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  1. #1

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    This applies to both chord voicings and improvisation. Note I opted to use the more politically correct term "extensions / available notes" instead of "chord scales".

    I think it's important to develop an organized approach to secondary dominants. So I hope this thread will generate constructive discussions towards that.

    I can identify four approaches to secondary dominants (including one from the forum member Reg). I'm only considering secondary dominants of the major tonality chords to keep the scope manageable. (I'm just making up names to label them):


    The Casual approach:
    If the target is minor (ii, iii, vi), use altered or diminished type chord extensions (b9, #9, b13) and scales.
    If the target is major (IV) use major type extensions (9, #11, 13) mixolydian/dominant scale.
    Moreover, you can always use altered type if you do have a target. If the dominant chord is a modal moment in the tune, use non-altered extensions.


    The Classical approach (examples are in C major):
    If the target is minor, just alter one note in the major scale to create a leading note. So if the target is ii, then create a VI7 by adding the leading note of the ii. Leading note is borrowed from a parallel minor.
    In the key of C, for D minor target, A7 is created by adding the leading note (C#) borrowed from D Melodic Minor.
    Essentially for targets that have b6 (iii, vi, vii) we borrow from harmonic minor. For targets that have natural 6 (ii) we borrow from melodic minor.


    If the target is major (IV or F), just use the IV major scale (C7). For V, same treatment, V major scale (D7)


    The Berklee approach (based on their harmony book):
    Each minor target has specific considerations:

    V/vi: You add the leading note (G#) (Harmonic minor) but keep the scale note as well, G, as the #9. So A minor's dominant is E7,b9,#9,b13. The reason you add #9 is basically: why not? There is a minor 3rd interval when you create a leading note which gives you space to add that note.


    V/iii: When you add the leading note, you get the altered scale. Or you can just transpose V/vi scale (B7, b9, #9, b13). ie you make the b5 of B natural 5.


    V/ii: Here the classical approach would lead to extensions that have both natural 9 and b13. This (according to the book) gives a confusing message about the target (9 indicates major, b13 indicates minor) also it creates a "harsh" upper extension tritone. So 9 is flattened. So you get the same type of chord scale as other minor targets: A7, b9, #9, b13.


    Major targets are the same as what I called the "Classical approach".


    Reg's approach:
    Reg is a member of the forum. I call it the Reg approach as I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere. It's more of an arrangement oriented approach. I won't get into details here as there are many posts about it scattered around the forum. I differs from the Berklee approach in the sense that the choices of extensions are not determined solely by the immediate chord that follows but the choices are based on the intended target of a "chord pattern". A chord pattern may include many chords. Extensions in the chords are used consistently from the chosen tonality of the final target chord. That way there is a more logical and organized sound to the borrowed notes.

    Please discuss any other approaches you might know and which approach do you use and why?
    Last edited by Tal_175; 06-05-2020 at 07:53 AM.

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  3. #2

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    Do you understand Regs approach and can you explain it to me? It sounds much like the practice of tonicisation to me. So for instance when we go A7 Dm in the key of C we treat Dm as a temporary move to Dm which is why we use harmonic minor and so on.

    Perhaps I’ve missed something. I’m not being snarky, I just find it hard to understand what he means sometimes.

    So here’s the thing - I would say the differences are subtle at best. If anything practice here has become more restricted over time as jazz musicians become more theoretically grounded.

    Classical harmony tends to frown on false relations and has no concept of the altered scale so you are unlikely to come across a 7#9 chord for instance, but many principles are common.

    my method for understanding secondary dominants is the following - I listen to musicians I like and carefully listen to their choices. The scale choices you describe as the Berklee method I pretty much learned by listening to jazz musicians.

    altered on III7 is a fairly diatonic choice.. I’m not certain if classical musicians ever made use of this... as it relies on an enharmonic respelling of #5 into b6, maybe not?

    To be honest if you think the classical approach avoids the b9 when going to ii you should check out some more Classical music.

    As classical theory relates the leading tone diminished and dominant of the dominant (a useful bit of info a surprising amount of good jazz musicians seem unaware of) it’s kind of implied.

    But Bach does indeed make use of the 9b13 sound as well.

    In fact often in Swing era players you hear the natural 9 on VI7. Listen to some Django or Charlie Christian for instance. Charlie Parker seems to have popularised the b9 into ii minor, so basically the ii minor becomes a temporary minor key centre.

    using the b5 in VI7 is rarer in Parker’s playing. It seems like more of a Monk thing to me.

    But here’s a thing - every dominant, secondary or not can also take 13 - a mixolydian, even Lydian dominant. In a minor key too. They don’t tell you that in the theory books, but jazz musicians do it a lot.

    So - ears and listening. I think it’s important to pay close attention to the sounds you want. Presumably that sort of thing is important when learning to be a musican.

  4. #3

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    Another thought -

    there are two types of dominant -

    sitters (mixolydian, lyd Dom, phrygian dominant)

    movers (altered, tritone, whatever voice leading you like)

    Half whole does for both which is cool.

    also - jazz lines rarely spell out a whole scale. It’s good to conversant with scale fragments if you are interested in learning language for instance. Bebop is famous for using (3)-#9-b9-1 for instance. Which scale is it? Could be one of three.

    The half whole dim scale is two of these welded together at the tritone

    the altered scale is one of these welded to a Lydian/whole tone (1-2-3-#4) tetrachord at the tritone. Hence the old name ‘diminished whole tone’

    Whole tone is two Lydian tritones welded together at the tritone.

    The Lydian dominant on the other hand is the Lydian tetrachord grafted to the dim tetrachord at the tritone.

    So what interval is significant? :-)

    Without that b5 - for instance mixolydian or minor’s dominant (V7 of the minor scale) it’s all diatonic. The b5 is the gateway into more unusual sounds. The whole tone was the first to be used historically. (Debussy influence.) The use of the #9 introduced the diminished tetrachord as an alteration to the harmonic minor.

    but tetrachords are useful because they are short enough to fit into a two beat chord change. Whole scales can be unwieldy.

  5. #4

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    Peter Bernstein really likes 13b9 into everything including minor

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    I use a dominant chord (major triad with dominant 7th) with any available note not determined by the target chord necessarily, but rather the amount of tension I want to create. I look at secondary dominant chords not necessarily as single chords, but rather as the entry point to a particular chord that can be preceded by a series of chords of varying tension.
    This idea can be extended to the use of triads over base notes, each of which has its own amount of tensions and each of which contributes to a root movement that forms a sequence of variable tension.
    It's an arrangement technique. Ellington looked at harmony this way (as did the theory teacher I originally studied with), and Herb Pomeroy also had his own version of this. There was an approach to triads/bass notes that I got from Jack Pezanelli, himself a master chordal arranger and he laid out 9 triads over bass notes on a spectrum of tension. Using this, the final chord that approaches the target chord a 4th above can be a harmonic structure of any degree of consonance/dissonance and the resolution to the target chord feels right even without the usual tritone resolution.
    i would go further. I think a lot of the modern aesthetic of players like Lage Lund etc - many of who use triadic and quadrad style structures is actually to avoid that tritone resolution.

    For instance I notice how many of the favoured voicings even of players like Peter seem to avoid the 3rd and 7th together.

    It’s more al a mode (pun not intended) to resolve to the the 7th in the major chord via a #9 in the dominant chord.

    alternatively one can omit the b7th of the dominant by using a major triad to create a 13b9 sound, eg E/G —> Em/C a classic sound but very widely used still.

    My theory is that musicians have aimed more towards hearing dominants as sounds in themselves rather than voice leading to resolutions. as a result you don’t want to hear that tritone in the solo line.

    A good way of getting that sound is using major and minor triads and pentatonics and of course these don’t have tritones in them.

    This goes back to the Wes, even earlier to Prez even, of playing say F or Fm over G7, or Db over G7 as used by the boppers and Django before them. Of course we have more options now - but also we have a move away from playing traditional V7-I sounds.

    So it’s like the opposite of bebop, where the emphasis is on these hungry sounds.

    Just my theory, make any sense?

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Do you understand Regs approach and can you explain it to me? It sounds much like the practice of tonicisation to me. So for instance when we go A7 Dm in the key of C we treat Dm as a temporary move to Dm which is why we use harmonic minor and so on.

    Perhaps I’ve missed something. I’m not being snarky, I just find it hard to understand what he means sometimes.
    I was gonna put a disclaimer in that section I forgot. What I wrote in the "Reg's approach" section is my understanding of his approach. If there are inaccuracies or oversimplifications (no doubt there are), hopefully he himself or someone who understands his approach better will chime in.

    Here is what meant though. Based on some of Reg's posts, suppose the target of a progression is F major. Blue notes of F major are Ab, B and Eb. If you want blue note tonality then you use these notes as extensions throughout all the chords in the progression that eventually lead to F major. So each chord has different blue notes intervallically (because they are always these 3 notes specifically).

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    my method for understanding secondary dominants is the following - I listen to musicians I like and carefully listen to their choices. The scale choices you describe as the Berklee method I pretty much learned by listening to jazz musicians.
    I agree 100%. But I still find it useful to get a pen and paper and try to find a unifying organization out of individual examples. That helps me be more productive in my practice sessions when I'm working on lines over tunes etc. The essence of your position of learning from actual recordings is absolutely the ultimate point.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    To be honest if you think the classical approach avoids the b9 when going to ii you should check out some more Classical music.
    No doubt they do. I chose the names somewhat casually. I didn't mean that nowhere in classical music anything outside of those rules can be found. The reason I called it classical is because harmonic minor and melodic minor scales are discussed in theory 101 as scales that are created by adding leading notes so a dominant on the 5 degree can exist .
    Last edited by Tal_175; 05-19-2020 at 12:29 PM.

  8. #7

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    So, this is how Peter Bernstein voice-leads a turnaround progression. Such as:

    Bbmaj7 G7 | Cm7 F7 | Bbmaj7

    This one starts on the anacrusis/pickup - Peter is thinking in forward motion into resolutions, which is one thing that marks out advanced changes players above any specific harmonic choices.

    Ebm11 | Dm7 Dbm11 | Cm7 F7#9/Eb | Bbmaj13

    11 x 11 11 9 x
    10 x 10 10 10 x
    9 x 9 9 7 x
    8 x 8 8 8 x
    x 6 7 6 9 x
    6 x 5 5 6 5

    So we can relate the Dm7 to Bbmaj7 and the Cm7 to Cm7 obviously. What's striking is the way the m11 chord stands in for dominants. That shouldn't work according to vertical theories of harmony... while we might relate these chords to the so called Herbie voicing - Dbm7 on G7 for instance, we have the major 7 for instance, if we are thinking of Dbm11 as a sub for G7.

    To frame it in this way is to totally miss the point.

    Peter is not thinking vertically but thinking of the movement. He starts off with simple parallel m7 voicings and introduces the m11 chords to introduce more interesting moments of contrary motion into the voice leading. He honestly doesn't seem to care about any clashes with theoretical dominant seventh chords.

    We have a nice chromatic line in the lead line - G# | A F# | G G# | A against the bass Eb | D Db | C Eb | Bb

    You can do this is because the original dominant seventh chords are movers... they exist only to move onto the next chord. So as long as they do that job it doesn't altogether matter what they are.

    So this is kind of a very old school approach - but also sounds modern and fresh because he is avoiding using some of the dominant or diminished chords that might traditionally accomplish these connections.

    OTOH Reg doesn't think he comps very well, so YMMV.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Another thought -

    there are two types of dominant -

    sitters (mixolydian, lyd Dom, phrygian dominant)

    movers (altered, tritone, whatever voice leading you like)
    I also made that distinction in the casual approach section I think. Dominants that are non resolving (half cadence? or modal) there seems to be fewer differences in approaches.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Half whole does for both which is cool.
    Can you explain what do you mean here?

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    also - jazz lines rarely spell out a whole scale. It’s good to conversant with scale fragments if you are interested in learning language for instance. Bebop is famous for using (3)-#9-b9-1 for instance. Which scale is it? Could be one of three.
    That is true. Having an organization of extensions does not mean one would have the play the entire scale everytime. But they are relavant even for scale fragments. Afterall you still chose these notes from the implied scale. As you noted, because they are often played in fragments, it's not always immediately obvious what a players approach is from a single line.

  10. #9

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    The half whole scale is such a distinctive sound it can totally be its own thing rather than just movement somewhere else, something which I never think is quite true of the altered scale... You will hear McCoy Tyner, Trane, lots of people use it exactly for that.

    (Part of the reason maybe because the altered scale is such an odd melodic minor mode - it doesn't have a sensible tertial structure, because it is not naturally a dominant scale, it just so happens that we can respell it as one.)

    So over an isolated G7 chord, you can play G, E, Db, Bb, Gm, Em, Dbm, Bbm, really go to town.

    The half whole scale is also great for setting up resolutions because it has lots of nice funny notes in it. So we can set up nice efficient cadences with a mix of half steps and common tones into the target chord.Even more so for minor, in fact...

    G13b9 --> Cm(maj7) or E/G into G/C for instance.

    It's a very strong flavour, like truffle oil.

  11. #10

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    nice chords..

    Jim Hall might add some crunch to it


    Ebm11 | Dm7 Dbm11 | Cm7 | F13b9/Eb Ab13b9/Gb B13b9/A | B13/A (slide) Bb13/Ab | D note


    11 x 11 11 9 x
    10 x 10 10 10 x
    9 x 9 9 7 x
    8 x 8 8 8 x
    x 6 7 7 7 x
    x 9 10 10 10 x
    x 12 13 13 13 x
    x 12 13 13 14 14
    x 11 12 12 13 13--Hold---
    10

    and creating more movement with the top notes..a melodic riff..and a basic turnaround could now be on its own...
    Last edited by wolflen; 05-19-2020 at 04:26 PM.

  12. #11

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    Obvious but sometimes overlooked info:
    What colors and tensions are already built into the basic major scale
    in relation to secondary dominants.

    Key of C:

    V7 of II ..... A B C D E F G ..... 1 2 #9 4 5 b13 b7

    V7 of III ..... B C D E F G A ..... 1 b9 #9 4 b5 b13 b7

    V7 of V ...... D E F G A B C ...... 1 2 #9 4 5 6 b7

    V7 of VI ..... E F G A B C D ...... 1 b9 #9 4 5 b13 b7

    These b3's are heard as #9 when played against the secondary dominants.
    They can be played as they are or replaced with the ma3 or with some integration of both.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by bako
    Obvious but sometimes overlooked info:
    What colors and tensions are already built into the basic major scale
    in relation to secondary dominants.

    Key of C:

    V7 of II ..... A B C D E F G ..... 1 2 #9 4 5 b13 b7

    V7 of III ..... B C D E F G A ..... 1 b9 #9 4 b5 b13 b7

    V7 of V ...... D E F G A B C ...... 1 2 #9 4 5 6 b7

    V7 of VI ..... E F G A B C D ...... 1 b9 #9 4 5 b13 b7

    These b3's are heard as #9 when played against the secondary dominants.
    They can be played as they are or replaced with the ma3 or with some integration of both.
    Excellent! I hadn't seen this spelled out this way before, but it reflects what I learned from Warren Nunes.

    He would conceptualize this as playing in tonal center C and then adjust to the individual chord tones. So, you're in the key of C. You come to an A7. You have choices. One basic choice is whether you're going to play a C#. If you raise the C to C#, you're now in 5th mode melodic minor, but Warren didn't think that way, as far as I know. He just knew that an A7 has a C#, which is out of the tonal center, so you can adjust the C to a C#, if you want that sound.
    I think Warren did it, at least at times, by superimposing triads. But, mostly, I suspect, by ear.

    You have similar choices to make about F vs F#, Bb vs B, and Eb vs E, I suppose.

  14. #13

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    It's like Barry Harris says, play C7 down to C# (the 3rd of A7)

  15. #14

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    Although Barry builds a separate dominant scale into each target chord (e.g. in C we might use G7 in Am, C7 into F or C7 into Dm), so he’s thinking in a more ‘modulatory’ way to Nunes who is this case is more diatonic. Barry’s thing is coming (obviously) out of Bird, but Nunes sounds more swing era here in his conceptualisation.

    So as Ethan Iverson points out musicians in the pre war era used to view everything diatonically anyway. So the idea of relating extensions to the chord would have been a little strange. the probably wouldn’t have understood what you were talking about.

    in fact the place where people really did seem to build separate tonal systems on the dominants was on long cycles of dom7s, such as the middle 8 of Rhythm changes. Usually this was a mixolydian or major pentatonic type tonality.

    I think that still remains an effective strategy. But anyway, check out Charlie Christian and Lester for the masterclass on that.

  16. #15

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    The other thing is Barry points out in early recordings Parker always elects to ignore the VI7 on Rhythm Changes. (When he does express it he only plays it bar 3. Try it... it sounds way better than using VI7 each time...)

  17. #16
    Barry Harris would be (what I casually call) the classical approach, no? Just change one note of the major scale to create a leading note the to the target. 2 notes in the case of VII.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Barry Harris would be (what I casually call) the classical approach, no? Just change one note of the major scale to create a leading note the to the target. 2 notes in the case of VII.
    Well not really because in practice we can end up playing the C not against an A7. I think it’s much more like the Berklee approach (lol.)

    But Barry doesn't really think in these sorts of harmonic terms, #9 that sort of thing. He's interested in lines. So framing it from the perspective of ‘harmonic minor scale’ or whatever is sort of missing the point in a way.
    Last edited by christianm77; 05-20-2020 at 07:24 AM.

  19. #18
    An interesting case is when secondary dominants are played in cycles like in the bridge of rhythm changes or the middle section of Yesterdays.

    For example do you alter the 6th when the target is no longer the diatonic minor chord but another secondary dominant? If your target is an altered dominant, you do have a #9 in the target, then use a b6?

    One approach is to look at the melody. In the case of Yesterdays both E7 (8th bar) is altered and has an altered melody note(b9). A7 (9th bar) is altered and also has an altered melody note (b6).

    On the other hand the bridge of Anthropology does not have any altered notes. So I guess with cycled dominants that have targets anything goes?
    Last edited by Tal_175; 06-05-2020 at 10:12 AM.

  20. #19

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    Here’s a video I did yesterday. The relevant bit is at 8:20ish



    I cover some stuff I didn’t think to mention above....

    Interested to know your thoughts.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    An interesting case is when secondary dominants are played in cycles like the bridge of rhythm changes or the middle section of Yesterdays.

    For example do you alter the 6th when the target is no longer the diatonic minor chord but another secondary dominant? If your target is an altered dominant, you do have a #9 in the target, then use a b6?

    One approach is to look at the melody. In the case of Yesterday's both E7 (8th bar) is altered and has an altered melody note(b9). A7 (9th bar) is altered and also has an altered note (b6).

    On the other hand the bridge of Anthropology does not have any altered notes. So I guess with cycled dominants that have targets anything goes?
    yeah, I think so.

    (TBH in jazz anything goes. It’s more useful to study what are norms etc for different players and get to know different sounds and get good at hearing lines and playing what you hear than construct rules.)

    The B section of Rhythm Changes is kind of the vertical bit. That’s cos the chords sit around for long enough to be explored as something other than simply movement like the Bernstein examples above. All of Me is like that too.

    I can imagine Charlie Christian playing major dominants in Yesterdays. Wes plays the C7 in Caravan as a major dominant.

    (Again: broken fucking record - the big change in modern post 60s jazz is to see improvised lines and chords as being ‘different sides of the same coin’ as Nettles and Graf put it, or needing some sort of common chord scale. Before then comping chords could clash, and everyone did what they heard.)

  22. #21

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    what is a major dominant?

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by marvinvv
    what is a major dominant?
    I think he means unaltered dominant. Like a vanilla dominant with a major target (not saying you can't alter dominants with major targets, nor does he).

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Here’s a video I did yesterday. The relevant bit is at 8:20ish


    I cover some stuff I didn’t think to mention above....

    Interested to know your thoughts.
    I see the point you're making. There is a perception that jazz is a collection of stylistic conventions and theoretical concepts that require a high level of musicianship to execute. One fears that one doesn't belong to the club if they trust their "inferior" instincts instead of elevating themselves by humbly putting their faith into the intellectual constructs that claim to encode the art form. So when you play a note over a chord during a performance that is not considered correct by the chord scale theory, it must be that "you are just being sloppy because you didn't shred the tune enough or you don't hear the changes well".

    I think your point is very valid that we have to recognize the flaws in this line of thinking and not get too carried away with it. You're all you got as a musician.

    On the other hand in order to reach a high level, I think you need to have some mental organization of music. I find these jazz theory constructs to be very useful devices for mastering the instrument, developing ears and attention to nuance, improving productivity of practice sessions. As I posted in another thread recently, the important thing is to realize that the real progress comes from experimentation with the constructs in the context of tunes while paying attention to the fundamentals. At least that seems to be true for me. So a balance has to be found.

  25. #24

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    I liked the way you put that.

    This stuff can't really be top down.

  26. #25

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    again wtf is a major dominant? targets dont mean anything what is a major dominant?

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by marvinvv
    again wtf is a major dominant? targets dont mean anything what is a major dominant?
    Dominant (music) - Wikipedia

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by marvinvv
    again wtf is a major dominant? targets dont mean anything what is a major dominant?
    Sorry, I DO probably need to explain this.

    The dominant of a given major or minor key. Mainstream jazz theory doesn't really have good terminology for this distinction, on account of it being not fit for purpose, so I borrow it from classical theory.

    Major dominant = Major key dominant - C13
    Minor dominant = Minor key dominant - C7b13b9(#9)

    Not that minor key dominant is NOT the same as a fully altered dominant, as anyone who has spent time transcribing jazz from 1920-1960 will be aware.

    Altered dominants in major key began as parallel major/minor modal interchange sometime in the 18th century IIRC.

  29. #28

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    -- Most common dominant sounds (in voicings etc) --

    So what I've observed empirically in the music I look at:

    So there's six categories of dominants that I tend to see most frequently, four of which can be put on an axis from light to dark:
    1. 'Lydian dominant' (important minor. minor up a fifth)
    2. Major dominant
    3. Minor dominant (which might include melodic minor V chords like C9b13, see Bach and swing era jazz)
    4. 'True' altered dominant (tritone's minor, minor up a semitone) - has the b5.


    And two of which are neither light nor dark but sort of both

    1. 7#5 - whole tone. Most common in 1930s/40s music
    2. 13b9 (often diminished scale, sometimes 'harmonic major') - very common in late 50s/early 60s music.


    All of these are pretty interchangeable, although the Lydian dominant is most common in 'non functioning dominants' (for instance aug6th chords, IV7 and II7s - of which Take the A Train is a good example.) It's common to get a darker dominant before a cadential move into another chord.

    -- Common melodic superpositions --

    When it comes to linear improvisation, there's also superpositions like the venerable minor on dominant sounds which are often misspelled as #9s:

    Warne Marsh's Dominant II sound, which is like a bVII sub melodic minor on V7, or F melodic minor on G7, for example - so that would give you a C13b9(b10) sound. Charlie Christian uses this, which might be where the Tristano school got it from as they were big CC fans.

    And the superimposed minor pentatonic sound, for instance that some of the soloists select on All Blues, where we have the minor pentatonic played on the '7#9' (see above) - D minor pentatonic on D7#9; any rock guitar player knows about his of course...

    And of course the superimposed altered sound - major dominant tritone substitute (Db Mixolydian on G7 for instance)

    Modern players such as Chris Potter etc are also likely to use superpositions. Dave Liebman's harmonic approach is based on this idea.

    -- A bit more CST bashing ----


    • Mandatory major 3rds on dominants is really far too Oktoberfest for jazz. (Although to be fair to the Germans, even Brahms got a bit sick of them.)
    • But all the CST dominant scales have to have major 3rds in because it isn't neat & tidy for the dweebs otherwise.
    • OTOH Improvisers of up to the 60s aren't always thinking of tertial upper structures. In fact I would say that superposition is the rule, pre CST. Some of the superpositions look like upper structures, but might not have been conceptualised this way.
    • Furthermore - unless you can locate a clear chord voicing, rather than thinking of the notes of melody relating to the chord of the moment, it makes more sense to think of them as a thing unto themselves - such as a triad, pentatonic scale etc - with some sort of independence to the underlying chord.
    • I'd question the value of looking at these things too much in terms of chord extensions, because that's when it gets messy.
    • CST describes ‘…the direct interrelation between chords and scales which do not have independent functions but represent “two sides of one coin”…’ according to Nettles and Graf, so the logical conclusion is that melodic pitch choices aren't governed by CST.
    • They later cop out in Nettles & Graf where they say that not all notes can be understood vertically because they have obviously listened to some actual jazz records. So that's ceding the last point. OK, whatever, serves you right trying to make a unifying theory haha. Don't pick a positivist fight if you aren't going to win it by the positivist rules.
    • And this indicates that really CST should be taken as a resource to play around with certainly not a tool of analysis. One of
    • P R A X I S


    That's quite dry, so here's a comedy interlude:

    Secondary dominant extensions / available notes-screenshot-2020-06-08-10-19-14-jpg

    So, anyway, the real world situation is all quite complicated when you write it down. But it does show how the theory books simplify things down. Again, you sort of have to use the ears, because real music isn't as orderly as Mark Levine's carefully selected examples. And ML represents AFAIK a simplification of CST, in fact.

    Whether or not ML's simplified approach has value is a question of pedagogy, not musical analysis.

    TL;DR - it's too complicated, use your flipping lugholes m8, it's not rocket surgery.
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-08-2020 at 05:23 AM.

  30. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by marvinvv
    again wtf is a major dominant? targets dont mean anything what is a major dominant?
    Targets do mean something for classification, conceptionalization purposes. Minor target implies minor tonality (could be temporary) hence minor key dominant (altered notes). Major target, major tonality major key dominant (vanilla). This is in a pure, textbook sense, doesn't mean they are always used this way.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 06-08-2020 at 06:21 AM.

  31. #30

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    I tend to listen to what the head melody may have to say.

    Example: All of Me.

    The melody on measure 6 relates to VI7b9 -> full modulation to generic minor target Xm.

    The melody on measure 28 relates to VI9 -> minor target is a II specifically, "diatonic" dominant used.

    I listen to the melody a lot, so much so that I don't really practise over backing tracks, but over recordings' heads. That gives me the full picture I want to ingrain.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    'True' altered dominant (tritone's minor, minor up a semitone) - has the b5.
    Why have you written "has the b5" instead of "has the #5"? To me, the latter would be more defining, as the "lydian b7" approach also has the b5 sound (as #4 of course).

    Great post, BTW :-)

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by alez
    Why have you written "has the b5" instead of "has the #5"? To me, the latter would be more defining, as the "lydian b7" approach also has the b5 sound (as #4 of course).

    Great post, BTW :-)
    No I mean b5.

    Combining b5 with the other extensions (b13, b9 or #9) gives you 'true altered'

    #5 is found in the minor scale, for instance A7#5 is diatonic to Dm.

    You could also view it as a diminished chord. In the early 60's I thing #11 and b5 chords were basically viewed as the same type thing, and handled with a dominant diminished scale. At least from the stuff I've listened to and you can see this from the way they write chord charts out (Wayne, Trane etc)

    So maybe by your logic the altered scale isn't really a thing. I'd kind of be open to that. It's kind of conflation of several different things - diminished, whole tone, tritone sub, general chromatic voice leading.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by alez
    I tend to listen to what the head melody may have to say.

    Example: All of Me.

    The melody on measure 6 relates to VI7b9 -> full modulation to generic minor target Xm.

    The melody on measure 28 relates to VI9 -> minor target is a II specifically, "diatonic" dominant used.

    I listen to the melody a lot, so much so that I don't really practise over backing tracks, but over recordings' heads. That gives me the full picture I want to ingrain.
    Listen to the scat chorus:



    The harmonic choices are interesting, because they are not always the obvious ones based on the melody. The fact that a singer is doing this show that people really did hear it this way.

  35. #34

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    Nice one, Christian. Nice two, in fact. Thanks for the great insight.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    So maybe by your logic the altered scale isn't really a thing. I'd kind of be open to that. It's kind of conflation of several different things - diminished, whole tone, tritone sub, general chromatic voice leading.
    I don't really have a logic at all, ha ha! I just try to understand the way you guys look at different things, it's inspiring and thought provoking and I really like that. Plus, of course, I learn a great deal from it.

  36. #35

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    Oh, thanks for that recording by Vaughan, it's absolutely fantastic.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by alez
    Oh, thanks for that recording by Vaughan, it's absolutely fantastic.
    yeah, isn’t it?

    also - no piano on the scat. Talk about going out on a limb as a singer...

  38. #37
    Something surprises me about Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory" book is the lack of Harmonic Minor scale modes for secondary dominant applications.

    The harmonic minor scale doesn't come up until the "Loose Ends" chapter at the very end of the book. He doesn't discourage from playing the scale and he acknowledges that it's a got a uniquely beautiful sound, but he says it's a scale that's rarely used in it's entirety because it's got at least one "avoid note" no matter what chord it's played over.

    First of all what does he mean: Let's take V7/VI in C. The chord is E7 setting up for A min. G becomes G# to turn Emin into E7. This is basically A harmonic minor or E7b9b13.

    Now lets also add the #9 to this scale as it's often done. From the A harmonic minor perspective we are putting the minor 7 (G) back and create an 8 note scale, E7b9#9b13.

    We got 2 "avoid notes" against E7. The 4th (A) and the 5th (B). They are avoid notes because of the b9 intervals they create with the 3rd and b13th.

    Altered scale solves this problem. For example E altered scale amounts to replacing the notes A and B with a Bb (b5). Suddenly you get a 7 note scale without any "avoid" notes.

    So why am I surprised?

    When scales are played in their entirety as 8th note runs, avoid notes do not bother me as they become passing notes depending on how they are played. You can manipulate this further with articulation or by adding half notes. Check out Donna Lee head for what amounts to harmonic minor modes played over pretty much every dominant chord (yes they probably weren't thinking Phryigian dominant but that's not the point). This is also exactly what you get when you play Barry Harris style lines where the tonic scale is played into the third of the secondary dominant.

    What do you think?
    Last edited by Tal_175; 06-26-2020 at 08:32 AM.

  39. #38

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    Yes. That’s another example of a ‘lol wut?’ moment from the book. There’s loads of them.

    Again it comes back to the central problem of seeing all scales as chords. That article of faith actually seems more important to him than the actual notes in tunes he has played a thousand times, or solos he transcribed... although sometimes he’ll backtrack from a sweeping statement because he realises it isn’t actually true. It’s quite strange to read. Why make the statement to start off with?

    It’s not very complicated; Sometimes scales are realisations of extended voicings and have no avoid notes. sometimes the avoid notes create a pleasing tension in the melody. Most lines have at least some passing tones in them.

    (Theres actually only two avoid notes I hear as non negotiable most of the time - 4 on maj7, b6 min. There are no avoid notes on dominants.)

    Levine is really in the woods about this avoid note stuff. He isn’t consistent at all.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    (Theres actually only two avoid notes I hear as non negotiable most of the time - 4 on maj7, b6 min. There are no avoid notes on dominants.)

    I think Blue Bossa measure 11 and Stella by Starlight measure 9 use 4 over maj7 in a way that you would consider "forbidden". I'm sure you know a hundred more songs that do it... my repertoire is tiny. But I don't really get this avoid note thing.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by alez
    I think Blue Bossa measure 11 and Stella by Starlight measure 9 use 4 over maj7 in a way that you would consider "forbidden". I'm sure you know a hundred more songs that do it... my repertoire is tiny. But I don't really get this avoid note thing.
    TBF Levine uses Stella as an example of how that note can be used expressively

  42. #41

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    Avoid notes: So there are notes that can add colour to a static (non resolving) chord ‘colour notes’. There are also notes that will be at odds with it ‘clash notes’. There is a bit of science behind this that I wont go into.

    You won’t find that in most jazz theories, but Adam Neely did a decent job of explaining it recently.

    But for the purposes of playing everyday music the scales that don’t have avoid notes in the Levine book for instance will do fine. Just take the dominant stuff with a pinch of salt when it comes to resolving chords like secondary doms.

    So you can find for instance, 7 note modes that have only colour notes.
    maj7 —> lydian
    m7 —> dorian
    m(maj7)—>Mel min
    and so on

    (you can go further than this to multiple octave scales- there’s no reason to stop at 7 notes. See Collier, Warne marsh and others)

    that’s it really. The only thing that is vaguely confusing is that a mixture of colour and clash notes are found over many of the chords found within diatonic major and minor keys. A lot of the options are diatonic for stuff like bebop.

    for some reason many text books seem incapable of explaining this in a clear way.
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-26-2020 at 10:50 AM.

  43. #42

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    TBF Levine uses Stella as an example of how that note can be used expressively
    Insteresting I noticed the same thing happens twice, not measure 9 only like I said, also measure 13 in the very same way.

    Both tunes (Blue Bossa too) caught my attention as 4 is used as land tone... it doesn't get any more "forbidden" than that use, does it? Blue Bossa emphasizes it by using it again on beat 1 the following measure, so it's a double landing.

    Avoid notes: So there are notes that can add colour to a static (non resolving) chord ‘colour notes’. There are also notes that will be at odds with it ‘clash notes’. There is a bit of science behind this that I wont go into.
    Thanks. Your post is pretty much the way I've seen it explained here and there before. The thing is, in practical terms, using F over C in the key of C has its limitations (essentially a passing tone), BUT using F# over C in the key of C has its limitations too (just because its so outside). So in the end by replacing F with F# you don't really gain an straightforward to use tone.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by alez
    Insteresting I noticed the same thing happens twice, not measure 9 only like I said, also measure 13 in the very same way.

    Both tunes (Blue Bossa too) caught my attention as 4 is used as land tone... it doesn't get any more "forbidden" than that use, does it? Blue Bossa emphasizes it by using it again on beat 1 the following measure, so it's a double landing.
    OK, so Stella is not a jazz composition per se, but rather a song that has ended up in the jazz repertoire. Actually originally, it was rather in the style of late romantic music, in common with most Hollywood scores of the time.

    If you look at the chart you are going to see that many bars start with what classical theorists call a non-chord tone (that is a note that isn't any of the obvious chord tone - 1 3 5 on a major or minor, or 1 3 5 b7 on a dominant, say) that then resolves downward by step. So your example in bar 13 (Bb on F) resolves next beat, but in the case of the bridge, those dissonances take much longer to resolve. The Eb on G7 doesn't resolve till the last beat, for instance.

    So normally, we have dissonances on the weak stress, consonances on the strong stress (for example the first beat); and what Stella does is reverses this and really milks it for a yearning, passionate effect. Think Rachmaninoff... (Later on the harmony becomes more 'mid century' - jazz influenced as the rhythm guitar and harmonica comes in.)


    In classical theory these are called appoggiaturas or 'leaning notes'; here's more info.
    Appoggiatura - Wikipedia

    In baroque music you can add these dissonances in as a bit of spice.... but you have to be careful, because over use is generally considered a bit gross.

    Now in jazz, the function of these leaning dissonances has always been somewhat relaxed. You can do them if you want, but Louis Armstrong felt no reason to resolve a major seventh to a root, for instance. Over the years they have been reinterpreted as upper extensions, and eventually chord symbols. The conventions of chord symbols probably played their part as well, by freezing or reifying those passing dissonances as named chords we could actually talk about.

    All that is, except the 4th, which still has to resolve, probably because it does not feature in the overtones of a basic major chord (while the other notes of the major, and for that matter the lydian and lydian augmented scales do)

    Because of this, I often think that the 4th on tonic major (I6 or Imaj7 say) remans the only unambiguously dissonant note in the major key in jazz; I doubt anyone would disagree. This also relates to the topic of the fact that jazz musicians often don't like to play the leading tone (the 7th) in lines on V7, but that's a separate, though related topic.

    Levine for his part, gets it right here IMO. He never says we shouldn't use the 4th but says instead it is a 'handle with care note.' I would have framed it more as 'the 4th is a powerful resource to create tension and emotion.' (I find Levine to be a bit of a schoolmarm in his teaching style haha.) No-one milked its expressive potential more than Mozart. Or for that matter Radiohead. If you know the song Fake Plastic Trees - just think 'and it weeeeeeaaaaars me out.'

    Blue Bossa use a similar appogiatura effect.

    Thanks. Your post is pretty much the way I've seen it explained here and there before. The thing is, in practical terms, using F over C in the key of C has its limitations (essentially a passing tone), BUT using F# over C in the key of C has its limitations too (just because its so outside). So in the end by replacing F with F# you don't really gain an straightforward to use tone.
    Yeah. Straightahead jazz is broadly speaking pretty diatonic to whatever key centre it is currently focussed on, except when players are deliberately using a bit of 'seasoning' (such as a tritone sub, whole tone scale etc). The #4/#11 as a result can sound disruptive and inappropriate very often, except as an end chord (where it was very popular during the 50s.)

    Even in non functional music, I often find myself avoiding the #4 sound as a bit distasteful to my ears, and I observe the same in solos that I study. This is another example where I think vanilla chord scale theory really lacks the specificity and detail that musicians seem exercise consciously or unconsciously when improvising. Between 'avoid note' and 'chord tone' note is a whole spectrum of taste and nuance...
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-29-2020 at 05:39 AM.

  45. #44

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    There are many things in that tune that really confuse me. I find it counterintuitive. In the past, I was so frustrated that I made a list with all the things I found odd. Here it is:

    1) Land tones: Odd choices. Even long notes. Sometimes even dominant chord altered tones.
    1.1) 4 over major land tone: !.

    2) Harmony. Looks random, sounds strange. Looks like any chord can follow or be followed by any other chord.

    3) The melody of the tune ends in 5, which is odd.

    4) Harmonic rhythm. Lack of. Some bars have 2 chords, some chords last 2 bars.

    5) Melodic rhythm. Counterintuitive. Phrasing over tonic chords, leading to long notes over dominants.

    So your explanation is enlightening and valuable. I'm going to learn a lot by taking my time to go through it.

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    OK, so Stella is not a jazz composition per se, but rather a song that has ended up in the jazz repertoire. Actually originally, it was rather in the style of late romantic music, in common with most Hollywood scores of the time.
    But I thought that's true for most of the tunes in the Great American Songbook, many (most?) of which have become jazz standards.

  46. #45

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    Yea... nice Tal175... Sounds good. The one big different of how I hear and see music. Jazz right, Is that there are always all these Macro and Micro possibilities going on. And results actually need to be weighed in real time, or context. I don't get locked into exact examples... because jazz is usually Live and the setting, context, players history etc... can have different results when performing.

    Most pros... have an approach or way of hearing and playing that they like.... I do and it reflects in my style(s) of playing and composing etc... Like I posted on my 1st post on this forum.... get your technical skills together 1st, because all the other details don't happen unless you do. And I also said Jazz is traditional functional melodic and harmonic BS... Blues, modal and MM. aspects. (I've always put rhythmic things in the technique skills).
    1)Technical skills
    2)Performance skills

    I'm pretty simple, and much of how I play is simple.... But I have technical skills, which helps me not to always look for new answers. I rarely get caught in the trees... LOL

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by alez
    There are many things in that tune that really confuse me. I find it counterintuitive. In the past, I was so frustrated that I made a list with all the things I found odd. Here it is:

    1) Land tones: Odd choices. Even long notes. Sometimes even dominant chord altered tones.
    1.1) 4 over major land tone: !.

    2) Harmony. Looks random, sounds strange. Looks like any chord can follow or be followed by any other chord.

    3) The melody of the tune ends in 5, which is odd.

    4) Harmonic rhythm. Lack of. Some bars have 2 chords, some chords last 2 bars.

    5) Melodic rhythm. Counterintuitive. Phrasing over tonic chords, leading to long notes over dominants.

    So your explanation is enlightening and valuable. I'm going to learn a lot by taking my time to go through it.



    But I thought that's true for most of the tunes in the Great American Songbook, many (most?) of which have become jazz standards.
    the harmony of Stella is not so strange when you look at the original changes and when you have looked at a lot of standards. It does have funny features like starting a diminished chord and having a highly varied AABA structure

    but it does seem mysterious at first.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    the harmony of Stella is not so strange when you look at the original changes and when you have looked at a lot of standards. It does have funny features like starting a diminished chord and having a highly varied AABA structure

    but it does seem mysterious at first.
    I didn't do real homework on that one I had to play it in a band with no time to prepare it. I think it's too advanced for me to learn just now, so I'm not going to work on it, just come back to it in a few years' time when I have looked at a lot of standards, like you just said. Then I'll transcribe the changes, not just pick them from whatever book, and learn its sound.

    BTW the Real Book chart starts Eø A7 in the key of Bb. I heard a story that the original diminished and other features have been replaced by II-V. I guess now there are many recordings with the original changes and many others with these newer ones.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by alez
    I didn't do real homework on that one I had to play it in a band with no time to prepare it. I think it's too advanced for me to learn just now, so I'm not going to work on it, just come back to it in a few years' time when I have looked at a lot of standards, like you just said. Then I'll transcribe the changes, not just pick them from whatever book, and learn its sound.

    BTW the Real Book chart starts Eø A7 in the key of Bb. I heard a story that the original diminished and other features have been replaced by II-V. I guess now there are many recordings with the original changes and many others with these newer ones.
    I think most jazz musicians play Em7b5 A7 if you listen to recorded versions. But you can take the sub Dbo7 —> Em7b5 A7 to the bank....

  50. #49

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    Although vis a vis the other thread maybe that should be C#o7 haha

    heres a video I did

  51. #50

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    alez, when you hear stuff in a tune that sounds peculiar or just doesn't grab you, it is perfectly allowed to explore, change things, etc. Stella to me is a great tune, but on the guitar there is just such a strong urge to push chord melody, but the song is almost too lush for that. I try get it out of my system up front in the first couple of measures.

    I like to begin Stella with a Bb note [x x x x 11 x]
    sliding into Dbdimb6 aka Dbm6#5 [9 x 8 9 10 x]
    and then play lightly re-harmonized melody chords
    G13/F [x 8 9 9 8 x]
    A13/G [x 10 11 11 10 x]
    GbM7b5 [x 9 10 10 11 x]
    into the Cm11 [8 x 8 8 6 x]
    Then I try to move away from chord melody.

    I also tend to not like certain two-fives in some songs, and Stella has one of those. So a little further along I like to replace the perfunctory Bbm7 -> Eb(9) after the D7sus4 [x 5 7 5 8 x] with some sneaked in melody notes G F E D sliding that D up to F (fret 7 to 10 on the third string) into the mysterious and wonderful Dbaug6 [9 x 8 10 10 x].

    There are some other changes I usually make in Stella and I change stuff in most other standards. Don't give up on Stella, just take your time and see if you can discover or invent ways to "fix" the parts that sound quirky to you. Even better if you find multiple versions of "fixes" to play around with.