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Alteration while walking

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Jun 27, 2002.


  1. Is it common practice to play altered chord tones over a V7 while walking? I've been looking at "Pannonica" (I should probably scale back my ambitions, but whatever) and I figured that it might be acceptable on Monk tunes.
     
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I love the sound of the altered scale on V7 chords that resolve to I. Do it all the time.
     
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If the dominant chord in question is going to resolve to a minor i, some sort of alteration is almost a given. If it resolves to a major I, it's up to what's going on and whatever everybody is hearing at the moment.
     
  4. nikofthehill

    nikofthehill

    Jul 30, 2001
    san jose, CA
    Excuse me for not knowing, but what is an alteration and how are they used?
    Thanks
    -nik
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    In jazz, chords are made up of guide tones and color tones. Guide tones are those notes which define a chord type, like the root, 3rd, and 7th - without these notes being present, there would be no way to tell what type of chord it is (Major, minor, dominant, etc...). Color tones basically means any other notes in the chord which give it flavor or "seasoning". Three common color tones are the 5th (sometimes called a chord tone), the 6th (or 13th), and the 9th.

    A dominant alteration is what happens when you alter the pitch of one or more of the color tones in the chord, thus creating more tension. The resolution of this tension makes the movement to the tonic more satisfying.

    For example, a normal G7 chord voicing might look something like this from the bottom up (chord tones in red):

    G B E F A

    so that the chord contains the scale tones 1,3,6,7, and 9.

    In an altered dominant - for this example we'll use a G7#9(#5) chord - the color tones 6 and 9 will be changed to #5 and #9, and would look like this:

    G B D# F A#


    This is only one example of one type of dominant alteration, but the same basic principle holds true for the other types as well: Chord tones stay, color tones change.
     
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Preach it, Ed.
     
  7. Thanks everyone, especially to Ed. I hear opportunities to make those sound really good from time to time, especially when the pianist/guitarist plays a minimal voicing, but I've always been too timid to really take advantage of them.
     
  8. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    very interesting. i kinda understand the purpose of those "crazy jazz chords" now.

    G7: 1,3,6,7, and 9.

    question: if there is a sixth in a seventh chord, it is still called a seventh chord? no additions to the symbol (eg-G7(13))? just a different voicing? the sixth can take place of the fifth, then?
     
  9. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    what about

    A (at fifth fret), C# (at fourth fret), F# (at fourth fret), and G (open).

    since the sixth (f#) isn't beyond the tonic's octave, it is still technically a sixth.

    would it still be A13 then? (and does a 13 chord require a 9th...or is that just a color tone and not a guide tone?)*

    *see? i understand THAT concept at least! :D
     
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The whole 6th/13th thing is really just semantics. The voicing I used as an example was a one-hand rootless voicing (we'll assume that the root would be played by the bass player), also known as a close position voicing, meaning it's squashed together as close as it could be with no octave displacements. Why would you use such a voicing? Well, go to the piano and try to reach the following in your left hand from the bottom up: E, Bb, D, A. How does that feel? I can reach it, but I couldn't reach it all at once...so like most pianists, I use close position voicings in the left hand when I'm playing melodies or soloing in the right.

    The only important thing I try to remember about guide tones and color tones is that, in general, it's usually best to build the chord UP from at least one of the guide tones, and have one or more of the color tones on top. Many people teach that you should always place altered color tones in the "melody" (on top) of the voicing, but I find this too pedantic.

    In my experience, an A13 chord doesn't have to have a 9th in it, - I hear guitarists play dominant 13 voicings all the time with no 9th. But when I say the the whole 6th/13th thing is all semantics, I should add a caveat: many people use the term "mi6" to denote a chord in which the 6th is substituted for the 7th (which leaves room for different note choices on the 7th for the soloist). Because of this, if you specifically want a chord with a 7th and a 13th, it's better to use the "13" symbol. But most of the time, all you need to do is use the "7" chord symbol, hire a pianist/guitarist with some decent ears, and let them fill in the color tones that they're hearing at the time. The color tones are details that are often best left undecided until the moment and the ears of the players involved make the decisions.
     
  11. That's always been my assumption, really. I was somewhat taken aback when I saw charts specifying lots of color tones--if a guy wants to be trad, does he really want to add too many alterations to a bog-standard V7?