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  1. #1

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    I don’t have any examples at the moment, but when listening to recorded jazz tunes with minor ii-Vs, I don’t really hear that “vanilla” iim7-5 sound. Problem is I’m not sure what I hear exactly—in actual jazz practice, say from bop and hard bop eras, what is typically being played? I realize there’s probably a million examples, and that I should get my lazy butt going and transcribe, but I’m curious what others hear, think, and play.

    I’ll try to explain. In a major ii-V context, it is easy for me to hear and play two note voicings—just the b3 and b7 with the the b7 of the ii resolving down to the maj 3 of the dominant. Barry Harris talks about the ii chord being a suspended dominant, which I definitely can hear and work with.

    But something seems lost when I do this with the iim7-5. What do you hear as the important notes of this chord? It just sounds weird or somehow not quite right no matter how I play it. I get some sounds I kind of like playing the b5 and root above both resolving down a half-step to the 3 and b7, but still not quite right to my ear. Does this chord require three notes, or maybe just one note? Spread the voices out more? Add extensions? Play only extensions?

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  3. #2

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    Not sure what you mean by vanilla minor ii-V but suppose we think of C major as vanilla and its relative minor A minor as vanilla. Natural minor has a minor v (EGBD) not a dominant V, so A harmonic minor adds the leading tone G# to give us a real dominant seventh chord (EG#BD) that provides a strong V-i resolution.

    Now... the ii chord in A harmonic minor is BDFA, and the V is EG#BD. Common chord symbol "shorthand" for describing these sounds would be B-7b5 (aka B half-diminished) and E7 respectively.

    Notice that if we continue to stack in-key-signature thirds to extend V we get EG#BDF. The F is not a major 9 to the E root but a minor 9th. So one could symbolize the "vanilla" minor ii-V as ii-7b5 to V7b9. Thus one salient characteristic of a minor ii-V is that the V is a V7b9 instead of a V9.

    Now let's omit the E root in our V7b9 and we get G#BDF or G#full diminished 7. B full diminished, D full diminished and F full diminished are all respellings of the same chord. Thus another way to look at the "vanilla" minor ii-V is B half-diminished to B full diminished. Recall that B half dim is BDFA and B full dim is BDFG#, which we can respell as BDFAb. Thus the only notes that move in a "vanilla" minor ii-V are the m7(A) going down a half step to dim 7 (Ab) and the root movement, which is B to E in the classic ii-V or B to Bb in the tritone version of same. As a guitarist you will often not GAF about the root and just play the extensions, so you can THINK OF that minor ii-V as the half-diminished to full-diminished sound based on ANY of those roots mentioned earlier. To really spell this out: you can play this as half-dim to full-dim rooted on ANY of the notes that make up the V7. Pretty cool!

    Now... this is jazz, so we aren't going to limit ourselves to in-key-signature notes and functional harmony; we're going to say that if you are using any altered dominant, you can sub any other altered dominant in its place, for reasons that would make this post TLDR. Just understand that you are not limited to V7b9; that's just the beginning. Therefore there is no "one right way" to voice, solo over, or sub a minor ii-V. There are a lot of ways, and that's why you hear so many different approaches that all work well. Experiment :-)

    HTH

    SJ

  4. #3

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    Another way to simplify this is to treat it just like the major key ii-V you already know, but flat the fifth of the ii and its corresponding 9th in the V.

    So, in Cmajor we have a ii V of D-7 to G7.

    Let's extend G7 as G9 and spell out G9 as GBDFA. Shuffle those notes around a bit to get DFAB (omitting the root, cuz we are badass jazz guitarists.) That's a D-6.

    So we can play major ii-V as D-7 to D-6. The m7 moves to the Ma6.

    Now lets just flat the fifth of the D-7: our D-7 becomes D-7b5 spelled DFAbC and the G9 becomes G7b9 spelled GBDFAb

    And we can play this as D-7b5 to D full diminished ... again only one note changes, (m7 to ma6 aka dim7) because we have already flatted the A in both the ii (DFAbC) and the V (DFAbB).

    In terms of a practical approach: dorian mode contains both the m7 and the ma6, so all the notes to realize both chords are under your fingers already. Likewise, if you take an arpeggiated approach, it's relatively straightforward to learn D-7 arpeggio resolving to D-6.

  5. #4

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    In C, so D -> G -> C

    Try just playing the top three strings down arpeggio'ing without worrying about the chords, to hear the different ways.

    C A F - C Ab F - B G E
    C Ab F - C Ab F - B G E
    C A F - B G F - B G E
    C Ab F - B G F - B G E
    C A F - B Ab F - B G E
    C Ab F - B Ab F - B G E
    C A F - B A F - B G E
    C Ab F - B A F - B G E

    When you can hear each of those as distinct, then take each of those and compare to the various chord versions of the ii and V.

  6. #5

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    wzpgsr -

    I don’t have any examples at the moment
    You must be joking. Not a single one?

  7. #6

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    Partly I know what you mean... not sure of course... I guess I know.

    If you use this minor turnaround in major key... so just treat b5 as anticipation of b9 on dominant.. altered sound...
    (Do not think of 3rd and 7th giudlines in that case)

    So you can resolve it only to the I chord.. and the resolution can be half-step up to the 6th of I6...

    Just as an idea...

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    wzpgsr -



    You must be joking. Not a single one?
    Not joking. Trying to differentiate between a chart saying Am7-5 / D7 / Gm6 to actual notes that actual players play on actual recordings. For example, in a maj ii-V-I you might hear a pianist play with his left hand a dominant 7th voicing that has the just b7, the 3, and the 13;

    x 3 4 4 x x

    This voicing was something I likely never would have played just looking at a chart, but once I discovered it, I like it quite a bit. You can easily throw the root or b9 or natural 9 on top. Its sounds cool. I have not been able to encapsulate the sound of the iim7-5 in a two or three note voicing that sounds as hip to me.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr
    I don’t have any examples at the moment, but when listening to recorded jazz tunes with minor ii-Vs, I don’t really hear that “vanilla” iim7-5 sound. Problem is I’m not sure what I hear exactly—in actual jazz practice, say from bop and hard bop eras, what is typically being played? I realize there’s probably a million examples, and that I should get my lazy butt going and transcribe, but I’m curious what others hear, think, and play.

    I’ll try to explain. In a major ii-V context, it is easy for me to hear and play two note voicings—just the b3 and b7 with the the b7 of the ii resolving down to the maj 3 of the dominant. Barry Harris talks about the ii chord being a suspended dominant, which I definitely can hear and work with.

    But something seems lost when I do this with the iim7-5. What do you hear as the important notes of this chord? It just sounds weird or somehow not quite right no matter how I play it. I get some sounds I kind of like playing the b5 and root above both resolving down a half-step to the 3 and b7, but still not quite right to my ear. Does this chord require three notes, or maybe just one note? Spread the voices out more? Add extensions? Play only extensions?
    I like to leave out the 3rd. That way if you have an 11th which is actually very common with m7b5 chords (beautiful love for instance) you can get the b5 in and it not just sound like a m11 chord

    x 5 6 5 8 x

    Also try- C major triad on D F tritone

    x 5 6 5 5 3

    For Dm7b5

    Bill Evans-tastic

  10. #9

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    Also

    Ab7 G7 Cm
    Bb7 Bo7 Cm

  11. #10

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    I
    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr
    Not joking. Trying to differentiate between a chart saying Am7-5 / D7 / Gm6 to actual notes that actual players play on actual recordings. For example, in a maj ii-V-I you might hear a pianist play with his left hand a dominant 7th voicing that has the just b7, the 3, and the 13;

    x 3 4 4 x x

    This voicing was something I likely never would have played just looking at a chart, but once I discovered it, I like it quite a bit. You can easily throw the root or b9 or natural 9 on top. Its sounds cool. I have not been able to encapsulate the sound of the iim7-5 in a two or three note voicing that sounds as hip to me.
    Or a #9
    x 2 3 2 5 x

    Rootless dominants are great.

    Also, thirdless shells e.g. 3 x 3 x x x

    For majors play

    3 x 2 x x x
    8 x 7 x x x

    omitting the root of the third seems to be quite a common approach. Of course sevenths sound a bit stark in a major, but it can still be cool in the right place

    8 x 9 x x x

    Half dim, use the tritone

    x 5 6 x x x
    4 5 x x x x

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Half dim, use the tritone

    x 5 6 x x x
    4 5 x x x x
    Okay cool. While I appreciate a lot of the theoretical responses above, I’m really just looking for some meat and potatoes voicings like this. Thanks Christian (and all). Have been feeling a bit stuck with over-voicing chords and want to simplify how I hear the iim7-5 to V7 movement. I like this idea of the tritone because I hear the b5, not the root, of the half-dim as the most important tone of this chord. In that sense, then, I guess I do sort of hear the iim7-5 as the V with a b9 suspension? It’s a similar thing conceptually I think to how in certain maj7 voicings the 7 itself sounds more important than the root.