• Answer To The Question “How Do I Apply The Tritone?” (Part 1)

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

    So you’re interested in learning how to apply the tritone?

    The tritone is one of the popular topics that a vast majority of musicians always want to learn something about — especially jazz and gospel musicians — and this is because of a variety of reasons that we can’t go into at the moment because of time constraint.

    Although most advanced players apply the tritone in ways more than one, we’ll be showing the relationship between the application of the tritone and the formation of the dominant seventh chord.

    Let’s get started by defining the tritone.

    The Tritone – Defined

    A tritone is a distance of three whole steps from a given note. The term tritone can simply be broken down into two other terms:

    Tri meaning three

    Tone meaning whole step

    The tritone can be formed on C:

    …by ascending or descending by three whole steps.

    A whole step from C:

    …is D:

    The second whole step from D:

    …is E:

    …and the third whole step from E:

    …is F#:

    Altogether, from C to F#:

    …is a tritone and can be played together or separately.

    “Check Out All The Tritones On The Keyboard…”

    C and F#:

    Db and G:

    D and G#:

    Eb and A:

    E and A#:

    F and B:

    Gb and C:

    G and C#:

    Ab and D:

    A and D#:

    Bb and E:

    Cb and F:

    Now that we’ve defined the tritone and your mind is refreshed, let’s look at its relationship with the dominant seventh chord.

    Learn more about the tritone by clicking here.

    The Relationship Between The Tritone And The Dominant Seventh Chord

    The dominant seventh chord is the seventh chord of the fifth degree of the scale. For example, in the key of C major:

    …where the fifth degree is G:

    …the dominant seventh chord can be formed when G, B, D, and F (which are tones in the key of C major):

    …are played or heard together.

    A Closer Look At The Dominant Seventh Chord

    The dominant seventh chord consists of a root, third, fifth, and seventh tone. In the G dominant seventh chord:

    …its third and seventh tone (which are B and F):

    …form tritone when played or heard.

    According to music scholars, the dominant seventh chord derives its harsh sonority from the tritone formed between its third and seventh tones (aka – “skeleton“.)

    So, a closer look at the dominant seventh chord reveals a tritone formed between the third and seventh tones. Consequently, all dominant seventh chords can be broken down into a tritone.

    “Check It Out…”

    The C dominant seventh chord:

    …can be broken down into this tritone – E and Bb:

    The Ab dominant seventh chord:

    …can be broken down into this tritone – C and Gb:

    The same thing is obtainable in every dominant seventh chord.

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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