View Full Version : Triadic Superimposition

Jul-15-2005, 10:12am
Here's a cool idea I picked up from John McGann at this year's AMGuSS. When improvising over a dominant 7th chord, play a major triad a whole step above the root of the chord. This enables you to hit all the natural tensions of the chord, without having to think of extension numbers (#4, b9, etc). This really freed me up when taking a break- rather than thinking scales, modes, guide tones, numbers, etc, I could go with melodies in my head and just think D major triad when I hit C7 if I wanted to get a little more out there. Hope this helps. Thanks, John, and feel free to chime in for clarification.

Jul-15-2005, 10:53am
(We're off to a great start in the new category!)

play a major triad a whole step above the root of the chord.
For getting the straight diatonic extensions, that's true. (2, 4, 6, aka 9, 11, 13). But for alterations, like the b9, #9, #11, b13, there's more to it.

You're in C major. The chart reads Cma7/E7/Am7. The second chord is E7, the III7. Playing the F# major chord over E7 won't give the right tensions for this situation. (You'll get basically an E13 chord.)

You really get the tensions from the 'base key', in this case C major.
What happens on this E7? It's one note outside C major (G#). So you have:

C major Base: C,D,E,F,G,A,B
E7 Chord: E,G#,B,D (r,3,5,7)
Fill in the tensions diatonic to C major: E,F,G#,A,B,C,D (r,b9,3,11,5,b13,7) yielding an E7(b9b13) chord

So in the Cma7/E7/Am7 progression, the E7 chord extended out is an E7(b9b13). (As opposed to an E13.)

Make sense?

Jul-15-2005, 11:12am
I agree there's more to it, but I think your approach has defeated the purpose of what I'm trying to accomplish, which is: getting cool sounds on the fly. I'd have to stop and think about that way too much. When someone hands me a chart I've never seen before, I usually don't have time to apply all my theory knowledge (for example, isn't the E7 in the above example functioning as a secondary dominant for the Am7?)- I just need to be able to grab some cool tones ASAP. But you've given some great clarification and advice- I would just have to woodshed that approach a lot more before it became second nature. Thanks for the tip!

Jul-15-2005, 11:21am
seems to me i remember reading that John Scofield uses minor pentatonics built off the minor third (or augmented second) above the root of an alt V7 chord, for example play Bb minor pentatonic over a G7 -- which gives you the b9, +9, +11, and b13.

you could also think of it as Db major pentatonic, which is the +11 or b5, if that helps any.

Jul-15-2005, 11:39am
(for example, isn't the E7 in the above example functioning as a secondary dominant for the Am7?)

Pretty much what I'm getting at is, the E13 (E7 + F# major) would not be a good thing to play in the context I described.

(And I sure don't want to come across as a know it all! I just get excited about this stuff!)

Jul-15-2005, 1:35pm
AHHHHH! slow down..... I'm catching up. Ding Dang Doogally I wish I had my mando with me right now.

Max- are you saying that when a jamming to an A7, play a B triad- B, D# and F#, to get some cool tones?

Jul-16-2005, 6:53am
The last post I made here seemed to be a real thread-killer! #So in the interest of good conversation I thought it best to remove it.

But the gist of it is important: We have to be careful when superimposing a major chord a whole step up from the root of a dom7. #There are plenty of places where it's simply not the right thing to do!

Jul-16-2005, 9:09am
It's all about context- Mandomax's example was based on "Sweet Georgia Brown" #where I use the idea on the 1st dom 7 chord, going for non-altered extension of the chord, ie. D over C7= 9 #11 13 (#11 being considered a "natural tension" as 11 clashes with the 3rd of the chord and creates an unwanted b9 interval between the 3 and 11 or E to F)...even though the F# is non-diatonic, it is used all over the place in jazz on the I chord, and often resolves up to the 5.

Groveland is correct that the E7 in All of Me would rather have altered sounds...so you could try Fm (see melodic minor up 1/2 step below) on top- a very typical jazz cliche of "altered dom 7" nature.

The thing to realize (and to hunt for) is that these triads are nested within the scales. CHORDS and SCALES are the same thing in the long run! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif

The often used harmonic minor (5th mode) on the E7 gives you E F G# A B C D 1 b9 3 4 5 b6/b13 b7 (E7 b9 b13 or #5)
melodic minor up a 1/2 step gives you E F G Ab Bb C D- 1 b9 #9 #11 #5 b7- now that's altered!

Each mode contains a bunch of triads- you can build them in 3rds just like a major scale...lots of possibilities. Since the ear is used to "tonal organization" in 3rds, these superimposed triads sound "right" when played melodically. The jazz pantheon is filled with tons of examples of this way of thinking/hearing, from Louis Armstrong and Bix on down...

A neat book on this is "Triad Pairs for Jazz' by Gary Campbell. Lots of food for thought!

Jul-16-2005, 9:19am
Thanks for the excellent clarification, John.

Jul-16-2005, 9:54am
here is another little tip when dealing with dominant chords. it will really help you out with your melodic ideas:

there are only 2 kinds of dominant movements
- you are either going "home", which would be back to the I chord, as in the standard V7>I
you are not going "home" --ie you may be going thru a cycle of dominants to get back to that I chord.

the tension notes are best added to that final dominant before the I chord, the V7>I

to my ears, the best use of tension is at the end of the line right before it resolves back to the I. if you add all those tension notes just anywhere, the line doesnt flow musically.

as a disclaimer, i will add that i'm talking basiclly about jazz standards here, not modern/modal jazz which i know nothing about

Jul-16-2005, 10:08am
What do you guys do on a V7/I where it's a tritone substitution thing, like a Db7/Cma7?

Ted Eschliman
Jul-16-2005, 10:38am
Loves them Altered Scales!!!
G alt(tri sub):
G, Ab, Bb, <span style='color:red'>Cb(B)</span>, Db, Eb, <span style='color:red'>F</span>
or of course
Db (C# Alt)
C#, D, E, <span style='color:red'>F</span>, G, A, <span style='color:red'>B</span>

<span style='color:red'>Red</span> indicates delicious "gravity" notes.

Jul-16-2005, 11:54am
Thanks, Ted!

I love the sound of the Altered scale in this context. No doubt It sounds right, and it's also the basis for that 'Scofield pentatonic' that acumando was talking about.

Now the million dollar question is... WHY? Anyone care to break it down?http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Ted Eschliman
Jul-16-2005, 1:44pm
Now the million dollar question is... WHY?
Here's my FWIW observation...
Look at a group of Jr. High kids. Notice how they struggle to look different--just like everyone else. They want to be "rebels," departing from the norm, but only if it's consistent with what the rest of their Jr. High friends are doing!
This is the essence of Art. The above tones go about as far as you can go from the tonal center (C major) on the G alt, with the exception of those groovy gravity tones.
Harmonically, you get as "rebellious" as you can, with a delicious opportunity to resolve. (To fit in...)
They are about as "outside" as a pierced nose and purple hair, but as in the context of naturally restless adolescent youth, there is comfort in revolution because everyone else is choosing to revolt.
In the same way..

Jul-16-2005, 2:22pm
i always assumed it's because we're mutants...

Jul-16-2005, 6:12pm
Quote (groveland @ July 16 2005, 11:54)
Now the million dollar question is... WHY?

whelp, every chord has the potential of 12 melody notes. Some sound good, some great, some bland, some like stepping on broken glass...your mission is to make the best of them. "Why not" may be a better question..."How" can be answered by learning the lines of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie etc.

Dom7 chords can resolve or not resolve, in modern jazz ("non-functional") harmony and post-romantic classical music (i.e. Debussy and onward). In swing era standards, we are talking mostly "functional harmony" with predictable chord progressions...

PS- regarding "All Of Me", if you would like to hear the sound of the E7 resolving to maybe an A7b913 type sound resolving to the Dm7, by all means you can use F# over E7- it's a lydian b7 sound, and the F# holds over on the A7b9 13 chord (which could be expressed A Bb C# D E F# G)...it's wrong to say "it's wrong", it's a matter of "does this sonic unit get across what I hear or want to get across"?

The idea of filling in notes from the key is good, but there are other ways to skin that cat as well- how's about the ol' symettric diminshed on the E7 (E F G G# Bb B C# D= 1 b9 #9 3 #11 5 13 b7)? That scale from A would line you up for the A7b913 as well (A Bb C C# D# E F# G). Both ideas using the non-diatonic F#- you don't have to stay diatonic in jazz if you are hearing something else...ask Eric Dolphy! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Plus, dig out 4 recorded versions of "All of Me" and I'll bet you hear some F#'s on the E7 chord...theory is a point of departure and not absolute rules (thank God)...

Aug-01-2005, 2:16am
I was recently told you can invert tritone subs for V7 chords like this
ex.G7 = Eb triad Eb,Bb,G inverts itsself every 6 frets!
just like diminished chords invert every 4 http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Aug-01-2005, 6:13am
Should that Bb be a B?

Aug-02-2005, 12:34am
ex.G7 = Eb triad Eb,Bb,G inverts itsself every 6 frets!

Could you or someone explain this more? I thought tritone sub for G7 is Db7. Or is this a different idea?

Thank you,

Hide Kawatsure
Santa Cruz, CA

Aug-02-2005, 6:43am
I'm guessing the G7 djangolin is talking about is the substition for the V, not the V itself.

I'm also guessing that it's really Eb B G, which is an augmented triad, which you find 'inverting' every 6 frets. #Because of that, it's really a G augmented in the context that djangolin cited. #That aug played over a G7 is really a G7(#5) which is part of a G7alt, which I suppose functions as the tritone sub: G7alt/F#ma7 (for C#7/F#ma7).

Just guessing. I think that works, and it makes a really easy augmented thing you can slide around over the top of the G7 chord. #So most of what djangolin described fits this model, but it actually contains a B, not Bb (Eb B G).

(Or, the person that gave djangolin this tip simply was a guitar player who confused tritones with augmented intervals because of the visually similar fingering 'patterns' on the guitar neck! Wouldn't be the first time...)

Check my work. Any thoughts? djangolin, where are you?

Aug-02-2005, 8:30am
Getting to know any scale well means being able to play it in triads, seventh chords, and all intervals. Any scale will reveal tons of great useful stuff when you mine it deeply- nested triads included!

And doing it yourself means you don't have to post asking for tab http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Aug-02-2005, 7:56pm
Getting to know any scale well means being able to play it in triads, seventh chords, and all intervals. Any scale will reveal tons of great useful stuff when you mine it deeply- nested triads included!
Someone oughtta write some software to demonstrate that. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Still, no one has chimed in to try and explain what djangolin was getting at. #I'm having trouble just leaving it hanging there unverified...

Aug-04-2005, 12:43pm
an augmented triad, which you find 'inverting' every 6 frets.

every 4 frets?

diminished chords invert every 4

every 3 frets?

Or am i counting frets wrong?

Thank you,

Hide Kawatsure
Santa Cruz, CA

Aug-04-2005, 5:52pm
Check my work. Any thoughts?
Thanks for noticing. I count 5 actually (oops), but what I mean is major thirds. Sorry.

(And like djangolin says, diminished in minor thirds, every 4 frets.)