Sir Duke chords



You can learn how to play Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder!

Written about Duke Ellington and other musicians that influenced Stevie Wonder, like Ella Fitzgerald, Louie Armstrong, Count Basie, and Glenn Miller, Sir Duke is a love letter to the legends in the world of music.

This isn’t the only time Stevie has done this, Master Blaster is about Bob Marley, and Happy Birthday is about Martin Luther King Jr.

Released as a single off the album Songs In The Key Of Life in 1977, it has become one of Stevie Wonder’s signature songs and a must-know for any serious musician who wants to play with a soul band.

The instrumental section is a great test to see if you know your major blues scale, just like Master Blaster tested your minor pentatonic.

Let’s take a look at all lyrics and chords for this masterpiece and below, I’ll attempt to take the chord progression apart – which is easier said than done!


Sir Duke chords and lyrics 


||: B | G#madd9addb5 | G | F#7 :||

||: B | G#m | G | F#7 :||
Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.
With an equal opportunity for all to sing, dance and clap their hands.

| E9 Eb9 D9 Db9 | D9 Eb9 E9 |
But just because a record has a groove don’t make it in the groove.
| E9 Eb9 D9 Db9 | D9 Eb9 E9 F#7 |
But you can tell right away at letter A, when the people start to move.

||: B | Fm7 | Emaj7  B/D# | C#m7 F#7 F#7sus4 :||
They can feel it all over, but they can feel it all over people.
They can feel it all over, they can feel it all over people, no. 

||: B Major Blues riff :|| x7
Yeah. Ha ha ha! 
| B Major Blues riff  F# |

||: B | G#m | G | F#7 :||
Music knows that it is and always will be one of the things that life just won’t quit.
But here are some of music’s pioneers that time will not allow us to forget now.

| E9 Eb9 D9 Db9 | D9 Eb9 E9 |
For there’s Basie, Miller, Satchmo and the king of all, Sir Duke.
| E9 Eb9 D9 Db9 | D9 Eb9 E9 F#7 |
And with a voice like Ella’s ringing out there’s no way the band could lose.

||: B | Fm7 | Emaj7  B/D# | C#m7 F#7 F#7sus4 :||
You can feel it all over. You can feel it all over people.
You can feel it all over. You can feel it all over people.
You can feel it all over. You can feel it all over people.
You can feel it all over. You can feel it all over, yeah go!

||: B Major Blues riff :|| x7
| B Major Blues riff  F# |

||: B | Fm7 | Emaj7  B/D# | C#m7 F#7 F#7sus4 :||
You can feel it all over. You can feel it all over people.
You can feel it all over. You can feel it all over people.
You can feel it all over. You can feel it all over people.
You can feel it all over. I can feel it all, all, all-all-all over now people.
Can’t you feel it all over? Come on, let’s feel it all over people.
You can feel it all over. Everybody all over people, go!

||: B Major Blues riff :|| x7
Don’t wanna look. Ha ha.
| B Major Blues riff  F# |


Sir Duke chord progression

The master of chord progressions, Stevie Wonder, really knocks it out of the park with this one! There are a few chords in here that just shouldn’t work, but clearly do! Let’s start with the intro.

||: B | G#madd9addb5 | G | F#7 :||

This is essentially what the verse will be, with the exception of the very strange-sounding G#madd9addb5!

The reason I’ve called it this is because the melody played over this G#m chord has a 9th and a b5 in it. So even though it sounds really complicated, it’s there to help!

The verse is the same but just a straight G#m, so what are the roman numerals? Well… the first two chords are I – VI, and the final chord is a V.

This leaves us with the G chord which is a chromatic chord that works because it’s between chords VI and V. Usually, this would be a dim7 but Stevie just uses a straight major triad.

Speaking of chromatic, next, the bridge is packed with them!

| E9 Eb9 D9 Db9 | D9 Eb9 E9 |

You could go all tritone substitution here with the explanation, claiming that this is a cycle of 4th where every other chord is tritone substituted, so E9 – A7 – D9 – G7, which would be common, is now Eb9 and Db9 instead.

However, this wouldn’t explain the ascending movement of D9Eb9E9. So just like with the G in the verse, let’s just accept that this is chromatic and it sounds great!

The chorus is the craziest, looks like this:

||: B | Fm7 | Emaj7  B/D# | C#m7 F#7 F#7sus4 :||

If we ignore the Fm7 for now, then B is chord I, Emaj7 is IV, C#m7 is II, F#7 is V. All very common.

So, what about that Fm7? You could, again, say this is a tritone substitution, making the I chord to lead to chord IV but that shouldn’t have been a minor chord.

So what Stevie has done here is just gone: I prefer this note! COnsequentially, we just have to accept that in the world of Stevie Wonder, anything is possible.

We have to learn from Sir Duke, not try to fit it into our preconceived ideas of what music must be theoretically, because clearly, Stevie is right, always!


Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder is the legend whom most practicing musicians come across, that has a life-changing impact on them.

Stevie’s natural groove and ability to so purely express music are untouched. His vocal phrasing and songwriting are second to none.

Go to Stevie Wonder – Biography.


The Professional Guitarist Song Book

As a guitarist, a repertoire is the greatest asset that you can acquire.

Learn these songs and you can progress from being a bedroom player to working with acoustic duos, Jazz trios, Indie/Rock/Party bands as well as large Soul/Motown ensembles.

Go to Song Book.


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