An Enharmonic Experiment

I trust you are all familiar with Irving Berlin’s masterpiece Cheek to Cheek, made popular by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and recently given a new lease of life by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

This week I am working with a singer who wants to sing it her own way, that is: by making a little change to one note that she doesn’t like.

The second half of the bridge of Cheek to Cheek takes a surprise turn into the minor, and the melody treats us to a -9 move, aka a descending diminished seventh (A-flat down to B natural), where the lyrics go “my arms about you”.

This is the leap that she doesn’t like. She wants to replace it with a -3 move.

Two measures later, another -9 move occurs. This time it’s no longer spelt as a diminished seventh, but as a major sixth (G down to B-flat).

She has no problem with singing that. So what is going on?

Some months ago I wrote a post illustrating the difference between an augmented fifth and a diminished sixth. Both intervals span 8 semitones and are written as “8” in MOVES notation. And here we have another of those instances where MOVES doesn’t tell the whole story.

So to help you hear what’s going on I have prepared this little looping exercise, to which I have added easy guitar chords. It is a mishmash of Cheek to Cheek with Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

cheek2cheek2

Despite crossing over from four flats to four sharps, the actual notes used are in fact the same. The A-flat is the the enharmonic equivalent of the G-sharp and the E-sharp is the enharmonic equivalent of F. The D-flat chord is played the same as the C-sharp chord.

As you keep looping through the exercise, try to imagine you are inside the original songs and feel “the air change around you” as you slip from one to the other.

Now you are living the enharmonic experience!

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About jazzpanflute

jazz panpipe pioneer and designer
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