Harmonic analysis of the jazz standard “‘Round Midnight” by Thelonius Monk.

‘Round Midnight was composed by Thelonius Monk in 1944. The song has an AABA form and was originally in Eb minor. This is an analysis of the harmony in ‘Round Midnight and an explanation of concepts used in the analysis. The image above shows the full analysis which will be further explored below. You can refer to the conventions page to explore the analytic concepts used or get the PDF for free.

High-Level Observations

This is a fairly difficult piece to analyze functionally because Monk sometimes uses chords in a more coloristic than functional manner. However, I have tried to perform a functional analysis to try and uncover some of the harmonic structure of the tune. 

Section A

The song begins on the i-7 tonic with a descending chromatic bassline. This is followed by the natural sixth -7(b5) from melodic minor and the iv-7, VII7 (which is the ii-7, V7 of the relative major, Gb). This ii — V does not resolve though, and we go back to the natural sixth scale degree for a related ii — V of V. This does not resolve either and the next measure has a ii — V of #iv followed by a ii — V of iv. The last V7 actually resolves to the iv-7 and is followed by the VII7 leading to the IIIΔ7. This can also be thought of as a ii-V-I in Gb major. The IV7 is borrowed from the melodic minor after this and is followed by ii — V of V and ii — V in the key to lead back to the tonic on the repeat of section A. 

Section A’

The repeat of section A is the same until the second ending. This ending has a ii — V of V and ii — V but then resolves to the IΔ7 borrowed from the parallel major. 

Section B 

Section B opens with a ii — V of V that goes to the V7. This cadence repeats before going to a vi-7 and the ii — V in the key. The next three measures cycle in fourths from the ii — V of V, ii — V of iv, and iv — VII (the ii — V of Gb major). The last measure has the ii — V of ♭ii followed by the ii — V leading back to the tonic of section A. 

Section A’’

The last repeat of section A is identical to A' but the last measure resolves to i-7 instead of IΔ7.