Turnaround (music)

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This article is about the musical technique. For other music-related uses, see Turnaround (disambiguation).
ii-V7-I turnaround in C About this sound Play 

In jazz, a turnaround is a passage at the end of a section which leads to the next section. This next section is most often the repetition of the previous section or the entire piece or song.[1]

The turnaround may lead back to this section either harmonically, as a chord progression, or melodically.

Typical turnarounds[edit]

I-vi7-ii-V7 turnaround in C[2] About this sound Play .
III-VI-II-V turnaround often appears in the bridge of jazz standards.[3] About this sound Play 
Tadd Dameron turnaround with resolution. About this sound Play 

Typical turnarounds in jazz include:

Turnarounds typically begin with the tonic (I) and end on the dominant (V7), the next section starting on the tonic (I). They may also end on II7 (dominant substitute).[6] Thus when used in a twelve bar blues pattern, the twelfth bar may end on the dominant.[1] All of the chords in a turnaround may be seventh chords.

Harmonic alternatives[edit]

Sometimes, especially in blues music, musicians will take chords which are normally minor chords and make them major. The most popular example is the I - VI - ii - V - (I) progression; normally, the vi chord would be a minor chord (min, -7, -6, -(6), etc.) but here the major third allows for a more interesting modulation. Take the example in C major: C - A - d min - G (dom) . The third of the VI chord (in this case, C) allows for chromatic movement from C (the root of I) to C (the third of VI) to D (the root of ii).

Similar chromaticism and harmonic interest can be achieved by the use of a secondary dominant, which are also useful for turnarounds. The simplest example is V7/V - V7 - I, instead of ii - V - I. Another popular turnaround which may be considered as a secondary dominant analysis is ii - V/V (or II) - I, which is a variation on the standard ii - V - I turnaround. In jazz parlance, use of the bII instead of the V is known as Tritone Substitution. Using bV/V instead of V allows for a smooth chromatic descent. Again, let's examine C major; the original turnaround would be d min - G (dom) - C, while the modified would be d min - D - C . The obvious chromatic movement is thorough; it is apparent in the roots (D - D - C), thirds (F - F - E; F is often used as a pedal tone), and fifths (A - A - G).

While in that particular example the V/V can be considered a Neapolitan chord, the more typical functional analysis in the context of the jazz idiom is that it is not a "secondary dominant" (V7/V) at all, but II7, a substitute dominant[7] (tritone substitution). Harmonically, II7 functions exactly as V7/I does, because the two chords enharmonically contain the same tritone, which is the critical harmonic element in the resolution from dominant to tonic. The half-step-wise downward motion of the roots of those chords, as seen in ii - II7 - I, forms the familiar "line cliché", arriving satisfyingly at the tonic.

NB: "Secondary dominant" = the functional dominant of the key's dominant or another non-tonic chord, while "substitute dominant" = an alternative functional dominant of the key's tonic. The extending of dominants to secondaries (or beyond) is a practice which remains firmly inside the circle of fifths, while the substitution of dominants replaces that cycle with one of minor-second intervals.

I-vi-ii-V may be transformed through various chord substitutions. For example, the vi and ii chords may be substituted with dominant chords, giving I-VI7-II7-V or C-A7-D7-G,[8] the Ragtime progression. The tritone substitution may be applied to the vi and V chords, giving C-E7-D7-D7, or to every chord but the I, giving C-E7-AM7-D7.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Randel, Don Michael (2002). The Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians. ISBN 0-674-00978-9. p.693
  2. ^ a b Boyd, Bill (1997). Jazz Chord Progressions, p.43. ISBN 0-7935-7038-7.
  3. ^ Boyd, Bill (1997). Jazz Chord Progressions, p.56. ISBN 0-7935-7038-7.
  4. ^ Boyd (1997), p.86.
  5. ^ Boyd (1997), p.90.
  6. ^ Coker, et al (1982). Patterns for Jazz: A Theory Text for Jazz Composition and Improvisation, p.118. ISBN 0-89898-703-2.
  7. ^ [author missing], [year missing]. Harmony 4 course book,[page needed]. Berklee College of Music.
  8. ^ Boyd (1997), p.44.
  9. ^ Boyd (1997), p.46-47.