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Topic: Please post any questions here.

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  1. #11

    Re: 7th Chords and Scales

    Quote Originally Posted by dsampson55
    I new to the study of Jazz, but I was wondering one thing that isn't addressed in Chapter 1. Why does Jazz utilize 7th chords so often? And, what are the predominant scales used in Jazz? Perhaps the second question implies the answer to the first .

    thanks

    dave
    I'm not sure if there's an explanation for why jazz uses 7th chords so often, it's just what jazz is. Extensive use of 7th chords is one of the main characteristics of jazz harmony. You could play a purely triadic piece in a jazz style but I suspect it would sound a bit childish. The 7th chord tends to be the building block of jazz harmony, whereas the triad is the building block of common-practice classical music. Tensions in jazz are added with 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths, or with chords built in 4ths (often implying m7 or other chords).

    Regarding scales, it depends what styles of jazz you're talking about. The melodies of most standards often come from old showtunes, and tend to simply use the major scale or the blues scale, but improvisors often use the dorian and mixolydian modes extensively because they outline the ii7-V7. (If the piece is fairly diatonic, you're essentially in the major key the whole time, just changing your center).

    When you want to go a tiny bit further out, a lot of improvisors like to use lydian, or "lydianized" alterations of another scale -- the sharp 4 adds kind of a bright spicy flavor to a line. Also, modes of the melodic minor scale (i.e. play the melodic minor scale starting on a note other than the root) are used to spice up a line without really going too far "out."

    These are just some of my go-tos from my education and playing experience, but I'm pretty amateur as a jazz player. I'm sure Chuck will have a lot more to say when he goes into melody.

    chris.

  2. #12

    Re: Please post any questions here.

    Quote Originally Posted by nova.music
    ""I new to the study of Jazz, but I was wondering one thing that isn't addressed in Chapter 1. Why does Jazz utilize 7th chords so often? .
    Jazz music is full of different styles, each with their own style and origin. There are some jazz music without a single 7th chord!!! actually they only use extended chords ( 9th, 11, 13th) depends on the style of the Jazz!!! but yes most Jazz music utilize 7th chords frequently. The four distinct components of jazz music are rhythm, harmony, melody, and tonal qualities. In my opinion rhythm is more prominent/important in Jazz than the chords/coloring! I don't think if one plays a jazz melody, say blues with triads, the style of the music changes.

    But of course, Professor Israels can answer your question better.
    Chekad Sarami
    Math Professor

  3. #13

    Re: Please post any questions here.

    Please delete this!
    Chekad Sarami
    Math Professor

  4. #14

    Re: Please post any questions here.

    I see it differently... there is a way of considering chords as "colours", as "timbres". In a sense, superimposing a chord on a fundamental is giving that note a certain timbre. So in blues style the dominant chord which in a tonal context is usually a V or temporary V is instead used on every chord because of the colour it adds to the roots. This procedure was adopted by many classical composers from the end on the 19th century on. So my explanation is jazz needs that kind of colours, and really not only 7ths, but usually the 9ths are given by default, and 13ths on dominants. This doesn't mean you can't every now and then use the pure colour of the triad... this is my point of view

    Roberto

  5. #15

    Re: Please post any questions here.

    It's interesting to get the different views on the 7th chord question. It's a question that almost can't be answered, yet the posts are very good. It reminds me of Dizzy G (I think it was him) saying "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture".

  6. #16

    Re: Please post any questions here.

    dsampson55,

    Are you satisifed with the answers to your question about 7ths, or would you like further elaboration?

  7. #17

    Re: Please post any questions here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman
    dsampson55,

    Are you satisifed with the answers to your question about 7ths, or would you like further elaboration?
    This has been a very good discussion - different people bringing their experiences and knowledge together. So yes it is very helpful.

    If I can summarize, it would appear that 7th, 9th, and 13th chords are used to give the "colorization" associated with jazz. Perhaps the Harmony chapters will deal more with this.

    Also, I wonder if there is a different in chord type choices that occur if you are writing to structured jazz (i.e. Big Band Swing) or improvisational which can be highly unstructured. From what little I've seen of the Big Band scores, they seem to follow more of the Maj/Minor chord usage that we find in "typical" music. Whereas, the improvisational jazz uses much more of the chords mentioned earlier.

    thanks

    dave

  8. #18

    Re: Please post any questions here.

    dsampson55,
    it would appear that 7th, 9th, and 13th chords are used to give the "colorization" associated with jazz.
    Let's put it this way: Jazz is an artform that encourages it's practitioners to "push the envelope". Think of 7th, 9th, and 13th chords as just some of the many colors available on our palette. They are not exclusive to jazz though, and appear in other genres of music as well, including classical.

    Also, I wonder if there is a different in chord type choices that occur if you are writing to structured jazz (i.e. Big Band Swing) or improvisational which can be highly unstructured. From what little I've seen of the Big Band scores, they seem to follow more of the Maj/Minor chord usage that we find in "typical" music. Whereas, the improvisational jazz uses much more of the chords mentioned earlier.
    I disagree with that statement. Realize that the musicians in a professional big band know ALL of the available permutations of these chords (not just the 7th, 9th, and 13th), and use them even when they are not printed on the sheet in front of them. So if a big band pianist or guitarist sees a C7 on the page, it wouldn't be surprising at all for him to play a C7#9 b13 if it works within the context of the piece. And whether you're talking about big band music or improvisational jazz, the soloist (or improvisor) also includes those notes, based on his knowledge of what's available in the context of what he hears from the other musicians around him.

    Lastly, there are writers of big band music that write very accessable, traditional sounding scores (such as those that you allude to), and then there are those whose writing is so "outside" that their chords cannot be communicated by conventional chord symbols. It's all a matter of what you've been exposed to. Hope this helps.

  9. #19

    Re: Please post any questions here.

    Okay, another opinion to throw in the mix about why seventh chords should be used.

    The way I understand it is a little more complicated, but it makes a certain amount of sense.

    One of the previous posts mentioned that small chord symbols often imply larger chords. This is very true, but most people do not take the concept far enough.

    This is really important: CHORDS AND SCALES ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN. When we write a chord symbol, we are not identifying the chord to be played, but rather the scale that a solost might use to play over that harmony; the chord is simply the same scale, rearranged (usually into thirds) so that the notes are farther appart from each other (so they don't clash) and played at the same time.

    Jazz chord symbols represent a whole series of IMPLICATIONS. In particular, the major seventh chord symbol implies the major scale, and therefore, ANY MAJOR EXTENDED CHORD (including ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths). The minor chord symbol implies the minor scale, and the dominant seventh chord symbol implies the mixolydian scale or, as in lesson 5, lydian b7.

    Here we finally come to the reason why many chords are sevenths (in theory): a triad is not sufficient to imply one single scale. Even key has three diatonic major triads and three diatonic minor triads. Even using several of these in combination, it is often not clear what key a chord progression is in. Consider the pattern C-G/B-Am. Is this I-V^6-vi in the key of C or is it IV-I^6-ii in the key of G? We cannot tell. But if you add the appropriate seventh chords, you will see that in the key of C, the progression would be Cmaj7-G7/B-Am7, and in G, it would be Cmaj7-Gmaj7/B-Am7. With the seventh chords added, you can look at (or hear) the chord progression and instantly know what key it is in. To take the principle further, there are many who believe that the music is more satisfying when the chord progressions are less ambiguous to the ear, and this explains why the sevenths should be played: they are the smallest form of chord for which any two consecutive chords clearly imply the key centre (it should be mentioned here that too much tonal implication can also be unsatisfying; the key to all arranging in any style of music is always to find the balance between predictability and unpredictability).

    Of course, this concept of implications goes much further than this. To really be clear about the chord progressions, the above examples should be rendered Cmaj7-G7/B-Am7(b13) and Cma7(#11)-Gmaj7-Am7. In this case, each of the three chords is labelled distinctly differently in each case, further clarifying which key is being used at any given time.

    However, it bears remembering that the chord symbol Cmaj7(#11) does not mean to play the chord CEGBF#; it implies the C Lydian Scale, and the harmonies could be any chord related to the scale, including the simple C major triad, or the Cmaj13(#11), at the discretion of the performers/arranger. As has been previously mentioned, tonic minor chords are sometimes played as triads, and some styles of jazz, especially Dixieland, rarely use anything more than triads and dominant seventh chords.

  10. #20

    Lydian b7

    There is one thing I found on the lesson 5 page on which I would like some quick clarification.

    Every dominant seventh chord presented uses a #11. In the second and fourth cetegories, this is fairly obvious, given the symetrical construction of the scales. However, what about the first case, in which the diatonic 11 degree is not #11? This leads me to a further question which has interested me for some time: sus4.

    Should I understand that a #11 is used because a n11 qould be better rendered as a sus4? I know that there are those who feel that the 3rd degree should be removed in a sus4 chord, but following correct theoretical practices only requires that the 3rd be removed from the octave in which the sus4 is included (otherwise the chord becomes add4 or add11, rather than sus4 or sus11), while the 3rd may remain in other registers. Assuming the m9 is avoided between the M3 and the P11, is there any other reason that I am not aware why a n11 should not be used?

    I notice also that you did not mention how 11th factors should be resolved in voice-leading. If 1/5 are linked, and 3/7 are linked, and 9/13 are linked, how does one resolve 11? Clearly it cannot be linked to anything (there is nothing left to link it with). Is it to be held over into the next chord? It the same true of #11?

    Speaking of which, how does this style of linked voice-leading apply to altered notes? Should a #9 still resolve downward to a natural 6 or 13 when it could resolve to the 7th of a maj7? Should a b9 still resolve upward to the natural 6 or 13 when it could resolve downward to the perfect 5th? Should a #5 still resolve downward to the root when it could resolve upward to the third (or hold to the third in the case of resolving to a minor chord)? Classical voice-leading requires that altered notes resolve in the direction of their alterations; is this true here, or is it better to keeped to the linked pairs?

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