Jazz School: Chord Voicings: Dominant 7, add 9

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One way to get a jazzier sound is to add “color tones” to the basic Dominant Seventh Chord. A commonly-used color tone is the “9” (or “2” if you like)…

For physical ease and musicality, it is customary to drop the most expendable note “1” from the right hand and replace it with the 9 as follows…


A logical and musical next step is to invert the right hand, an important skill that serves at least two purposes:

  • In order to place the notes in a pleasing register (not too low where it can sound muddy and not too high where it can sound thin).
  • In order to smoothly connect with neighboring chords by voice-leading (lots more on this is subsequent lessons).

Homework:  Use your ears and your knowledge of scales and chord structure to “transpose” this voicing to all spellings in three ways:

  1. Chromatically Ascending: C > Db > D > Eb > E > F > Gb > G > Ab > A > Bb > B > C.
  2. Chromatically Descending: C > B > Bb > A > Ab > G > Gb > F > E > Eb > D > Db > C.
  3. Cycle of Dominants: C > F > Bb > Eb > Ab > Db > Gb > B > E > A > D > G > C.

Doing so builds an enormous chord vocabulary that you will know intimately… by brain, eye, ear, finger, body, and heart.. laying a solid foundation for fluent improvisation.

learn more… Jazz Chords: Dominant 7 “Definitive Tones over Perfect 5th”


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