Lovely Day Bill Withers

I’ve been looking at this super song* and have realised it modulates (a lot) between E major and E minor. It does it on the pre-chorus as well as in the last bar of each verse line. I have been mentally shifting my IFR count between the level 1 of E major and level 6 of G major, but I think that goes against what David advises. Should I think in E major and then for the Em bits just flat the 3 and the 6 notes? (Edit: Whoops! And the 7) That works too but is a bit more cerebral.

Here are the chords with the Em part in italics:

Emaj7 | C#m7 | Amaj7 | Ama7 / Cma7 Bm7 |
Emaj7 | C#m7 | Amaj7 | Cma7 / Cma7 Bm7 |

D11 | E11 | Am7 | Bm7 |
D11 | E11 | Am7 | Bm7 |
Emaj7 | C#m7 | Amaj7 | Cma7 / Cma7 Bm7 |
Emaj7 | C#m7 | Amaj7 | Cma7 / Cma7 Bm7 |
Emaj7 | C#m7 | Amaj7 | Cma7 / Cma7 Bm7 |

*Lovely Day

UPDATE: Mixed Harmony in the IFR book seems to cover this well. I admit I have ignored the stuff after secondary dominants as being a bit too hard for me and a little obscure in my music world (not jazz), but I guess I am there now and need to try and comprehend it.

Really nice song to focus on, but tricky to sing with those modulations!

Yes, I think you are right, David/IFR @ImproviseForReal would probably say to pick a tonal centre (probably E) and an environment (probably the 1st HE) and referance all notes from here.

If I was doing this song, I would start with the melody “When I wake up in the morning love” (555555 431), and when it modulates at “then I look at you” bring in b3 (54 b321). Then have mapped out the melody line, I would look at the chords and try to figure out what they are in IFR-speak. But I’m just starting to do this myself, so can’t offer much help there. But please share what you come up with, I’d be interested.

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I agree up to a point. Here’s where I am right now.

The last 2 beats of the first line (Cmaj7 Bm7) are just a suggestion that we might modulate to Em, but we don’t yet. The last bar of the 2nd line is really the already signalled modulation to Em which continues throughout the pre-chorus then abruptly goes back to E major for the chorus and next verse.

So, I am improvising using E major and deforming the scale for the last 2 beats of line 1 to use b3 b6 and b7. It’s only 2 beats so that’s not a big deal. There isn’t enough time to play all the flatted notes each time and not sound contrived anyway.

Then on the last bar of line 2 of the verse I really do switch to Em until we get back to Emajor on the chorus, where I switch back to E major and deform the scale for the last bar of each line to accommodate the E minor chords.

It’s working for me! But I am happy to hear other strategies.

I listened to the track again, and I can hear what you say happening at the end of line 1 and 2. No altered notes in the melody, but clearly something changes in the background chords.

The chords

I think are

1 | 6- | 4 | 4 / ? ?

The last two chords, I hear the bass line playing b6 then 5 bass notes, which agrees with your C natural and B chords, but I dont know what the IFR chords are. I’ve not really looked into the Mixed Harmony section, so thats about as far as I can go.

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I’ve read the Mixed Harmony section 3 times now but that is clearly not enough😁. I’ll persevere. For now I’ll call it b6maj7