Harmony #5 – Boplicity Shout Chorus

This post is a continuation of some earlier posts about the ensemble harmonies in Boplicity. Check out them out here and here.

An interesting feature of this section (like the part before it) is that it is entirely new to the piece. The shout chorus does resemble some parts from the original harmony in the A section, but there is a freedom in the form that is really lively and engaging. Here is a comparison of the bass lines of each section. There are a few exact “copies”, the main difference is bars 5-7 of the shout chorus, where the Bass follows a melodic path with the Tuba.


This section is 8 bars long but Gil gives the impression of an elongated phrase by carrying the ensemble over into the first bar of the solo. I may look at the melodic structure in a future post.

Here is a recap of my analysis system:

Target chord – The chord that was aimed toward in the harmonisation. The target chord usually occurs at a melodically or rhythmically important point in the bar and can help explain what harmony precedes and proceeds that moment.

Functional chord – A chord that has a dominant function (V), it leads to a target or other chord. It is often a secondary dominant.

Diatonic chord – A chord that is within the key but does not function, secondary dominants that don’t lead to their respective I’s are included in this category. It is often used to “plane” in scalar passages.

Voice Leading/Other chord – A chord that is hard to define and usually arrived at via voice leading or to create a particular sound.

Boplicity – bars 59 & 60

Because of the lack of an obvious harmonic structure to reference from, I have chosen the target chords where I feel that that are integral to the phrase as a whole.


The last Bbmaj7 is included as a target chord as anticipates the next bar.


I include the E7#9/G# as a functional chord as it leads to the Ami7/C, even though there is chord between them. The A7b9/G, Bbmaj7 & Fmaj9 are all diatonic chords.


The Bbmi6/9 & G#mi7 are both other chords. I think of them as passing chords. Note the vertical structure of the chords in bar 60. It is likely that Gil harmonized the Fmaj9 and then kept the same structure to ‘plane’ around the other chords. The two other chords in these bars could have easily been a Bb6/9 & Gmi7, this would have meant they would have been diatonic chords. But Gil has enhanced the voice leading here by changing the chord quality so that each individual part encloses the target chord.


Bars 61 & 62


Bar 62 introduces a 2-part counterpoint idea which is expanded in the new few bars.


Again, planing is used between target chords to harmonize a passage. The two other chords in this phrase are intriguing. The B/C chord functions as a V chord, but I thought it interesting enough to leave it as an other chord as it isn’t typical.


The E6/B chord is strange. I’m not sure why Gil didn’t use a Bdim7 chord here. It is possible that he wanted to utilize more chromatic voice leading as he did in the previous bar. The only other consideration I can think of is that he wanted the Tuba part to move. It is an F in the previous bar.



Bars 63 – 65

The next three bars reduce down to a 2-part counterpoint. Texturally its a nice change from the thick harmony of the previous bars. The Tuba and Bass form one part and the rest of the ensemble the other.harmony5k.JPG

Bars 66 & 67

The final two bars are almost all target chords. Bar 68 (not shown) is a Gmi7 which is why the last chord is a target. The F#7 is a simple tritone substitution.



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