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Hi everyone,

I have been studying jazz harmony but I usually have some problems in understanding how certain rules are applied in compositions. For example, I have written down a lot of common chord progressions in jazz music, but modern composers seem to break these rules and often do what they want. In this case I propose a video game analysis.

Audio

score.pdf

I have analysed this composition, you can find a clear and detailed score with chords names and numbers.

my questions are in part referred to this and in part very general.

Beat 1: You can see I- IV (2nd inversion) I-: I know that in modern harmony inversions are "rare", but this clearly a classical harmony progression. What do you think? When it's possible to use inversions in modern harmony?

Beat 4:How do you explain bII-VI6 in beat 4?

Beat 7:Do you think that in beat 7 there is a modulation to Ab? If so, why is it so direct, without any pivot chord or similar?

Beat 17: VI - bVII. I have never seen this before, why did the composer used this?

Beat 21: VI - bVII-7 (3rd inversion). Classical or modern harmony? If so, why the 3rd inversion?

Beat 23: I- - II-7(3rd inversion). How do you explain this?

Any advice is welcome, thanks.

Alfred

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Alfred,

While this is contemporary, I'm not sure I'd call is jazz.

Where on earth did you get the idea that inversions aren't used in modern music.

I don't think this piece modulates. Could be that the only reason that the Ab is notated as such is because there is a Bb earlier. Don't read too much into someone else's analysis. 

And as for the rules? I'm not sure this piece brakes anything. It seems pretty idiomatic and simple for what it is.

Hi Bob, thanks.

Correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I learned from my jazz analysis book, in jazz music chords are often in root position, you can find "similar" things like slash chords or polychords.

Instead, in classical music, inversions can be used only in very specific harmonic progressions and sound very different from their root position counterparts.

I probably still need some more knowledge in order to be able to perfectly analyse modern music, so I still do not understand when using inversions is allowed. I can only say that, unlike classical music, this piece (and others) sounds almost the same even if I play the chords in their root state, that's something I cannot explain.

The handwritten harmonic analysis was made by me. The problem is that I have been writing a long list of common chord progressions in jazz music (all of them are well explained) and none of these appear in this composition. But this piece works smoothly, so all these "new" chord progressions must work. Even when a composition is modal, the chords progressions follow some simple rules that I cannot see here.

If doesn't modulate, what does it do? Is the Ab a secondary dominant?

Alfred

Alfred,

Look at it this way. The "rules" you speak of don't apply to this piece very well. Besides, they only tell you what someone did, not why they did it. And even that is subject to the views of the person interpreting the "rules". Call the Ab whatever seems to fit. It is a chord intended to add interest. Without it this piece is not very interesting or especially well written. 

Inversions are not a function of the chord progression, but rather a result of good (for example ) four part harmony. You don't set out to write inversions, they happen as voice leading demands. So, sure, if you play a melody with block chords under it, it won't make much difference what inversion you play. 

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