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11 chords

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by moley, Jul 16, 2003.


  1. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Hi folks,

    I want to know how you guys think 11 chords should be interpreted - I'm thinking particularly of dominant 11ths (e.g. C11).

    There seems to be more than one school of thought on this...

    Some people seem to use 11 chords to indicate a triad a tone below the root, with the root in the bass. So C11 would be Bb/C, E11 would be D/E etc. So, in essence, by this definition an 11 chord is a kind of sus chord.

    Whereas some say that 11 chords are dominant 7th chords extended to the 11th (like 9 and 13 chords) - i.e. they contain the 3rd. This gives the distinctive dissonance of having both the 3rd and the 4th in the chord, and has a rather different character to a normal sus chord.

    Personally, I like the second definition better. It's far more consistant with the accepted nonclomenture for dominant chords. It doesn't make sense to me that C11 should be essentially another name for Csus. And, if they were essentially the same thing - how would you indicate that you wanted a dominant 7th chord with both the 3rd and the 4th? C7(add11) would be one way, but it's a lot clumsier than C11.

    So what do you guys reckon? In your experience, what is meant by C11 etc, and which definition do you prefer?
     
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I reckon.....



    ...that this question, is only of interest to Jazz pianists!! ;)
     
  3. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    :spit:

    Jazz guitarists too :D

    Anyway, we've got Chris F, and there must be some other Jazz pianists lurking around here somewhere...
     
  4. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    But is it true to say that sus chords don't contain the 3rd as well as the 4th? Mark Levine, in The Jazz Theory Workbook takes pains to explain that explaining a sus chord as only being 1 4 5, with the third being invalid, is a myth that is not substantiated by modern jazz practise. I can't remember the exact argument but can look it up if required.

    I'm not a jazz pianist, so don't count my opinion as having much weight, but I'd certainly tend to consider a C11 chord as one defined by a major 3rd and flat 7th (dominant) with an 11 added as an extension on top.

    Wulf
     
  5. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yes, I know the bit you mean.

    He said that you can voice them with the 3rd, and that it's a myth to say that you shouldn't. But, how often does anyone voice a sus chord with a 3rd, I wonder...

    I tend to think that if you voice a sus chord with a third, you're sorta reharmonizing it. Which is ok, of course. But I could be wrong.
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Well, first off, I can't say that I've ever seen the chord symbol "C11" in my life. In my experience, there are two basic kinds of "11ths":

    1) Those found on minor chords (ex. - Gmi11), in which case the presence of the third is implicit; and

    2) Raised 11ths, as found on Major and Dominant chords (ex. - C7#11 or C7#4). In this case, the third is also assumed to be present in order to define the chord quality before alteration.


    Sus chords are (to me) a different animal. Regardless of what may or may not be the "common wisdom" or what may or may not be a "myth", I trace their construction back to the simple fact that the term "sus" is a shorthand for "suspended". Tracing these harmonies back to their origins in traditional theory, they suspended tones would be called "suspensions" (duh), and almost always involve the third of the harmony. So, to make a short story long, I don't typically voice thirds in my "Sus chords".

    Beyond that, what makes up a "sus chord" depends largely on the style of music to which it is applied. If I see "Csus" in a cover version of Springsteens "Brilliant Disguise", I'll assume we're talking about the notes C, F, and G. If I see the same chord symbol in a McCoy tune, I'm probably thinking of a Bb triad (plus whatever other color tones I find appropriate at the moment) over a C root...but I'd be more confident in that construction if the chord symbol had read, "c7sus". A lot depends on the context.

    Last, there is a growing body of nomenclature in some of the more modern guitar-based music in which chords which can not be easily defined are notated by interval (ex. - C5(9), which would denote a stack of fifths). While this type of notation is pretty unclear when taken out of context, it is perfectly valid once a simple set of performance notes are added.

    Geez, I bet I just opened up a whole big can of worms here....but heck, what's the theory forum supposed to be for, anyway? :D
     
  7. :confused:

    O......k..

    I need to break out the Theory Book again..
     
  8. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Thanks, Chris.

    I agree with everything you said there about m11, #11 and sus chords.

    And, extending what you said about voicing sus chords differently depending upon whether you're playing pop music or Jazz - I would notate the chord Bb/C (for example) differently depending upon which style. In Jazz, I'd probably call it Csus, because it is the nature of Jazz that the chords provide an outline to the harmony, rather than a specific voicing. Though, an exception to that would be if I had say a sequence of slash chords - e.g. C Bb/C Ab/C G/C or something. In this case, notating it as a slash chord I think gives a clearer idea of the progression.

    However that chord, in a pop song, I would just notate as Bb/C rather than Csus. Like you said, in this case, Csus would tend to imply just C F G, because it is generally in the nature of pop music that the harmony is more explicitly defined.

    However it is this chord, Bb/C that I have also seen notated as C11 :meh:
     
  9. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    OK, that's it for that chord. What about the other 10? I thought we were gonna talk about 11 chords...
     
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Going back to an earlier conversation about related chord scales for sus chords, you were questioning the wisdom of considering the major third in the chord scale, and thinking you might favor the minor instead. The discussion we've just had is a demonstration of why I usually feel that the major third is the implied scale tone instead of the minor.

    And speaking of the minor, I often voice these chords as a related "ii" chord over the root of the dominant, just as an easy way of getting some basic diatonic color into the voicing.

    Ex. - Dsus = A-7/D

    or - Absus = Eb-7/Ab, etc.

    This aproach also works for coming up with solid melodic/motivic material once you get used to it.



    DOORMOUSE ROUNDABOUT,

    Give it time. If we discuss all eleven chords at once, what's the point of keeping the forum open? :)
     
  11. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Anyone remember what the Steely Dan guys called a mu chord? All I remember is the name... I'm thinking that it might have been -- or is close to -- what you guys are calling (for example) Bb/C, which I think of as a major chord with a II in the bass....
     
  12. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I recall hearing Fagen refer to a major triad with added 9th as a mu chord. He liked that chord. I like it too. He uses it a fair bit. So do I. But, just for the record, I liked it before I even knew who Steely Dan were :D

    And he often does literally voice it : 1 2 3 5. It's kinda a cluster, but it works.
     
  13. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Exactly, yes. D-7 D-7/G Cmaj7 is not uncommon as a form of the ii-V-I.
     
  14. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    Going back to your guy's point about "context":

    You are absolutely correct about the guitarist in a rock setting playing the root, 4th, & 5th if confronted with a "Csus" (RUSH live on these chords).

    You will also always see your "Jazz" Csus notated as Bb/C in a rock setting. I have, on a rare occasion, seen "C 2sus4" for a chord with root, 2nd, 4th, 5th (probably a RUSH song ;) ).

    I tend to go with what would be the (hopefully logical) written meaning than the implied meaning when it comes to 11 chords:
    sus = just the Root, 4th, & 5th.
    11 = the full triad plus extensions to the 11th.

    Over simplified? Probably.:p
     
  15. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    But wouldn't it be notated in the manner that the composer had intended it to be voiced?

    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that C11 was the incorrect way to notate C7add11...
     
  16. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    Correct. C7(11) would not have the 9 in the extensions, unlike C11.
     
  17. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Well, yes, like PhatBasstard says, C11 would imply the presence of the 9th. Not that it makes a huge difference in the cosmic scheme of things though :D

    Methinks in general C11 would be a chord symbol to keep away from...
     
  18. mflaherty

    mflaherty Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2001
    I seem to remember it as a major triad with the fourth above the root in the bass; i.e. E/A. My first cover band many years ago tried to learn "Pretzel Logic". We had a hell of a time with the chorus. I just found an online tab site that has the chorus chords as D/E E/A C/D D/G. No wonder the pianist and I could never agree on what they were!
     
  19. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Hey, mflaherty, we used to do "Pretzel Logic" in my old cover band, too. Great tune to play. Those are the same roots I used in the chorus. I never much cared what our guitarist called the chords (he was the Namer of Chords in that band), 'cuz what we played sounded great.

    The Dan boys know their way around jazz harmony and could come up with a zillion ways to harmonize that root movement.
     
  20. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    The dan like that chord, yes, but I'm pretty sure I remember reading that a mu chord is a major triad with added 9th.

    I'll see if I can turn it up on google...

    ...here you go:

    http://www.jmdl.com/howard/steelydan/mu-major.html

    Major triad with added 2nd.

    That page waffles on about Steely Dan using them in a special way... Seriously, I was using mu chords in the same way (although I didn't call them that), before I even knew who SD were. Ok, granted, they were using them way before I was, but I didn't know that.