Thursday, November 12

Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder - Harmony

Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder - Harmony
Listen to the song HERE.

I have to tell you that found two chord progression jewels in this song. I’m already scheming on how to use them in my own music and I am honestly hesitating to share them with you in fear that one of you will beat me to the punch. Unfortunately they are far too cool to keep to myself. So here you go world. Feast on this.

Heart and Soul - Verse Variation
Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about the “Heart and Soul” pattern in the Death Cab for Cutie Song? (You can read it HERE.) That “Heart and Soul” pattern shows up again in this song, except Wonder put his own special spin on it.

The “Heart and Soul” power progression (it’s called a “power progression” because it is a very common progression, used in all styles and genres) is this...


...or its sister variation...


Stevie takes this progression and substitutes a bVI major chord in place of the IV chord (or IIm chord, depending on which variation you are most familiar with). So you get this progression...


The actual chords are this...


Compare that with the “normal” progression...


Heart and Soul - Chorus Variation
I have to admit that I sort of knew of the verse substitution previously, but this next one took me by complete surprise. I didn’t realize that his chorus ALSO is a variation of the Heart and Soul progression.

Here’s the regular Heart and Soul progression again...


Wonder’s chorus is based on this variation...


Did you catch that? He changes the G# minor chord to G MAJOR!

Advanced: I should point out here, that the band is actually playing the following chords (which are based on B...G#...E...F#)...

B...G#7...EMaj9...(C#m7, E/F#)

Changing the VIm to VI is something so simple and brilliant that I wonder why everyone isn’t doing it. I can’t believe I missed that for so many years. That, my friends, is why Stevie Wonder is uber-famous and I’m writing a blog about how famous he is!

-        - - - - - - - - - -- -

Chromatic Dominant Chords
Yesterday I pointed out the cool chromatic melody in the second half of the verses. I thought I’d show you the chords he used to play underneath the melody...



I don’t have much commentary here, other than the dominant chords keep the tension relatively high. In the recording, the whole band plays the chords, it’s a great effect.

-        - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I think I learned from this song that I need to be willing to stretch myself even further. I tend to lean towards the complex, when really a simple adjustment here and there makes an amazing difference. How enlightening!

Now go out there and write something inspiring. Have a great week.


- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder

Music is a world within itself with a language we all understand
With an equal opportunity for all to sing and dance and clap their hands
But just because a record has a groove don’t make it in the groove
But you can tell right away, at letter A, when the people start to move

They can feel it all over, they can feel it all over people
They can feel it all over, they can feel it all over people

Music knows it is and always will be one of the things that life just won’t quit
But here is some of music’s pioneers that time will not allow us to forget
For there’s Basie, Miller, Satchimo, and the king of all Sir Duke
And with a voice like Ella’s ringing out there’s no way the band can loose

You can feel it all over, you can feel it all over people
You can feel it all over, you can feel it all over people


Anonymous said...

I love this song!! But i have never seen a set of analyses of it! Here we go, with Shane's keen analytic mind, we see and hear what makes the song great! That simple harmonic progression with just that little modification makes such a big difference and is especially amazing! Thanks, Shane!


Douglas said...

I love analyzing a song like this. Elton John's songs also completely bust out of the normal modes we are so accustomed to hearing. It definitely stretches me musically. Thanks Shane for your great analysis!

Anonymous said...

what about the chorus?? the F minor in the 2nd bar is by far the strangest and coolest part of this song!

Fiona said...

This has been amazing. Thank you so much for posting this! Keep them coming. So helpful!