[Dixielandjazz] Re: So bad it must be shared.......

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Wed Dec 1 16:12:31 PST 2004

Bob -
The spelling of a minor chord is 3 half steps(minor third)  on the bottom
with 4 half steps(major third) on top. A major chord is the opposite with 4
half steps between the root and third and 3 half steps between the third and
the fifth.  An example is the Bb minor chord.  Count them Bb (root), B, C,
Dflat (3) (third)  Dflat, D, D#, E, F(fifth) (4)  Hence a Bb minor chord.

The joke refers to chord spacing and the notes that are associated with the
chord symbol.  While it is true that chords are usually spelled in
accordance with the scale that they are associated with jazz musicians
rarely use some chord spellings.  Although for example C flat may be the
correct spelling in some keys most guitar players would do a double take if
you wrote it for them.  The same is true of many of the flat Chords.  Common
usage is that chords like Gb, Cb,  E#, B# are almost never used even though
they are technically correct at times.

To simplify things Jazz writers will almost always choose a Bb chord rather
than an A# even though the A# may be technically correct in some keys.
Don't confuse the chord symbol with the scale.

While it is true that the classical spelling of the chords based on the
scale tones of the scale is technically correct that's not what happens in
common usage.  In classical music they used Roman Numerals as figured bass
to denote the chord.  Roman numerals are always technically correct but are
difficult to read so jazz musicians came up with chord symbols.  A III mi
chord in the key of C is an Emi in chord symbols while a III mi in A is a CO
chord so the musician had to translate each time.  Roman numerals and
figured bass are correct are best for chordal analysis of music.  Chord
symbols on the other hand are almost useless for analysis of a piece of
music because they are used in a wishy washy way.  (On the other hand that's
the way most of us Jazz musicians are.)  If you think this is all confusing
try Sofeggi.

A good example is the way  computers sometimes put in accidentals.  I have
seen an E# (the note) followed by an F ( or a Gb followed by an F# etc) in
the same measure.  This might be technically correct but it makes sight
reading tough and fills the tunes with needless mistakes.  Follow the KISS
principle when writing. ( Keep It Simple Stupid.)

I would have picked a different chord for the joke.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Robert Smith" <robert.smith at mitransport.no>
To: "Dixieland Jazz" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2004 3:03 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Re: So bad it must be shared.......

Ed Danielsen relayed this joke:
>A B-flat, a D-flat, and an F walk into a bar. The
>bartender says to them, "I'm sorry we don't serve minors here"...
>So the D-flat leaves and the B-flat and the F have
>a fifth between them and go home.

There is a minor mistake in the joke that in fact is a major mistake.
D-flat is in fact a major key with five flats. The key of D-flat minor
would, in fact have eight flats, which, though not impossible, is
cumbersome, and traps the unwary with F-flat and C-flat.
The minor key related to D-flat major is C-sharp minor having five sharps.
There is no recognised key of C-sharp major because there would be both F
and F-sharp plus C and C-sharp in the same scale.

So the joke ought to be ....


Bob Smith
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