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dom7 chords in relative minor...

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by TJC, Apr 16, 2004.

  1. TJC


    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Let's take Autumn Leaves. When we move to relative minor on the 5th bar, the progression is:

    F#ø7 - B7b9 - Emi7 - etc

    We pluck the dom7 chord here from harmonic minor. So because of this we have available as tensions (or extensions) a b9 and a b13. Correct so far? Now I've heard that a #9 is also available. Is this because it this tone is part of the original major (and also the relative minor) harmony (context) into which this dom7 chord has been placed?

    I know that it all depends on what you are hearing, what everybody else is playing at that moment, et cetera, but I would like understand the 'logic' behind this.
  2. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    For a 2-5-1 in minor, a common way of playing is derived from melodic minor harmony. In Em that would be F#7b5 - B7 alt. - Em

    In other words, F#7b5 comes from A melodic minor and B7 alt is from C melodic minor.
    The extensions for the B7alt comes from the superlocrian scale , which is the 7th mode of the C melodic minor scale.
    The notes of B7 alt with all extensions (the superlocrrian scale)

    B (root)-C(b9)-D(#9)-D#(10)-F(#11)-G(#5)-A(b7)

    Thus , the chord could be spelled out
    B7 b9#9#11#5 but B7 alt is easier to read.

    A more vanilla way to treat a 2-5-1 in minor is to play
    Locrian over the ii7b5 and Diminished scale (half-whole) over the dominant. Diminished scale is quite similair to the altered scale except it's symmetric and not a mode from a particular scale.

    This probably just confused you more...perhaps someone else is willing to clear up. You could do a seach on the topic , too.

    Also, when I say use a paricular scale I DONT mean running from
    root to root in 8th notes. The scales are just a way of showing which notes will sound "in" on a particular harmony. See them as a possible choices instead of "what should work" or the "right notes".

  3. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    The B7b9 is one of the chords in the half-step/whole step dimished scale and so is D7b9, F7b9, Ab7b9. When you see b9 it's a shorthand for b9,#9, #11 all of the alterations found in the scale.
  4. Not disagreeing with you Phil, but for clarity, it is important to pont out (especially from a bassline perspective) that the above chord has a perfect 5th (and a major 6th) and the alt chord has a raised 5th (and no sixth).

    As an aside, I like the term 'diminished wholetone' for the alt scale or superlociran or whatever hundred and one other names there are for it, as that describes exactly what you're getting.

    Local sax king would play Locrian #2nd on the m7b5 followed by an altered scale on the 7. The Locrian #2 doesn't seem to have much of fan club anywhere but to my mind its adds clarity, since if you don't watch it the b9 can imply a different harmony. I think if you play the b9 you might as well just borrow the E harm minor, avoiding the m3rd gap to stay out of the cheese. I like a ripe bit of Stilton now and then though.

    All this has more to do with creating interest (for those that find it interesting) than having strict integrity with a 'logical derivation'. Standards are full of these alterations ready made before the jazzers get there. I was looking at cheesy ballard Tenderly last night - full of sustained 7#11s (necesary to harmonise the melody) which whilst you can find a scale to fit that perfectly from a mode of the melodic minor, the harmony owes nothing to this - its just a happy co-incidence(I think - I'll be double checking when I get home). Cute.

    I've seen my teacher go on and on and on and on trying to invent some reason why there might be a theory to fit - you'll always find something but sometimes its just self defeating. IMO it's better to think in terms of the function of the chords, and treat alterations as colour. To deal with the colour you need a collection of notes that work and these scales could be alsorts but not necesarily anything to do with harmonic derivation.

    You ain't gonna get me to explain functions of chords - I'm sure Chris Fitz wil come calling or just embarrass us all with a missed newbie link.

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