Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/jazz harmony


I am looking at BWV anh. 114 (minuet in G major). I am trying to do add some jazz harmony to this pieces. I was inspired by the Jacques Loussies version of this piece. In Louissier's version there is a A minor 7th chord when the orogininal version has a C chord (this is in bar 3). When adding jazz harmony how does one know if one should make the chord a Cmaj7 or Am7? How does one decide?

Hello again Andrew,

I've listened to Loussier's version and essentially he's taken Petzold's theme and reharmonised it (except that he starts the first four bars of the second half wrong, which really grates on me each time it comes around).  Jazz harmony follows the same rules as baroque harmony except that jazz builds up on triads and keeps adding thirds, so that a G major triad (G-B-D) is expanded to add a 7th (G-B-D-F#) or a 9th (G-B-D-F#-A) or more.  The add-ons are jazz but the fundamental triad on which they're added stays the same, so that's what you consider first when harmonising.

I can't reiterate too many times that it's the relationship between chords that matters and not the chords themselves, so you're not thinking terms of Cmaj7 or Am7, you're thinking IV7+ or II7.  But as you're thinking of the standard harmony, you're thinking IV or II.  Chords are always constructed from the bottom up so you aim for a smooth bass line.  Then you try different versions out and use your ears, simple as that.  Which sounds better to you?

Hope this helps.  

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Clare Redfarn


All aspects of the academic/theoretical side of music, including harmony, counterpoint, elementary composition, history, harmonic analysis, aural training, sightreading - the lot! Please note I'm not primarily a composer so I can't help with composition beyond what's required for Grade 8 theory or A'level. And don't ask me about psychoacoustics or music psychology as I have no knowledge of, nor interest in, either subject.


57 years as pianist (soloist and accompanist); 42 years as harpsichordist (soloist and continuist); 10 years as violinist and 6 years as bassoonist (youth orchestras/chamber groups); 45 years as piano teacher, coach in performance/interpretation (all ages, instruments and levels) and private tutor (mainly the old O'level, Grade VI+ ABRSM theory/practical musicianship, A'level and undergraduates); 20 years as ballet pianist (Cecchetti syllabus).

Member of Musicians' Union in Britain 1978-1989 and 1991-2009.

I've been writing professionally since I was 20 - too many programme notes to count over the years and a number of articles. Additionally, from 1996-2000 I was a Music Assessor for London Arts and as such regularly wrote critiques of concerts given by recipients of Arts Council funding.

MA in European Cultural Policy & Administration (Warwick University, 1994)
B Mus with Honours (London University, 1977)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Administration (City University, 1982)
Licentiate of Royal Academy of Music in Piano Teaching (1976)
Licentiate of Royal Academy of Music in Harpsichord Teaching (1978)

Studied RAM Junior School (1966-74), then as full-time student (1974-78).

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