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  1. #1

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    So my question is. Why on most cheat sheets , let's take blue bossa as an example do they always take the time to mark down minor 251s with an altered dominant but then mark down major 251s as just plain old unaltered 7th chords even though most people are going to play altered over both minor and major cadences. Just curious if anyone knows that's all.

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite
    So my question is. Why on most cheat sheets , let's take blue bossa as an example do they always take the time to mark down minor 251s with an altered dominant but then mark down major 251s as just plain old unaltered 7th chords even though most people are going to play altered over both minor and major cadences. Just curious if anyone knows that's all.
    I think that most people use the “cheat sheets” as general guidelines not as specific progressions.


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  4. #3

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    Because dominant b9 on minor is not altered, it's diatonic to minor (also b13, especially b13).

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite
    So my question is. Why on most cheat sheets , let's take blue bossa as an example do they always take the time to mark down minor 251s with an altered dominant but then mark down major 251s as just plain old unaltered 7th chords even though most people are going to play altered over both minor and major cadences. Just curious if anyone knows that's all.
    I'm not sure what you mean by "cheat sheets", but I don't think most charts do show altered dominant voicings of the V chord in ii V i's. For the heck of it, I just did image searches for "Blue Bossa lead sheet" and "Blue Bossa Real Book", and most show the the G7 as just a plain old G7.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Because dominant b9 on minor is not altered, it's diatonic to minor (also b13, especially b13).
    That would explain who one sees a 7b9 instead of a plain old 9, but not why one says any flavor of 9 at all instead of just a dom7 (and I think the answer is that the premise of the original question doesn't hold).

  6. #5

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    I think the convention is that the plain-Jane dom7 means major dominant. It suggests dom9 or dom13 as possible alternatives. That's why there is a distinction in the minor case.
    Also sometimes specific extensions are suggested to avoid a clash with the melody note.

    I'm not saying that one should blindly follow the chord symbols in fake books, I'm just speculating about the logic behind them.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite
    So my question is. Why on most cheat sheets , let's take blue bossa as an example do they always take the time to mark down minor 251s with an altered dominant but then mark down major 251s as just plain old unaltered 7th chords even though most people are going to play altered over both minor and major cadences. Just curious if anyone knows that's all.
    I think the answer is that most people like the melody with the stated alterations.

    Strum the chords and sing the melody and see which you prefer.

    It is understood that lead sheets are more toward the vanilla versions of the tunes than the enhanced harmony. But, it varies. Some fakebooks transcribe specific performances, others, composer's original chart, still others some amalgamation.

    There are pros and cons.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite
    So my question is. Why on most cheat sheets , let's take blue bossa as an example do they always take the time to mark down minor 251s with an altered dominant but then mark down major 251s as just plain old unaltered 7th chords even though most people are going to play altered over both minor and major cadences. Just curious if anyone knows that's all.
    They don't. The dominant before a minor is quite often written as unaltered. Which is confusing if you're sight-reading it and don't see the minor coming up. But if you're prepared then you're free to play it as a 7b9, a partially altered sound like a 13b9, a fully altered sound, a diminished, or some other sub.

    Of course, also quite often, the dominant can sound better played unaltered, it depends. It doesn't always have to have the b9 sound in it.

    Eg:

    Blue bossa chord progression question-untitled-jpg

  9. #8

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    IRealbook has both of those as G7b9.

    I can hear it as okay either way.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    I think the convention is that the plain-Jane dom7 means major dominant. It suggests dom9 or dom13 as possible alternatives. That's why there is a distinction in the minor case.
    Also sometimes specific extensions are suggested to avoid a clash with the melody note.

    I'm not saying that one should blindly follow the chord symbols in fake books, I'm just speculating about the logic behind them.
    That could be some people's reasoning.

  11. #10

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    The real book is sort of inconsistent with regard to chord symbol use.

  12. #11

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    Some seem to consider anything other than vanilla Dom, altered. Can we not refer to 7b9 as altered for the sake of avoiding confusion?

    Dom7 b9 -> minor (implies b13)
    Dom7 b9b13 -> see above
    Dom7 b913 -> diminished
    Dom7 #9b5-> altered (implies b13 b9)
    Dom7 b9b5-> altered (implies b13 #9)
    Dom7 9#5 -> whole tone
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-06-2021 at 04:23 PM.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Some seem to consider anything other than vanilla Dom, altered. Can we not refer to 7b9 as altered for the sake of avoiding confusion?

    Dom7 b9 -> minor (implies b13)
    Dom7 b9b13 -> see above
    Dom7 b913 -> diminished
    Dom7 #9b5-> altered (implies b13 b9)
    Dom7 b9b5-> altered (implies b13)
    Dom7 9#5 -> whole tone
    If the goal is to avoid confusion, I'd just name the "scale" with the name of the chord.

    So, for example, C7b9 is C E G Bb Db. If you want, you can add a couple of notes that usually work. If you have a b9, you can try a #9, that's Eb. And, you can add an A , which is a pretty neutral sounding note. So, your scale is C Db Eb E G A Bb C Db. That's almost a dim scale, but there's no #11.

    C7b9b13 is C E G Bb Db Ab. The #9 rule applies, so you can add the Eb. C Db Eb E G Bb Db Ab. That's 8 notes. You're going to avoid the natural 9, since you're playing the b9 and #9. You're going to avoid the natural 13, because you flatted it. That's 10 notes. The other two are B, which you're going to avoid because it's a dominant chord. The last one is F, which won't be terribly dissonant, and which you can use. So, it's every note except 13, nat7, and maybe the 11th.

    Or another simpler way to do it is to always assume that b9 implies #9 and vice versa. Exceptions exist but are uncommon.

    The same is not true of 5ths. b13 is a separate issue.

    Well, with this much verbiage it may not seem simpler. But, the idea is the chord symbol tells you a whole bunch of notes. Lots to use and two or three to avoid. (meaning you can use them but your line has to be strong). Isn't that close enough for any purpose?

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    If the goal is to avoid confusion, I'd just name the "scale" with the name of the chord.

    So, for example, C7b9 is C E G Bb Db. If you want, you can add a couple of notes that usually work. If you have a b9, you can try a #9, that's Eb. And, you can add an A , which is a pretty neutral sounding note. So, your scale is C Db Eb E G A Bb C Db. That's almost a dim scale, but there's no #11.

    C7b9b13 is C E G Bb Db Ab. The #9 rule applies, so you can add the Eb. C Db Eb E G Bb Db Ab. That's 8 notes. You're going to avoid the natural 9, since you're playing the b9 and #9. You're going to avoid the natural 13, because you flatted it. That's 10 notes. The other two are B, which you're going to avoid because it's a dominant chord. The last one is F, which won't be terribly dissonant, and which you can use. So, it's every note except 13, nat7, and maybe the 11th.

    Or another simpler way to do it is to always assume that b9 implies #9 and vice versa. Exceptions exist but are uncommon.

    The same is not true of 5ths. b13 is a separate issue.

    Well, with this much verbiage it may not seem simpler. But, the idea is the chord symbol tells you a whole bunch of notes. Lots to use and two or three to avoid. (meaning you can use them but your line has to be strong). Isn't that close enough for any purpose?
    This is all good stuff but what I meant was the term altered dominant already has a meaning in jazz harmony. So when answering a question about the altered dominant, I think it's useful to clarify the meaning, so we aren't using the same words to mean different things.

    If you're within the minor tonality, and create a dominant by adding a leading note to the natural minor, you get Domb9b13 (Harmonic minor). Neither 9 nor the 13 is altered in the minor context. That's why the term altered is reserved for a different type of dominant I think.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    This is all good stuff but what I meant was the term altered dominant already has a meaning in jazz harmony. So when answering a question about the altered dominant, I think it's useful to clarify the meaning, so we aren't using the same words to mean different things.

    If you're within the minor tonality, and create a dominant by adding a leading note to the natural minor, you get Domb9b13 (Harmonic minor). Neither 9 nor the 13 is altered in the minor context. That's why the term altered is reserved for a different type of dominant I think.
    There are lots of ways to approach this topic. One approach, apparently, is to use this nomenclature. There's quite a bit of initial learning required, it seems to me. To understand your last two lines, I have to understand "minor tonality", "natural minor", "leading note", "harmonic minor (and which one), and that "neither the 9 nor 13 is altered in the minor context" (which I'm not sure I understand - an example in the key of C or Am would help).

    If I do understand at least part of it, you're noting that C7b9b13 is seen as coming from harmonic minor. Apparently, F harmonic minor?

    From the chord symbol I get C Db Eb? E? F? G Ab Bb C Db.

    From F harmonic minor I get C Db no-Eb E F G Ab Bb C Db.

    Difference, Eb or not.

    Here's how I prefer to view it. You start with a 7th chord. 4 notes. Resolving to a major, you can extend it to a 13. You can alter 5s and 9s by ear.
    You can superimpose upper structure chords or chord fragments to get the sounds you like. There are a bunch to go through, all detailed in Jazz Theory by Mark Levine, among other places.

    Resolving to minor, the 7b13 works pretty well. So in Dm7b5 G7b13 Cm. The alteration of the G7 is an Eb note, which is the b3 of the tonal center. You also have an Ab in the Dm7b5 which you could continue into the Gdom, making it a G7b9b13. That creates, pretty much, a tritone sub.

    So, in this way of thinking, you think about one minor scale. It has C D Eb F G. Then, you can pick any combination of 6 and 7. You will get four different scales, each of which has a very different sounding name. To me, it's Cmb6b7, Cm6b7, Cmb6nat7, Cm6nat7. How hard is it to pick two notes by ear?

    Actually, phrygian alters the 2 and is a different thing in my system.

    One of my teachers, a well known player and arranger labels scales/modes in exactly this way. The scale is the chord name. There are situations in which that can be ambiguous, like a m7 scale belonging to multiple keys. That kind of thing is resolved by ear (or per a different teacher, some usage guidelines.

    I'm well aware this is a minority view and the majority view works. So does this, I think.

  16. #15

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    It seems like you understood what I meant.

    I'm operating under the assumption that the term altered dominant already has an established meaning in jazz harmony. Is that not true?

    I'm not suggesting what people should play in what context. That's just a product of one's harmonic vocabulary, arrangement skills, expectations of other band members especially the soloist etc.

    Aside from the altered dominant, the way I view things is:

    There is the vanilla major dominant: Dom with 9 and 13.

    There is the vanilla minor dominant: Dom with b9 and b13
    That's because both b9 and b13 scream minor in the underlying tonality. The b13 of dominant is the b3 of the target, the b9 of the dominant is the b6 of the target.

    Everything else is somewhere in the non-vanilla spektrum.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-07-2021 at 06:45 AM.

  17. #16

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    Good grief this is kind of basic stuff to get so technical over.

    It does seem as if few jazz people have a clear grasp on how minor keys function within
    - functional harmony c16th-c19th
    - jazz c1910-1970
    and in the latter case how it inherits but also loss was the first, and the importance of harmonic cross relations in that?

    (And that being the unavoidable result of people improvising together at the same time.)

    I find it maddening. When someone plays natural minor on a harmonic minor accompaniment, as happens in the melody Blue Bossa for instance, people go into theoretical convulsions because they are taught to map any note to the chord symbol. In fact b3s on dom7s are common in both major and minor key (7b9b13) dominants.

    People seem to be in this mindset of thinking everything must be related to the chord of the moment, when in fact improvisers and composers are quite often simply making up melodies in the key and thinking about underlying chords secondarily if at all. Legions of these players, Getz, Art Pepper, Chet, Miles, Lester Young; they’d tell you that’s how they did it…

    which is why the best way to play a 7#9 chord is actually often to pretend it’s a m7 chord. Because that’s not necessarily an altered dominant either.

    Listen to what the masters do. Treat the theory with skepticism.

    the tendency towards using harmonic material only in jazz now, rather than melodic is so commonplace it is both hard to expand and also gives people the idea that this is the only way. It’s a complete hegemony…

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    It seems like you understood what I meant.

    I'm operating under the assumption that the term altered dominant already has an established meaning in jazz harmony. Is that not true?

    I'm not suggesting what people should play in what context. That's just a product of one's harmonic vocabulary, arrangement skills, expectations of other band members especially the soloist etc.

    Aside from the altered dominant, the way I view things is:

    There is the vanilla major dominant: Dom with 9 and 13.

    There is the vanilla minor dominant: Dom with b9 and b13
    That's because both b9 and b13 scream minor in the underlying minor tonality. The b13 of dominant is the b3 of the target, the b9 of the dominant is the b6 of the target.

    Everything else is somewhere in the non-vanilla spektrum.
    All that makes sense. As far as the term "altered dominant" , maybe there's some ambiguity as in "a dominant scale which has been altered in some way" vs "specific reference to 7alt scale, which is 7th mode melodic minor".

  19. #18

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    I'm so glad I clarified that this wasn't about what people should play in what context otherwise people would've completely missed the point. Oh wait...

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller

    and in the latter case how it inherits but also loss was the first, and the importance of harmonic cross relations in that?
    That clears it up, nicely, I think <g>

    My pet peeve here is the commonplace use of very complicated ways of thinking about this material -- using multiple scale and mode naming -- when my teachers have generally avoided all of that and focused on the chord symbol and harmonic context in a more direct way.

    Seem to me to be a discussion worth having. Gets it off my chest and I don't have to sit alone and stew about it <g>.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    That clears it up, nicely, I think <g>

    My pet peeve here is the commonplace use of very complicated ways of thinking about this material -- using multiple scale and mode naming -- when my teachers have generally avoided all of that and focused on the chord symbol and harmonic context in a more direct way.

    Seem to me to be a discussion worth having. Gets it off my chest and I don't have to sit alone and stew about it <g>.
    There’s all sorts of sociological reasons why this type of mechanical thinking has become dominant.

  22. #21

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    I've noticed that too and decided the best thing for me to do was to learn the sounds of progressively more altered cadences and decide for myself when I want, or when is appropriate to use them.

    That's a good skill to have for jazz in general. How altered, or out, or jazzy you want to make it. Good players all have a vocabulary of cool, sophisticated, out and jazzy ideas, but it's inappropriate to use them all the time.

  23. #22

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    Are we supposed to play
    Dm7b5 G7b9 Cm6 or
    Dm7 G9 Cm6 ?
    It's so confusing

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by garybaldy
    Are we supposed to play
    Dm7b5 G7b9 Cm6 or
    Dm7 G9 Cm6 ?
    It's so confusing
    Why don't you play it and see? It's not what you're 'supposed' to do, it's about your own feel for the tune.

    (One wouldn't normally play a major ii-V before a minor, it's more usual to play the minor ii-V before a major (modal interchange). But if you think you like it the other way, you go for it!).

  25. #24

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    Personally I just use either the mel m a half above the dominant root, or just stick some other altered notes in, or use some other sub, or something else that suits. The rest is waffle.

    When authoritarian thinking takes the place of creative endeavour one is lost. That applies to all of life, not just music.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55
    I've noticed that too and decided the best thing for me to do was to learn the sounds of progressively more altered cadences and decide for myself when I want, or when is appropriate to use them.

    That's a good skill to have for jazz in general. How altered, or out, or jazzy you want to make it. Good players all have a vocabulary of cool, sophisticated, out and jazzy ideas, but it's inappropriate to use them all the time.
    I think it’s quite a good thing to go through each altered tone in turn and practice singing the resolution into the target chord.