim7: Cmaj7 - Cdim7 - Dm7 - G9 Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 14:07
  • yes that also - classic bluesy run down, right? (ok almost ... )
    – danmcb
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 14:55

Whoever invented those chord names apparently didn't understand what was going on. Look at the original sheet music here: http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16797coll1/id/1542

Ignoring the details of the bass notes, That gives

Cdim - - - | C - - - | F6 - - F | - - - Fm6 |

C - Ab7 - | - - G7 - | C - - - | - - F E7 | (Am)

Inventing a convoluted argument that "D#dim7 is just a rootless B7(b9)" is irrelevant, since Cdim7 is identical to D#dim7 - though the sheet music editor had enough musical sense to realize that the A in the voice part wouldn't be improved by doubling it, and a "less is more" Cdim chord will sound better than a Cdim7.

Sorting out the rest of the creative fiction in the OP's chord sequence is too tedious to spell out in detail.

  • 1
    If you're not going to sort out the other chord functions (particularly the other diminished chord), then all you have here is an argument that OP's chords are wrong. Maybe so, but OP asked for analysis, and you're just disputing over history. It hardly matters where those chords did or did not come from.
    – user45266
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 5:51

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