Theory Heads, get in here! I got one for you.

chokerjoker4

Member
Messages
142
So i've been playing this song. Nakamarra by Hiatus Kaiyote and the vers seems to go.

EbM7 AbM7 Fm9 CM9 Fm9 Fm9.
I IV ii VIM7 ii

You see it sometimes in Neo soul and RnB.

VI ii bVII IV

My question is, where does this Cmajor9 chord come from?! It sounds really cool, and i've definitely hear this sound before, but i cant figure the theory behind it. I'm guessing a borrowed chord / modal interchange fx. if it was a Bmajor7 it would derive from the Phrygian scale.

What scale does it derive from? Im really interested in hearing your interpretations!
oh and please don't post comments like "Because it sounds good", although it might be true, i want to know the 'logical' thought process behind it or just how to categorise it in my own head.

Thank you for you help.
 
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guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
21,835
So i've been playing this song. Nakamarra by Hiatus Kaiyote and the vers seems to go.

EbM7 AbM7 Fm9 CM9 Fm9 Fm9.
I IV ii VIM7 ii

You see it sometimes in Neo soul and RnB.

VI ii bVII IV

My question is, where does this Cmajor9 chord come from?! It sounds really cool, and i've definitely hear this sound before, but i cant figure the theory behind it. I'm guessing a borrowed chord / modal interchange fx. if it was a Bmajor7 it would derive from the Phrygian scale.

What scale does it derive from? Im really interested in hearing your interpretations!
oh and please don't post comments like "Because it sounds good", although it might be true, i want to know the 'logical' thought process behind it or just how to categorise it in my own head.

Thank you for you help.
The chord is a Cmaj9#11...lydian chord. Most significant is the chord that follows...Ab/Bb. What you are hearing the movement of Lydian Tonics (thank you George Russell), moving four fifths in a flat direction aka descending in major thirds. C-Ab(the lydian tonic of the Ab/Bb chord)
Listen to the interlude of Herbie Hancock's Tell Me a Bedtime Story at about :31 for a similar but more extended journey into major chords descending in major thirds. Herbie goes Bmaj7,Gmaj7,Emaj7....then Cmaj7 back to B:
 

heretic

Member
Messages
811
Just going by your chords (haven't heard the actual song), it looks like modal interchange C minor (Eb) > C major...
and also, it sounds good :D
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,003
So i've been playing this song. Nakamarra by Hiatus Kaiyote and the vers seems to go.

EbM7 AbM7 Fm9 CM9 Fm9 Fm9.
I IV ii VIM7 ii

You see it sometimes in Neo soul and RnB.

VI ii bVII IV

My question is, where does this Cmajor9 chord come from?! It sounds really cool, and i've definitely hear this sound before, but i cant figure the theory behind it. I'm guessing a borrowed chord / modal interchange fx. if it was a Bmajor7 it would derive from the Phrygian scale.
Without listening to check, I can see there's some obvious voice-leading there. Cmaj9#11 is basically Em9/C. So it's a half-step descent, with the bass moving in 4ths.
You could call it harmonic planing or parallelism, but I say it's just a chromatic sidestep - pretty common - with the C bass making it less crude (a diatonic bass note for a chromatic chord).
If guitarjazz is right and the next chord is Ab/Bb rather than Fm9 again, you've still got 3 of those voices ascending by half-step again while the B goes down to Bb - very neat.

Here's the voice-leading. single slash= half-step move, double slash = whole step. If the Ab had a maj7, you'd get a nicer half-step rise back to G.
Code:
Fm9  Cmaj9#11 Ab/Bb

G   \  F# //  Ab
Eb  \  D   /  Eb
C   \  B   /  C
Ab  \  G   /  Ab
F   \  E   \  Eb
-      C  \\  Bb
That's plenty explanation for me. Who needs the LCC? I mean really who needs the LCC? (AFAIK, George Russell didn't invent harmonic planing, aka parallelism, even if that's all that's going on, and it ain't. Good old voice-leading - functional or pseudo-functional - is what makes it work, IMO.)
 
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guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
21,835
Without listening to check, I can see there's some obvious voice-leading there. Cmaj9#11 is basically Em9/C. So it's a half-step descent, with the bass moving in 4ths.
You could call it harmonic planing or parallelism, but I say it's just a chromatic sidestep - pretty common - with the C bass making it less crude (a diatonic bass note for a chromatic chord).
If guitarjazz is right and the next chord is Ab/Bb rather than Fm9 again, you've still got 3 of those voices ascending by half-step again while the B goes down to Bb - very neat.

Here's the voice-leading. single slash= half-step move, double slash = whole step. If the Ab had a maj7, you'd get a nicer half-step rise back to G.
Code:
Fm9  Cmaj9#11 Ab/Bb

G   \  F# //  Ab
Eb  \  D   /  Eb
C   \  B   /  C
Ab  \  G   /  Ab
F   \  E   \  Eb
-      C  \\  Bb
That's plenty explanation for me. Who needs the LCC? I mean really who needs the LCC? (AFAIK, George Russell didn't invent harmonic planing, aka parallelism, even if that's all that's going on, and it ain't. Good old voice-leading - functional or pseudo-functional - is what makes it work, IMO.)
Who?
George needed it. He didn't invent the 'Circle of Keys' but his 'Circle of Close-To-Distant Relationships', (how far in a sharp or flat direction a Lydian Tonic travels in a harmonic progression) but it is sometimes a useful tool for seeing/hearing a different facet of the inner musical architecture. I ain't saying the LCC is 'the' answer. It's just a concept.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,003
Who?
George needed it. He didn't invent the 'Circle of Keys' but his 'Circle of Close-To-Distant Relationships', (how far in a sharp or flat direction a Lydian Tonic travels in a harmonic progression) but it is sometimes a useful tool for seeing/hearing a different facet of the inner musical architecture. I ain't saying the LCC is 'the' answer. It's just a concept.
Sure. My comment was really only in relation to this tune. I have no beef with Mr Russell, I've just not found a need for the LCC concept myself (ever). That's my problem, of course, but I can live with it! :)
 

KRosser

Member
Messages
14,036
So i've been playing this song. Nakamarra by Hiatus Kaiyote and the vers seems to go.

EbM7 AbM7 Fm9 CM9 Fm9 Fm9.
I IV ii VIM7 ii

You see it sometimes in Neo soul and RnB.

VI ii bVII IV

My question is, where does this Cmajor9 chord come from?! It sounds really cool, and i've definitely hear this sound before, but i cant figure the theory behind it. I'm guessing a borrowed chord / modal interchange fx. if it was a Bmajor7 it would derive from the Phrygian scale.

What scale does it derive from? Im really interested in hearing your interpretations!
oh and please don't post comments like "Because it sounds good", although it might be true, i want to know the 'logical' thought process behind it or just how to categorise it in my own head.

Thank you for you help.
Well I think you answered your own question, in a way. The chord doesn't need to have a diatonic function to be valid...non-functional harmony has been a part of the western music vocabulary for over a hundred years. You can find examples in pop music from the Beatles to Jobim to Radiohead

If you're calling Eb major the key center, you could easily justify it as a Chromatic Mediant, if you need a handy theory tag for it.

Cool song
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
21,835
I remember watching a documentary about the Galapagos Islands. One scene involved a submersible vehicle with a vacuum-like attachment. "Ah, there's a creature we've never previously identified"...vacuum comes on....poor like booger scampers to avoid getting sucked up. I thought to myself "why can't we just leave the little guy alone? Why do we have to categorize and classify everything?".
It might be one of our worst traits (and best?).
I'm assuming the Cma7 chord just gestated naturally without the help of a theoretical mid-wife.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,003
I remember watching a documentary about the Galapagos Islands. One scene involved a submersible vehicle with a vacuum-like attachment. "Ah, there's a creature we've never previously identified"...vacuum comes on....poor like booger scampers to avoid getting sucked up. I thought to myself "why can't we just leave the little guy alone? Why do we have to categorize and classify everything?".
It might be one of our worst traits (and best?).
I'm assuming the Cma7 chord just gestated naturally without the help of a theoretical mid-wife.
It would be kind of interesting if theoretical over-analysis of certain chords also made them run and hide somewhere. "Dang, I'm sure I had a Cmaj13b9 a moment ago, where's the little bugger gone?" :D
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
10,559
It would be kind of interesting if theoretical over-analysis of certain chords also made them run and hide somewhere. "Dang, I'm sure I had a Cmaj13b9 a moment ago, where's the little bugger gone?" :D
Actually, that sums up my playing pretty well :(
 

jjasleby

Member
Messages
135
I think with questions like this you have to take into account who wrote the song. I believe Hiatus Kaiyote is a very musically literate band, but you have to ask yourself whether they really approached this song methodically from a theory perspective or if they really just wrote what sounds good. Listening to the song and their music, I would say it's some combination of both but leaning toward the side of feel over theory. With the utmost respect, I think talking about Lydian Tonics and things like that in the context of this song is going way too deep. I don't think they wrote the song with that in mind, so while applying the logic might not necessarily be wrong from a theoretical perspective, it doesn't do you any favors in terms of actually interpreting the song to play it. You could maybe squeeze a scale out of it to play over that particular change, but I personally don't think it's worth it to go through that many mental steps for a song like this. If this were a Guthrie Govan tune or another player who really does take those deep theoretical notions into account when writing, it would absolutely be worth it to delve that deep.

My two cents is that you're just dealing with a minor-major mutation that disregards some of the 'rules' because they were writing at least partially by feel and not by theory. Cm is the relative minor of Eb, so all they're doing is moving the 3rd. The extensions (#11, M7, etc) don't change the function in my opinion. It works (or at least sounds cool) because going from Fm to C is also V-I motion in the bass, so it also creates the sense of modulating once you land on the Cmajor. It sounds to my ears like the song is modulating for a second using Fm7 as the pivot chord to a major I chord (sort of like a picardy 3rd), but instead of continuing in the new key they just jump right back into Eb (hence disregarding the rules).

(sorry for using too many parentheses)
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,523
My two cents is that you're just dealing with a minor-major mutation that disregards some of the 'rules' because they were writing at least partially by feel and not by theory. Cm is the relative minor of Eb, so all they're doing is moving the 3rd. The extensions (#11, M7, etc) don't change the function in my opinion. It works (or at least sounds cool) because going from Fm to C is also V-I motion in the bass, so it also creates the sense of modulating once you land on the Cmajor. It sounds to my ears like the song is modulating for a second using Fm7 as the pivot chord to a major I chord (sort of like a picardy 3rd), but instead of continuing in the new key they just jump right back into Eb (hence disregarding the rules).

(sorry for using too many parentheses)
Nothing in 12 Tone Equal Temperament disregards the rules of 12 TET.
The only rule is "follow the construction of the temperament".
The basic construction of 12TET is you start with a pitch and go up and down with P5 and M3.
It's all just thirds and fifths.
Symmetrical: as above, so below.
Y'know, start with C and go up a 5th, down a fifth, up a major third, down a major third?
 

jjasleby

Member
Messages
135
Nothing in 12 Tone Equal Temperament disregards the rules of 12 TET.
The only rule is "follow the construction of the temperament".
The basic construction of 12TET is you start with a pitch and go up and down with P5 and M3.
It's all just thirds and fifths.
Symmetrical: as above, so below.
Y'know, start with C and go up a 5th, down a fifth, up a major third, down a major third?
Forgive me, I'm not exactly sure what you're saying. I learned about 12 tone composition in college, but have forgotten most of it.

Also, the move from Ab to Fm is a minor third.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
21,835
I think with questions like this you have to take into account who wrote the song. I believe Hiatus Kaiyote is a very musically literate band, but you have to ask yourself whether they really approached this song methodically from a theory perspective or if they really just wrote what sounds good. Listening to the song and their music, I would say it's some combination of both but leaning toward the side of feel over theory. With the utmost respect, I think talking about Lydian Tonics and things like that in the context of this song is going way too deep. I don't think they wrote the song with that in mind, so while applying the logic might not necessarily be wrong from a theoretical perspective, it doesn't do you any favors in terms of actually interpreting the song to play it. You could maybe squeeze a scale out of it to play over that particular change, but I personally don't think it's worth it to go through that many mental steps for a song like this. If this were a Guthrie Govan tune or another player who really does take those deep theoretical notions into account when writing, it would absolutely be worth it to delve that deep.

My two cents is that you're just dealing with a minor-major mutation that disregards some of the 'rules' because they were writing at least partially by feel and not by theory. Cm is the relative minor of Eb, so all they're doing is moving the 3rd. The extensions (#11, M7, etc) don't change the function in my opinion. It works (or at least sounds cool) because going from Fm to C is also V-I motion in the bass, so it also creates the sense of modulating once you land on the Cmajor. It sounds to my ears like the song is modulating for a second using Fm7 as the pivot chord to a major I chord (sort of like a picardy 3rd), but instead of continuing in the new key they just jump right back into Eb (hence disregarding the rules).

(sorry for using too many parentheses)
The Lydian Tonics thing is just one of several ways to describe what is happening. I hope Hiatus just jammed on something and stumbled on a progression they liked.
Theory is about describing something, after the fact. That's how you 'use' theory.
 




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