Tri To Help Me

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by footprints89, Aug 20, 2012.

1. footprints89

Dec 16, 2009
terre haute, Indiana
Could anyone give an easy explanation of Tri-tones? I understand it means three whole steps, and I usually think of them in b5's. Could someone give an example in C, and breakdown how it's functioning? Big thanks in advance!

2. TroyKModeratorStaff Member

Mar 14, 2003
Seattle, WA
From a chord standpoint, think of dominants; root, 3rd 7th

C7: C - E - Bb

The tri-tone/b5/#4 of C is F#

F#7: F# - Bb - E

The 3rd of the original chord becomes the 7th of the new chord
The 7th of the original chord becomes the 3rd of the new chord

You've added a very bluesy b5 to the original chord and moved the bass note, changing the root movement of the composition

3. meandering

Dec 1, 2010
your question is not exactly clear. Are you looking for an explanation of the tritone interval, i.e. C to F#/Gb, or a tritone substitution, as explained above.

4. TroyKModeratorStaff Member

Mar 14, 2003
Seattle, WA
Agree this he question isn't all that clear and I made an assumption. I could have made two other assumptions, one of which would have led to an explanation of George Russel's Lydian Chromatic theory, which I didn't have in me today. The other, might lead to a discussion on theology, which I'm pretty sure is against the board rules, but I'll post a link:

http://www.geneveith.com/2011/07/27/the-devils-interval/

5. DiabolusInMusicFunctionless Art is Merely Tolerated VandalismSupporting Member

I love the tri-tone, hence the handle.

The tri-tone is nothing more than a flat 5th, it is just another name for it. That is the interval.

If your referring to a tri-tone sub, well it means you can sub a V for its tri-tone. Since my explanation sucks, basically if you were doing a II-V-I in G you could sub the D7 for for Ab/G# dim.

Once I finish typing I realize I suck at explaining this... stick with Tonys explanation

EDIT: Troy's explanation... sorry I was on the phone dealing with an Anthony all day....

6. gerry grableSupporting Member

Nov 9, 2010
The tri-tone is nothing more than a flat 5th, it is just another name for it. That is the interval.

I can't help but think of Dixieland guitarist Eddie Condon's comment regarding bebop musicians: They flat their fifths; we drink them.

7. ChuckCorbis

Aug 8, 2009
Los Angeles, Ca.
Yeah. Tony knows his tri-tones. What a cool name. Little Tony and the Tritones.

8. TroyKModeratorStaff Member

Mar 14, 2003
Seattle, WA
Yeah, that Tony's a sweet kid with a good head on his shoulders.

9. ChuckCorbis

Aug 8, 2009
Los Angeles, Ca.
Basta....Basta....you know his mama made the best pasta fazool! Of course he has a good head on his shoulders. He comes from a good family. I just can't stand the fact he rides around the neighborhood on that little Piaggio.

10. Ewoa/k/a Steve CooperSupporting Member

Apr 2, 2008
Huntington WV
Tritone? Eh, fuhgeddaboudit.

11. footprints89

Dec 16, 2009
terre haute, Indiana
I kind of understand where you're coming from, but not quite. Wouldn't the chord standpoint be D-, G7, Cmaj? One measure of D-, one of G7, and two of Cmaj. So once the Tri-tone is added what changes? could you explain measure-by-measure. Thanks for all the responses!

12. ChuckCorbis

Aug 8, 2009
Los Angeles, Ca.
4/4|D- |Db7 |CMaj |

or |D-9 |Db13 |CMaj.9 |

13. Bruce LindfieldUnprofessional TalkBass ContributorGold Supporting Member

It just means that instead of jumping up to the V, you make a smooth chromatic transition downwards - which as the bass player, you might be playing already without thinking about it in that way!

14. longfinger

Mar 22, 2008
IIRC back in the day regarding the music of the Renaissance I learned... which is diatonic and melody based...

An interval of a tritone is really what the name implies, three-tones. That is an augmented fourth. ie. C (D) (E) up to F# . A diminished fifth is not a proper tri-tone as it has two whole tones, and two semi-tones. ie.C (Db)(Eb)(F) Gb. Of course the interval could sound the same but the filler notes in the scale means that diatonically, one must resolve it differently.

Nowadays, not many people make or keep this distinction, and will use the tritone name for a diminished fifth interval. Music is not as diatonic as it was before. :-0

15. FebsSupporting Member

May 7, 2007
A tritone substitution is the substitution of a dominant chord for the dominant chord a tritone away. So, as ChuckCorbisiero noted above, in your example, you would substitute a Db7 for the G7. The substitution works because the third and the seventh of the G7 chord are the same notes* as the seventh and the third of the Db7 chord.

(*Strictly speaking, the seventh of the Db7 chord is a Cb, which is enharmonically equivalent to the third of the G7 chord.)

16. TroyKModeratorStaff Member

Mar 14, 2003
Seattle, WA
Granted, but this violates Tony's Rule of Notation #18, which clearly states that anyone who passes out a lead sheet with a Cb on it, must be punched in the stomach during the set break.

No one wants that kind of trouble.

17. Don Higdon

Dec 11, 1999
Princeton Junction, NJ
Show a little respect. Pasta fagioli.

18. footprints89

Dec 16, 2009
terre haute, Indiana
I got the concept with ChuckCorbisiero's explanation, but Febs helped me understand what was actually happening. Big thanks to everyone for the input; all questions answered!