Help me spell this chord progression

Richard Roger’s “Blue Moon”… You would think it couldn’t be easier? But I’m having a problem:

First have a look at this sample sheet music and focus on the line (and when I looked) “the moon had turned to gold! Blue Moon…”.

The chord I’m having trouble with is the Fm7 on the word “gold”. What bothers me is the Bb in the melody, and especially the Bb in the bass. Is this really an Fm7? Or something else?

I have another version at home here and it is identical except that it adds an Eb in the right hand and an Ab in the left, but there is still that Bb bass note.

It looks like a misprint. The written-out parts make it clear that the entire bar of “gold!” is dominant harmony (b-flat 7), but the first two beats have suspended non-harmonic tones (c and e-flat) held over from the previous bar. A major-major 7th chord on F on the downbeat would not fit.

Hmmmmmmm. I’m tempted to describe the Bb as an anticipation of the next chord, leaving the one in question as Ab, the larger leap in the melody (rather than to Ab) and the emphasis of repeating the note in the bass being an effect rather than part of the harmony.

Oh yeah. I overlooked the presence of C in F7. :eek: :mad: :rolleyes: :smack:

It’s not a misprint. It sounds fine! Especially the other version that has Bb-Ab in the left hand.

It’s like an Ab6 or Fm7 on top of a Bb7.

I guess I’ll call it a Bb13 and be done with it :dubious:

To my ears, the part marked Fm7 to Bb7 sounds like a resolving suspension than an actual Fm7 chord. I’d notate it as some sort of Bb7sus to Bb7–certainly not Fm7. I suppose you can call the C natural a ninth, but it sounds like a typical use of the second, along with the Eb fourth, as part of a suspension and resolution.

No, it certainly sounds fine. I just don’t think it’s accurate to call that an Fm7. It makes no sense as that. I might be wrong, but listen to the chord. Is that not a suspension that you hear?

No problem here.

They also could have written Ab/Bb. It’s a IV with a V in the bass (and melody) moving up to a V. Another example I can think of that does this off the top of my head is Billy Joel’s NY State of Mind. At the end of the verses, under the “I’m in a NY State of Mind,” There’s an F/G under the “I’m in a” portion, and a G under “New York State of.”

a IV over the dominant (or a ii over the dominant) is pretty common.

Actually, that also works for me.

I think this has already been cleared up, but just in case…when I said it looked like a misprint, I was talking about the tablature – not the notated pitches. Whatever you want to call the notated chord in the piano notation, it ain’t an Fm7.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I think you’re making it too complicated. We’re in the key of Eb, yes? Except for the brief trip to Gb two measures back. That makes this a basic ii-V-I into Eb. You could call it a pedal point to help pull it back to Eb, but I would call the cord Fm11, considering Bb to be the eleventh of an F dorian mode F-Ab-C-Eb-Bb. The guitar cord charts in these types of sheets are often simplified, and the voicings, while not exactly satanic, weren’t written by an experienced jazz guitarist

it’s only a suspension if the 4th replaces the 3rd, if they’re both present it’s an 11.

Sure, but the 4th and the 2nd aren’t playing simultaneously. If you listen to Baroque music, you’ll here suspensions that hang on the fourth, release and go to the 2nd, then resolve on the 3rd. This does something similar. It goes 2nd-4th (with 7th)-2nd-3rd.

When I encounter chord spelling problems like this, I think, well, what does the chord sound like in context? To me, it does not sound like a major chord, it certainly does not sound like a minor chord. It sounds like a suspension that is strongly leading to a resolution. I do hear Bb as the bass for the spelling of the chord, therefore, I’d like to call it some sort of Bb suspended chord resolving into a Bb7.

I mean, I see why you want to call it a ii-V-I turnaround–it’s just that when I hear it, it doesn’t sound like what you’re calling a ii chord is functionally acting like a ii chord. But things aren’t so clear-cut in harmony. The same chord can be notated many different ways, but Fm11/Bb looks bad to me.

And I’m not exactly sure why the fact the F would be a dorian chord is relevant to the spelling. The 11th of a chord notated as Fm11 chord is always Bb, whether dorian, phrygian, aeolian or whatnot. If I encounter an F7 chord in the key of C, the 7th is Eb, even though the F lydian 7th is an E natural.

I tend to approach this by stripping things down to see what’s essential and what’s ornamental. If you hold an Fm7 for 2 beats and a Bb7 for 2 beats then into an Eb and then compare that to an Fm11/Bb using all the same notes except the Bb it sounds like the same harmonic movement to me. The Fm11 has more pull, which is the point. They use a lot of these ii-V-I’s on this page without the Bb, but this is the only place where they’re coming back from Gb. Sure, you could call it a pedal point, which is a type of suspension, you could call it “some kind of suspended Bb,” but I’m sticking with an Fm11.

Because it looks overly complex to me. For me, a Bb7sus is more immediately informative harmonically than an Fm11/Bb. Playing piano, I’d rather come across the former in a chord chart. Obviously, YMMV, since you think the latter looks clearer. For me, following your method of stripping down the essential or ornamental, I come up with a Bflat 7 suspension. And that’s fine, because in issues of chord naming these sorts of arguments pop up all the time.

The main reason I don’t want to call it a minor chord is because it doesn’t sound minor to my ears. The A-flat in that chord does not sound at all like a minor third in that context. And that, for me, is essential to naming a chord. Don’t just look at the notes on the page, use your ears. Then again, I suppose it’s possible that you hear that chord as having minor tonality. I hear it as missing a third, with ambiguous tonality that sounds strongly like a classic suspension.

My problem with that choice is that, IMO, it overlooks context and sound. The preceding chord (F7) is a secondary dominant tonicizing Bb, and both the melody note and the bass note resolve as expected into the bar we’re discussing. Especially in a pop song, the melody and bass line have far more impact on perceived harmony than inner voices. The fact that two of the inner voices (C and Eb) take 2 more beats to resolve into a true dominant 7th chord on B-flat doesn’t change the aural effect, which is – at least to me – very clearly a dominant harmony leading back to Eb in the following bar.

(ETA: My other issue with it is that it treats the Ab as the third of a minor triad, whereas I think it’s clearly there to be the 7th of the dominant on Bb…)

I think what we’ve got going on here is a clash in styles of analysis: the “where is this going?” style vs. the “snapshot in time” style.

Both have merits.

Well, I guess my milage does vary, I think the Fm11 is the simpler approach. It tells everybody in the group what’s going on harmonically, ii-V-I. The bass player can walk an F dorian, the guitarist can comp or arppegiate and Fm triad or 7th or 11th, a soloist can play a ii-V-I lick into Eb, you only really need the Bb when you’re backing up a vocalist.

You posted this while I was composing, so I’ll just add that I’m no professional, I’m really analysing by the cord charts, not the piano staff, and my real book shows this tune as straight I-vi-ii-V rthym changes except the bridge which wanders out of key and then comes back at the measure under consideration. So while a piano composer might think in the terms you suggest, to me it’s a ii7 that’s been extended to give it a little more juice. :cool:

I was definitely assuming that the tabulature was meant to reduce the written-out accompaniment – possibly a bad assumption. It could very well be that your ii-V-I version would sound just as clear on the guitar, and that it was written that way because of the change of instrument – especially because the guitar doesn’t provide a clear bass note. Either way…ii or V…it’s basically a dominant sound.

Or the bass player can walk on B flat mixolydian, which are the same notes as F dorian, and make more sense harmonically as the B flat is the “target” bass note of the harmony, as written out. If I saw F dorian, I would assume F is the key target note to hit in the bass.

Sure. But, that just because a guitarist can play an Fm triad over it doesn’t mean it’s an Fm. I could play a C major triad over an A bass but I’d still be playing 3rd-5th-7th of an Am7, not a C major (in most contexts). The tonality of the whole chord is minor. I could also solo on the C major (ionian) scale, but that works just because it’s the same notes as the A aeolian, but the melodic pull would most likely be more to resolving at an A rather than at a C (the minor third of the Am7).

Yes, and I suspect that’s why it’s notated thusly, because jazz is very much built around ii-V-Is.

Not to beat a dead horse, but the more I think about this, the more I like the Bb sus(9) analysis of the music as written in the example. We’ve got a II in the measure preceding, and the Bb in the bass gives a pretty strong feeling of V.

Another big sell for it being a Bb chord is that in the notated music, the only thing we hear on the downbeat of that measure are Bb notes. The ear is going to jump right to the V there, and then the harmonies will fill it out afterwards.

However, if I were arranging it, I think I’d make it an F minor of some sort; I really like taking a II and turning it into a ii before going to the V, but that’s just me.