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Thread: Jazz chords

  1. #1

    Default Jazz chords

    I'm working on Ted Eschliman's excellent book "Getting into Jazz Mandolin", and I'm hoping someone can help me with the theory behind some of the chords.

    On page 58 he has a few sets of Sample Stock 'ii V7 I' Chord Fingerings. The first example is Dm7 G7 C6/7. The notes in the C6/7 are A E D. I would probably call that an A sus 4. What makes that a C chord? And where is the 7?

    My second question comes from later on the same page, where he has an Fm9 fingered as A F C G. For this to be a minor chord, wouldn't it need an A flat? Maybe this is just a typo?

    I'm not much of a jazz player, so if anyone can help me through my confusion, I would appreciate it. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Quote Originally Posted by differ View Post
    My second question comes from later on the same page, where he has an Fm9 fingered as A F C G. For this to be a minor chord, wouldn't it need an A flat? Maybe this is just a typo?
    If it is typed "Fm9" it is F Minor Ninth, it would need an Ab. If it is typed "FM9" it is an F Major Ninth and the notes would be correct.

    When reading chords, one must realize there is not one "standard" for how a chord is written. As example, all these could easily represent F Minor Ninth (I've seen all of them in fakebooks):

    Fm9
    Fmin9
    Fmi9
    F-9
    Fm7 add G
    etc...

    In Jazz, chords are usually 4 notes and often more. Take C13. The notes would be C E G Bb D A. That is 6 notes. We can't play all of those on the mandolin at the same time. Lets say we play G, Bb, D. It could be called C13 or something else, like Gm or any number of other names. In Jazz the context of the chord being played and the voicing used means everything.
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    Registered User jmp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Quote Originally Posted by differ View Post
    The notes in the C6/7 are A E D. I would probably call that an A sus 4. What makes that a C chord? And where is the 7?

    The notes in C6/7 are C E G A Bb, there is no D as that would make it a C6/9.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Jazz chords

    So maybe a better question to ask is, in what context would this chord, A E D, function as tonic in the key of C?

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Quote Originally Posted by differ View Post
    So maybe a better question to ask is, in what context would this chord, A E D, function as tonic in the key of C?
    Huh?

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    Registered User DSDarr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Definitely a typo --- that should be C6/9 and not C6/7 (never heard of a 6/7 chord anyway which doesn't mean such a thing doesn't exist of course).

    -David

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    Registered User DSDarr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    The Fm9 is definitely wrong on that page as well. The Fm9 on that page is the ii chord in that context; key of Eb but is indeed spelled 2-3-3-3 (A-F-C-G) and should be 1-3-3-3 (Ab-F-C-G).

    David

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    Registered User DSDarr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Check out the errata for the book at http://jazzmando.com/errata_.shtml -- the Fm9 error is listed there among others!

    -David

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    Registered User neil argonaut's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Quote Originally Posted by DSDarr View Post
    Check out the errata for the book at http://jazzmando.com/errata_.shtml -- the Fm9 error is listed there among others!

    -David
    Thanks for that; although I couldn't recommend Getting Into Jazz Mandolin enough, and it's absolutely changed my approach to playing, have noticed a fair few typos so good to see they're getting recorded.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Thanks for that link, David! Very helpful.

    I'm still trying to figure out, naming issue aside, what makes that chord with the notes A E and D a I chord in the key of C major. I get that you can extend a chord by adding 7ths, 9ths, 13ths, whatever. And I get that you can leave notes out, even the root, and still maintain the feel of the chord. But at some point, if you leave out notes and add others instead, don't you lose the essence of the chord and reach a point where it just isn't a I chord anymore?

  14. #11

    Default Re: Jazz chords

    The I chord in C major is C. That's why it is called the I chord.

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    Registered User jmp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Quote Originally Posted by differ View Post
    Thanks for that link, David! Very helpful.

    I'm still trying to figure out, naming issue aside, what makes that chord with the notes A E and D a I chord in the key of C major. I get that you can extend a chord by adding 7ths, 9ths, 13ths, whatever. And I get that you can leave notes out, even the root, and still maintain the feel of the chord. But at some point, if you leave out notes and add others instead, don't you lose the essence of the chord and reach a point where it just isn't a I chord anymore?
    You have a fair point, I don't have the book you referring to, so I don't have enough context to see what that voicing is about. If you are trying to practice ii V7 I progression then you would more typically end with something like a Cmaj7 (C E G B)

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    Registered User Tom Cherubini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Quote Originally Posted by differ View Post
    Thanks for that link, David! Very helpful.

    I'm still trying to figure out, naming issue aside, what makes that chord with the notes A E and D a I chord in the key of C major. I get that you can extend a chord by adding 7ths, 9ths, 13ths, whatever. And I get that you can leave notes out, even the root, and still maintain the feel of the chord. But at some point, if you leave out notes and add others instead, don't you lose the essence of the chord and reach a point where it just isn't a I chord anymore?
    Chords on stringed instruments tuned in fifths are often necessarily inverted. And the mandolin's having only four strings is no help in voicing chords either. The E is the 3rd of Cmaj. the A is the 6th and the D is the ninth. In jazz you don't really need the tonic to hear the essence of the chord (before they became front-line soloists, bass players used to play the tonic).
    That said, the voicings you describe do seem clumsy. I avoid the sixth like the plague. It is simply not a beautiful note, and God knows, the mandolin needs all the help it can get in this regard. The fact is, that in jazz the mandolin comes up short as a rhythm instrument.
    So chi sono.

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  18. #14

    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Quote Originally Posted by differ View Post
    Thanks for that link, David! Very helpful.

    I'm still trying to figure out, naming issue aside, what makes that chord with the notes A E and D a I chord in the key of C major. I get that you can extend a chord by adding 7ths, 9ths, 13ths, whatever. And I get that you can leave notes out, even the root, and still maintain the feel of the chord. But at some point, if you leave out notes and add others instead, don't you lose the essence of the chord and reach a point where it just isn't a I chord anymore?
    Several have mentioned that it's the context, and that is an essential part of the essence of understanding any chord. There are two directions to harmonic analysis: the vertical (a.k.a. chord names), which is looking at the notes that are sounded together at any given point in time (the A, D, and E, in your example); and the horizontal (aka context), which is looking at the voices as they change with time (the ii V I idea). These two things are intertwined, so to talk about A-D-E as a C6/9 chord only will have full meaning if you talk about what happens before and/or after.

    For example:

    Say you have the following ii-V-I progression in the key of C: Dm9, G13, C6/9. You could play the chord A-D-E for the Dm9, because that's the 5th, root, and 9th. You could also play A-D-E for the G13, because that's the 9th, 5th and 13th. And you could play A-D-E for the C6/9, because that's the 6th, 9th, and 3rd.

    So you could, in principle, play the same three notes, three times in a row, and technically you would be playing important notes from each of those chords. However, by neglecting the horizontal aspect of harmony, (the context), you haven't really outlined the progression in any meaningful way. No one will ever hear those three repetitions of the same notes as the chord progression that you tried to play! (This all assumes you are not playing with other instruments that are adding other notes, of course).

    So a big part of hearing a chord as a I chord, or a V chord, depends on where the chord is coming from, and going to go to, not just the notes used to spell the chord. If you play a F-B-E for the G13 chord instead of A-D-E, you will find that the ear will follow the change quite well, and the A-D-E for the C6/9 will actually sound like a resolution to I-flavored chord, because of the horizontal motion of the voices. This is true even though you didn't change the notes of the C6/9 chord!

    Cheers
    MRT
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Even that Fm9 with the Ab instead of the A natural isn't really an Fm9 - it's just an Fm add9. You have to have the 7th to really give it the m9 color if you're implying lots of high chord extensions. You could voice it as 5-5-6-4 (C-G-Eb-Ab), or 1-3-6-3 (Ab-F-Eb-G), or 0-3-6-4 (G-F-Eb-Ab).

    Amazing book though, I'm finally working my way through it as well!
    ~Henry Clark

  21. #16

    Default Re: Jazz chords

    a good theory book is jazz theory by mark levine.
    Craig

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    Registered User Pasha Alden's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Very interesting discussion thanks to all

    Playing:
    Jbovier a5 2013;
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    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Robertson-Tessi View Post

    So a big part of hearing a chord as a I chord, or a V chord, depends on where the chord is coming from, and going to go to, not just the notes used to spell the chord. If you play a F-B-E for the G13 chord instead of A-D-E, you will find that the ear will follow the change quite well, and the A-D-E for the C6/9 will actually sound like a resolution to I-flavored chord, because of the horizontal motion of the voices. This is true even though you didn't change the notes of the C6/9 chord!

    Cheers
    MRT
    Eloquently stated, Mark.

    Realtors: Location, location, location
    Music Theorists: Context, context, context.

    The chord diagrams are given in the context of jazz (say all you want about hating the Major 6, though "dated" in jazz fusion, it's the landing color of almost every Texas Swing song), and more importantly, the lesson is on voice leading. These blocks are intentionally smooth in motion, limited to 2 or 3 fret jumps. They are by nature incomplete and focused on the color of the chord, assuming another instrument has voiced the root (why duplicate it?) you need to consider the economics of the limited 4-course instrument.

    These all make more aural sense in the context of ensemble. If you haven't seen it already, I have an update version of the 'ii V7 I' in a 3-note version you might find useful: Major 'ii7 V7 I' 3-note Mandolin Chord Blocks. Be sure to download the PDF.

    I'll be posting more variations soon, including minor.
    Ted Eschliman

    Author, Getting Into Jazz Mandolin

  24. #19

    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Wow, thanks Ted! I appreciate you taking the time to put together a second version of the chord progressions. And thank you, Mark, for the explanation. I know that it will take time for me to learn the intricacies of the jazz mandolin, and having these simplified voicings in the meantime is very helpful. You guys are great!

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    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Quote Originally Posted by zeeku777 View Post
    Even that Fm9 with the Ab instead of the A natural isn't really an Fm9 - it's just an Fm add9.
    Well, yes, but. . . .as was mentioned earlier, it's all about context. Something probably has to be eliminated for the sake of fluidity, so leaving out the 7th of the chord can be a normal thing. Even the 3rd can be left out - these notes might be played by another instrument, or they might have been in my previous chord voicing (and thus still be in the listener's ear) - usually it's much cooler to change inversions rather than whang on the same voicing for the entire duration of the chord. In either case, it's more streamlined to think of chords as general categories of notes which might be included. That way you can think of the category, and the possibilities unfold visually (and aurally) in front of you.

    Another way to say it: I wouldn't spend too much time thinking about the exact chord definition, at least while comping. See the shapes, move them around, keep it interesting!
    Exploring Classical Mandolin (Berklee Press, 2015)
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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jazz chords

    For folks wanting to learn about chords and voicings I suggest the following method:

    1) Learn what notes make that chord
    2) Map all those notes out on the fingerboard

    When you do this, voicings start to become more obvious. The player can then try out various options and listen to what sounds best to them.

    If you donít know the names of the notes on the fingerboard, learn them. You can find them in the pdf file attached here called Example 1.

    Since Fm9 has been discussed here, letís look at it. First find an Fm chord. The notes that make a minor chord are the 1, b3 and 5 of the major scale. In the key of F that would be the notes F, Ab and C. I charted these notes on the fingerboard in example 2.

    Minor seventh (m7) chords are the notes 1, b3, 5 and b7 of the major scale. Fm7 would be the notes F, Ab, C and Eb. Find these in example 2.

    Experienced jazz players often add extensions to the basic Fm7 chord. These extensions are 9, 11 and 13. Minor ninth (m9) chords are the notes 1, b3, 5, b7 and 9 of the major scale. Fm9 would be the note F, Ab, C, Eb and G. Find these in example 2.

    Minor eleventh (m11) chords are the notes 1, b3, 5, b7, 9 and 11 of the major scale. Fm11 would be the notes F, Ab, C, Eb, G and Bb. I didnít chart these but you could!

    Minor thirteenth (m13) chords are the notes 1, b3, 5, b7, 9, (11) and 13 of the major scale. The 11th note is often omitted from a 13th chord as some players donít like the sound of the 11 as much as other notes. It is your option and that is why I put it in parenthesis. Fm13 would be the notes F, Ab, C, Eb, G, (Bb) and D. Chart these out yourself.


    If you donít know the chord numbering system you need to study some basic music theory. It never hurts and always is a benefit to know how chords are constructed!

    Anyone wanting to study jazz chords in depth can download my pdf book ďJazz Chording for MandolinĒ free at my web site.






    Click image for larger version. 

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  29. #22

    Default Re: Jazz chords

    Just a humorous remark (got from somewhere else): jazz players play thousands chords for 3 people while country players play 3 chords for thousands people ;-)

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