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Thread: 9s, 11s, 13s, ...

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  1. #1
    Registered User urucoug's Avatar
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    9s, 11s, 13s, ...

    Hi,

    I'm trying to wean myself off of the chord charts as you guys have suggested. I've learned my triads and 7ths. So, in a lot of the books I'm using, I'm seeing 9s, 11s, 13s, etc., on the end of the chord--Gm9, etc.
    So, when I see these numbers, is this just slapping on an extra scale degree, or do they alter the original triad as in G7. Do these chords with higher scale degrees on the end still use all of the triad?

    A related question, does anyone have a good suggestion for a resource where I can learn a lot of this stuff, or is it easy enough that I can just ask a couple questions, practice a bit, and get it?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    I think they can alter the sound of the triad. Ex G13 vs G7(b9) can have a completely different function. G13 can be a I in a blues, but G7(b9) is commonly a pushing chord.

    As far as using the triad, guitar voicings will drop the 5th or the root if need be, but those notes are supposed to still work. (left to the bass player)

  3. #3
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by urucoug
    So, when I see these numbers, is this just slapping on an extra scale degree, or do they alter the original triad as in G7. Do these chords with higher scale degrees on the end still use all of the triad?
    G7 = G B D + F; that is original triad + m7 (=F). It does not alter original triad.
    G9 = G7 + A
    etc
    technicaly any 13 chord could consist of 7 notes!
    But usually we choose to play 3-4 notes per chord. As Ken already said, you can leave out root (leave it for a bass player), unaltered fifth (P5). You play 3,7 and alterations .... or whatever your ears tells you.

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by urucoug
    Hi,

    I'm trying to wean myself off of the chord charts as you guys have suggested. I've learned my triads and 7ths. So, in a lot of the books I'm using, I'm seeing 9s, 11s, 13s, etc., on the end of the chord--Gm9, etc.
    So, when I see these numbers, is this just slapping on an extra scale degree, or do they alter the original triad as in G7. Do these chords with higher scale degrees on the end still use all of the triad?

    A related question, does anyone have a good suggestion for a resource where I can learn a lot of this stuff, or is it easy enough that I can just ask a couple questions, practice a bit, and get it?

    Thanks in advance.
    I think as long as you understand the principle (as Laughingskull outlined) you don't need to study it. Look up the shape for the 9, 11, 13 etc chords you see and work out the difference from a plain 7 chord.
    Here's a few tips:

    ("few", haha! Actually, just print this out and spend the next few years studying it... ) The following is the way I've come to make sense of it after many years, with a few concepts borrowed from books, but mostly my own logic.)

    1. Chord symbols are independent of the key they happen to be used in. a "Gmaj9#11" (or whatever) will always have the same notes, whatever the context.

    2. Chord symbols seem to assume that every chord derives from mixolydian mode (major scale with b7). (I say "seem" because this is not a written rule, it's just the way it looks. Probably because dom7 chords are the most common ones to get extensions, and symbols have evolved as a shorthand - common chords need short names, rarer ones can have longer names.)

    3. IOW, a plain number after the root letter is a dom7 chord type: G7, G9, G11, G13. (These are not alterations to the original triad, they are additions.)
    Every note in the chord is added from the mixolydian scale of the root: G B D F A C E . (The C - which makes G11 - is not usually added without removing the B, which clashes with it. G11 with no B should be called G9sus4, but people often use G11 for short.)
    As Laughingskull says, the implication is that notes are stacked in 3rds, and the number indicates the last one added - but you only need that last note and the 7th (and the 3rd) to get the essential sound. 5th and even root can often be omitted. 3rd and 7th are known as "guide tones", and are the essential core of any chord.

    4. Other chord types are indicated by additional signs, such as:

    5. "m" after the root note means the 3rd is minor. IOW, a minor triad - but the other notes are still the same as if they were from the same scale.
    Gm11 = G Bb D F A C. The 13th would be E, but that's rare. (The C and Bb can be included in the same chord because they don't clash.)

    6. A "maj" in the name means the 7th is major (not triad, although that's probably major too). IOW, a half-step higher than the 7th in a plain "7" chord.
    Gmaj7, Gmaj9, Gmaj13. All have an F# (major 7th) in. Otherwise the scale is the same - ie, in this case it's the major scale of the root.
    Notice "maj" always refers to the 7th, which is in the chord even when not in the symbol.
    (As with G11, Gmaj11 doesn't exist.)

    Compare the following:

    G7 = G B D F (G mixolydian, nothing altered)
    Gmaj7 = G B D F#
    Gm7 = G Bb D F
    Gm(maj9) = G Bb D F# A. (Lowered 3rd, implied raised 7th, added 9th.)

    7. "dim" means a lowered 3rd, 5th and 7th.
    Gdim7 = G Bb Db Fb (yes, "Fb" = sounds like E, but is called Fb because it's counted as the 7th note from G.)
    This chord should be called "dim7", but is sometimes shortened to just "dim". ("dim" on its own should just mean a 1 b3 b5 triad, but they are extremely rare.)

    8. "sus" means omit the 3rd and use the 2nd or 4th instead, as indicated (sus2, sus4).
    In jazz, plain "sus" means sus4, because they don't recognise sus2s.

    9. "add" means add only the following extension to the triad - no 7th.
    Gadd9 = G B D A.

    10. Some chords have "alterations", which are extra numbers with "b" or "#" before them. Again, these can all be seen as relative to the mixolydian mode (or major scale) of the root.
    G7b9 = G B D F Ab
    G7#11 = G B D F C# (#11s are OK with major 3rds)
    Gmaj7#11 = G B D F# C#
    Gm7b5 = G Bb Db F

    Notice all these have the "7" included, to separate the b or # from the root letter. "Gb9" would mean a Gb7 chord with a 9th added (Gb Bb Db Fb Ab). "G7b9" is a G7 chord with a b9 added.


    SIX CHORD TYPES

    If all the above is starting to make your head explode (honestly, I'm trying to simplify it! ), there's another way of reducing the vast number of chords that seem to be out there. In jazz (home of all the most complicated chords you will ever see) they can reduce all those 1000s of chords to just SIX types.
    Each of these types can have various other notes added or altered, but they remain the same type - IOW, you could leave off all the fancy extensions or alterations, and they would work the same, they would do the same job in a chord sequence. (A bit like 6 different people, who could wear all kinds of fancy clothes or uniforms but would still be the same people.)

    1. MAJOR
    Based on major triad (1-3-5).
    Can have 6th, maj7, or 9th added. The 6th is called "13" if the 7th is included.
    Can also have a #11 added, to make a lydian mode chord.
    Used as I or IV chord in major keys, and III or VI chord in minor keys.
    Symbols: 6, maj7, maj9, 6/9, maj13, maj7#11, maj9#11, maj13#11, ∆.

    2a. DOM7
    Based on major triad (1-3-5), with minor 7th (b7) added.
    Can have 9th and 13th added.
    Used as V in major key. Mixolydian mode implied
    Can sometimes have a #11 added, to make a lydian dominant chord - in which case it's used as a bII in a minor or major key, or bVII in major key.
    Symbols: 7, 9, 13.
    Lydian dominant: 7#11, 9#11, 13#11

    2b. ALTERED DOM7 (not really a different type from 2a, but worth separating - the dom7 "person"'s slightly twisted twin brother, if you like )
    Contains 1-3-b7 of normal dom7, but has either a b5 or #5.
    Usually has b9 or #9 added.
    Used as V chord in minor key, occasionally in major key.
    Implies the altered scale: 1 b2 #2 3 b5 #5 b7.
    Symbols: 7#5#9, 7b5b9, 7#5b9, 7#5b9, 7#9, 7b13 - or just plain "7alt" and you choose the alterations you want!
    Some altered dom7s may have a normal (major) 9th, along with b5 or #5, which implies the wholetone scale (1-2-3-b5-#5-b7): 7b5, 7#5, 9b5, 9#5.
    Others may have a b9 or #9, but a perfect 5th and normal 13th, which implies the half-whole diminished scale (1-b2-#2-3-#4-5-6-b7): 7b9, 13b9.
    (Altered dom7s are perhaps the hardest part of jazz harmony to get your head round. If in doubt, just play the root, 3rd and 7th!)

    3. MINOR 7
    Based on minor triad (1-b3-5).
    Can have 7th (b7), 9th, and/or 11th added.
    Used as ii or vi chord in major key, or iv chord in minor key.
    Symbols: m7, m9, m11.
    NB (a): If you see a "m6" chord, that means the 6th is major (whole step above 5th), suggesting dorian mode perhaps, but it probably refers to type 4 below.)
    NB (b); iii chords in a major key (technically phrygian) are almost never used in jazz, except as subs for I (rootless maj7s). Phrygian chords may be used in modal jazz however (see below).

    4. TONIC MINOR
    Based on minor triad (1-b3-5).
    Can have 6th, maj7 or 9th added. (The 6th is always major)
    Implies melodic minor scale.
    Used as i chord in minor key.
    Symbols: m(maj7), m(maj9), m6, m69, m∆

    5. HALF-DIMINISHED
    Based on diminished triad (1-b3-b5)
    Always has 7th (b7) added. Locrian mode.
    Used as ii chord in minor key; or (very rarely) as vii chord in major key.
    Symbol: m7b5,

    6. DIMINISHED 7th
    Based on diminished triad (1-b3-b5)
    Always has diminished 7th (bb7 = 6) added.
    Used as vii chord in minor key (derives from vii step of harmonic minor), but also used often as substitute for dom7 chords in minor or major keys.
    Although 7th mode of harmonic minor fits, the usual scale applied is whole-half dim: 1-2-b3-4-b5-b6-bb7(6)-maj7.
    Symbol: dim7, o7.

    EVERY chord you ever see will be based on (reducible to) one of these six. At least, that applies to "key-based" music, where chords work together in "progressions" in "keys".

    MODAL jazz sometimes employs strange chords, intentionally trying to go beyond the above 6 types, because the ideas of "key" or "progression" are not relevant.
    The above are all built in 3rds (1-3-5-7-9-11-13) - known as "tertian harmony". Modal jazz prefers "quartal" harmony, where chords are built mostly in 4ths and 2nds.
    Even so, the naming system is still based on tertian symbols, because that's the only language we have!
    This means you get a lot of "sus" chords, where 4ths replace the 3rd of the chord.
    Eg, a phrygian chord might be written "susb9".

    Of course, you get sus chords in rock too, but it's usually clearer which of the above types they derive from (usually 1 or 2a).
    Last edited by JonR; 10-23-2008 at 10:07 AM.

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Yes ---- Save this -- print or bookmark. You will not find it explained any better anywhere.

  6. #6
    Registered User urucoug's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks a lot guys. That definitely clears some stuff up, and gives me some meat to study. Maybe I should start a new thread for my follow up question, but...

    So, once you know all the notes in the chord you can potentially play, and you've decided on the ones that are probably the most important, how do you decide where on the guitar you play them? I mean, there are 6 strings, and an octave and a half per string. It looks like I have some options. What is a logical way to go about deciding how to voice the chord on the guitar?

  7. #7
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    What is a logical way to go about deciding how to voice the chord on the guitar?

    Many. One would be voice leading. Consider previous chord you played. Try to play the next one as close as possible. Can you play it without moving to another position.? Can you play it so the top note matches the melody?
    Consider the next chord you will play. Can you play the current one so that you can 'connect' previous and the next?
    Which notes in the chord support the melody? Which notes in the chord support the next/previous chord (better)? Can you use opens strings to make chord sound more misterious/airy? .... etc

    What you DON'T want to do is scatter chords all over the neck. It would sound .... lame.

    Consider this reply as a quick abstract. Now I expect Jon's answer which I look forward to, with illustrative examples from which we will all benefit.

    I will surely print the above post (Jon's) on chords, It will help me to teach my son. I don't think I have ever seen it described better.

  8. #8
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaughingSkull
    Consider this reply as a quick abstract. Now I expect Jon's answer which I look forward to, with illustrative examples from which we will all benefit.
    I think you covered it fine!

    (Supplementary questions welcome if not... )

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