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Thread: 9#11 Chord in Jazz Piece

  1. #1
    Registered User 01371406's Avatar
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    Angry 9#11 Chord in Jazz Piece

    So I am playing a piece of music that has the chords:
    Am9 Bb9#11........

    Why is the Bb chord notating the 9 position in the Bb chord? I thought the 9 position was a given when someone asked for an 11 or #11 chord. Why reiterate this? Is there further meaning behind the request of a Bb9#11? More typically I see this chord written Bb7#11. As is my understanding a Bb9#11 would consist of the same notes as a Bb7#11. Am I wrong?

    Bb9#11= Bb D F Ab C E
    Bb7#11= Bb D F Ab C E

  2. #2
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    Well, my understanding of it is that if a note is specifically stated in the chord, it is not optional and must be played. Otherwise, you can consider it optional, at your discretion.

    So though an 11th chord technically includes a 9th, it's optional unless specifically notated. Same for a 13th, where you could omit the 9th and 11th unless specifically notated.

    And thank goodness for that, because voicing a full 13th on a guitar would be completely impossible. Even omitting the 5th (which is pretty much always optional unless specifically called for) would improve things only a little.

    Grep.
    "Whaddya mean DYNAMICS?! I'm playing as loud as I can!"

  3. #3
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    They may have meant a B7alt = B7 with a b9 & a b5, Ii's difficult to say one way or the other without seeing the rest of the chords.

    At any rate Bb9#11 is a confusing way to write either a B7 b9 or a Bb7 (9)

  4. #4
    Registered User 01371406's Avatar
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    Jed,

    I am fairly sure the b in the Bb referred to the B. Since the "b" would have been superscript had it applied to the 9 and a 7 placed in front of the 9. But as chords go there is no defined rule-book so anything goes.

  5. #5
    Registered User 01371406's Avatar
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    Grep you make a good point. I have never read this about notes specified must be present in the chord but it makes more sense that way.

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed
    They may have meant a B7alt = B7 with a b9 & a b5, Ii's difficult to say one way or the other without seeing the rest of the chords.

    At any rate Bb9#11 is a confusing way to write either a B7 b9 or a Bb7 (9)
    Bb9#11 is a significantly different chord from Bb7b9.
    Bb9#11 is a common indication for lydian dominant (1-2-3-#4-5-6-b7), while Bb7b9 would indicate either Bb HW dim (1-b2-#2-3-#4-5-6-b7) or Bb altered (1-b2-#2-3-b5-#5-b7).
    Altered dominants (with a b9 or #9) would show b5 rather than #11, if that note were required.

    I agree with Grep. The 9th is important to this particular chord (perhaps a melody note?), which is why it's not shown as Bb7#11. "Bb7#11" doesn't need the 9th.

  7. #7
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01371406
    Jed,

    I am fairly sure the b in the Bb referred to the B. Since the "b" would have been superscript had it applied to the 9 and a 7 placed in front of the 9. But as chords go there is no defined rule-book so anything goes.
    No written rule book, no, but there are common practices that jazz charts (at least) adhere to. It's not true that "anything goes"! (It IS true that inexperienced jazz chart writers will get the language wrong occasionally, but I doubt that's the case here.)

    Eg, you're right about the "b" and the "9" and "7". I'm sure Jed knows this of course . But "9#11" is a very common chord type in jazz: lydian dominant, as I said above. Could be written 7#11 or 13#11, and don't assume a 9th is needed unless specified. "11" and "13" only include 9 in theory, not in practice. As Grep says, 9 is optional in 11 chords; and don't include 11 in 13 chords. A perfect 11th is definitely not wanted in a maj13 or dom13 chord - although you might get a specified #11, as here.

    Lydian dominants are normally bII chords (sometimes bVIIs). 7b9s and 7alts are normally V chords.
    Bb7#11 (or Bb9#11 or indeed Bb13#11!) would normally resolve to Am. It's a common tritone sub for E7 or E7alt (E7#5#9 or b5b9), and takes the same scale (F melodic minor).

    Bb7b9 would normally go to Ebm.

    BTW, on guitar, 9#11s are usually easier to play than 7#11s. If I see 7#11 I often play 9#11, because 9s are optional and usually (IMO) improve the sound of the chord.

  8. #8
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    A likely reason for the composer (or the guy who wrote the symbol in the chart) to notate the chord as a 9#11 is because the melody note might be a 9th (C in this case). Otherwise there is no real reason to notate it as such. Take a look at the chart and see what the melody note is. The chord (as previously stated) usually resolves down a half step.

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