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chord and scale theory question

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by LiquidMidnight, Jun 26, 2002.

  1. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I have a question regarding chord theory.

    Let's say you a reading a chart that is based in C major. While you are playing along with this chart, you come across a chord with an extension, such as Emin9. My question is, do you play the ninth as a F, or an F#? Because if you look at things at a modal perspective, the an E chord would be based around a phyrgian structure (which means the F would be left natrual, as is the F of C major) But normaly, if an E minor wasn't based out of a phyrgian format, the E would have a raised F. So how would I look at this? Would I treat the chord as if it were based out of the 3rd mode of the chordal center. Would I play the 9th as if the chord was based on Aeolion, or would the chart designate an accidental if it wanted the 9th raised?

    Thank you for your great wisdom of the sacred bass. ;)
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Well, it all depends on the specifics of the situation. Taken out of context, the symbol "Emi9" would mean that the chord should have an F# in it. In the context of a chord progression in Cmajor such as Emi-A7-Dmi-G7-C, you might wonder why anyone would want to put a 9th on that E chord. Then, based on what you're hearing in that particular place, you'd have to decide whether you hear that Emi chord as being a part of the key or not. If so, you might play a phrygian sound there. If you're hearing something else, you'd play that if it makes sense to your ears. It really all depends on what your conception of the progression and the tune are at that particular moment.

    What the symbol "Emi9" does NOT mean in the key of Cma (or any other key that I know of) is an Emi7 chord with a b9 on it. If the 9th were to be flatted, the nomenclature should specifically mention that. Again, if you're HEARING the sound of the b9, by all means, go for it. But don't put it in as a theoretical-based chord tone unless the symbol specifically calls for it.

    Often, in jazz situations, the iii chord in a major key gets subbed out by the soloist or pianist with an altered dominant chord of some sort because that's what somebody is hearing at that point. Ex:




    This probably raises as many questions as it answers, but that's been my experience. Hope it helps a little.
  3. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Yes, that helps a lot Chris. Thank you. :)

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