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  1. #1
    Back in the Genesis of music theory, why were upper extension chords limited to 9th, 11th, & 13th chords? Why are there not 8th, 10th, 12th, and 14th chords?

    Just curious what the story is behind this.

    thx
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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    First, don't confuse the name of a chord with its voicing. A C major chord can be voiced in many ways.

    Then note:
    8th - octave
    10th - a third raised an octave
    12th - a fifth raised an octave
    14th - a seventh raise an octave

    So those notes are already present in a triad (or a seventh chord, wrt the "14th").

    The reason we have 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th chords is that they are formed by stacking notes in thirds:

    D minor triad = D F A
    Dmin7 = D F A C
    Dmin9 = D F A C E
    Dmin11 = D F A C E G
    Dmin13 = D F A C E G B

    And why do we stack notes in thirds? Good question! Probably has something to do with the overtone series.

    Now how do 6th and 9/6 chords fit in?

  4. #3

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    I love it.

  5. #4

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    Mostly an issue of marketing. "G12" and other even numbers sounded too much like a new sneaker, so they stuck to odd numbers, and people wound up liking the sounds, so that distinction has stuck around.
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci View Post
    Mostly an issue of marketing. "G12" and other even numbers sounded too much like a new sneaker, so they stuck to odd numbers, and people wound up liking the sounds, so that distinction has stuck around.
    Dang, just when I thought I was getting a handle on this stuff you tell me I am completely mistaken.

  7. #6

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    Simply put, because the 8th, 10th, 12th, and 14th, are chord tones that are already present in the lower portion of the chord, not tensions that can be added like the 9th, 11th, and 13th.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    First, don't confuse the name of a chord with its voicing. A C major chord can be voiced in many ways.

    Then note:
    8th - octave
    10th - a third raised an octave
    12th - a fifth raised an octave
    14th - a seventh raise an octave

    So those notes are already present in a triad (or a seventh chord, wrt the "14th").

    The reason we have 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th chords is that they are formed by stacking notes in thirds:

    D minor triad = D F A
    Dmin7 = D F A C
    Dmin9 = D F A C E
    Dmin11 = D F A C E G
    Dmin13 = D F A C E G B

    And why do we stack notes in thirds? Good question! Probably has something to do with the overtone series.

    Now how do 6th and 9/6 chords fit in?
    Excellent response, detailed, insightful.

    But, very strangely, not a trace of any humor. No implied joke. What the hell has happened to you???

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci View Post
    Mostly an issue of marketing. "G12" and other even numbers sounded too much like a new sneaker, so they stuck to odd numbers, and people wound up liking the sounds, so that distinction has stuck around.
    I really think that's the correct answer.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    I really think that's the correct answer.
    Also it would have gotten too confusing reading a lead sheet, for example "Shit, is this the next chord in the tune or a vitamin I should be taking more of?"
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  11. Quote Originally Posted by bluewaterpig View Post
    Simply put, because the 8th, 10th, 12th, and 14th, are chord tones that are already present in the lower portion of the chord, not tensions that can be added like the 9th, 11th, and 13th.
    I totally follow what you & BigDaddyLoveHandles are saying. But I'm just thinking this through. What if you had a chord in which the 1, 3, or 5 was not present, but the higher extension (8, 12, 14) was? For instance D10sus4?

    D G A C F#
    1 4 5 7 10



    Or an A12(b5)?

    A C# Eb G B E
    1 3 b5 7 9 12


    Maybe I should dress like Sun Ra and use 8th, 10th, 12th, & 14th chords just to be different.
    Last edited by SwingSwangSwung; 11-16-2011 at 01:03 AM.
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  12. #11

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    You would never see 10 or 12 in a chord symbol because of the reason stated above.

  13. Quote Originally Posted by bluewaterpig View Post
    You would never see 10 or 12 in a chord symbol because of the reason stated above.
    Yah man, I'm with you. I'm just thinking out loud - you know, questioning "the system".
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  14. #13

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    That's like saying "I want to build a skyscraper without the first 10 floors and only have floors ten through twenty." Western harmony builds chords from the ground floor up. Root, 3rd and 5th give us our basic triad. Without that we have nothing to build larger chord structures from. If you take away the root, you have lost the actual name of the chord. There's no C chord without a C note at least implied. Lose the 3rd and you lose the basic concept of major or minor. You have in effect neutered your chord.
    On this basic triad you can build upward to the 7th, 9th,11th and 13th. Each note adding color taken from the parent scale from which it's derived.
    As others have already pointed out, to say your chord has an 8th but no 1st is nonsense. How will that sound any different? My chord doesn't have a C note it has a C note! Ummmm, ok.

  15. #14
    The octave you choose to voice the tones in has absolutely no bearing on the name of the chord. If you have a C Major chord and you play the lowest C and G you can, but voice the E at the 24th fret on the high e string it is still the 3rd of the chord. Doesn't make an difference where you put it. Likewise, it doesn't matter how many Cs you have in that chord or where you voice them. They will remain the 1.

    An open E 'cowboy' chord has 3 roots(each in different octaves), 2 5ths(in different octaves), and 1 3rd. This is just a 1 3 5 triad though. We would never look at this and think(voiced from low E string up): 1 5 8 10 12 15. We would look and see: 1 5 1 3 5 1.

    When we keep stacking in thirds we get 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths. We would never have a chord that has a 4 and an 11th in it. We would never call a C E G B chord a CMaj14th. The B is the 7th no matter which voice we place it in, in whatever register.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by SwingSwangSwung View Post
    Yah man, I'm with you. I'm just thinking out loud - you know, questioning "the system".
    But - with respect - you're not questioning it, you're just misunderstanding it (or not thinking it through).
    Chords do have "8ths, 10ths, 12ths and 14ths". They're just called roots 3rds, 5ths and 7ths.
    The only reason 9s 11s and 13s are so-called (rather than 2, 4 and 6) is that there is already a 7th in the chord, and we're just stacking on top of that. (When we go up a scale in alternate steps, we cover two octaves before we get repeats, because there's an odd number of notes. 1-3-5-7-9-11-13 are all different notes. 8, 10, 12, and 14 = 1, 3, 5 and 7)
    With no 7th in the chord, a 13th is a 6th - regardless of what octave it's in.

    I have, btw, seen a chord labelled "7b10" before (many years ago). It's a rare symbol now, having been replaced with "7#9". But "7b10" does kind of reflect its nature as a blues tonic (if that's how it's used) quite well - containing both kinds of 3rd: the major 3rd low in the chord, and the minor 3rd (b10) high in the chord. Stricter conventions now state that one shouldn't have two versions of the same note together, so the upper one has to be called a #9.
    (In jazz, a 7#9 is mostly used as an altered V chord in a minor key - where the "#9" is still arguably the wrong enharmonic. Eg, in key of C minor, a "G7#9" chord should strictly have an A#. But we'd all call that note Bb, normally - the natural 7 of the C minor scale. The chord also has a B, of course, the leading tone of C harmonic minor. Bb and B can both exist in the C minor key, even if not normally simultaneously. A# doesn't really exist in C minor. Only chord symbol convention - and possibly notation convention - says it has to.)

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by SwingSwangSwung View Post
    I totally follow what you & BigDaddyLoveHandles are saying. But I'm just thinking this through. What if you had a chord in which the 1, 3, or 5 was not present, but the higher extension (8, 12, 14) was? For instance D10sus4?

    D G A C F#
    1 4 5 7 10


    Or an A12(b5)?

    A C# Eb G B E
    1 3 b5 7 9 12

    Maybe I should dress like Sun Ra and use 8th, 10th, 12th, & 14th chords just to be different.
    ed byrne actually has labelled that "tension 10"--the 3rd included in a sus4 chord...berklee thing, i think (or NEC)...
    "Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure, and we are are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us." -- Ranier Maria Rilke

  18. This is what I was getting at...

    10th as an upper extension of a sus4 chord

    And here's an example of "10th chords" being used in stride piano playing...

    Fat's Waller: Performances in transcription, 1927-1943 (see the 2nd paragraph from the bottom which begins with "Waller's injunction to...")
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  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by SwingSwangSwung View Post
    This is what I was getting at...

    10th as an upper extension of a sus4 chord
    Right. I've seen that referred to by Mark Levine too (Jazz Theory Book, p.46). But he doesn't go as far as labelling it a 10th. He just says the major 3rd can be voiced above the 4th in a "sus" chord. ("Sus" being shorthand for "7sus4", with optional 9th and 13th as well - and maybe 10th .)
    I suppose if you had to indicate that an upper 3rd was required in the sus4 voicing, you could label it 7sus4(10), or something like that. I haven't seen such a symbol myself. (Precise voicings like that would usually be notated in full, with the chord still labelled merely "sus".)

    Quote Originally Posted by SwingSwangSwung View Post

    And here's an example of "10th chords" being used in stride piano playing...

    Fat's Waller: Performances in transcription, 1927-1943 (see the 2nd paragraph from the bottom which begins with "Waller's injunction to...")
    AFAIK, that's referring to something quite different: 10th intervals, not 10th chords. "A series of descending parallel 10th chords" suggests to me chords whose outside intervals form a 10th (such as C-G-E, or B-F-D). Ie, I think the word "chords" (or "10th") has been used ambiguously.
    I don't know that recording, so I haven't checked how it sounds.

    Seeing as this is a guitar site - - you could get much more informed opinions on piano technique (including probably Fats Waller's), and what that phrase might actually mean, on http://forums.allaboutjazz.com/forumdisplay.php?f=34.

  20. Thanks everyone for the great replies.
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  21. #20

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    Can't use G14... I think that is an upcoming Economic Summit.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by randalljazz View Post
    ed byrne actually has labelled that "tension 10"--the 3rd included in a sus4 chord...berklee thing, i think (or NEC)...

    I once saw a D(-10) on the printed music for "Maybe I'm Amazed". It was in the chorus and was voiced F# A D F. I scratched my head. I can see Ed's point though.

  23. #22

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    To refer to the 8th, 10th, 12th and 14th in a chord would be repetitively redundant.

    The 10th chords played by stride pianists referenced in the Fats Waller article were actually the interval of a tenth rather than chord. This evolved from the ragtime piano LH accompaniment practice of playing octave-chord-octave-chord into the tenth-chord-tenth-chord played in the stride style.

    The interval of a tenth is also the basis of what are called shell voicings on guitar, maj6, maj7, min6 and min7.

  24. #23

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    You can do whatever you want in terms of the voicing for the chord...but the voicing of the chord doesn't change its name. If you're playing a C9b13 chord, you could voice it in this order (highest note to lowest note):

    Bb
    E
    D
    Ab

    In this voicing, the two extensions (9 and b13) are on the bottom of the chord, and the 3rd and 7th are on the top. However, it's still called a C9b13 chord, as opposed to a C2(b6)(10)(14) chord.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW400 View Post
    I once saw a D(-10) on the printed music for "Maybe I'm Amazed". It was in the chorus and was voiced F# A D F. I scratched my head. I can see Ed's point though.
    That's not the same thing as ed byrne was talking about though.

    "D(-10)" is actually quite clear, IMO (er, assuming one knows that "-" means "b" I guess): a D major triad, with a flat 3rd in an upper octave - which describes the F# A D F voicing quite well.
    Normally such a chord would have a 7th too, and would be conventionally called D7#9. With no 7th, I don't know if "D(#9)" is a whole lot better than "D(b10)". Except, of course, it would cause a modern reader less confusion .
    (McCartney plays a D bass on the chord, but the upper part does seem to be voiced like that, with no C - just as a bluesy/funky D major chord.)

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by max_power View Post
    If you're playing a C9b13 chord, you could voice it in this order (highest note to lowest note):

    Bb
    E
    D
    Ab

    In this voicing, the two extensions (9 and b13) are on the bottom of the chord, and the 3rd and 7th are on the top. However, it's still called a C9b13 chord, as opposed to a C2(b6)(10)(14) chord.
    Unless it's called E7b5, of course. Or Bb7b5.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    That's not the same thing as ed byrne was talking about though.


    I didn't say they were. Ed is talking about putting a third on top of a 7sus4. Maybe I'm amazed is just an unusual chord that I had never seen written like that.

    I've often thought about those kind of chords but not as tenths or what have you. More like super imposing one triad over another to see what you get. A type of polychord. Like what happens if you superimpose a Dminor over a Dmajor (D -10)

  28. #27

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    Tenths are definitely use in voicings, but chords aren't generally notated as A-10 [although I would take this to mean an A-7 with the 3rd on top]. Just as chords with 5ths on top of upper extensions aren't notated as G12, despite the face that some arrangers actually treat the natural 12th as a kind of upper extension.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW400 View Post
    I didn't say they were. Ed is talking about putting a third on top of a 7sus4. Maybe I'm amazed is just an unusual chord that I had never seen written like that.
    Sorry - point taken.

  30. #29
    My old Hal Leonard Incredible Chord Finder from high school has no 7#9's. They're all 7-10's. Have they changed this in the newer editions?

    7#9 is listed in the front as an "alternate symbol". I guess 7#9 has just solidified over the years as the standard name?

  31. #30
    Nuff Said Guest
    Interesting thread
    Last edited by Nuff Said; 11-21-2011 at 12:58 PM. Reason: Interesting thread

  32. #31
    A lot of this discussion about chord voicing seems to imply that you would, for some reason, account for every note in the voicing by naming it.

    A C710, for example, is naming a note which is already in the chord. You could voice that 3rd anywhere in the chord and it's still a 3rd. So you don't name it as a 10th.

    However, C7b10 (usually named C7#9) provides information about additional pitches in the chord. The chord already contains an E natural and the name of the chord tells you that there's also an Eb. That chord's name tells you about something that isn't included in the original chord symbol.

    What if a triad is voiced as follows?

    C
    E
    G

    With the C on top would you call the E a 3rd or 10th? The whole 10th, 12th, 14th thing as a way of trying to meticulously spell a chord as it is actually voiced kind of falls apart if it's not in root position anyway. You're back to figured bass. E natural is the third of a C chord regardless of where it's voiced.

  33. #32

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    Old thread, I know, but I've been fighting with a chord name which led me here. No reason to start a new thread. Here goes:

    Jazz top hit from the '60s; A chord really critical for the song is a C9 with an added major 7 on top. Like so often in jazz we have a dissonant chord. The C9 implies there's a minor 7 in the chord, by adding the 14th note, a major 7, we get tension.

    It's very common that chords contain dissonant intervals of one semi step (+/-5 or #/b 9 etc) or even a minor and a major 3rd in the same chord.

    Now, -why can't we have both a minor and a major seven in the same chord? Sure, we can, but there's actually no support for a proper name.

    I will call this chord C9add14. It's just so much easier for everyone to understand the intension in the context of the song.

    I could call it G6add9+/C or Em7add11+/C or A#6add9-/5-/C or Bm7Madd11/5+/C or even Bm7M11/5+/9-.
    Those names would all be theoretically correct and hopelessly impossible to figure out.
    But C9add14, how incorrect it may be, tells us exactly what this is about and you can read it on the fly.
    Break the rules, please.

  34. #33

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    Who knew theory threads can be so funny!

    The funniest thing is though... the OP question comes from allegedly a guitar teacher!

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCat View Post
    Jazz top hit from the '60s; A chord really critical for the song is a C9 with an added major 7 on top. Like so often in jazz we have a dissonant chord. The C9 implies there's a minor 7 in the chord, by adding the 14th note, a major 7, we get tension.
    Which tune are you referring to?

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCat View Post
    Old thread, I know, but I've been fighting with a chord name which led me here. No reason to start a new thread. Here goes:

    Jazz top hit from the '60s; A chord really critical for the song is a C9 with an added major 7 on top. Like so often in jazz we have a dissonant chord. The C9 implies there's a minor 7 in the chord, by adding the 14th note, a major 7, we get tension.

    It's very common that chords contain dissonant intervals of one semi step (+/-5 or #/b 9 etc) or even a minor and a major 3rd in the same chord.

    Now, -why can't we have both a minor and a major seven in the same chord? Sure, we can, but there's actually no support for a proper name.

    I will call this chord C9add14. It's just so much easier for everyone to understand the intension in the context of the song.

    I could call it G6add9+/C or Em7add11+/C or A#6add9-/5-/C or Bm7Madd11/5+/C or even Bm7M11/5+/9-.
    Those names would all be theoretically correct and hopelessly impossible to figure out.
    But C9add14, how incorrect it may be, tells us exactly what this is about and you can read it on the fly.
    Break the rules, please.
    Yea, what tune? maj7 and m7 in the same chord really sound like crap. Even for a horror movie soundtrack!

  37. #36

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    Same question for me, I'm skeptical. Also, a recording of the tune would be helpful.

  38. #37

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  39. #38

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    Bbdim7add12: 675666
    "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing." - Socrates
    “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” - Alan Wilson Watts

  40. #39

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    Why no 8th, 10th, 12th, & 14th chords?
    Because we've got quite enough already, thank you.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Thanks! Yeah, that's the chord, the exact finger setting!

    The song is "Don't Go To Strangers" by Dave Mann and Arthur Kent. Vocals by Etta Jones. (Rufus & Chaka Khan has made a good recording too.)

    Is this common notation? (I think C9add14 is better)

  42. #41

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    Do you mean the 2nd bar? The first bar is G. Then bar 2 is a C7 chord but Etta Jones starts the phrase singing a very brief B note, dropping immediately down to F# then G. (The B is on the word ‘to’ in ‘to the stars above’).

    If so I would just regard it as a C7 chord. The melody just happens to have a momentary B note in it, which is a bit odd, but sounds ok because she only sings it for a fraction of a second.

    Last edited by grahambop; 01-17-2019 at 06:41 PM.

  43. #42

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    The only lead sheets I can find online don’t even have that melody note, the melody does not go up like that. They are more like what Houston Person plays here. Maybe Etta just added that note herself.


  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Maybe Etta just added that note herself.
    She was still in major, I reckon. That's the thing with sung notes, they linger. Also, listen closely, she goes up to the D too.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Do you mean the 2nd bar? The first bar is G. Then bar 2 is a C7 chord but Etta Jones starts the phrase singing a very brief B note, dropping immediately down to F# then G. (The B is on the word ‘to’ in ‘to the stars above’).

    If so I would just regard it as a C7 chord. The melody just happens to have a momentary B note in it, which is a bit odd, but sounds ok because she only sings it for a fraction of a second.

    "Build your dreams to the stars above"

    "Play with fire, till your fingers burn"

    "Make your mark, for your friends to see"

    The lead is a B-note (a major seven) and essential in the context.
    The chord is a C9 (not a C7) and equally essential.

    The band plays C9, the singer/lead instrument plays a B. Absolutely gorgeous in this context.

    I've made a transcription for solo guitar, where I play this chord as an arpeggio starting with the root and where every note is sustained into a "C9add14".

    For any other practical purpose I would just tell the band to play C9 (which every so often is simplified as C7)

  46. #45

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    Well it will sound better as an arpeggio that’s for sure, less of an obvious clash. Played as a full chord I think it sounds terrible!

    I guess if you want to play it exactly as Etta Jones sang it, you need it. However it was not in the original melody as composed (not surprisingly).

    Why no 8th, 10th, 12th, & 14th chords?-88bdc23f-deb7-47a4-9d66-49ed22703738-jpg

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Well it will sound better as an arpeggio that’s for sure, less of an obvious clash. Played as a full chord I think it sounds terrible!

    I guess if you want to play it exactly as Etta Jones sang it, you need it. However it was not in the original melody as composed (not surprisingly).
    Well, Etta Jones' version is the original recording and it doesn't sound terrible to me. It was an overnight sensation and was introduced in the Grammy Hall of fame in 2008. (The score you provided is something else).
    Etta Jones was an incredible Blues vocalist and Blues does not easily fit into the rules of standard notation and chord nomenclature.
    Anyway, thanks for your input.

    ***
    By all means feel free to pretend that this chord doesn't exist or tell the world to avoid it (because you don't like it or you prefer to call it Em7add11+/C). I shall call it C9add14 and whenever you see it you'll know the intention and as always in Jazz are free to interpret it in anyway you like.

  48. #47

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    No problem, it’s an interesting question and example. I didn’t say the chord doesn’t exist or forbid anyone from using it. I even posted another name for it. I just don’t like the sound of it when played as a full chord on the guitar.

    But it’s probably easier for a singer like Etta to make it work, there’s a lot more separation between the voice and the piano. Actually I thought it was intriguing that Houston Person’s version was meant as a tribute to Etta, but he did not play that note, seemed like he just followed the original sheet music.

    Of course a chord is simply a combination of any 2 or more notes. I’ve no idea how some of Cecil Taylor’s chords would be named!

  49. #48
    Chord symbols serve a very particular function. It's a shorthand indication which is open to some interpretation as to specific voicing. If you want a very specific voicing, it's probably not the best way to indicate it.

    Musicians can read a chord symbol at a glance and play any number of non-specificed voicings to interpret chord symbol. There's a point at which it's not a SHORTCUT anymore, and the actual "shortcut" is to simply notate a very specific voicing or notate as a polychord chord symbol etc, ....assuming other musicians will be reading as well of course...

    Anything works for personal use...
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 01-18-2019 at 01:08 PM.

  50. #49

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    Singers f@ck up all the time. What's the rumpus Tom?

  51. #50

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    Ted Greene sometimes called a dominant 7sus chord with an added major 3rd on top as a Dominant 17th chord.
    For C17:
    1, 5, b7, 11, (9), (13), 17 (3rd must be above the 11th).

    A common fingering: C, G, Bb, F, G (or A), E.
    --Jay