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Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by AngusM, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. AngusM


    Apr 23, 2009
    Right basically I have been experimenting writing but I have no idea when to use say 11th chords or 6th chords. Basically can someone give me a large list of Chords or link me to something that basically explains how it all works. I know about the whole RTTSTTTS thing but I dunno how that works for 11th chords 13th etc are they basically the same as another chord or... bah see what I mean :p
  2. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    What they are and when to use them are really two different things.

    The 6th chord is just a major or minor chord with a note that is a 6th above the root added in. You'll likely hear them more on major chords than minor. On minor they tend to make a diminished sound, on major, an added 'sweetness'. The last chord of The Beatles "She Loves You" has an added 6th. A bit unusual for pop music in that time, most it was heard on jazz tunes.

    As for the other chord extentions, 9th, 11th, 13th. Play them on the piano (guitar voicings often omit certain notes in extended harmony) and get the sound in your head... then try them out in some music and see what you think. Generally speaking (and I'm sure there will be some comments on this) when you think of a 9th chord, there is an assumption that a 7th is also present (if you don't want that, an accepted way of notating this to put a 2 after the root letter.. C2 would be C, E G, D). An 11th chord assumes there is a 7th and a 9th, etc etc. Remember too, that a 9th, 11th and 13th can be altered away from the key signature, just like the 7th. You can have major or minor 7ths, major or minor 9th (very cool sound), 11ths are the same as a 4th (a perfect interval from the root) so technically should be diminished, perfect or augmented, and the 13th is the same as the 6th, so... minor, major.

    All of the technical and theoretical words and knowledge are good for helping remember how things are built and what they are... but it is your ear that should be the altimate judge.
  3. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I'm sure others will correct me too...

    when I started learning guitar I also set my mind to learning all the "weird chords" and where they get used....

    17 years later i realize: I don't use them. I think in triads and 4 note chords and rarely consider extensions, because functionally it's the 1-3-5-7 that determines the logic of when and where to use a chord, and as a bassist supporting the harmony, I barely think above the octave except to avoid clashing.

    If you don't know how to harmonize the major scale, (you know, the I-ii-iii-IV-V7-vi-vii(dim) stuff that people discuss) start there. After that, look up different kinds of cadences, and read up on b5 substitutions.

    as for extensions and alterations, here is the skinny from my Jazz guitarist Father:
    Generally the chords are altered so that the top note matches the current note of the main (vocal) melody

    also, for altered extensions (#11, b9 etc) you are almost always looking at a dominant chord , with a b7.

    one exception to 'never thinking above the octave' is when I spot a nice chromatic motion implied by the chord extensions.

    If you really want to see some sweet uses of extended chords, you can't go wrong with learning Antonio Carlos Jobim's songs

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