This is the third post about the harmony in Gil’s magnificent arrangement of My Ship. This post will cover the harmony in the double time swing feel section of the bridge.
Some clarification of terms is necessary first:
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.
In the examples the original chord symbol from the leadsheet appears below the stave and the chord analysis above the stave.
My Ship – Bridge Figure C (double time swing feel) – Bar 1
The bridge starts with triads over an independent bass line. I love how Gil introduces the F# into the bass line here. It hints at a functional G minor harmony and adds some dissonance. See a previous post about independent bass lines here. When a chord is labelled twice I have included the bass line in its analysis.
The harmony is fairly pan-tonic at the start of the bridge but I feel like the end of the bar draws together and establishes a more solid harmony. The Gmi9 at the end of the bar is particularly strong as a target chord as it thickens and connects with its bass note strongly.
The rest of the bar is all diatonic, and uses diatonic planing.
The second bar continues in a similar way with a thicker texture.
Most of the chords are diatonic again. I have identified the F#dim7 as a functional chord as it could be read as a V of Gmi7 (D7b9). Diminished chords are also very versatile and useful in ensemble passages as it enables parts to move in logical and satisfying way. It also recalls the F# in the bass line.
Bar 3 & 4
The passage ends on a E7b9 as the next chord is A minor. The C7susb9 functions as a V for the F major chord and the Bmi7 acts as a II for the upcoming A minor. The syncopation throughout this phrase is utilized very effectively with the harmony. Gil leaves the listener with a nice tension ending with the Bmi7 before the tasty crunch of the E7.
That only leaves one chord and that is the Gbmaj7/C. This chord allows for good voice leading again. A Bb diminished chord could have been used here, but this chord allows for no repeat notes for each part.