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Adding the 9th to 7th chords - Mark Levine theory book question

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Funkateer, Dec 30, 2002.

  1. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    I've been studying 'The Jazz Theory Book' by Mark Levine, which presents this stuff in a systematic, practical, and clear way. However, the one thing about many of the figures mystifies me. For instance, on pg 15, fig 2-1. This is supposed to be my ears first exposure to ii-7 V7 I, but what I get is a ii-7 plus the 9th. I understand that in this case, the 9th is part of the melody, but to my relatively untrained ears, it obscures the harmonic motion I am supposed to be internalizing. Likewise with the first chord in fig 2-3, 3-37, and others?

    Are these errors? Poor choices for examples? Or do jazz musicians think of all chords as 7th chords and don't bother to notate what additional color notes like 9ths and 11ths are added?
  2. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    unfortunatly i don't own the book. I should have asked it for christmas!!

    I will move your post to GI.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It's common for jazz players of chordal instruments to add "color tones" to their voicings when they feel it will add to the harmony at hand. For practical purposes, consider the root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th to be chord tones , and the 9th, 11th, and 13th to be color tones .
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I would say Yes and maybe - as Chris says, the extensions are seen as colour tones and what is important is whether the sound is dominant or major/minor etc.

    As a bass player I would treat a 9th chord exactly the same as a dominant 7th - I would leave the upper extensions to the pianist or guitarist and tend to follow their lead; although I would expect to hear these in the "head", I would then expect a pianist to play around and improvise...

    Of course I am aware that the composer or arranger wrote C9 or whatever, but I mean that when I look at a chart, I am just saying to myself - dominant, major etc. Generally, I would feel that in a Jazz tune, I am free to play anything in the relevant chord/scale as long as it fits, unless there is a written bass line.

    So I could play the 9th as part of a bass line - but this is just one option amongst many and I am not compelled to play it, just because the chord is "spelled" this way.

    Although I am not a Jazz pianist, I would expect that they would say, add a 9th to written dom 7, if they felt it appropriate and as a bass player I should be aware of this.

    So when you say - do all Jazz musicians think of chords as 7ths , there is an element of truth in this. I would state it as - the important notes in a chord are the 3rd and 7th - they determine the sound and these are like the "minimum" that can define the chord and help you to find alternate scales, for example.
  5. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yup. I would very often add a 9th and quite possibly a 13th to a dom7 chord. However it depends on the context. Sometimes it'd be a b9 (e.g. a dom7 chord in a minor key), and sometimes maybe it'd be a #9 - or on occasions both a b9 and a #9!
  6. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    OK, I'll try to train my ear to hear a 7th chord loaded up with 9ths and 11ths as a 7th chord. Sheesh, it was hard enough without the extra notes.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well, I find the best way to go through the Jazz Theory book is with piano/keyboard next to you - so you can play the examples. But when you do this - just leave out the extensions and play a simplified version.

    I have been told in all my Jazz classes, that if you are really going to nail being able to hear this stuff, then being able to pick out chords on a piano is essential - whether you are a sax, trumpet, bass player - whatever!
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Me, too. When I did play guitar(Funk) & even in my compositons(cough-cough).
    For some reason, I do not like the sound of a Dominant 7th...
  9. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I think the real reason it may be hard to hear is because you're not familiar with the dominant sound by itself. You have to be able to distinguish between a dominant 7th chord, a minor 7th chord, a major seventh chord, a minor-major 7th chord. You do this by listening to this stuff over and over and over again. Once you have the dominant sound firmly in your ear then it will be a little easier to determine the colors added to it, because the dominant character or color will still be there.

    Getting familiar with the progression ii V I, also requires listening to and playing a lot of ii V I progressions to the point that you can listen to a tune and hear them, reproduce them in your head at will.

    My ear training instructor's advice:

    "You have to listen to these things over and over until they speak to you"
  10. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, in a Jazz context plain dominant sevenths don't do an awful lot for me either.

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