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Thread: Chords with notes outside of its mode...

  1. #1
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    Chords with notes outside of its mode...

    Okay, a relatively confusing title, perhaps, but bear with me...

    I know my way around chords with a reasonable confidence and have a basic understanding of pulling outside notes here and there, but lately I've been trying to expand my chord lexicon and have been reconsidering chords I've passed over for awhile now.

    Example: E7+9
    Naturally, the chords that bend the logic of any mode are going to be something with both a major and minor 3rd (the augmented 9th) in it. What is the practical application of this both melodically and harmonically? Same with chords that throw in a raised 4th in the upper voicing. Do these function like dominant chords? Is there a way they're supposed to be placed harmonically (since they clearly don't have a naturally occurring placement) or a way they're meant to be resolved or are they like regular dominant 7 chords in the context of jazz where they can be flexibly used?

    Thanks in advance. I've often been afraid to breach jazz-type theory because it seems so arbitrary to me. Now, however, I'm intrigued by the frontier.
    [Johnny K]

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [J.K.] View Post
    Okay, a relatively confusing title, perhaps, but bear with me...

    I know my way around chords with a reasonable confidence and have a basic understanding of pulling outside notes here and there, but lately I've been trying to expand my chord lexicon and have been reconsidering chords I've passed over for awhile now.

    Example: E7+9
    Naturally, the chords that bend the logic of any mode are going to be something with both a major and minor 3rd (the augmented 9th) in it. What is the practical application of this both melodically and harmonically?
    E7#9 has two common functions.

    1. As a dominant (V) chord in the key of A minor. Usually known as an "altered dominant", and two scales can be applied for improvising on it: "E altered" (E F G G# Bb C D, 7th mode F melodic minor), or "E HW dim" (E F G G# A# B C# D).
    It might also be used as a V7 in A major.

    2. As a tonic chord in jazz/blues (ie in E). Known in rock circles as the "Hendrix chord", because he was the first to use it in rock. (It was known in jazz before that, as in Kenny Burrell's "Chitlins Con Carne", which features C7#9.)
    The associated scale for a tonic E7#9 would be E blues scale, or some mix of major and minor pent.
    Quote Originally Posted by [J.K.] View Post
    Same with chords that throw in a raised 4th in the upper voicing. Do these function like dominant chords?
    Sort of. If the chord has a b7, it's based on a dom7-type chord, but rarely used as a V7 (ie in a normal dominant function).
    Written as 7#11 (extending to 9#11 or 13#11), it's known as "lydian dominant". The scale is 4th mode of melodic minor, ie, E7#11 would take the B melodic minor scale. It would typically be used as a bII, ie to resolve to D#m (Ebm), or less often to Eb major; or sometimes as a bVII chord in a major key, ie to resolve to F#/Gb major.

    Altered dominants and lydian dominants are tritone substitutes for each other, expressions of the same melodic minor scale.
    Eg, E7#9 and Bb7#11 both take the F melodic minor scale, and both resolve to A minor.
    Even though E7#9 and Bb7#11 can be harmonized from the F melodic minor scale, they would not be used in the key of F minor. The vii chord in F minor is Edim7 (from F harmonic minor), and the iv chord is Bbm7 (from natural minor).

    The other type of chord with a raised 4th/11th is a lydian chord: maj7#11. This occurs naturally on the IV step of a major scale, but can sometimes be used as a tonic chord, because the raised 11th works better as a chord extension than the perfect 11th.
    Last edited by JonR; 02-29-2012 at 05:38 AM.

  3. #3
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    Brilliant. Thanks so much for the information. That's exactly what I was looking for. I rarely experiment with altered scales, but it's definitely some food for thought, even if for a brief tonicization to add a little flavor. I appreciate the thorough response!
    [Johnny K]

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