[Smt-talk] Seeking deceptively resolving applied dominants.

John Cuciurean jcuciure at uwo.ca
Sun Jan 24 13:45:39 PST 2010


Thank you for your suggestion. (I've included your original message 
below since it was not delivered to the entire list.) This is a nice 
example from a well-known popular tune which brings in the issue of 
so-called substitute harmonies in jazz; an issue that I had not intended 
to invoke with my original query but an important and closely aligned 
topical issue nonetheless.  (Moreover, an issue that emerges even more 
prominently when discussing 18thC and 19thC uses of applied or borrowed 
Aug 6th chords versus the idiomatic tritone substitute in jazz. Clearly, 
context is crucial in such cases.)

In response to your closing comment (and selected comments from others 
on the list), since my initial inquiry was motivated by pedagogical 
concerns I would like to offer the following disclaimer concerning my 
pedagogical approach. I encourage introductory students (ie. 
freshman-sophomore) to consider the possibility that, from time to time, 
there is more than one way to account for certain harmonic successions 
and try to present all competing views over the course of the semester. 
Once competing analytic models are presented to the students, I 
encourage them to consider that the context (including choice of 
repertoire under investigation) is critical to crafting an analysis in 
situations where a multiplicity of interpretations can be offered.

One reason that I take this pedagogical approach is that I find this a 
useful vehicle for fostering critical thinking skills at this stage of 
their intellectual development (ie. freshman-sophomore level). I 
acknowledge that the conversation takes on a different tone when 
discussing such intellectual problems with graduate students or peers. I 
would argue that the recent trend toward the inclusion of jazz/pop and 
other non-canonic literature in lower division tonal harmony text books 
is consistent with my pedagogical approach. In my opinion, lower 
division  harmony courses are an ideal place to begin the discussion of 
both the similarities and differences between diverse bodies of 
repertoire without imposing summary value judgments on any of the 
repertoire under consideration. The ultimate objective here is to 
promote further constructive critical discourse. (And I'm certainly 
aware that my pedagogical approach is shared by other list members more 
qualified and experienced than I am, so I do not lay claim to any sense 
of originality in this instance.)

Nevertheless, the issue you raise, Barbara, also begs, at least to my 
mind, two follow-up questions. If, as you indicate,

In tracing the development/emergence of this progression in pop music you may consider the fact that this progression (i.e. moving from I to IV thorough "V7/vi) in jazz is part of the language.

then I wonder i) where did the jazz (and pop) musicians who first 
started incorporating this harmonic succession initially encounter it 
(ie. using III as a substitute for I6 leading to IV, especially when ^#5 
is not in the tune); or did they serendipitously discover it on their 
own?, and, ii) once encountered, how did these early practitioners 
initially understand its harmonic implication before it became subsumed 
in the standard harmonic vocabulary of jazz and pop--to be used as a 
'stock' substitute chord for I6, seemingly without regard for matters 
of  harmonic implication in certain selected instances?

I can readily imagine what form the answers to these questions might 
take, but addressing these questions in an appropriate scholarly and 
authorial manner is, admittedly, outside my area of expertise. I confess 
that my appreciation for jazz and pop music is reasonably strong, and, 
as discussed above, I believe that the incorporation of jazz/pop music 
has pedagogical value in a tonal harmony course. Therefore, for personal 
enrichment, I would like to know if anyone has explored this broader 
research topic (ie. the historical development of substitute harmonies 
in jazz/pop), and if so, to what end? I appeal to those who specialize 
in this field to kindly point me in the direction of their favorite 
published research or simply comment on these issues (privately if you 

Again, thank you all.


John Cuciurean
Assistant Professor of Music Theory
Don Wright Faculty of Music
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada
519-661-2111, ext. 85198
jcuciure at uwo.ca

Barbara Bleij wrote:
> Dear SMT-talkers,
> Concerning the "V7/vi" IV:
> In *Someday My Prince Will Come* in jazz the I6 IV of the film orchestra arrangement in bars 2/3 of the chorus is changed into that progression. In B-flat: Bb/D Eb --> D7 Ebmaj7. In the jazz idiom the D7 is the only possible/idiomatically feasable reharmonisation which retains the D bass note (Dm7 is not an option here because of the B-flat in the melody). In discussing the example with students I always explain the background of the progression.
> In tracing the development/emergence of this progression in pop music you may consider the fact that this progression (i.e. moving from I to IV thorough "V7/vi) in jazz is part of the language.
> Best,
> Barbara Bleij
> (Amsterdam)

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