“Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise” is a tune written by Sigmund Romberg with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
It was written for the 1928 operetta “The New Moon”. The lyrics are bitter and talk of yearning for a lost love. It was originally written as a tango but many different versions of the tune have been performed since.
In the jazz realm, this is a very common jam session tune and is important to know.
This tune is most commonly played in the key of C minor.
Note: We see in this tune a lot of minor ii V7 i’s. You should be aware that jazz musicians will use all kinds of substitutions to get back to the i chord. A very common substitution would be the tri-tone.
Example: Ab7/G7/Cm7 instead of Dm7(b5)/G7/Cm7.
You can also add the vi(b5) chord before the ii and so on.
Note: During the bridge we find a series of diatonic chords connected by diminished passing chords(Ebmaj7/Edim7/Fm7/Gbdim7/G7). We can also substitute minor ii V7’s to get into the chord they are resolving to, replacing the diminished chords.
Example: Ebmaj7/ /Gm7(b5) C7/ Fm7 / Am7(b5) D7/ G7