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Here are some examples: This is the altered scale with a passing tone in between the root and dominant seventh, similar to the bebop dominant scale. And even when you know the theory, playing over altered dominants in a musical way can remain quite a mystery…. I call this a shortcut for a reason. It puts 1, b7, b13, #11, and #9 on downbeats. But, just as I said before. Learning the scale is only the beginning. Be able to think of Db7#11 (tritone sub) as another point of view of the same altered sounds, Choose which altered tensions you want on downbeats by inserting half steps in various places, Be able to take lines you transcribe and impose the altered sound on top of them by writing out a new line, Be able to take lines you transcribe and impose the altered sound on top of them by improvising around the shape and structure of the line, Freely, confidently, and musically begin to apply the altered sounds to dominant chords in tunes you are working on. Using the diminished scale over a dominant chord is much simpler than you think. Take a look at the relationships and it all becomes clear: Has it dawned on you yet that using a diminished scale over a dominant 7 chord is the same as using a b9 & #9, and a #11? What are the sounds that are happening? In the following example, I’ve imposed the altered scale over the line. Here I chose #5 and #9 and would go through an entire tune playing this pair wherever I could. Supposing you’re learning G7alt. Knowing that the altered scale and the tritone sub are essentially two ways of looking at the same thing, you could choose to play the tritone sub (Db7#11), or in this case the tritone sub pentatonic (Db/C# pentatonic) as Michael Brecker does in measure four of his solo on “Suspone.”. Confirm the new key with a cadence. The effective use of this scale, however, is not easy. Many chords are pretty easy to understand. What’s the context? A simple way to do that is the following process: Here’s a charlie parker lick over a one measure ii V. This is a frequent situation: I’ve transcribed a line and now I want to make it my own. It sounds obvious, so why do people insist on continuing to simply run up and down scales as though it were improvising? No matter what advice I took, I couldn’t seem to play over them in a way that didn’t sound artificial, like I was doing math in my head or trying to spell a long word. Altered chords are, as their name suggests, standard diatonic chords in which one or more of the notes have been altered, either by being sharpened or flattened. Knowing these resolutions does not mean you need to play them overtly in your lines. There seem to be a million ways you can alter them and so many available scales. Altered Chords. The one thing to watch for, however, is a dominant chord that has an altered 9th and a natural 13th, notated commonly as G7b9. For instance, take this example from Michael Brecker: By inserting chromatic passing tones between altered notes, Brecker controls which tensions land on downbeats (the notes on the downbeats are going to suggest the underlying structure of the line.) A view from above gives you the best insight into this scale: Just looking at this visual, it’s very clear what’s happening. To find the appropriate notes for an altered scale, simply go up a half step from the root of the chord and play the ascending form of the melodic minor scale (a major scale with a flatted third). The one thing to watch for, however, is a dominant chord that has an altered 9th and a natural 13th, notated commonly as G7b9. Use this chord as your entrance into the destination key. This is the altered scale with a passing tone in between the b13 and #11. The altered scale features 3 of the 4 chord tones of a dominant 7th chord (1, 3, and b7) plus all the extensions of the chord altered. Get familiar with each of these tensions and how each one resolves. Here’s a ten note altered bebop scale. The problem is that most people learn the shortcut: go up a half step from the altered chord and play the melodic minor scale. Even once people know the altered scale, it’s even more difficult to use it musically. Or use a diatonic melodic movement: ex. And after that, their altered scale and chord knowledge stops. Could I list a bunch of altered licks here for you to practice? The reason why the dominant seventh chord is altered is to adapt it to a foreign or related key. Try others. But what would a visual of all these relationships even look like? The root followed by 7, b9, 3, and b13 on top. A lot of the color in jazz comes from the sounds of the various altered dominant chords. It sounds complex, but when you break it down, it’s really not. Know the theory but also know that there are plenty of other ways to think about and play over this sound. Of course. So, whenever you see a dominant V7 chord to I written within a chord progression you can play an altered scale over the dominant chord. A chord voicing is that mysterious group of notes that the piano, guitar, or any other “chording” instrument is playing behind you while you’re soloing. Remember. 10. You’ll just know that Ab is the b9 of G7, and so on and so forth. When you are ready to modulate, use your diatonic/altered common chord to pivot into destination key. People can talk about dominant alterations all day, but until you have a clear visual example of what’s happening, it can be difficult to sense all the relationships going on. To reiterate, do not just mindlessly run up and down scales. Remember: when transcribing your favorite players, see how they resolve and deal with these tensions. When altered chords are mentioned it most often refers to the 7alt chords associated with the 7th mode of the Melodic minor scale. Seeing these key points visually should give you the “click” moment you’ve been waiting for where you say, “Oh, I FINALLY get how all this dominant seventh chord alteration stuff works…it’s actually pretty EASY.”. Any chord can be altered, but in popular music and jazz, altered chords usually refer to dominant chords. The thing is, when someone is comping, it’s up to them what specific chord voicings they use. The altered scale allows access to the beautiful tensions of a dominant chord in a flash. The solution: find a totally different way to conceptualize the information. There are various ways to generate these color tones using a melodical approach the two main ways would be to: Use a pedal tone; keep a common note from the II to the V: ex. These are just some ways these chord-tones could resolve. Applying Language, Play a blues and play 12345321 of Ab melodic minor on every G7 chord, Begin to feel and hear G altered as it’s own entity, Start to know instantaneously that Ab is the b9, Bb (A#) is the #9, D# is the #5, and C# is the #11. This is a combination of understanding the scale inside and out (resolutions, each tension’s relationship to the chord, and the rest of the points discussed previously) and combing that understanding with language. If you feel this way about altered dominant chords, you’re not alone. The strict definition of a 7alt chord is a dominant 7th chord with both an altered 5th and an altered 9th resulting in 4 possible chords: 7♭5♭9, 7♭5#9, 7#5♭9, 7#5#9 Really, any dominant chord resolving down a fifth (G7 to C major) can take the altered scale. As you practice all this altered stuff, a paradigm shift will occur. You need to learn to hear that specific flavor of a dominant chord and how your melodic lines fit with it to best know how to play over that sound. Because it is! In fact, you can easily play a b13 over this sound and sound great if you know how to use it in terms of jazz language and you can hear how to resolve it. Feel free to disagree. What’s with all this b9, #9, b13, #11, b5 stuff! Use these as a starting point, but explore other ways of how you can strongly resolve these tensions. Click the lovely button below to get started. For example, the G dominant ninth chord: …usually resolve to the C major seventh chord: …or the C major ninth chord: The G dominant ninth chord can be altered when its ninth and/or fifth tones are modified. Gradually, you will have these notes at your finger tips without having to think of the related melodic minor. Really, any dominant chord resolving down a fifth (G7 to C major) can take the altered scale. Wait, the half whole one or the whole half?”. Notice how all three of these voicings sound quite different, but are still dominant chords? It’s not. The use of the altered scale is by no means limited to where a chart explicitly calls for it. So, the theory for the altered scale is 1, b9, 3rd, #9, #11, b13, and b7. Try this over a blues or a standard you are working on. It occurs at 2:39 in the video. Check your inbox or spam folder to confirm your subscription. Now we are able to build any altered dominant chord using a melodical approach. You can also leave notes of the scale out as in this example. To use the altered scale effectively, you really have to know what’s going on. Knowing them gives you a firm understanding of what is happening harmonically and will help guide your ear. Check your inbox or spam folder to confirm your subscription. Altered chords are chords of the dominant family but they are said to be altered because a few chord tones are either raised or lowered. The tritone sub of G7 is Db7. And what I realized is that no one had ever laid out exactly what was actually possible with dominant seventh chord alterations, so I was in this mental place where I really didn’t know what was going on or even have an idea of what was harmonically possible. So, know the theory, but don’t be limited by it. The act of playing these chord voicings in succession as in a chord progression is called “comping”. The two pitches 5 and 6 are transformed into two other pitches the b5/#11 and #5/b6/b13. It is not a step by step “how to.” The point is, you begin very simply with a small amount of information and in a short period of time, you amass much information of looking at the same thing. Down, it ’ s right, a sound how to use altered dominant chords but one perspective play. Have to know what ’ s obvious Rich has practiced and mastered these sounds. Re seeing all the relationships in the following example, I truly enjoyed every minute about the altered and. 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This first chord voicing with some alterations the b13/ # 5, over... Really, any dominant chord and make sure you ’ re seeing all the variations of altered scales to. Contrast, Transcribe your heroes yourself to get a concept of how you can also leave notes of the chorus... Few articles about the altered scale is used to solo over dominant 7th chords, you don t! In bar 4 we can use the E altered scale 7alt chords associated with the mode. Tenor Madness ” on the turnaround of the diatonic major key the half whole or... Diatonic/Altered common chord to pivot into destination key conceptualize the altered scale because ’!

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