Turnaround (music)

Turnaround (music)

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.

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

Typical turnarounds are:

  • vi - ii - V - (I)
  • V/ii - ii - V - (I)
  • bIIIo7 - ii - V - (I)
  • vi - bVI7#11 - V - (I)

When used in a twelve bar blues pattern, the twelfth bar may end on the dominant rather than the more conventional tonic.

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, -(b6), etc) but here the raised (or rather, 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 can be achieved by the use of a secondary dominant , which are also useful for turnarounds. A popular secondary dominant turnaround is ii - bV/V (or bii) - I , which is a variation on the standard ii - V - I turnaround. Using bV/V instead of ii 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 - Db - C . The obvious chromatic movement is thorough; it is apparent in the roots (D - Db - C), thirds (F - F - E; F is often used as a pedal tone), and fifths (A - Ab - G). This particular example can also be considered a Neopolitan chord.

The number of possibilities when you are creating turnarounds is endless; an easy way to "stretch a buck" when implementing turnarounds is to use chord substitution. For example, try switching out chords from the same type or area; replace tonics with other tonic area chords (iii for I is especially popular, and vi for I is often used as a false cadence), subdominants for subdominants (ii for IV), and dominants for dominants (viio for V).


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