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Jazz Piano Lessons: Two Handed Comping: Adding Tensions

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[MUSIC]
We've spoken a little about
the potential to add extensions, or
what in Boston what we
used to call tensions,
on top of different chords.
And this is so
much part of the character of jazz,
it really,
it kind of just birthed itself out there
in the music of Duke Ellington and
Billy Strayhorn.
Beautiful harmony in there in
tunes from the 30s and so forth.
The great Art Tatum, one of the greatest
things I mean, he's well known for
his peerless chops.
There's never been a piano player,
and I don't think we'll ever have
a piano player like Art Tatum again.
But the other thing about him was
the great harmony that he played all over
the keyboard.
Guys like Fats Waller,
a ton of really great harmony
sneaking by underneath there.
The New Orleans piano players,
Professor Longhair, Doctor John,
all these guys are adding so
much flavor to the chords that wasn't
ever found in any kind of European music.
Although, if we look at the music of
Claude Debussy we start to see a lot of
these things, Rachmaninoff was using a lot
of advanced extensions in his music.
Herbie Hancock cites him as one
of his top couple influences,
and no one has ever had such an advanced
harmonic thing, I don't think, as Herbie.
Let's start looking at
the tensions that are available to
add onto a dominant chord, cuz that's
really where the rubber meets the road
as far as flavoring a chord
with the most available notes.
We've looked at our C seven, and
we've touched on these before, but
now we're gonna go through
all the possibilities.
And then we're gonna look at a really easy
way that we've also touched on before to
organize these in such a way
that you can get at them quick.
The available tensions on a dominant
chord, there's our C, our root.
Our faithful guide tones,
third and seventh.
First one that we
encounter is a flat nine.
[SOUND] And historically and
just by the sound of it,
this one wants to resolve
to a minor chord.
It's got that melancholy thing on it, and
you think of it going
here to an F minor chord.
But it's equally nice [SOUND] in my
opinion going to a major seven chord.
I don't really discriminate.
It's purely an on the fly taste thing for
me.
There's our first extension.
You'll find that in our ear training
exercise on the dominant chords too.
And it's great to help you learn what
these sound like and get a feel for
which ones you might want to use.
There's our natural nine, the D.
Our sharp nine, we should be well
acquainted with that by now because we've
been using this in our left hand and
also to comp with with our right hand.
That's the thrd.
Here's definitely,
[SOUND] you can't use that.
Your sharp 11, if you want to
call it a flat 5 that's okay too.
But I think of it,
since it sounds to me like it's risen
above that rather than that
it's coming down from there.
The five of course is in the chord.
Flat 13, the A flat is great.
That's our other big altered tension
on the most common altered chords.
[MUSIC]
That's the natural 13 which is really
nice especially with the flat 9.
There's a seven, and this one,
of course, doesn't work.
It's hard to imagine a more
sour sound than that.
When I say altered chord,
I'm using a more encompassing term for
what's commonly called a sharp 9,
flat 13 chord.
Sometimes you look at these charts and
it's like C 7,
flat 9, sharp 11, flat 13 sharp 9,
or something like that.
And it's this hodgepodge of things that
by the time I figure out what it is,
the band has moved on without me.
I just call it altered, it's all in
the spectrum of kind of mostly flat
alterations to what
would be happier sounds.
Let's move on to our next lesson now.
And we're gonna start looking
at a cool way to keep these
organized in your head as a collection
that you can instantly deploy.
And with whose sound you can become
familiar enough that you just reach for
the upper structure triad.
[MUSIC]