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  1. #1

    Jazz Minor tonality Altered Dominant

    Hey,
    I'm stacking 3rds for the jazz minor scale - I'm having trouble with the altered chord built on the 7 scale degree. Does this stuff look OK?

    C Eb G B D F A
    i minMAJ7 chord with a 9, 11, 13
    D F A C Eb G B
    ii min7 (b9, 11, b13)
    Eb G B D F A C
    III MAJ7#5 (9, #11,
    F A C Eb G B D
    IV7 (9, #11, 13)
    G B D F A C Eb
    V7 (9, 11, b13)
    A C Eb G B D F
    min7b5 (9, 11, b13)
    B D F A C Eb G
    What is the correct way to write this chord? The altered dominanant? This one is o

  2. #2
    min7b5b9b11b13 ? Of course, you may think of it as Dom7b5(#11)b9b13(#5). Who cares? It's a sound, all 7 notes of the scale when stacked in 3rds will work against any chord from the same key. It's all in the handling, although probably suited to more "modern" styles...

  3. #3
    If you derive the chord by stacking thirds, then technically it is a Bm7b5 (b9 b11,b13).
    If you derive the chord by comparing the notes to a dominant 7 chord, it is a B alt (b9 #9 b5 #5)

    The difference arises because that mode has notes that could be either a minor and major third, D and Eb. But stacking thirds means taking every other note letter, so the D must be the third making it minor. By just comparing it to the dominant 7 chord you can get away with calling the Eb the third, ignoring the fact that there are 2 notes (b9,#9) in between the root and third.

  4. #4
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    Jazz Minor tonality Altered Dominant

    Yeah the altered scale is an enharmonic fudge. It’s a m7b5 scale, really which where the name superlocrian comes from.

    1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7

    Oh the other hand the application is altered, so that’s probably why we use that name.

    1 b2 #2 3 b5 b6 b7

    The 3rd is really a b4, and the #9 is really a b3

    But everyone pretends and it’s fine

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yeah the altered scale is an enharmonic fudge. It’s a m7b5 scale, really which where the name superlocrian comes from.

    1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7

    Oh the other hand the application is altered, so that’s probably why we use that name.

    1 b2 #2 3 b5 b6 b7

    The 3rd is really a b4, and the #9 is really a b3

    But everyone pretends and it’s fine
    wut
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758 View Post
    wut
    Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.

  7. #7
    This:
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Oh the other hand the application is altered, so that’s probably why we use that name.

    1 b2 #2 3 b5 b6 b7
    It's best to understand melodic minor as being non functional. [This is what jazzers call the jazz minor scale mostly these days btw. It's classical ascending mel minor, but they just say "melodic minor".] The 7th scale degree is used as a sub for the V7 of harm minor.

    Harm minor is the functional reference for most of what Mel minor is used for. Harm minor lays out well theoretically for building chords which function in the same way as their major counterparts. The 7th scale degree of mm (altered) doesn't function as a pure melodic/harmonic scale which can be understood enharmonically in traditional theoretical ways analogous to harm minor or major.

    Other common spellings for altered are :1 b2 #2 3 b5 #5 b7 or 1 b9 #9 3 b5 #5 b7

    Alll three of these spellings have basic problems related to ease of understanding re melodic clarity or harmonic clarity. All of this points back to the fact that it shouldn't be considered in a traditional functional theoretical way.

    The 7th degree of melodic minor played over a V7 chord is basically going to subconsciously tell your ears or the ears of listeners something like ..."harmonic minor with a raised 6". That's what it sounds like regardless of theoretical understandings, and it may be the best in the beginning to understand it that way, as a 1- note variation of harmonic minor's V7.

    As beginners in jazz , it's somewhat confusing , because it's common practice now to learn melodic minor and its usages BEFORE harmonic minor, in many circles. Harmonic minor is called "harmonic" for a reason. It's really essential to understanding harmony at a foundational level. It's problematic to skip harmonic minor in learning jazz harmony.

    Pick up a copy of Bert Ligon's vol 1 jazz theory book for sure. Vol 2 has melodic minor, but it's understood in that context for its role - as substituting for OTHER functional systems.

  8. #8
    It's VII-7(b5) with b9, b11, b13

    But generally speaking the "available tensions" on that chord are 11, b13.

    Put another way, when playing that chord on piano or guitar avoid b9 and b11.

  9. #9
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    Jazz Minor tonality Altered Dominant

    I don’t understand this term ‘non-functional’ or at least its use here.

    The altered scale seems pretty functional to me when used on a V-I

    If anything it is super functional, cadentially very efficient.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I don’t understand this term ‘non-functional’ or at least its use here.

    The altered scale seems pretty functional to me when used on a V-I

    If anything it is super functional, cadentially very efficient.
    I'm sure it's the wrong term, and I'll own that. It doesn't "function" harmonically in a traditional parallel way, the way harmonic minor and major do, where II and IV are subdominant , V is dominant , and I is tonic. Melodic minor is basically never used in this "functional " harmonic way.

    7th mode subs for V, not just subdominant ...but modally as V. 6th is mostly used as II, 4th degree is VERY often used in ways other than IV.

    Harmonic minor chords mostly "function" harmonically in the same way that their major analogues do. Mel minor is pretty much the opposite. Melodic minor is used modally I guess?

    I think I may be misusing "Modal versus functional", which should probably be "Modal v. tonal"? I don't know. Somebody straighten me out.

  11. #11
    To aid clear thinking, I think it helps to discuss chords first, chord scales second.

  12. #12
    Burt Ligon: "The chords derived from the melodic minor scale do not function the way the chords function in major and minor. The chords could be labeled with Roman numerals corresponding to scale degrees, but they would be meaningless in the traditional sense of identifying function, and therefore would confuse more than enlighten."

  13. #13
    b4 / 3

    Enharmonics are semantics, short of reality. b4 although structurally accurate within the common use system,
    the ear interprets the note as a ma3.

    For some reason functionally speaking, m3 aka #9 is a common sound in a dominant/major environment,
    whereas a ma3 in a minor environment although possible is a bit disruptive to the minor sound.
    m7b5 although it structurally occurs building a chord in 3rds from melodic minor VII is not a good representative of
    the harmonic gist of this note collection.

    Building a chord in 4ths yields

    B Eb/D# A D G C F (1 3 b7 #9 b13 b9 b5)

    B7(#9/b13/b9/b5) or B7alt

  14. #14
    To the OP, you should understand and be able to spell 7th degree chord as m7b5 (nat9, 11, b13) OR.. as simply "altered" which is more difficult to simply write out, for all the reasons listed above.

    It's a dom 7 with no natural 5 or 9 and some combination of altered 5 and 9:
    1 (b9 #9) 3 (b5 #5) b7

    The fact that there's no clean and easy way to write it out is the reason people just use the term/symbol "alt".

  15. #15
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    Jazz Minor tonality Altered Dominant

    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    Burt Ligon: "The chords derived from the melodic minor scale do not function the way the chords function in major and minor. The chords could be labeled with Roman numerals corresponding to scale degrees, but they would be meaningless in the traditional sense of identifying function, and therefore would confuse more than enlighten."
    Yeah I think most jazz musicians def of functional is based around the Roman numeral stuff maybe?

    Kind of don’t think that way anymore...

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Just put V alt and have a nice day...

    Isn't there some place you can look all this stuff up?
    It's a good question, especially if you're going through the process for the first time like the OP.

  17. #17
    I deleted because he's not asking about the V, it's the vii he's after.

    B D F A C Eb G

    In which case... I suspect there's no real name for it because there are too many notes in it.

    It's like getting all the food in your house, throwing it all in a big bowl and saying 'What's the right name for this dish?'. It doesn't work like that.

  18. #18
    It's a polychord!

    Cm/Bm7b5.

  19. #19
    It's VII-7(b5) with a b9, b11, b13

    or

    B-7(b5, b9, b11, b13)

    Only available tension is b13. Avoid the b9 and b11.


    In other words, yes there are too many notes in it, two too many.

  20. #20
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    I like a b9 on a m7b5

  21. #21
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    Jazz Minor tonality Altered Dominant

    m11b5 is pretty common, but hardly unique to that scale

    Really this thread is the kind of thing I never worry about.

    That said it’s sort of cool that the II7alt chord sort of shares a scale with IIm7b5 and also bVI7#11. That is stuff that comes up in the real world.

    But that said, I’d just play bVI7#11 on IIm7b5 and vice versa. The fact it’s this scale is not really involved in my thinking, but there’s a theory thing for the nerds if they want it .

  22. #22
    Even though there is a m7b5 to be found, does anyone really consider this a mode related to this chord?
    That to me is a strange logic, to say avoid b4/3 to make it cooperate with m7b5.
    Doing so yields a locrian 6 out of 7 hexatonic structure.

    Using a similar logic, ionian omit 3 as a minor scale. Why would I when melodic minor has the same notes plus b3.
    The totality of a note collection yields a specific harmonic color, a primary chord plus extensions.
    Melodic minor VII is a dominant mode. Playing Cm7b5 against C7alt is heard as 1 #9 b5 b7.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    m11b5 is pretty common, but hardly unique to that scale

    IIm7b5 and also bVI7#11. That is stuff that comes up in the real world.

    But that said, I’d just play bVI7#11 on IIm7b5 and vice versa. The fact it’s this scale is not really involved in my thinking, but there’s a theory thing for the nerds if they want it .
    This thread is about MM chords.

  24. #24
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    Jazz Minor tonality Altered Dominant

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    This thread is about MM chords.
    correct

  25. #25
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    Jazz Minor tonality Altered Dominant

    Quote Originally Posted by bako View Post
    Even though there is a m7b5 to be found, does anyone really consider this a mode related to this chord?
    I don’t think they do. Apart from maybe the type of people who call it Superlocrian.

    That to me is a strange logic, to say avoid b4/3 to make it cooperate with m7b5.
    Doing so yields a locrian 6 out of 7 hexatonic structure.

    Using a similar logic, ionian omit 3 as a minor scale. Why would I when melodic minor has the same notes plus b3.
    Aye. Not much point, but the bVI Lydian Dominant (understand, Jazzstdnt?) subs for IIm7b5 in Real World playing, so there is a connection because that’s the same MM, if you want to look at it in CST terms.

    The totality of a note collection yields a specific harmonic color, a primary chord plus extensions.
    Melodic minor VII is a dominant mode. Playing Cm7b5 against C7alt is heard as 1 #9 b5 b7.
    There’s lots of things people talk about in harmony classes which turn out not to be entirely true, but we have to simplify for anything to make any sense.

    So your answer is correct in context, and I’m the internet tosser that muddies the waters.

    So here we go:

    There’s no intrinsic reason why alt should be Dominant though from the construction of the scale UNLIKE EVERY OTHER CHORD SCALE IN COMMON USE, we just use it that way..... #waystoannoyyourtheoryteacher #itsanartnotasciencestupid

  26. #26
    There’s no intrinsic reason why alt should be Dominant though from the construction of the scale UNLIKE EVERY OTHER CHORD SCALE IN COMMON USE, we just use it that way.....
    I have just one intrinsic reason why I consider it dominant, the sound of the notes.
    The sound for me far outweighs the logic of building chords in 3rds.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yeah the altered scale is an enharmonic fudge. It’s a m7b5 scale, really which where the name superlocrian comes from.

    1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7

    Oh the other hand the application is altered, so that’s probably why we use that name.

    1 b2 #2 3 b5 b6 b7

    The 3rd is really a b4, and the #9 is really a b3

    But everyone pretends and it’s fine
    This is what I was looking for.

    I haven't touched a guitar in 3 years and theory makes my brain hurt. This is a sadistic hobby.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post


    but the bVI Lydian Dominant (understand, Jazzstdnt?) subs for IIm7b5 in Real World playing, so there is a connection because that’s the same MM, if you want to look at it in CST terms.


    I understand minor has lots of options, including bVI and II-7(b5) but those aren't MM chords.

  29. #29
    Second Genesis

    I have 3 questions

    1. So this lead sheet - Second Genesis - those chords that say Alt are referring to the chord that is built on the 7th scale degree of the jazz minor?

    2. If So, include the 4th (or enharmonic 3rd), and the 7th? Do I have complete liberty beyond that regarding which tones I include?

    3. How do you approach the ii in a ii Valt?

    I'm going to sit down with the recording now.

    I'm very grateful for your responses.

  30. #30
    OP... when you don't have a REFERENCE for what your trying to do in music.... the results usually have complications....

    If your stacking chords using thirds.... using the MM scale as your note source, the results are what it is. If you decide to try and make this process,(stacking etc...), work in some type of context.... like Major / Minor Functional Harmony. You need to make musical choices based on Maj/min functional harmony.

    When you start to look and hear chords... (the results from your stacking etc...), with tonal relationships... you need guidelines, basic rules of how the chords react to each other.... and in a musical contexts. Also how notes react to other notes and which notes control those reactions.... All these guidelines are that Reference. Generally we call this organization... Functional Harmony, and most of the time... Maj/min functional harmony. All the guidelines... are based on Ionian, or Major.

    All chords have some type of tonal responsibility, a perception of movement or sustain... or somewhere in between. yada, yada

    If you start to get into Jazz harmony, the guidelines or rules can change, there are more possibilities.... modal concepts... modal interchange, blue notes and MM. Basically many of the embellishment concepts of Maj/minor functional harmony... have possibilities of developing Functional organization.

    Really the reason or source for the organization of Functional harmony is sound, not the label. The label is the result of which REFERENCE you choose to use for the organization of the functional tonality, with resulting diatonic harmony.

    B D F A C Eb G... the chord from the scale or mode from the 7th degree of Cmm.... is typically a Dominant function chord from using modal interchange. It's common practice to use in a dominant function roll... B7alt going to Emin or maj. So the labeling should reflect that context... using the chord in a dominant functional roll.

    Personally... we went from using the V7b9b13 chord from Harmonic minor or the Dim. whole tone to adding a #9 to the V7b9b13 chord which got rid of the folkish gap between b9 and 3rd and trying to help harmonically frame that #9 blues note... or the b7 of the target of the V7 chord to finally hearing how MM worked...

    Could also be used as a Min7b5 chord, not that common. But if you did... you have a few harmony possibilities for musical organization... and the spelling, the label should reflect that use. generally becomes more of a secondary or sequential Dominant type of functional movement...

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