May 7, 2014

Like Someone in Love - Part 2 (The chord changes?)

Jimmy Van Heusen's "Like Someone in Love" first appeared in 1944; it is one of those tunes that has undergone some harmonic development over the years. Published sources and recordings differ with regard to the key and the chord progression. (Click here for Part 1, concerning what keys this tune is generally played in.)

I thought it would be interesting to survey the harmonic variations that one might encounter. The first reference to check was the original sheet music; I got a copy from the Kampko Vintage Sheet Music Shoppe

As with all vintage sheet music, this is not a lead sheet, but rather a piano arrangement. Above the measures are chord symbols, charted so that a guitarist playing from the symbols wouldn't clash with the piano arrangement. When played without the arranged piano part, the chords make for a sketchy but adequate accompaniment. Below is how the chords alone appear in this chart (you can find the melody in any fakebook). Click to enlarge.

By 1944 standards, this is not a bad chart. The most questionable part is the last 5 bars, cluttered with chords that were intended to reflect the (simpler, clearer) piano arrangement. 

To change this into a lead sheet of the sort that we prefer today, the chords need some simplification and modernization.

The original piano arrangement (not shown here in its entirety, due to copyright considerations) has some nice features that are not reflected in the chord symbols. In particular, note the descending line in the first 4 measures, shown below (top voice in the bass clef, 2 beats each, C - B - A - G - F# - F - E ). This line is used in many modern lead sheets.

Here's another nice touch in the piano part - a #9 to b9 in measure 16, where the melody hits the #5. Not bad for 1944!

Incidentally, this tune was written with an introductory "verse," shown in the sheet music, but not present in any other printed or recorded source that I could find. This tune was not written for a Broadway show, and the verse does not seem to have been used in the movie where it first appeared ("Belle of the Yukon," with Dinah Shore and Gypsy Rose Lee).

Next, below are the chords from a 1950s fakebook version (apparently a "Tune-Dex" chart). The chords are simplified, and the last 5 bars are cleaned up. The harmonic rhythm in bars 3 and 19 is off, and many chords are shown only as triads. The II V in bars 8 and 24 has been simplified to just a V. Aside from the original sheet music, this is what was available to musicians in the 1950s:

Now, let's skip ahead to some more modern versions. Below is the basic chord progression shown in "Pocket Changes," a Jamey Aebersold book from the 1980s. It's a perfect "vanilla" chart, a simple reworking of the sheet music. There are no superfluous changes; tonal center shifts are shown as the II V I's that we are all used to working with. I should note that the "minor" chords are undoubtedly intended to be played as minor sevenths, and the major chords as maj6, maj7, or maj6/9, as the player may choose. Note the addition of the A7 in mm.4 and 20, the Gm in mm.8 and 24, and the Bm in mm.10 and 26.

"Pocket Changes" shows some alternate changes too - see the chart below. Note the chromatic bass line in mm.1-4 and 17-20 (present in the original piano arrangement); the Eb7 in mm.4 and 20 (tritone sub for A7); and the II V in mm.6 and 22 (it's a II V in E minor, but resolves nicely into the tonic C chord in mm.7 and 23)

The chords in the original Real Book version (c. 1974) are shown below (the old RB has the tune in Eb; I transposed it here into C). In mm.1 and 17, E7 has been added to set up the Am7 that follows. In mm.3 and 19,  F#m7b5 is not too different from the original D7/F#. The F7#9 in mm.3 and 19 may be a typo; it sounds better as F7#11 (which is not too different from G7/F). The reharmonization in mm.1-4 and 17-20 preserves the chromatic bass line, but alters the harmonic implications. Measures 3-4 and 19-20 are somewhat like the sequence in "Night and Day" that begins with a m7b5 chord built on the b5 of the key.

In mm.6-7 and 25-26, the II V resolves into Em7 (not too different from Cmaj7). This old RB version has most of the "bells and whistles" that we see in other modern charts for "Like Someone in Love." 

Next, here are chord charts from two commonly-used fakebooks: The first is from the "New Real Book" (Sher Music), the second is from the "The Real Book: Sixth Edition " (Hal Leonard). They are not too different, and use the various "bells and whistles" that we have already noted (the Hal Leonard book shows the tune in Eb; I've transposed it to C):

I've checked out quite a few more printed versions and recordings. Virtually all of them use some combination of the harmonic devices discussed above.

Next, here are the alternate changes from the chart in "Dick Hyman's Professional Chord Changes and Substitutions for 100 Tunes Every Musician Should Know" (1986). I'm sure that they work best with Dick's voicings:

Don Haas was a legendary Bay Area jazz pianist and teacher, who passed away a few years ago. I never studied with Don - I'm not much of a pianist anyway, really - but I did get my hands on some of his teaching material, via a couple of his former students. Among other things, he wrote out a series of seven charts for "Like Someone in Love," with different harmonizations, progressing from very simple (I, IV, and V chords) to very complex (see below). 

I really hope that someday Don's family will publish his handouts. A lot of musicians would benefit!

Below is a chart taken from the last reharmonization in the "Like Someone in Love" series. Don's arrangement was complete with written-out voicings, omitted here out of respect for copyright. But you will get the idea. Give this one a try!


  1. Thanks, no wonder I never got to grips with this tune. I searched for ages for which I 'now' know is called a (chromatic bass line)Duh! I should have guessed. I once asked my teacher for some info on how to break this tune down but he declined silently. Also, with the chromatic bass line in bar 2 D7/F# G7/F , I think most musicians feel that , this is |F#m7b5 B7| Em| When as you have shown it is : |D7 G7| C|

    Anyhow , I think I have it and if not ,; plenty of example to figure it out. Are the tune-dex available on-line?

    1. Thanks for the comment! As you said, bars 3-4 could very well be played | F#m7b5 B7 | Em |. That would be maybe a more interesting way to assign chord symbols to the notes in the piano part - it's just a bit of reharmonization - not that there is anything wrong with that...

      Calling that spot | D7 G7 | C | , as in the symbols of the original sheet, is not precisely what the piano part says, either, but is completely compatible with the piano notes. It's a little less in line with the approach most musicians now like to take.

      I don't know where the Tune-Dex charts are available online, although I'm sure someone has posted them somewhere. One early pirate compilation of Tune-dex cards was simply called "1000 Songs." You could try searching under that title. Maybe someone has a paper copy for sale.