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Making the tonic chord a Dominant 7?

Posted by armansrsa 
Making the tonic chord a Dominant 7?
May 28, 2017 02:18AM
I am studying Happy by Pharrel Williams which is a nice tune and has some interesting chord progressions to look at:

verse: F7, Bb, C, Bb
chorus: Dbmaj7, Cm7, F7

There are a couple of things I have questions about and I wonder if someone might be able to help me understand it please or to at least tell me if i am on the right track with how I see the progression:

1) The tonic chord F is changed to a F7, is this to give it a bluesy sound?
2) I see the bVI chord here in the chorus and was wondering if this comes from the parallel minor (Fm)
3) I also see that he uses a minor iv chord, does this also come from the parallel minor of Fm?
Re: Making the tonic chord a Dominant 7?
May 28, 2017 10:12AM
As far as the chord sequences you wrote, it seems like the Key could be either F Major ir Bb Major; in the last case, the "borrowed" chord would be II= C (C Major instead of c-minor) and F7 would be the V7; also DbMaj7 would be related to dregree III of paralell minor Key (that is, Bb-minor).

You might find useful to read the intro of the book "Structural functions of harmony" by Arnold Schonberg, where he talks about the segments of a given key often being matched to segments of another key, and so on. Greetings.
Re: Making the tonic chord a Dominant 7?
May 29, 2017 01:04AM
Hi, the Ib7 chord is indeed changing the tonic to a temporary (or "secondary") dominant, so it can resolve nicely to the the IV chord in a V-I cadence. The flat 6 chord is indeed borrowed from f minor. He doesn't use a minor iv chord, it's a minor v chord (the c minor), which is also from f minor. So the majority of the 2nd theme is in f minor before returning to the "happy" place of F major.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/29/2017 01:20AM by Viz. (view changes)
Re: Making the tonic chord a Dominant 7?
June 02, 2017 02:38AM
Thanks will look at that book. Does anything in the vocal melody give you a better clue as to the tonality of the song or is the ambiguity between Bb and F what makes the song sound nice?

FYI the sheet music for this song say it is in the key of F so I guess you could analyze it either way right?
Re: Making the tonic chord a Dominant 7?
June 02, 2017 02:43AM
cheers, have you heard Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson, it goes

G7 D7 Am7 C7

it is in G but the tonic is also changed to a Ib7 but in this case it goes to D7 so there is no cadence here like you suggested, I guess he just wanted a bluesy sound?
Re: Making the tonic chord a Dominant 7?
June 02, 2017 11:42AM
I think this is pretty clearly in F as opposed to Bb.

The melody has a lot of pentatonic elements, which confirm that it's a bluesy F.

The Dbmaj7 --> Cm7 is indeed borrowed directly from the minor F minor key, so it's the landing of the Fmaj in the chorus that really gives this tune that lift, as I think you pointed out. In terms of analysis, we need to look at the melody line note that is being sung over the 2 bars which contain Cm7 (when he sings 'if you feel like a room without a...,'). It's F, right? So that means it's really functioning as Cm7sus, and that ambiguity, when it's suddenly resolved on F major (! not minor) makes the tune.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/02/2017 12:15PM by jacobass. (view changes)
Re: Making the tonic chord a Dominant 7?
June 03, 2017 01:21AM
thanks, yes I do hear the F over the Cm which does make it a sus chord but then the second time the melody does go up to the G and sing just the chord tones or maybe that is just in the version I am listening to?
Re: Making the tonic chord a Dominant 7?
June 05, 2017 11:50AM
Hmmm, must be the version you're listening to. On the official video, in the 2nd chorus, the melody is the same on that particular line.

The upper background vocal (on the extended word 'Happy') is Bb. How about

Dbmaj7 / / / Cm7 / / / Fsus/C / / / F / / / ? Play that on piano, it seems to work well with the vocal melody.

Anyhow, it's just a good example of how we can consider the vocal melody when analyzing harmony.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2017 11:55AM by jacobass. (view changes)
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