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Thread: what exactly is a tritone/triad??

  1. #1

    what exactly is a tritone/triad??

    Hi guys back with another thread. what exactly is a tritone/triad?? I was watching video that I came across. I couldnt figure out how he was making all these chords fit with an F maj9. I mean there were nice grooves in the music as well.


  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Twickenham, UK
    What he's doing is:

    1. Starting with a diatonic I-IV in C major: C and F chords each with maj7 and 9 extensions.

    2. Turning them into dom7s by flattening the 7th in each one. The "tritone" in each case is the 3rd and b7 of the chord: E and Bb on C, A and Eb on F.
    So what he means by a "C tritone" is the tritone (3rd and 7th) from a C7 chord.
    He's playing to a backing track with bass, so he doesn't need to play the chord roots. E-Bb (C bass) is C7, and A-Eb (F bass) is F7. The 5th of each chord is omitted.

    3. Superimposing upper triads, to give the effect of extended chords. (All the following is on the C7, resolving to Fmaj9 each time.)

    i: Am triad (ACE) on C7 = C13 (C E Bb A)
    ii: Gm triad (G Bb D) on C7 = C9 (C E G Bb D)
    iii: "D7b5" (D-Ab-C triad, missing 3rd of D) on C7 = C9b13 (C E Bb D Ab) - will sound like C9#5 as there is no G in the chord.
    iv: Ab triad (Ab-C-Eb) on C7 = C7#9b13 (C E Bb Eb/D# Ab). Again, no G in the chord makes Ab sound like G#: C7#9#5.
    v: A triad (A-C#-E) on C7 = C13b9 (C E Bb Db(C#) A)
    vi: F# triad (F#-A#-E) on C7 = C7#11 (C E Bb F#) or C7b5 (C E Bb Gb)
    vii: Eb triad (Eb-G-Bb) on C7 = C7#9 (C E Bb Eb)
    viii: Db triad (Db-F-Ab) on C7 = C11b9b13 (! - The Db and Ab are b9 and b13, but there is a serious dissonance IMO between the F in his right hand and the E in his left.)
    When he plays the Eb-Db together leading to Fmaj9, you get some good voice-leading, and he cuts out the E in the left hand when he does that.
    Voice moves:
    Bb > Ab > G (9th of F)
    G > F > E (maj7 of F)
    Eb > Db > C (5th of F)

    What all these superimposed triads are doing is combining various extensions and/or alterations to the C7 chord. The available notes (anything not contained in the chord) are:
    Db = b9
    D = 9
    Eb = D# = #9
    F = 11th (best avoid this one IMO, although he manages to get away with it)
    F#/Gb = #11/b5
    Ab/G# = b13/#5
    A = 13
    Combine those with any C7 chord tones (C E G Bb) and obviously there's a ton of triads you could make.
    (Notice one note is missing: B natural. This should not be used as it fights the essential Bb in the chord. It's the one note he never uses. You can get away with the F if you omit or downplay the E in the chord, because then you'll get a sus4 sound.)

    Remember the point of ALL this is to add various tensions in order to resolve to the F chord.

    He does eventually get to turning the F into F7 and imposing triads on that; but by then he's given up telling us what they are. These dissonances are "non-functional", because the F7 is not resolving as a dom7 normally does. F7 in key of C would be a blues chord, but he's adding a lot of non-blues dissonances.

  3. #3
    Gosh darn it! I wish they had a book that was base upon this subject. For I find it very interesting. BTW nice breakdown of the video JonR your the best!

  4. #4
    JonR I hope you dont mind me asking this question - but can this concept be taken and learned on the guitar?

  5. #5
    Registered User Color of Music's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    North Carolina
    Quote Originally Posted by dwest2419 View Post
    JonR I hope you dont mind me asking this question - but can this concept be taken and learned on the guitar?
    Yes, the obvious limitation is not enough fingers or strings for that matter and the chords (shapes) being more difficult to form.

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