Solace of the Wind Key
Un Mani, Australia
Jazz program.The key of Solace of the Wind. First off I might say it’s C Minor with it’s key signature and initial chord but it’s the final chord that’s supposed to be the final arbiter, right? And that’s A flat Minor. In fact the whole thing hangs together for me aurally but kinda wanders off base. So I’m fascinated about the chord progressions too.
Leeanne I., Australia
I would say it is Cm. The final chord can always be an imperfect cadence. The final melody note is an Ab, which is part of the key signature’s 3 flats.
Gordon Harvey, Australia
Red rag, here comes the bull! I’m sure Neil just wrote this because it sounded beautiful, but it sure serves to illustrate my pet subject – that traditional theory is wholly inadequate to analyze much contemporary music. One simple example of that is the notion “why finish predictably on the tonic of the original key?”
I think with this one (to the extent that it matters) you’re best thinking of “the key of the moment”, looking at each chord and then its associated melody notes and thinking what key best fits. Most importantly, ignore the very limited “major or minor” mentality and think of the wonderful, liberating Modes.
The first chord is certainly in Cm. All the chord tones and melody notes fit that key. The next one is, to me, in Ab Mixolydian mode – that’s like a major except for a flatted 7th (Gb in the melody) Ab Mixo would thus have 4 flats. Mixo is very common in blues, jazz, rock, pop and many other musics.
Measure 3 fits with Cm (3b) but could equally be Fm (4b). The only note different between each is D/Db, neither of which are played in the measure. Measure 4 fits with GbMaj (6b).
Measure 5 is Cm for sure. Measure 6 doesn’t quite fit anything. I would call it Db Mixolydian (6b) with a wildcard #4 in the form of G natural.
The Gb7 is in Gb Mixo (7b!) thanks to the flatted F. Fmin7 is straight Fm. AMaj7 is AMaj (3#) but with another #4 (Eb). This may seem way out of place but is just leading to the Abmin7, which is in Abm (7b again).
Actually the AMaj7 should, I think, be considered in a Lydian mode – that’s like a major with the #4.
Anyway, that’s my way of looking at it. Please anyone correct me or provide another perspective.
Un Mani, Australia
Mr. Mode here’s another question. I actually get all the above . So now I’m curious about how the chords wander into one another so happily. Chords sharing notes that morph happily? Just in case you’ve nothing better to do !
Gordon Harvey, Australia
Un Mani that’s such a huge question! The kind of question I think I’d only attempt to answer after years of contemplation on a mountaintop. Until then, I’ll just make one observation: I would guess that Neil used the melody to drive the chords in this piece. In other words, he started with the melody (though not necessarily the whole song) and figured out chords that somehow fitted, without thinking specifically about their ‘theoretical’ relationship. They just sounded good. Certainly in most, but not all, cases, having notes in common from one chord to the next would have helped hugely in aurally connecting them. Oh and another thing: At least some of the keys are closely related – the closer neighbours they are around the circle of 5ths the more they have in common.
Mark M., New York
Here’s a rule about art that’s worth remembering: every rule in every art form can always be broken. Any principle — like “it’s the final chord that’s supposed to be the final arbiter” — can always be foregone. Maybe it’s rare. Maybe it’s unusual. Maybe you do or don’t like how it sounds. But it happens.
It’s exactly what is meant by the well-known phrase “the exception proves the rule.” The special-case exception underscores the notion that a general rule exists.
And if someday someone comes along and finds a rule in some art form that is never broken and can never be broken, then that will be the exception that proves the rule that every rule in every art form can always be broken 😉
Jan D., Ohio
Mark S. Meritt I always tell students, especially advancing, more serious students who are thinking about majoring in music that we are going to learn the rules and the learn how to break them – traditional Western music is all about following the rules and contemporary music is about if it sounds good do it. Even “art” music is sometimes about breaking the rules.
Mark M., New York2
Jan Davis Quotes of dubious accuracy/provenance/attribution, but they are relevant and wise:
“Learn the rules like a professional, so you can break them like an artist.”
― Pablo Picasso
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
― The Dalai Lama
Original discussion started July 2, 2020