For me there are 3 things which signify that Autumn is just around the corner. Coats, Conkers and Rugby Posts. Today I have been for a walk around a small corner of Marlborough. With the skies being slightly cloudy and the temperature registering as 16 degrees, I figured that a light jacket would be a wise move. I embarked upon a stroll around a small corner of Marlborough which took in some of the college grounds. There I found a number of conker trees, as well as some freshly mown rugby pitches ready for the onslaught of some boys with an odd shaped ball.
When I was at Prep School, there was a very large conker tree where we used to line up at 8am for morning chapel. Returning to the school some 30 years later to record a CD, a lot of the buildings and rooms were almost unrecognisable. However, just outside the chapel the old conker tree was there, exactly as I remembered it.
In the 1940s, a Hungarian went to Paris to write a song with a Frenchman. The song they came up with was ‘Les Feuilles mortes’ which translates as ‘The Dead Leaves’. This song was used in the 1946 film Les Portes de la nuit (Gates of the Night). A few years later, Johnny Mercer decided that with this title, the song wasn’t going to be a hit. So he wrote some English lyrics and entitled the song ‘Autumn Leaves’.
The reason why this song is deemed important is because the chord progression consists almost solely of ii–V–I and ii–V sequences. This is a widely used, albeit fairly basic, jazz progression. In addition, the iv7–VII7–IIImaj7–VImaj7–iiø7–V7–i chord progression is an example of the circle-of-fifths progression.
To many readers, this may sound like nonsense. I am quite prepared to admit that I am clearly weird for looking at a conker tree and thinking about chord progressions. Welcome to my world!