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27 January 2013


Writing a popular tune is like playing a game of chess. There are recommended moves and gambits, on top of which you need flashes of the unorthodox.

As in chess, there are standard openings. For example, there is the We’ll Meet Again, Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When harmonic opening. It's known to jazz musicians as the 'Georgia' progression.

It is used in such tunes as It’s Only a Shanty in Old Shanty Town, Basin Street Blues (main theme)The Charleston, Has Anybody Seen My Girl?Clarinet Marmalade (main theme), MarthaYou're Nobody Till Somebody Loves YouPlease Don’t Talk About Me When I’m GoneDo Your DutyDarkness on the DeltaBlack Bottom Stomp (introduction)That Da Da Strain (main theme)I've Heard That Song BeforeIf You Were the Only Girl in the WorldHey Look Me OverWhenever You're LonesomeGive it UpLover Come Back to MeI'm Alone Because I Love You'Taint Nobody's Business if I DoBarefoot BoyAll of Me and Who’s Sorry Now.

The chord progression was very common in the 1920s, especially in Charleston-style numbers, but it also works well in slower tunes.

What do they all have in common?

Yes - like We'll Meet Again - they all start on the chord of the tonic. Then they change to the chord of the third note in the scale and then to the chord of the sixth note in the scale. So in the key of C, their first three chords would be:
In some cases, such as All of Me and Who’s Sorry Now?, we have two bars of each chord.

Then  there’s the slight twist of Georgia, whose chorus starts in this way, but with a minor chord instead of a major in the third bar.