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Jazz Guitar Lessons: Tensions & Extensions

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Now you've heard
me mention several time
extending the apidual above the octave.
I've mentioned ninths and
11ths and 13ths but
I haven't really explained it
all in one general discussion.
I wanna do that,
it's a really important thing in jazz.
We use a lot of cool chords that includes
those notes that are called tensions.
It's a cool term, tension.
Because it, it means that three
notes that are above the octave,
it's a word for that.
The ninth, the 11th, and
the 13th and their alterations and
they do add tension to a chord.
Because you're actually, you know,
taking like, if you play a major seven and
you add a ninth to it, let's say,
E ma, E flat major seven.
Switch the notes around a little bit.
And add a ninth on top.
That ninth.
Adds a little bit of tension,
a little bit of buzz to to the chord,
it's really cool.
How are they constructed?
Well, it's very simple.
When I talked about arpeggios, I told you
like, if you think about at the piano,
and I maybe,
I think we have one on the screen for you.
When you look at the piano and
start on middle C.
And you skip every other note, you get
the major seven arpeggio from C is C,
skip D and go to E, skip F and go to G,
skip A and go to B, you get C, E, G and B.
But what happens when you keep going?
I think we've talked a little
bit about this before.
When you keep going you
get these tensions.
The ninth, the 11th and the 13th, okay.
So when you get up to that B
when you're on the last one,
the next note on the piano
of the next octave is C.
But let's skip that so
that you can go right above it.
That's a D.
Well that's the ninth.
If you count up from the middle C, one,
two, three, four, five, six, seven.
C is the eight note, D is the ninth note.
It's totally logical.
Nothing scary about that.
So, it's the ninth because
it's above the octave.
Now let's skip the next note.
Let's skip the E because that's
already been covered below.
So we have the ninth, D, skip E and
go to F, that's the 11th.
Again, just count up.
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F.
The 11th note above the first,
the very first one.
One more, we'll go one further.
Skip over the G because we already
covered that down an octave lower,
and then go right to the A.
That's the 13th.
Here's the 13th.
I'll just play that for you.
Let's do it in C.
There's the, the regular major seven.
C, E, G, B.
Let's go to the ninth.
Very nice, right?
Used many times in jazz.
In fact, lot of times,
people will land on a,
at the end of a song, they'll land
on that ninth nice rich sound.
Let's go to the F.
That's sounds a little bit funny on
the major chord.
But that's what it is.
It's gonna be more useful either altered,
which I'll talk about in a minute,
or on a minor chord.
For example, the,
if we do the tension on a minor cord,
you know, we go above the octave.
Like if we take in the key of C.
Let's go to the two cord
the D minor seven apidual.
D, F, remember skip every note D,
F, the ninth is an E.
Very beautiful chord, D minor nine
And the 11th is the next note
Iit's a beautiful, rich note.
I'll play you a D minor seven, nine, 11th.
hopefully there's a diagram for
that on, on there.
This is D, F, C, I leave out the fifth
on this one ninth and eleventh.
I use that chord a lot.
I love that chord
And then the 13th.
The 13th is a really cool note too.
So we go up again let's do it
in the major one C major seven.
One, three, five, seven, nine,
eleven, there's that 13th.
That's a cool chord.
So check it out.
I'll take a C major seven chord,
and take the fifth away, and
put the 13th on there
You might remember Stevie Wonder,
It's a really beautiful sound.
Used in a lot of jazz.
So that's what they are.
They're basically,
you just keep skipping notes,
and then if you skip another note,
you end up on C.
So that's the end of it.
It's, there's only a ninth,
an 11th, and a 13th.
So only three extra notes to worry about.
Now, you can do that on any kind of chord.
You can do it on a minor chord,
as I just did on D minor
You can do it on a dominant seventh chord,
let's, in this case in the key of C
And you can even do it on
a minor seven flat five chord
Only some of those are useful,
but I'll get to that later as
a kind of advanced concept.
I want to point out that because when we
add these notes they are above an octave,
an octave above where
they naturally occur.
In the scale, remember these
are notes that are in the scale.
The ninth is just the second, really.
But it's up an octave.
Because it's so far away from the root
it sounds completely different.
If I play a second,
if I play a C chord with a, with a,
a D right next to it, it's very low.
It's a little bit muddy down there.
But if I play a ninth,
which is the same note up an octave,
it really sings.
It's got a totally different sound.
So the, that's kind of the reason
why we call it a ninth,
an 11th and a 13th,
because it's up an octave above and
that gives it, it's special sound,
it's special role in voicings.
You know, and when you, if you see guitar
chord books, there's many of them, or
online, services that give you all
the different voicings on the guitar with
these ninths or 13ths and
the altered chords that you see,
remember, I could just
show you those chords, but
you can find those chords in
a lot of different places.
What I'm trying to do is explain how they,
where they come from.
How they're constructed and, and why
they exist, and, and how cool they are.
They're, it's a cool concept, you know
It's an extension,
it is extending the octave, above and
that's what gives it
it's really cool sound.
But the most important ones that we
find in jazz really are on the minor and
the dominant seven chords.
So it's, so
it's just some beautiful options there.
And those, and
on the dominant seventh chord is where
we're gonna really make the alterations.
That's the one that jazz
musicians who over the years,
over the last decade have decided.
Man, I want to take that down a seven
chord and make it as dense and juicy as I
possibly can, and so they've added
a lot of tensions that get used a lot.
Now, I'll just go over
a couple of them real quick.
Tensions & Extensions Part 2.
We talked about the diminished chord and
its relationship to
the dominant 7th chord, right?
If review you'll find that chapter and
you'll go back and review that lesson.
Well the diminished chord, naturally a
diminished chord half step above the root
of a dominant 7th gives you a natural
occurring flat 9, you remember I,
I mentioned that in a, in that lesson.
Well, if we take G7
and we think about the natural 9th
that occurs, which is a great chord also
That's it, that's how you would voice it
And flat it
Makes it a really leading sound
So let's say that's the 5 7 of C,
which it is.
G7 going to C
And put a flat 9 on top
Remember I talked about that pull,
that magnet, you know,
that magnetic force that's pulling you
from a dominant chord to a a resolution?
Well, this makes it an even
strong pull ju, listen to it.
You know why?
There's two tritones in it,
between the 3rd and the 7th.
And between the 5th and
the flat 9 that I've added
Grab your guitar and
play that with me a couple times.
You should really use your fingers when
you're doing this because you'll wanna get
every note to come out.
So I'm taking the G7 chord and
I'm adding this note on top, okay?
I'm muting,
[SOUND] I'm muting that
string right there.
And I don't even have to mute it
because I'm using my fingers to do it,
I'm using every finger on my hand.
And when I get to C major 7th
I include a double of the 5th.
I use the 1-5-7-3 voicing and
add the G on top so
there's a little voice leading there
Cool one, huh?
So that's the flat 9.
I'll do one inver,
other inversion of that which is the
this version of the 9th chord.
Sometimes when, on the guitar,
when you're doing chords with these quote
unquote tensions, with these extra notes,
9ths, 11ths and 13ths.
Sometimes you leave out other notes,
often the 5th.
5th is, kind of, a neutral tone,
so you can leave it out and
you're not really missing much of what
gives the ca, the chord its character.
So in this one
it's standard, you know, G9
that's standard chord,
you leave the 5th out.
So you have the 1, the 3,
the 7, and just the 9, right?
So this is the regular nine on the G7,
right, but I wanna flatten it
that juicy note, right?
And here's the way it looks
You can either do it with
all four fingers like that.
And it, I'm only playing the inner
four strings here, I'm not playing
the outer two, so I mute them, this with
the fat part of my hand and with the tip
of my third finger, I had to count up
Or, I sometimes bar it
So I'll bar my finger across these two
to get these two notes, and
then play these two
So listen to this resolution,
I'm gonna go from a G7 flat 9
to a C major 7
strong tension
Play that with me
All four-finger version
Really cool sound.
You can also sharp the 9th
on the downward 7 chord.
Jimmi Hendrix made that very
fashionable for rock guitar players.
And of course,
all the Jazz players use it.
So here's the 9th with the regular 9th
So sharp, I just raised the 9th
the 9th is that one.
Notice A, and I make it an A sharp
You all know that, right?
You know, you can remember the average
White Band song, you know,
Picking up the Pieces?
That song?
And here's the cool
thing about that chord.
It creates a little melody, if you go
sharp 9
flat 9.
That's why I would like
to sometimes bar that, so
I have my pinky available to do that.
That's a very common sound in jazz.
Listen to that.
Sharp 9.
Flat 9.
G7 sharp 9.
G7 flat 9.
You can do the same thing
going to a minor chord.
Let's do,
E7 sharp now
E7 flat 9
A minor 7.
Play that one with me
And when you see me doing chord solos,
you'll see me doing a lot of.
Stuff like that.
Tensions & Extensions, Part 3.
So the next one is the 11th.
For the purposes of the most use,
I'm gonna talk about the 11th for
a minor chord, because it really
gets used a lot in a minor chord.
Because it's such a beautiful sound, okay?
we're gonna take, in this case,
I wanna use the, the, the D.
The two chord in the key of C, okay?
The, the, the arpeggio is D, F, A, C.
The 9th is the E right above the octave.
We skipped over the octave
when we go to the
And then skip over the 3rd
and go to the 11th.
The eleventh is a G on a D minor chord.
Play that along with me if you want.
That's the note we're looking at.
And the, you know, the voicing I really
like the most is the one I played before.
This is a D minor 9 11.
You can also do that not so
much as a 9 11, but just and 11 chord.
And I would get rid of the 5,
and I would just play the root,
the 7, the 3rd, and the 11th.
Isn't that a pretty chord?
It's very open sounding.
And here it is on the,
with the root on the six string.
You take the minor 7 and
just put them, the 11th behind it.
Let me give you an example of
a song that you would hear that in.
Antonio Carlos Jobim's beautiful song,
One Note Samba.
You know?
That's, that's a great example of it.
It's just a nice, open sound in your 11th.
And it's great for
when you start doing chord solos.
So just take that, that nine,
and 11, and move it around.
Remember the song Asia by Steely Dan?
Steve Gadd going crazy and shorter
That was that, that was that voicing.
When the 11th is used on a dominant chord.
It's, it's almost always altered and
to alter an 11th, you can only
alter it in one way which is sharp.
So you get the sharp 11th.
You've probably heard that a lot, right?
So let's take I'm gonna use
this specific G voicing here.
I get G7, an open G7 chord.
So we have G,
F is the 7th.
We have a, a double of the octave.
It's kind of a folk or blues open voicing.
But I,
I want to use it as an illustration.
If I take that double of the octave.
And make it a 9th instead,
I get a G9, right there, right?
Play that with me, if you want.
And then,
I'm gonna add the sharp 11 on top, okay?
So the 11
is normally a C, right?
But I'm gonna move it up a step.
It's a really cool sound, listen to this.
1-7-9 sharp 11.
Now we're missing the third, so
I'm gonna throw it.
This is, kinda, a tricky chord to play.
But I'm gonna bar this across, so
we get the 11, sharp 11,
9, I'll cover up, I'll,
I'll put my finger down for the 7th.
And I'll bar, continue to bar and
get the third down there.
Take that and move it around a little bit.
Very jazzy chord,
sounds like an old 50's
movie or something.
So that's the sharp 11th.
There's a couple different
ways to play it.
With the root on
the fifth string like that,
you hear that a lot.
And that's 9 sharp 11 again.
You can also make it flat 9.
That's really strong sound.
So that's the 11th on the dominant 7th,
we did the minor 7th.
Those are the most known uses.
The one tension that gets used on
a minor 7 flat 5 sometimes you
get a 9th but that's a kind of a special
case and I'll talk about that later.
But the 11th gets used
quite a bit in jazz.
So let's just take for example,
if we're in the key of C.
Let's go down to the naturally
occurring minor 7 flat 5 chord.
The only one, 7 chord.
B minor 7 flat 5.
And in this case,
I'm gonna the 3rd of that chord.
I have the 1 flat 5.
The 7th, right?
And I'm gonna take the, my pinky.
And play the 11th, right?
It's a cool chord.
It's an E on a B minor 7 flat 5.
And the reason I replace the 3rd
is because I am actually going to
incorporate it in my melodic phrase.
So you can go, go back and
forth between the 11 and the
And the 3rd of the chord.
Try that on your own.
Move it around to different keys.
Pick up your guitar, play it with me.
E minor 7 flat
And B again
Cool sound.
Tensions & Extensions Part 4.
Now let's talk about the 13th, the final
frontier in this discussion of tensions.
I think we all know this chord,
G13, probably seen it a million
times in chord books.
And you might have thought,
13, why is it called lucky 13?
It doesn't really make sense.
Well, it just simply comes from
the 13th extension above the octave
it's 13 notes above the first one.
One, three, five, seven,
nine, eleven, thirteen.
13 is mostly used on the dominant 7th,
but it can be used on the major 7 cord.
And it can sometime be
used on the minor chord.
But let's talk about the dominant 7,
'cause that's the one
that gets the most use.
If you don't know that voicing already you
got the 1, the 7, the 3,
we're foregoing the 5th.
And using the 13th instead
I'll say one thing about that.
The guitar,
because of the structure of the guitar,
on the piano you might
put the 5th in somewhere.
But the guitar we only have 6 strings,
and they're in fourths so
we have to make use of the notes we have.
And I think it gives our voicings a,
a special.
Different sound than a pianist,
and I like it.
Okay, so 13
grab your guitar and play it with me,
I'll go around you know, run a few keys
Let's go up to A
up a half step to C
All the way up to E flat
And let's go
And sometimes you can,
if you use your fingers, you can use like,
a little melodic phrase from 13 to 5
Right, and you can bar across to the one,
you can get this
So what I'm doing is 13
13, 5
Up, up to one and then back to 13.
Very cool sound.
Lastly, you can alter that 13 only
in one direction, 'cause if you go,
if you take it up it just becomes a 7th
again, you're just doubling a 7th.
But you can go down
Now I know you've heard that tune.
That is the flat 13
Because that note is right above the 5th
remember, sharp 5 or flat 13, or
flat 6, remember that from the intervals.
Same note, different name.
Sometimes people will say
G7 plus 5, or G7 sharp 5.
It is the same thing, but
I to think of it as the 13,
because a lot of times I'll go 13
So play that with me a couple of times,
it's really, really fun.
And then I'm going to C9, C major 9
Let's do that up here.
So those are your tensions and extensions.
I hope I've made it clear.
I'm open for questions.
Send in any that you have, and
show me what you do with these things too.
Don't forget to do them on other strings.
If you have that 9,
you can reach your pinky up for that 13.
And like I said, online and
in the many books, you can find a lot
of voicings with these notes in them.
I'm al, always willing to find new ones.
And so send in your thoughts,
ideas, questions, and
I'll respond as quick as I can