Counterpoint and moving voices add a sophistication to harmony that is worthy of our attention. As an introduction to this, CESH seems to be a great place to start. I suggest you check out some Bill Evans. Listen carefully to how he approaches harmony and the moving “inside” voices of his chords. I have included some essential Bill Evans recordings below.
The Raw Material
Minor 7 with Descending Root is perhaps the most common. Here is a short list of songs where this occurs: Blue Skies, Cry me a River, Feelings, It Don’t Mean a Thing, Masquerade, My funny Valentine, My Romance, My Favorite Things, Stairway to Heaven and many more
Minor 7 with Ascending 5th. Some songs that use min7 with ascending 5: Israel, Old Flame, Invitation, Memories of You and James Bond Theme.
Major 7 with Descending Root songs include: Bojangles, If, With a little help with my Friends, Truly, and You are so Beautiful.
Major 7 with Ascending 5th songs: Brasil, Lucky Southern, Idaho and Make Someone Happy.
Taking it to the next step
There are two situations that I use the minor 7 with descending root that I would like to show you today. If you have an extended minor chord for say 2 bars (Ex.1 Gmin7), this technique works great and adds some motion to the chord. The second is over any 2-5 (Ex.2 Bbmin7 -Eb7). Below is the first 8 bars of “The Days of Wine and Roses” with examples of this technique marked. The original chords are above the staff and the implied harmony is under (in red). Remember to use this technique both sparingly and tastefully.
Essential Bill Evans Listening
- Portrait in Jazz
- Waltz for Debby
- Sunday at the Village Vanguard
- Everybody Digs Bill Evans
- Interplay Sessions
- Live at Town Hall
- You Must Believe in Spring
- Turn Out the Stars