Clavier Companion - July/August 2017 - 35
Now, try it with a scale in the bass:
Excerpt 5: Jolly Old St. Nicholas with descending bass line.
In the final example the melody is embellished
and the progression is enriched by the use of
suspensions and a tri-tone substitute chord: D-flat
Excerpt 8: Jolly Old St. Nicholas with suspensions and
Perhaps you noticed the use of the G minor chord,
the minor substitute for B-flat, the IV chord. If a
G-minor chord works, you might want to try G major
as the next-to-the-last chord. One way to nurture
creativity is to ask the question "What if....?" For
example, "What if I would add a few suspensions?"
"What if I added a few embellishments to the
melody?" After you've explored possibilities on
your own, you might want to check out the ones
Excerpt 6: Jolly Old St. Nicholas with chord changes.
In the above example the next-to-the-last chord is G
major instead of G minor. The use of a D-minor chord
sets up a strong progression of succession by fifths.
The example that follows includes a chord that is
not a part of the key of F major. It's a major chord
built on the flatted-seventh tone of the scale,
another form of the subtonic chord.
There are many songs that include the Canon in
D progression. You'll find it in songs like Eat This
Bread by Jacques Berthier, Give Thanks by Henry
Smith, Let It Be by McCartney and Lennon, The End
of the World by Skeeter Davis, and You Are My All
in All by Dennis Jernigan. You will discover other
songs containing this chord progression as you
play and listen with "informed ears."
Dr. Ron Sprunger is Professor
Emeritus at Ashland Theological
Seminary, where he taught music
as an integral part of worship and
education. In addition to his work
as a church musician, he has honed
his improvisational skills through
accompanying, classroom teaching, and the use
of the piano in teaching Dalcroze eurhythmics.
Ron has published arrangements for organ and
co-authored numerous collections of piano
and organ music with his wife, Linda, for the
Lillenas Publishing Co. and is the creator of
Excerpt 7: Jolly Old St. Nicholas with non-diatonic chord