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Why is it ok to use minor third in funk lines over dominant seventh chord?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by cgull, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. cgull


    Jan 18, 2018
    I have some bass books full of example grooves using the minor third over a dominant seventh chord which obviously has the major third and no minor third in its chord tones!
    Why does this work?
    As a beginner it is baffling.
    jamro217 and Pbassmanca like this.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Flat 3rd over a dominant 7th chord is called a "blue note." It is part of the "musical vocabulary" of blues, rock, funk, jazz, etc. and it sounds good in the right context.

    Music theory doesn't "tell you what you can and can't play." It is not a set of "rules."
  3. Because it sounds good.
  4. If you like the sound of a #9 (=b3) over a dominant chord, have even more fun experimenting with b9, #11, and b13.
  5. I think you will find that notes of the minor pentatonic R-b3-4-5-b7 can be used a lot of places, because.....

    1. It's an easy pattern. So people like to use it.
    2. It sounds fine 9 times out of 10.
  6. GBBSbassist

    GBBSbassist I actually play more guitar... Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2010
    Music has no rules.
    jamro217, bassbully, farshore and 2 others like this.
  7. stringtapper


    Jun 24, 2009
    Denton, TX
    I have become fond of calling this kind of chord or "tonality" (a problematic label for this, but whatev) "Funk Major" as a joke with some of my bandmates.

    It happens a lot in 60s–70s R&B/Soul/Funk. Basically it's a dominant 7th chord but the minor 3rd can show up at times. It's usually very context dependent. The m3 will often function as an ornament leading to the M3. But sometimes you'll hear it as part of a lick in the guitar or bass even though another chordal instrument will be playing the M3 of the dominant 7th chord underneath it. Depending on how it's done it can either sound great or sound like two people playing on different chords at the same time (i.e. bad).

    Ultimately it is just a blue note as others have stated, but one that gets used in very specific ways in a lot of that kind of music (i.e. not straight ahead blues).
    jamro217, csc2048b, backin82 and 5 others like this.
  8. cgull


    Jan 18, 2018
    I deleted my the example that I pasted earlier due to copyright. After buying my last bass I dont have spare cash to pay for lawyers
  9. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    It sounds good, because it has a history and a tradition in many styles of music.
    This, of course is not so much the case with the major third over a minor chord.
    jamro217 likes this.
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    @Mushroo and @stringtapper basically called it, it's part of the blues musical vocabulary, thus infects all blues influenced music.

    The dissonant tension of a diminished 5th between the 3rd and 7th of a dominant chord opens the door to some crazy choices.
    Most of the "weird" chords in Jazz tend to be flavors of dominant 7th chords.
    The harmony is already tense and unstable due to the devil's tone, why not throw in some other craziness?
    as long as we land safe and sound on a solid root note, we should be good.
  11. I prefer to think of that note as a "#9", since a flat 3rd technically makes the chord a minor chord. Tomato, tomatoe. Anyway, in general you are superimposing part of the blues scale over a Dominant chord.

    Dominant chords lend themselves to all kinds of alterations, i.e. b9, #9, b5, #5 etc. because of the inherent tension in them that Mambo spoke of. Using the #9 is just one.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
    jamro217, Peter Weil, cgull and 7 others like this.
  12. monkeybanana


    Dec 23, 2017
    The blues!

    Also try playing a minor pentatonic scale over a major chord. Like G minor pentatonic over G maj.
    jamro217 and Whousedtoplay like this.
  13. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Not only that, but a lot of times the bass will be playing major 3rds on top of all that (ala Mixolydian mode)! Madness.
    jamro217 likes this.
  14. waveman


    Sep 25, 2008
    Magical Contrast
    jamro217 likes this.
  15. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    A lot, if not most, blues songs use dominant 7ths throughout the song on all of the chords. Dominant 7ths add tension to the music. That's why the V chord (which is normally a dominant 7th) leans so heavily towards resolution with the tonic (the I chord), which is normally not a dominant 7th. When you hit the flat third playing a minor 3rd against that dominant 7th chord, it adds more tension and gives it an even different sound and "feel" than a normal dominant 7th run.

    Blues pretty well breaks all the "rules" that aren't really rules in music. I strongly believe that is why blues has the ability to reach out and grab you at a primal level. It sounds different than most "melodic" music because it doesn't follow the melodic music rules and by "not following the rules correctly" it sounds and feels really good. Not following the rules incorrectly can sound and feel really bad. It still needs to resolve to release the tension, but even when the chord progression resolves to the tonic, it still has tension in it because the tonic in blues is often also a dominant 7th chord. If it feels right...do it!
    jamro217 likes this.
  16. TheBamaSlamma


    Apr 19, 2012
  17. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA
    The late George Carlin said: "I'll tell ya a little secret about the blues. It's not enough to know which notes to play. You gotta know *why* they need to be played." ;)
  18. Tecnically since a dominant chord have a minor 7th and the minor 3rd is the perfect 4th of that 7th, minor 3rd is usable...
    jamro217, cgull, devnulljp and 2 others like this.
  19. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Dominant 7 is the funnest chord to see coming. Because depending on the usage, it is the wild wild west. If it is being used to resolve to a root, I just go to wherever I feel like going at that moment. There are really no rules. Sometimes I go whole tone, or diminished..or just chromatic. You can get weird as long as you bring it back in.

    To answer your question, you just need to fire up a loop with a dominant 7 playing and mess with it. Once you get that, start playing over ii-V-Is and it will really start to make more sense. I think this is something that you need to hear more than anything.
  20. DavC

    DavC Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    sharp 9th

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