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When Sunny Gets Blue

952 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  JL
Hi - During lockdown I have been trying to learn songs (properly) by mapping out the chords/harmony. It's a slow process but it is certainly working. However, I am currently baffled by a chord sequence in the song 'When Sunny Gets Blue'. It's in the 5th bar of the song. The song is in G for me (tenor key). In bar 5 there is a C#7b5 (half dim) chord followed by C-7 (iv-7) F7 (bVII7) and then moving to G major in bar 6. I cannot work out what the function of this C#7b5 is doing in this instance. Apologies if this is really simple and obvious. Any help from you musical wizards out there would be appreciated. Thank you


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Sounds like a chromatic approach to the C minor. Dim and half dim are often used as chromatic passing chords. Same thing happens at the end of the next bar. The original changes for bars 5 and 6 would just walk the bass line down chromatically C# C B Bb A

But I'm no hardcore theory guy. So l'm also interested in what an expert would say.
Hi - Thank you for your prompt response. I appreciate the help.
Hey Jazzsurfer. This is a common thing you will see in many jazz standards:) Using the #iv as a minor b5 or diminished chord to start a "walk down". It also functions nicely as a tritone sub for the minor iv chord that follows. I know it's not a "standard" dominant to dominant tritone sub, but it still functions very similarly. C#7 to Cmaj works well, but C#7 to Cminor doesn't work as well due to the voice leading. So many guys will sub it out for C#min7B5 to Cmin7 when using this sound. Or even C#min7 to Cmin7 depending on the situation and key you are in.

C# E G B to C Eb G Bb

Your root, 3rd and 7th drop a 1/2 step and it provides a strong voice leading sound. The chord itself also has a "tension" to it based off of the key we are in so it's a great ear catching sound to start the walk down!

A lot of players will also play Bmin7 instead of Gmaj7/B when they get there. That effectively leaves the line as

C#min7b5 Cmin7 F7 Bmin7 Bbmin7 Eb7 Amin7 D7 | Gmaj6

If you do this, the Bmin7 functions the same way as the C#min7b5 !!! The reason one has the b5 is due to the melody and the key center we are in.


*** A side thought as you go through your analysis of things. Instead of marking everything how it relates to the tonic, why not just delineate ii V's and if it is a ii V of another key, you note that with parenthesis ? Because that's exactly how a bop player or "jazzer" would be treating these. Everything is a ii V or rather V to I. This way when you practice vocabulary you can just take your ii V vocabulary around the keys and you'd be good to play on this tune by sequencing it through all the ii Vs!!!

If I have time, I'll make an analysis how I see it and post it later so you can see what I mean.
Hi - Thanks for this. I think that I'm starting to get the hang of this stuff (albeit very slowly). I think your suggestion of delineating all the ii V's is a good one. This is how I first started in trying to unravel all of this harmony stuff. The chart that I sent was one that someone else mapped out and made me think that I was on the wrong track. I realise that many times a ii V is like a mini departure into another key. Am really enjoying this journey and am working hard on guide tones and voice leading - it makes it sound like you know what you're doing when you hit these tones. :-0 Would love to see your analysis of the tune. Once again, thank you for taking the time to shed light on this.
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