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  • 9, 11, 13 chords

    Hello creative minds,


    I'm primary a lyricist and topline writer for others; I'm not a musician by any means. However, I've been learning music theory slowly to be able to communicate with the more musically literate people I deal with.


    Because of my time around guitarists, I've been taking extended chords and replaying them on the piano. I've finally moved beyond basic triads; I'm now comfortable creating progressions with 7ths and to a limited degree, 9ths.


    However, with 11ths and 13ths, I struggle with those extra colors. They're just not sounding the same on the keys as when the guitarists play them. I believe it's not so much the single chords themselves but fitting them with others in a way that doesn't sound forced or scatterbrained.


    I've found jazz and bossa nova songs with extended 2-5-1 progressions, but when I try, I find myself playing every chord in the scale to find the next matching chord.


    For example: For some strange reason, I've had a decent time with creating progressions with dominant 9th chords, but when I work with the major 9th, all hell breaks lose. So you can imagine what's it's like for me to use the 11ths and 13ths.


    Does anyone else have this issue?? Any common tricks you use?? Is there even a musical term for this type of thing??


    Thanks,
    Last edited by jeffersonparish; 06-21-2016, 01:48 AM.

  • #2
    A good way to look at extended chords is as triads on top of the basic chord.

    for example a C9 chord is a Gm triad on top of the C chord and a C11 is Bb and C13 is Dm

    altered chords cn also be thought of in the same way and sometimes result in a diminished triad on top


    As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
    from the deepest hell to the highest states.

    It is up to you which one you choose to explore
    .

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by onelife View Post
      A good way to look at extended chords is as triads on top of the basic chord.

      for example a C9 chord is a Gm triad on top of the C chord and a C11 is Bb and C13 is Dm

      altered chords cn also be thought of in the same way and sometimes result in a diminished triad on top


      Hey Hall of Fame,


      I've actually gotten down the chords themselves. The challenge has been how to actually use them in progressions. This is where my lack of musicianship limits me, because I struggle to make extended progressions sound "good."


      An awesome example is Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man," the original version... The part that repeats C13 and Bb13, he leaves out the 5, 9, and 11 completely.

      Left hand plays: 1, b7
      Right hand plays 3, 6, 13, and 1


      Do you use any common techniques/methods like this when you write music with complex chords?


      Thanks for the post!

      Comment


      • #4
        Something to remember is that music is sound and the labels, such as chord names, are simply a way to describe the sounds.

        I used to think that a 13 chord required all seven notes but as you point out it simply adding the 13th to a seventh chord is enough to give it that label.

        A dominant 7th chord can be played with just the third and flat seventh which is a tritone. An example would be C7 where you play E and Bb which is a tritone. By sliding down one fret, you can play F7 which would be comprised of Eb and A.

        A blues turnaround such as C7, A7, D7, G7 can be played with chromatically moving tritones. You could play E and Bb for C7 then go three frets higher for G and C# (A7) then down one fret to F# and C (D7) then down one fret again to F and B (G7) then down one more to get back to the original E and Bb for C7.

        It is possible to add the bass notes if you are playing solo but if you have a bass player then there is no need.

        The above example is just about picking a few notes that can still define the character of the chord and provide some movement (voice leading) when playing through the progression.

        I leared a lot from Ted Green's books "Chord Chemisrty" and "Modern Chord Progressions" which I believe are still available.
        As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
        from the deepest hell to the highest states.

        It is up to you which one you choose to explore
        .

        Comment


        • #5
          Understanding how and when to use 9th, 11th & 13th chords - and how to voice and voice-lead them - really requires an understanding of harmonic theory. Not something for the faint of heart. If you've got monster ears you may learn to trudge through without the theory but the kind of thing you're talking about would be much easier if you knew harmonic theory.

          9th's 11th's and 13th's - are dead simple once you've got diatonic progressions down pat and a sense of what makes for an avoid note out of any chord scale. Someone can and will end up giving you the cliff notes version - but understanding means working through the process yourself so you can understand why things are the way they are. Lot's of rules to be broken, but normally it's best to know the rules before you try to break them.

          Happy to help with specific questions but you are effectively asking for the kind of knowledge that takes years to develop so I'm pretty sure would not understand the answer to your question. (hint it's not well-veiled above)

          Cheers,
          Jed
          Last edited by Jed; 06-22-2016, 07:23 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            For example 9th's could mean Dom9 = 1, 3, 5, b7, 9 - or - Min9 - 1, b3, 5, b7, 9
            But part of the sound comes from a sus2 chord = 1, 2, 5 (aka the sus4 triad of the 5th) Csus2 chord = Gsus4 chord - same notes different bass.
            or you might want to use a mu chord (ala Steeley Dan) = 1, 2, 3, 5

            But 9ths also encompass Dom7#9, Dom7b9, Dom7alt, etc
            As well as Maj7 add9

            As I said, if you've got monster ears then maybe you won't need the harmonic theory - but most of us mere mortals that know harmonic theory find it very helpful and a very powerful tool for writing. Voicing extended chords is another little thing that is greatly facilitated by the knowledge of harmonic theory.

            Cheers,
            Jed

            Comment


            • onelife
              onelife commented
              Editing a comment
              It's good to have "monster" ears and theory.

          • #7
            Originally posted by onelife View Post
            I used to think that a 13 chord required all seven notes but as you point out it simply adding the 13th to a seventh chord is enough to give it that label.
            Exactly my mistake. Learning these chords for the first, I wanted to make sure I knew all the notes, so I just played them all.


            Originally posted by onelife View Post
            A dominant 7th chord can be played with just the third and flat seventh which is a tritone.
            I've heard multiple times in the past few days, so I just tried playing these on a keyboard. Very interesting sound, and I really like it! Honestly, I've been so focused on learning chords that I had never thought of leaving notes OUT.

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by Jed View Post
              Happy to help with specific questions but you are effectively asking for the kind of knowledge that takes years to develop so I'm pretty sure would not understand the answer to your question. (hint it's not well-veiled above)
              I assure you I don't have the audacity to expect years of knowledge in one post. On the contrary, I'm learning theory to communicate better with the musicians and vocalists I work with.

              I respect their skill level too much to dismiss music theory, so here I am.

              Comment


              • #9
                Fair enough. Are you familiar with the "Diatonic Progression" of a major scale/key? Do you already know how to build triads and 7th chords in Triadic harmony? The diatonic progression of a major scale/key is really where the vast majority of Harmonic Theory comes from. From this and knowledge of avoid notes you can easily see how 9th's, 11th's and 13th chords are built - and see the harmonic functions that define their natural setting. From there your imagination will show you all sorts of possibilities in short order.

                Cheers,
                Jed

                Comment


                • #10
                  Before last year, the extent of my theory knowledge was a major chord and a minor chord.


                  I've written all my songs by ear – the melodies, chord progressions, etc. Only recently, did I start learning their actual names and numbers.


                  So, since I'm still learning the terminology, I uploaded an example for you to hear.
                  https://soundcloud.com/jayparishmusi...sample/s-92ob2


                  This is a song I wrote for a female artist. If you listen to jazz, you'll probably recognize the melody at the end immediately.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Right now, these are all seventh chords.


                    I made them all 11ths to add some color, and it sound alright. Then I made them all 13ths, and it was barely tolerable.


                    Since I was just learning 11s and 13s, I didn't know any better than to play ALL the notes in the chord, so you can imagine how the 13s version sounded.


                    I even wrote a new topline for the 13s version, but I removed it and made a new song around it, as it was too far away from this song's tone.


                    But...now that I've heard from several people about simply leaving notes out, it gives me room to go back and experiment more.
                    Last edited by jeffersonparish; 06-23-2016, 03:11 PM.

                    Comment


                    • onelife
                      onelife commented
                      Editing a comment
                      A full 13 chord contains all seven notes of the major scale - although some of them may be altered.

                      A C13 chord, for example, contains all the notes of the C Major scale with a flat seventh.

                    • jeffersonparish
                      jeffersonparish commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Onelife,

                      Yes, and your earlier post was one of several times I've recently told to just leave notes out.

                      As simple as it was, I had never thought of it.

                      Turns out I had learned a few songs before that did this, but I didn't know what the chords were.

                  • #12
                    Sometime last century a local pianist was going on to me about cool jazz voicings and progressions (I asked) and while a lot of it only registered superficially he used one term that tied it all together.

                    Polytonality.

                    As smooth ii V i as you may, as soon as the upper tones come into play, you're flirting with it if not smack in the middle of it .

                    My take on this is learn melody. Learn how the actual colors and tensions work and most importantly, land.
                    Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...







                    Write Something, or Drag and Drop Images Here...

                    Comment


                    • onelife
                      onelife commented
                      Editing a comment
                      ... and if you are a guitarist, listen to Wes Montgomery.

                    • jeffersonparish
                      jeffersonparish commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Ok, this was very cool...

                      This was the first time I've heard the term, "polytonality," so I just googled it, read two articles about it, and watched some YouTube videos about it.

                      While watching, I realized that this was actually in one of my songs about four months ago!

                    • jeffersonparish
                      jeffersonparish commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I remember trying to explain to the bass player and guitar player, because the chords were very much different from what I was used to. They assured me that it was nothing unfamiliar to them, as it was simply 2-5-1 with lots of 9s, 11s and 13s thrown in. At the time, I didn't understand what that meant, so I just kept going.

                      I have a bunch of songs I wrote with interpolations of Herbie Hancock material. I'm going to go back and examine them. I'm willing to bet there's a lot of polytonality in there...

                      Just like when I learned what Dorian and Mixolydian mode was, this is a really cool feeling to find out that what you were doing had an actual name.

                      Thanks for the polytonality reference!!!

                  • #13
                    Originally posted by 1001gear View Post
                    As smooth ii V i as you may, as soon as the upper tones come into play, you're flirting with it if not smack in the middle of it .

                    My take on this is learn melody. Learn how the actual colors and tensions work and most importantly, land.
                    That's a great way to think of it. If you take a II-7 V7 Imaj in any key:

                    pull the 3rd of the Imaj toward the V7 chord as it's 13th and to the II-7 chord as it's 9th.
                    pull the 5th of the Imaj toward the V7 chord as it's root and to the II-7 chord as it's 11th
                    or hold the root of the II-7 chord over as the 5th of the V7 chord and the 9th of the Imaj
                    or hold the 5th of the II-7 chord over as the 9th of the V7 chord and the 6th of the Imaj
                    etc, etc

                    cheers,

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      Originally posted by Jed View Post
                      pull the 3rd of the Imaj toward the V7 chord as it's 13th and to the II-7 chord as it's 9th.
                      pull the 5th of the Imaj toward the V7 chord as it's root and to the II-7 chord as it's 11th
                      or hold the root of the II-7 chord over as the 5th of the V7 chord and the 9th of the Imaj
                      or hold the 5th of the II-7 chord over as the 9th of the V7 chord and the 6th of the Imaj
                      etc, etc
                      As I'm still in the stage where I go mainly off of my ears, do you have any links to your music that demonstrates what you were talking about in the above posts?

                      I'm not at the level yet where I can read roman numerals and hear them in my head. I've been writing songs for years in the opposite direction – playing with musicians and creating melodies / lyrics right then and there, without discussion of theory.

                      I'm assuming you're an experienced musician, so I'd love to hear any songs you wrote with demonstrations of these techniques. It's always more vivid than words!
                      Last edited by jeffersonparish; 06-24-2016, 01:54 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Originally posted by onelife View Post
                        It is possible to add the bass notes if you are playing solo but if you have a bass player then there is no need.

                        The above example is just about picking a few notes that can still define the character of the chord and provide some movement (voice leading) when playing through the progression.

                        I leared a lot from Ted Green's books "Chord Chemisrty" and "Modern Chord Progressions" which I believe are still available.

                        Same with you, sir. Do you have any of your music I can listen to? I'd love to hear all these techniques in motion!

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