Harmonic analysis of the jazz standard “I Can’t Get Started (With You)” by Vernon Duke.

I Can’t Get Started was composed by Vernon Duke in 1936. The original key is C and the song follows a 32-bar AABA form. This is a harmonic analysis of the changes in I Can’t Get Started, along with an explanation of the concepts used in the analysis. The image above shows my full analysis, which I will walk through below. You can refer to the conventions page for a deeper exploration of the analytic concepts used and get the PDF for free.

Section A

This song begins with a I — vi — ii — V progression followed by a secondary dominant cycle of fourths progression V7/vi — vi — V7/V — V. This is followed by another I — vi — ii — V followed by another secondary dominant fourths cycle V7/vi — V7/ii— V7/V — V. The repeat is the same with the exemption of the second minor plagal ending of I — iv — I.

Section B

Section B modulates a major second up to D at the beginning. In the new key, we have two ii — V cadences followed by a I — IV 7— iii — ii — V and a I — IV7. The final three measures are back in the original key. These measures have ii — V — iii — biii — ii — V before going back to the last repeat of A.