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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In my "What do you consider to be a waste of time ?" thread SOTW member EE NYC made some compelling arguments for learning tunes in 12 keys, so I decided to give it another try (I had done so in the past.)

I started with an easy tune, Autumn Leaves, and was surprised at how painless it was. What was giving me problems in the past was that I would go about it by intervals starting from the "original" key. For example; I would think "in the original, the first chord is G, so a flat fifth above it would be Db" and so on...a very bad approach.

Now I'm thinking in terms of degrees.
Today I worked on "Out of Nowhere" in Db and after I figured out the melody, I analyzed the harmony:

|Imaj7|Imaj7|ii7/bII|V7/bII| etc....

Improvising over the chords and memorizing them was so much easier, it gave me a better grasp of where thing are going harmonically and how they resolve.

I feel like a door has been opened, thanks EE NYC !
 

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I find that working back through the cycle of fifths eg starting on C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G is a good way first adding a flat and then switching to 5# and removing one each time is a very effective and logical approach. Also moving up chromatically is good mental practice as well

Good practice no matter how one does it
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just ran through "Out of Nowhere" in a couple of more keys, all the while thinking in degrees, I'm amazed at how much easier it is this way.
I just might make a fake book using degrees instead of chord symbols.
 

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Once one gets the harmonic structure of songs transposing on the fly gets easier and easier......... probably less work to get to the point where you can transpose/modulate as you read
 

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I analyzed the harmony:

|Imaj7|Imaj7|ii7/bII|V7/bII| etc....
Yes. You've discovered the key to transposing! Put it all into numbers.

You can also do this with scale degrees, within the key, to transpose the melody line. So with Autumn Leaves, the first 4 notes are 1 2 3 6 (in G minor = G A Bb Eb).

When writing it out, use roman numerals for chords and arabic integers for chord or scale degrees. Even if you don't write it out, you have to keep the chords separate from scale or chord degrees in your mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
....You can also do this with scale degrees, within the key, to transpose the melody line. So with Autumn Leaves, the first 4 notes are 1 2 3 6 (in G minor = G A Bb E).
Eb :bluewink:

....When writing it out, use roman numerals for chords and arabic integers for chord or scale degrees.....
I can imagine a notation system for melody using Arabic numerals with rhythmic notation, like guitar tabs, but it could be too complicated with more chromatic melodies.
 

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Eb :bluewink:

I can imagine a notation system for melody using Arabic numerals with rhythmic notation, like guitar tabs, but it could be too complicated with more chromatic melodies.
LOL, yes it's Eb of course. I often get into trouble when I start writing things out...(I edited it to avoid more confusion).

But no, I'm not talking about a notation system at all (we already have that with the music staff). I'm talking about transposing, mainly doing it in your head. But you could number the notes of a melody on a sheet of music in order to transpose it to another key.

Chromatic tones are not really a problem. You just insert the flat or sharp as necessary. A natural minor key implies b3, b6, and b7, but it might help to just label them that way (on paper or in your head). So I could have written the numbers for the first 4 notes of Autumn Leaves: 1 2 b3 b6. That's actually how I think of them anyway.

The point is to think numerically. It works really well for me, but maybe not for everyone. Just thought I'd pass it on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
....But no, I'm not talking about a notation system at all (we already have that with the music staff). I'm talking about transposing, mainly doing it in your head. But you could number the notes of a melody on a sheet of music in order to transpose it to another key.....
I understood what you were saying.
I was just thinking that such a system could be used, but not to replace standard notation, it wouldn't be very practical in that sens.
 

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I understood what you were saying.
I was just thinking that such a system could be used, but not to replace standard notation, it wouldn't be very practical in that sens.
No, of course not and there is no need for that. I thought you were talking about transposing tunes into 12 keys (or even 2 or 3 keys).

You discovered something that I think is called 'figured bass' where the chords are described as Roman numerals. Just like talking about the "I-IV-V blues". On the bandstand I almost always refer to chords in this manner; "go to the IV chord," or "stay on the I chord," or "there's a #V chord in bar 9," etc. This has the advantage of placing the chords in context or in relation to the tonic.

It's a similar thing to refer to the "b3" or "b5" in the key, or the "3rd" or "9th" of a chord. In those cases, you aren't referring to chord roots, so you aren't using (or even thinking) Roman numerals, which are restricted to naming a chord root.

Maybe you already know all this, but in the OP it sounded like you just discovered the numeral system for describing harmony. It's a great system, and very useful. I find it essential, actually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
....Maybe you already know all this, but in the OP it sounded like you just discovered the numeral system for describing harmony.....
Yes, I've known about this for a long time, I have a BA in classical music.
I just wasn't applying it when transposing (in my head) the chord changes of a song.

I did this all the time with the blues since it is often called in many different keys, but I didn't think to use it on other forms, maybe because there can be different ways to analyse certain chords, for example bar 3 of "Out of Nowhere" I've analysed as ii7/bII (second degree minor of the flat second degree), but it could also be called biii7 (flat third degree minor).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You're welcome, glad you experienced a positive outcome!
It has been positive.

It's easier now not only because of the different approach, but because I also have better ears and a better understanding of jazz harmony than 20 years ago.
 

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I'm confused, but that might be normal. So, let's say I want to do Four. This looks confusing. Is this right? Is there a place where this method is explained in depth. Thanks

F_____F____C-____F7____Bb______ Bb____Bb-____Eb7____F_____G#-__C#-____G-__C7
Imaj__Imaj__Vm___I7____IVmaj___IVmaj__IVm___bVII7___Imaj__#IIm_#V7___iim__V7
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
F_____F____C-____F7____Bb______ Bb____Bb-____Eb7____F_____G#-__C#-____G-__C7
Imaj__Imaj__Vm___I7____IVmaj___IVmaj__IVm___bVII7___Imaj__#IIm_#V7___iim__V7
Try to think more in terms of secondary dominants.

Bars 3 & 4, I see as a ii7-V7 of Bb (4th degree, the subdominant).

So: |ii7/IV|V7/IV| two of four, five of four

Bars 7 & 8, I see as a ii7-V7 of the flat third degree (Ab, borrowed from the minor mode).

So: |ii7/bIII|V7/bIII| two of flat three, five of flat three

Try to pick out ii-V's, it makes a lot more sens that way.

"The Jazz Language" by Dan Haerle is a good basic theory book.
 

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Every tune is going to have a specific formula. Once you learn the formula, plugging in values is easy.
 

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I'm confused, but that might be normal. So, let's say I want to do Four. This looks confusing. Is this right? Is there a place where this method is explained in depth. Thanks

F_____F____C-____F7____Bb______ Bb____Bb-____Eb7____F_____G#-__C#-____G-__C7
Imaj__Imaj__Vm___I7____IVmaj___IVmaj__IVm___bVII7___Imaj__#IIm_#V7___iim__V7
Yes, you've got that right.

And daigle makes a good point regarding the 'secondary' ii-V7-I relationships (for ex, Cmi / F7 / Bb). Once you really get comfortable thinking numerically, you'll find these easy to recognize, without having to do a lot of thinking about it. When I see Cmi F7 Bb, the Cmi and F7 are ii-V7 in relation to Bb (C is the ii of Bb and F is the V of Bb). Another way to look at it is a minor chord followed by a dominant chord is often (not always!!) a ii-V relationship.

But what you wrote out is correct in terms of relating all the chords to the tonic (F, in this case).

Hope that all makes sense. It's a lot more confusing to explain than understand, once you get it.
 

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It makes sense, thanks for the help. I just need to put a couple hundred hours towards it is all... :)
 

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It makes sense, thanks for the help. I just need to put a couple hundred hours towards it is all... :)
You & me both!!

And speaking of mastering it, I should have added that actually hearing those changes (especially ii-V-I) is the most important part. But it helps to know what the chords are so you can eventually identify what you are hearing. I can't really play the piano, but I like to sit down at the keyboard and play chords and chord progressions just to get them in my ear.

And not to beat a dead horse, but looking at chords and scale degrees numerically really aids transposing from one key to the next because the numbers are independent of key. The ii-V sounds like a ii-V regardless of key or what the chord roots are.

i.e. Cmi--F7 sounds the same as Dmi--G7 and Ami--D7, and so on.
 
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