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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Introduction to Jazz Chords

In this post I will give some examples of commonly used Jazz chords and their shapes. The first chord type I'm going to talk about is the dominant 7th chord. It is the most commonly used chord in Jazz. It consists of a root note, a major third, a fifth and the minor 7th.

The Major Seventh Chord. This can be a really nice sounding chord if played and used correctly. The Major 7 chord consists of the root note, the major 3rd, an optional 5th (makes the chord sound fuller in this case), and the Major Seventh. The major seventh is a step below the octave. The major 7th chord is usually notated in jazz as a maj7, because if it just said 7, it would imply Dominant. This chord is sometimes referred to as a "Major Major" chord, or a Delta chord.

The Minor Seventh Chord. This chord is also extremely common in a lot of forms in music. The -7 Chord consists of the root, the minor 3rd, optional 5th, and the minor/flat seven. A common way to notate this in jazz sheet music is either like -7, m7, or min7.

|-----------  -8--|
9th Chords. A 9th chord comes in a few different ways. The 9th is a compound Second interval. It can be an added voice to either a minor or dominant 7th chord. The 9 always implies the 7th in the chord unless it is written ass an add9 chord. When simply stated as a C9, it consists of the 1, M3, P5, m7, M9. The -9, m9, or min9 chords are the same thing, but with a minor 3rd.

|----- 3------|



b5 or Half Diminished Chords. Flat 5 chords are all too common in jazz. Almost in every jazz song in a minor key. The ii chord in a ii v i progression is half diminished. The b5 chord is played like a Minor 7 chord, but the 5th is flat. When playing in a combo or ensemble, it almost 100% necessary to add the b5 in this chord. It can also be notated as a circle with a slash through it, meaning half diminished.

|----- -4-----|
Diminished Chords. Fully Diminished chords are used a lot in jazz. It's the same thing as the Half Diminished chord, only the 7th is doubly flat. bb7, if you will. It's very complicated to play, I'll admit. In the third example, the root is in the high voice. This chord is not the most beautiful thing ever. Sometimes notated as just a small circle.

|--------  -8--|
|----- -4--7--|

In classical music and technical theory, a true 13 chord consists of the 1, 3, 5, m7, 9, 11, and 13. But in classical writing, You only need the 1, 3, 5, m7, and 13, because there aren't enough parts, or fingers to have the 9 and 11. So, for what were learning here, you should only voice the 1, 3, 5, m7, and 13.

6th Chords consist of the root, the major third, the fifth and the sixth. A happy little chord.