Lesson 46: Tonal Centers
A tonal center is the tonic of an area in a tune where all the chords are from the same scale. A large majority of the tunes in the Standards repertoire in jazz can be broken down into a series of tonal centers.
Example 1: All the Things You Are by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern
Let's analyze All the Things You Are by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern.
The first A section goes like this:
|Fm7 |Bbm7 |Eb7 |Abmaj7| |Dbmaj7|G7 |Cmaj7 | |Now, that's five bars of Ab major followed by three bars of C major.
The second A2 section goes like this:
|Cm7 |Fm7 |Bb7 |Ebmaj7| |Abmaj7|D7 |Gmaj7 | |That's five bars of Eb major followed by three bars of G major.
The B section goes like this:
|Am7 |D7 |Gmaj7 | | |F#m7 |B7 |Emaj7 |C7aug |That's a II-V-I in G major followed by a II-V-I in E major and last a C7aug chord leading back into F minor.
The last, or C, section goes like this:
|Fm7 |Bbm7 |Eb7 |Abmaj7| |Dbmaj7|Dbm7 |Cm7 |Bdim | |Bbm7 |Eb7 |Abmaj7|C7 |That's just about all Ab major!
Example 2: Stella by Starlight by Victor Young and Ned Washington
Now, let's go for a slightly harder tune, and do Stella by Starlight by Victor Young and Ned Washington.
The first, or A, section goes like this:
|Em7b5 |A7b9 |Cm11 |F13 | |Fm9 |Bb13 |Eb6/9 |Ab7#11|That's a II-V in D minor, followed by a II-V in Bb major, followed by a II-V-I in Eb major, and last an Ab7#11 chord leading back to Bb major.
The second, or B, section goes like this:
|Bbmaj7 |Em7b5A7b9|Dm11 |Bbm7 Eb9| |Fmaj7 |Em7b5A7b9|Am7b5 |D7b9 |That's one bar of Bb major, followed by a II-V-I in D minor, a substitute II-V leading to F major, a II-V in D minor followed by a II-V in G minor.
The third, or C, section goes like this:
|G7alt | |Cm11 | | |Ab9#11| |Bbmaj13| |Here the tonal center is C minor, the Ab9#11 chord then functions as a substitute dominant leading into Bb major.
The fourth, or D, section goes like this:
|Em7b5 |A7b9 |Dm7b5 |G7b9 | |Cm7b5 |F7b9 |Bb6/9 | |That's a string of minor II-V's, first in D minor, then in C minor and Bb leading to the Bb major chord.
© 2006 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.