Harmonic analysis of the jazz standard “Yesterdays” by Jerome Kern.

Yesterdays was composed by Jerome Kern in 1933. The song follows a 16 bar form and is originally in the key of D minor. This is an analysis of the harmony in Yesterdays and an explanation of the concepts used in the analysis. The image above shows my full analysis, which I will explore in more detail below. You can refer to the conventions page to explore the analytic concepts used or get the PDF for free.

The first four bars of this piece have a minor i — ii — V cadence repeated twice. This is followed by i-7 again and a #VII augmented chord, which can be thought of as a chromatic passing chord or as a simplified inversion of i-(Δ7). This is followed by a i-7/VII which is the third inversion of i-7. The last two bars of the first 8 bar section have the ii/V and V7/V chords, which lead us to the V7.

The final 8 bars of this piece are mostly just an extended series of sequential dominants. The V7 leads to V7/VI which leads to V7/VII, which goes to VII7 to V7/VI. This finally resolves on a VIΔ7 followed by the ii — V cadence in the key leading back to the top of the piece.