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Jazz Piano Lessons: Altered Dominant Chords

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The entire time that we've been
doing these lessons up to this point,
I have been restraining myself from
going one of my favorite places,
which is the altered dominant sound.
We have been working on kind of a more,
the natural dominant sound.
The one without all the weird
extensions and attentions.
But my instinct when I'm playing
on something like this is,
to go more often than not, actually,
with the altered dominant.
And the thinking here, let's take
a look at what an altered dominant is.
Here's our root, I'm gonna do this in A7
since we were just playing it on tune up.
Guide tones, the third and the seventh and
then we've been using this
to make a ninth cord.
That's kind of a a majorish sound to me.
It's the happier variant on a seventh
chord if we're gonna add extensions.
Now, we're looking at, to me,
a much jazzier texture.
And what that is,
it's the sharp nine of the chord.
Again, here's the third,
there's the seventh, eight,
nine and
we're gonna raise it up a little bit.
And that produces this great thing that
wants to really,
it wants to resolve more to me somehow.
There's more tension created in there.
You've got that interval,
which is right there,
that says we're not done, this isn't home.
Whereas this isn't as desperate
to go somewhere else,
I guess is the way that I would put it.
One thing that you'll notice here, and
I spoke about this a few lessons back is
that this interval pattern is exactly the
same as the one we've been working with.
If we put this over E flat,
now it's our natural 13 voicing.
Seven, three, and if we count up
from seven we find that is 13.
Move the root a tritone away and
we're gonna cover tritone
substitution in a future lesson.
Now we've got an altered dominant chord.
I'm gonna move this to C.
Third, seven, natural 9, sharp 9.
Now, the thing about an altered chord is
that there's a bunch of different ways,
what are there,
six different ways to alter the chord.
And altered generally means
flat dark tensions on it.
Look at the ones that are available
that we would consider an altered chord.
There's the flat nine.
One thing about altered chords is that in
general, they were originally designed, or
their natural tendency is to
resolve to a minor chord.
But I resolve them
wherever I darn well please.
So there's that, we've got the flat nine.
We've got the sharp nine.
We have the flat 5.
That's a pretty texture, and
again its the most consonant one.
If we put it over the G flat you'll
notice how it happies right up.
Over the C though,
it's a nice, dark texture.
There's the flat 13.
Great sound, there is
the natural 13 with the flat 9.
I like that one.
Its a combination of kinda
a little bit of a perky sound.
But oops now we've got
the flat nine on there.
And that's basically the altered
tensions that are available.
To get this going under our left hand.
We are gonna to start out by just
working with the sharp nine voicing in
this configuration, three,
flat seven, sharp nine.
And what I would suggest that
we do to practice this is to
start with it on a modal track.
And we're going to just kind of
get maybe our C modal track going.
And we're just gonna work with this
under our right hand a little bit.
Find it,
you know get it to sit where we like it.
And then we're gonna work
it on the cycle of fifths.
It's another one of these.
This is a really important one
to have it where you don't
need to think about it.
We really want this one,
it's such a commonly used things, and
it's so cool because it opens up
a real universe of possibilities.
And this is why I like to play it even
if the chord written there is a natural
dominant chord like this.
There's not that many places
you can go to alter that up and
put a fresh texture on it.
If I change it in to
an altered chord though
all of that stuff, that's a C minor
pentatonic scale sitting on top of that.
And then I play it a little
bit of a B flat minor.
And there's probably what,
probably eight different places
like that that you can go.
We explored this one a little bit earlier.
That's the one that has the natural 13 and
the flat 9 on it.
And, you know,
the fun you can have with that.
That is a G flat, altered bop
scale sitting on top of our A7.
So a large part of the reason that I like
to go with the altered sound is because
the variety of places I can take things
harmonically is hugely expanded.
Anything that's a combination of all
the available tensions is great on
there whereas a natural 13, [SOUND] we
don't have that many tensions we can use.
We've got the nine and we've got the 13.
[SOUND] We're not gonna put
that on with the three so
that's not really an available tension.
That's not a tension, cuz it's a chord
tone, 13, we discussed, that's the seven.
There's really not that many
places you can go there,
there's not that many alternate scales.
So in the next couple lessons,
we're gonna look at ways to
practice the altered voicing.
Set up again, is three,
flat seven, sharp nine.
In the meantime, there's a PDF
available with these voicings
doing the cycle of fifths, and I suggest
that you kinda just get started like this.
It's actually kind of a cool little,
we've heard this in the movies I'm sure.
Just find them, as you go,
learn to see them
immediately over any route.
And I will see you for
the next lesson,
when we start to practice these.