Learn to improvise. 2003-2004. Lesson 12: keys in chord schemes.

The homework of lesson 10 to harmonize Brother John had as a result that nobody stuck to the exact melody of the song, used it as a theme to elaborate it melodically and harmonically. Otherwise it would have been unbearable unmusically. Apart from that it turned out that everyone accompanied his melody. Nowadays we are not satisfied any more sitting at the piano and repeating a same melody over and over again without any accompaniment. We need more voices. As we don't compose but improvise we limit our pretensions. A composer doesn't have to restrict himself to chords and schemes. He can try out every note and put it on paper. To improvise, however, we need tricks and expediencies to find our way quick in our music.

Chords help us to predict quickly how certain accompanying notes will harmonize with the melody note.
Chord schemes give an interesting flow even before we have made a melody.
Keys warn in time for scale alien notes in the melody and give by their modulation fascinating turns in the harmony.

Designing a chord scheme it is useful to mind the temporary keys. If there are too few of them (sticking in the key of C) the scheme may be boring, and if the relation between the keys is to far away, the logic of the flow may be hard to understand.
As an example here is the chorus of the song 'Some of these days' in the initial key C. The chord scheme has 32 measures:
E7 E7 Am Am E7 E7 Am Am A7 A7 Dm Dm D7 D7 G G7
C  C7 F  F  A7 A7 Dm Dm F  F7 C  A7 D7 G7 C C
The temporary keys are successively: Am (italic), Dm (italic and underlined), G (underlined), C, F (thin), Dm (italic and underlined), C, Dm (italic and underlined), G (underlined), C.

The first modulation, which is left out here, is from the initial key C to its relative key Am, of which the root is note a. From there we go to keys of which the root is every time a fourth further away: d, g, c, f. Once we have arrived in key F we continue with its relative key Dm. The next jump of key Dm to chord F is ambiguous: Dm and are relative keys, F belongs to the initial key C and the chords Dm and F are often each others replacement. After that, some modulations of fourth intervals go fast to the end: d, g, c. So all modulations are logic: fourths, relative keys, etc.

As the scheme has 5 modulations there are many fascinating turns.
As the scheme is repeated over and over again there is a structure.
As every repetition gets another melody there is variation.

Click to hear an example
In case people play together and they stick to the keys (in other words to the scales), valid at a certain moment, then it easy to fulfill good harmony.
Click to hear playing together (initial key G)

Refinement of the design is possible by checking if short melodies in the bass can be made.
Piquant effects may be obtained by replacing a seventh chord by a diminished-seventh chord or by replacing a common major chord by a seventh chord.
E.g. the chord F7 in the scheme is such a case. It could have been F, but also Cdim7, and may be Fm, and who knows, perhaps C+ can pass the censorship.

At the end of the design one can try to make some melodies to the scheme in order to be sure it is suited for an improvisation base.
HOMEWORK: Design a chord scheme which contains more than one key.
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