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Knut Skaarberg



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Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new
      #941420 - 17/09/11 10:32 AM
Some songs have imaginative, unusual chord modulations, yet they don't sound "jazzy" at all. These songs give the impression of being straight-forward, but can be quite complex harmonically. Here are some of my favorites:

The Beatles: Penny Lane ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jd-oLhJQne0 )
It has been speculated that George Martin co-wrote this song, because of the effortless, yet highly unusual modulations.

Olivia Newton-John: Magic ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU5t3Ft5JhU written by John Farrar)
The chords in the verses of this old song never stops amazing me, first the I-Ib5 pattern, then the IIIm-Vm-IIm modulation, followed by Vm-IIm establishing IIm as the new tonal centre, then V6-V7 back to the I-Ib5 pattern. Don't know anything similar!

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ&ob=av2e )
This song uses a lot of the tricks from classical composition, especially the middle part. I think it really hits bulls-eye on the balance between "advanced" classical techniques and rock voicing. Maybe the key is the melody lines binding it together so nicely.

Name your examples!

--------------------
All the best,
Knut Skaarberg


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Knut Skaarberg



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #941462 - 17/09/11 12:50 PM
Here's another one: Paul Simon - Still crazy after all these years ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46bkXgxb66E )
I don't think the transition from the bridge to the solo is totally effortless/fluent, but still a lot of great cadences.

--------------------
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Knut Skaarberg


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Knut Skaarberg



Joined: 04/06/08
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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #941479 - 17/09/11 03:00 PM
Duran Duran - A view to a kill ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46bkXgxb66E )
Co-written with John Barry, who knows his modulations. The song starts has quite a few surprising modulations which flow really nicely and builds to the chorus. The transition back to the verses may seem a little forced, but it's absolutely worth a little studying.

--------------------
All the best,
Knut Skaarberg


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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #941507 - 17/09/11 05:27 PM
I think he sticks a modulation in here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkccY6uU7hY


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Knut Skaarberg



Joined: 04/06/08
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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: * User requested deletion *]
      #941542 - 17/09/11 08:27 PM
Actually, that's quite relevant to another favorite: Beatles - The long and winding road ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC9Vt1xQ5Kw&feature=related ). It uses the same trick; holding back the resolution.

--------------------
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Knut Skaarberg


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grab



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #941742 - 18/09/11 07:48 PM
Solo in 'Down to the waterline' (Dire Straits) goes in pretty unusual directions. Same with the break in 'Message in a bottle' (Police).

The middle eight in 'Born to run' does circle of fifths and then some after that. The trick in that though is not particularly how they get where they get, but how they chromatic-step down back to base again and *still* leave it unresolved until the verse kicks in for a massive payoff.

More Queen - 'Bicycle race', 'Killer queen', 'I'm going slightly mad'.

And don't forget Nirvana. 6 Music has been playing a bit recently (20 years since Nevermind - wow!) and it's still sharper musically than anything you're likely to hear on the radio today. Possibly that has as much to do with the radio and current tastes in pop, but that's another story.


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alexis



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: grab]
      #941764 - 18/09/11 11:43 PM
I guess the word "transparent" depends on how good someone is at identifying things like that ... probably less/nothing would slip by those with a lot of musical theory knowledge than would slip by someone like me.

Anyway, here are two:

1) The middle eight of "New York State of Mind" (from the composer that Paul McCartney once called, "Mini-Me"): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZh8YjbDiVk

2) The middle eight of "From Me to You": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31Jwfv8WQMA

--------------------
Alexis -Cubase7.5.20 64bit;i5-4570 3.2GHz,16GB RAM;W7SP1 64bit on Samsung SSD840 Pro256GB;Seagte 1TB SATA600 Audio;UR28M;Motif8;UAD2Solo;Jamstix 3.3;BCF2K;TC Helicon VoiceOne;RevoicePro3


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Knut Skaarberg



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: alexis]
      #942058 - 19/09/11 08:55 PM
Ah Billy Joel! He would often modulate by finding some related minor chord, and go from there. For example IIImin-VI-II (aug7), or more usually VIImin-III-VI (aug7) or even #IVmin-VII-III (aug7).

Then from the new (major key), he'd go to minor, Imin-IV-bVII. Putting the maj aug 7 before shifting to min 7 makes the effect stronger.

I think he appeals the most to people who are open to jazz, blues and black music in general, but obviously he had great success and some amazing sax players!

--------------------
All the best,
Knut Skaarberg


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alexis



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #942065 - 19/09/11 09:36 PM
Quote Knut Skaarberg:

Ah Billy Joel! He would often modulate by finding some related minor chord, and go from there. For example IIImin-VI-II (aug7), or more usually VIImin-III-VI (aug7) or even #IVmin-VII-III (aug7).

Then from the new (major key), he'd go to minor, Imin-IV-bVII. Putting the maj aug 7 before shifting to min 7 makes the effect stronger.

I think he appeals the most to people who are open to jazz, blues and black music in general, but obviously he had great success and some amazing sax players!




Hullo Knut!

I love chord progressions (and thus the subject of your thread!), but alas have trouble with notations ...

If you have a chance could you please give examples of Billy Joel songs that move as you have indicated? Because I love Billy Joel too!

Thanks in advance!

--------------------
Alexis -Cubase7.5.20 64bit;i5-4570 3.2GHz,16GB RAM;W7SP1 64bit on Samsung SSD840 Pro256GB;Seagte 1TB SATA600 Audio;UR28M;Motif8;UAD2Solo;Jamstix 3.3;BCF2K;TC Helicon VoiceOne;RevoicePro3


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TheChorltonWheelie



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #942119 - 20/09/11 09:55 AM
Quote Knut Skaarberg:

Some songs have imaginative, unusual chord modulations, yet they don't sound "jazzy" at all.




Clapton does it regularly, listen to the modulation between chorus and verse in Bad Love: it's only a semi-tone, and it's hardly noticable, but it works well to "raise" the song.


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KenHR



Joined: 01/06/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Albany, NY
Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #942199 - 20/09/11 04:27 PM
John Fogerty used modulation to add some uplift at the end of a couple CCR songs. "Lodi" is the one that stands out for me, I know there were a couple others.


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Knut Skaarberg



Joined: 04/06/08
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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: TheChorltonWheelie]
      #942230 - 20/09/11 09:28 PM
Quote TheChorltonWheelie:

Quote Knut Skaarberg:

Some songs have imaginative, unusual chord modulations, yet they don't sound "jazzy" at all.




Clapton does it regularly, listen to the modulation between chorus and verse in Bad Love: it's only a semi-tone, and it's hardly noticable, but it works well to "raise" the song.




Yeah, sometimes the smoothest modulation is just start using the new key, no passing chords, nothing...
Sometimes I've struggled for long to make a transition for example between verse and chorus, and the best solution is to do nothing

--------------------
All the best,
Knut Skaarberg


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Knut Skaarberg



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: alexis]
      #942232 - 20/09/11 09:39 PM
Quote alexis:

Quote Knut Skaarberg:

Ah Billy Joel! He would often modulate by finding some related minor chord, and go from there. For example IIImin-VI-II (aug7), or more usually VIImin-III-VI (aug7) or even #IVmin-VII-III (aug7).

Then from the new (major key), he'd go to minor, Imin-IV-bVII. Putting the maj aug 7 before shifting to min 7 makes the effect stronger.

I think he appeals the most to people who are open to jazz, blues and black music in general, but obviously he had great success and some amazing sax players!




Hullo Knut!

I love chord progressions (and thus the subject of your thread!), but alas have trouble with notations ...

If you have a chance could you please give examples of Billy Joel songs that move as you have indicated? Because I love Billy Joel too!

Thanks in advance!




Ok, I'll give it a shot. Assume the song is in C major.
IIImin-VI-II (aug7) equals Emin - A - D (aug7)
VIImin-III-VI (aug7) equals Bmin - E - A (aug7). He'd often keep the E on top all the way: C - Bmin11 - E7 - A (aug7)
#IVmin-VII-III (aug7) equals F#min - H - E (aug7)

Carrying on with the major to minor, the last example could be something like (starting from C major):
F#min11 - B7 - E (aug7) - Emin7 - A7 - D(aug7) - Dmin7 - G7 and back to C.

Or you could use any combination, for example (again, starting from C major):
Emin - A7 - D(aug7) - Dmin - G7 - C(aug7) - F#min - B7 - E(aug7) - Dmin - G7 - C

--------------------
All the best,
Knut Skaarberg


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alexis



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #942250 - 21/09/11 12:02 AM
Quote Knut Skaarberg:

...

Ok, I'll give it a shot. Assume the song is in C major.
IIImin-VI-II (aug7) equals Emin - A - D (aug7)
VIImin-III-VI (aug7) equals Bmin - E - A (aug7). He'd often keep the E on top all the way: C - Bmin11 - E7 - A (aug7)
#IVmin-VII-III (aug7) equals F#min - H - E (aug7)

Carrying on with the major to minor, the last example could be something like (starting from C major):
F#min11 - B7 - E (aug7) - Emin7 - A7 - D(aug7) - Dmin7 - G7 and back to C.

Or you could use any combination, for example (again, starting from C major):
Emin - A7 - D(aug7) - Dmin - G7 - C(aug7) - F#min - B7 - E(aug7) - Dmin - G7 - C




OK, Knut, that's awesome. Something for me to play with as I try to write new songs!

But ... I was hoping maybe you were going to tie some cool progressions to some of Billy Joel's actual songs ... ?

Either way - thanks again for the above!

--------------------
Alexis -Cubase7.5.20 64bit;i5-4570 3.2GHz,16GB RAM;W7SP1 64bit on Samsung SSD840 Pro256GB;Seagte 1TB SATA600 Audio;UR28M;Motif8;UAD2Solo;Jamstix 3.3;BCF2K;TC Helicon VoiceOne;RevoicePro3


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Knut Skaarberg



Joined: 04/06/08
Posts: 31
Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: alexis]
      #942263 - 21/09/11 04:58 AM
Quote alexis:

Quote Knut Skaarberg:

...

Ok, I'll give it a shot. Assume the song is in C major.
IIImin-VI-II (aug7) equals Emin - A - D (aug7)
VIImin-III-VI (aug7) equals Bmin - E - A (aug7). He'd often keep the E on top all the way: C - Bmin11 - E7 - A (aug7)
#IVmin-VII-III (aug7) equals F#min - H - E (aug7)

Carrying on with the major to minor, the last example could be something like (starting from C major):
F#min11 - B7 - E (aug7) - Emin7 - A7 - D(aug7) - Dmin7 - G7 and back to C.

Or you could use any combination, for example (again, starting from C major):
Emin - A7 - D(aug7) - Dmin - G7 - C(aug7) - F#min - B7 - E(aug7) - Dmin - G7 - C




OK, Knut, that's awesome. Something for me to play with as I try to write new songs!

But ... I was hoping maybe you were going to tie some cool progressions to some of Billy Joel's actual songs ... ?

Either way - thanks again for the above!




Try this:
http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=new+york+state+of+mind +chords&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

I don't any of them are spot on, but they're close enough to give you a good starting point

--------------------
All the best,
Knut Skaarberg


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Knut Skaarberg



Joined: 04/06/08
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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #942452 - 21/09/11 09:21 PM
@alexis: If you're into jazz-rock and jazz-pop and chords, check out Steely Dan/Donald Fagen. Be prepared for a steep learning curve though
Here are some treats:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sogYgHlNnqo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sogYgHlNnqo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiXez2XNVtU

@Sue: Some of those orchestral composers are really in a completely different league with regards to harmonization
My favorites are the Russians; Tschaikovsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and Rimsky-Korskov. For example Tschaikovsky's Sugar Plum sounds so natural, yet it's quite complex.

Actually, it's possible to find some newer pop music that uses the "orchestral approach" with lots of monophonic instrument lines so the harmonies are more like "intersections" of those lines. I just can't remember any right now...

--------------------
All the best,
Knut Skaarberg


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Sam Inglis
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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #943278 - 26/09/11 09:59 AM
Jimmy Webb's 'Wichita Lineman' always confuses the hell out of me.


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alexis



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #943492 - 27/09/11 04:16 AM
Quote Sam Inglis:

Jimmy Webb's 'Wichita Lineman' always confuses the hell out of me.




Wow, I had no idea how many chord modulations there were in that song (I'd heard it before, long ago, but it never really caught my ear):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2j7KWFrvWwo&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tCtNPlnBtE&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qoymGCDYzU&feature=related


And Knut - thanks for those Fagen/SD links - I'll look up the chords ... bring them over to the piano!

--------------------
Alexis -Cubase7.5.20 64bit;i5-4570 3.2GHz,16GB RAM;W7SP1 64bit on Samsung SSD840 Pro256GB;Seagte 1TB SATA600 Audio;UR28M;Motif8;UAD2Solo;Jamstix 3.3;BCF2K;TC Helicon VoiceOne;RevoicePro3


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Soundseed
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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: alexis]
      #943498 - 27/09/11 07:29 AM
Can I be a cheeky git and nominate one of my own?

I don't play live, so errrrr... tend to forget the chords within a few weeks of recording, but there are lots of them and they're definitely not all in the same key - the intention overall was to use all 12 notes but keep it pretty poppy. Maybe one of you musically literate folks could explain WTF is going on.

http://soundcloud.com/piet-haag/sxsw-not

(flame suit on)

---------------
www.piethaag.com


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Knut Skaarberg



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #944340 - 30/09/11 07:47 PM
Quote Sam Inglis:

Jimmy Webb's 'Wichita Lineman' always confuses the hell out of me.




Oh man, that's clever! And really a great example of transparent, untraditional modulations. Part of the trick is that the melody line strengthens the modulations.

Listening to this version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTfwcLdP5Xk here's my brief take on it

The verses are in F (Bbmaj - Fmaj/A - C11), but end up in G (via the Dm - Am - G - Dsus - D) going into the chorus. At least to my ears, it sounds as G is the new tonal centre, but that may be debatable. Check out for yourself - if the song ended there, would it end in G or D?

From there it's still a bit ambiguous G or D (the C - G/B - Gm/Bb is pretty common from D), followed by D - A7 (reinforcing the D tonal centre) and then the bVI - bVII thing (Bb - C2 - Bb - C7).

Here are my takeaways:

Set expectations and then surprise
The similarity in the first line of the verse and chorus deceives the listener to think that they will have a similar chord structure, i.e. the C in the beginning of the chorus serves the same function as the Bb in the start of the verse. But in fact, the Bb in the verse is IV (implying F) and the C in the chorus is bVII (implying D)

Use the same chords to serve multiple purposes
The Bb - C in the end of the chorus serves the bVI - bVII function in context of the chorus, but is at the same time used as a IV - V to establish F as the tonal centre of the next verse

--------------------
All the best,
Knut Skaarberg


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Knut Skaarberg



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: alexis]
      #944348 - 30/09/11 08:30 PM
Quote alexis:


And Knut - thanks for those Fagen/SD links - I'll look up the chords ... bring them over to the piano!




Sorry to say, I checked out a few pages claiming they've figured out the I.G.Y. chords, but they really hadn't
Anyway here's a little starting point (some chords are simplified, for example E instead of Fb, and some 7s may be 9s and so on, I just used a few minutes):

Intro: Abm - Dbm - Emaj7 - Gb11 :// Eb11 - Fm9
Verse: Fm - Dbmaj7 - Fm9 - Bbm - Fm7 - Dbmaj7 - Cm7 - Bbm7
Prechorus: Bmaj7 - B7 - Emaj7 - Emaj9 - Bmaj7 - B7 - B11 - B13
Bmaj7 - B7 - Fm7b5 - Emaj7 - Em
Chorus: (similar to intro)

Some 11 chords may be played as bVII/I, for example D11 is played as C/D. Similarly, some 13 chords may be played as bVIImaj7/I (D13 = Cmaj7/D) and others as 9add6 (D13 = D9 add6).
Anyway, I hope Mr. Fagen is not reading this

--------------------
All the best,
Knut Skaarberg


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Sam Inglis
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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #944722 - 03/10/11 12:25 PM
Quote Knut Skaarberg:

Oh man, that's clever! And really a great example of transparent, untraditional modulations. Part of the trick is that the melody line strengthens the modulations.




Yes indeed. It's the sheer effortlessness of the result that I love. There's nothing showy about it at all, even though it's quite a complex arrangement.

Quote:

Listening to this version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTfwcLdP5Xk here's my brief take on it

The verses are in F (Bbmaj - Fmaj/A - C11), but end up in G (via the Dm - Am - G - Dsus - D) going into the chorus. At least to my ears, it sounds as G is the new tonal centre, but that may be debatable. Check out for yourself - if the song ended there, would it end in G or D?






Good question! I think personally I hear it more as being in D, with the C major that follows being the bVII chord, but as you say it's never established really firmly.

What a great song, though.


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JMulvale



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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: Knut Skaarberg]
      #946948 - 13/10/11 12:45 PM
Nik Kershaw's 'Wouldn't it be Good' goes all over the shop but sounds like it isn't trying to. Loves it still

Also Birdhouse in your soul by They Might Be Giants!


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Pauly99
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Re: Songs with unusual, yet transparent modulations - name your favorite hit songs new [Re: JMulvale]
      #947370 - 16/10/11 07:36 AM
Although it's really a jazz tune, the chorus from Jerome Kern's 1939 song, 'All The Things You Are', quite cleverly disguises the fact that it uses chords with roots from every note of the chromatic scale (ie from C, Db, D ....., Bb, B). It's thus often seen as a challenge for newbie jazz-players to improvise over, although it isn't actually that bad when you analyse the key-centres. Sometimes referred to as 'All The Keys You Know'


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