• Right Hand Altered Chords For Chromatic Bass Notes

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    In this lesson, our focus is on right hand altered chords for chromatic bass notes.

    In the key of C major:

    …the following notes are chromatic bass notes:

    Db:

    Eb:

    Gb:

    Ab:

    Bb:

    …and this is because they are foreign to the prevalent key (the key of C major).

    If you’re interested in learning the chords that can be played over these bass notes, search no further because we’ll learn the altered chords to be played (on the right hand) over these chromatic bass notes.

    But before we proceed, let’s refresh our minds on altered chords.

    A Short Note On Altered Chords

    Altered chords are chords that belong to the dominant chord family – chords that are formed on the fifth degree. They are known to sound dissonant and discordant, and they are also known to have a sense of resolution. So when chords of the dominant family are played, they tend to resolve to more stable chords

    Altered chords are chords of the dominant family but they are said to be altered because a few chord tones are raised or lowered. So in simple terms, altered chords are chords that its pitches or chord tones are modified to make them adaptable to a related or foreign key.

    For instance, the C dominant chord:

    …which consists of the C E G and Bb tones…

    …can be altered by raising the fifth:

    …or lowering the fifth:

    …and also by raising the ninth:

    …or lowering the ninth:

    Altered chords are dominant chords that contain chromatic tones. So there’s a little twist in the fifth which can be raised or lowered, and also on the ninth which can be raised or lowered.

    So there is no particular altered chord, even though the common altered chord that can be used is the…

    Dom7#5#9:

    …but there other classes of altered chords.

    Check them out…

    Dom7#5b9:

    Dom7b5b9:

    …and so on.

    Altered chords are useful in music because they resolve to minor chords.

    The Cdom7 chord:

    …resolves to the F major:

    …or minor chord:

    But for a stronger resolution to the F minor chord:

    …using a C altered chord:

    …sounds a whole lot better.

    “Take A Look At This Progression…”

    A 3-6 chord progression in the key of Ab:

    …the third and the sixth tones are C:

    …and F:

    …respectively.

    So using the C altered chord:

    …which is the Cdom7#5#9…

    …and resolving to Fmin11 chord:

    …”do you see how that sounded?”

    It sounded very beautiful. Rather going to the Fmin11 chord with the Cdom7 chord.

    Now that we’ve talked about altered chords, let’s take this study to the next level by taking a look at right hand chords and corresponding chromatic bass notes.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    Right Hand Altered Chords For Chromatic Bass Notes

    The right hand altered chords you’ll learn in this segment are covered using the key of C major (as a reference):

    Attention: It is recommended that you transpose these chords to other keys once you’ve learned and mastered them.

    Altered Chord For the b2

    The b2 tone in the key of C major:

    ….is Db:

    Lowering the 2nd tone of the scale (which is D):

    …by a half-step (to Db):

    …produces the b2 tone.

    The altered chord for the b2 tone (which is Db):

    …is the Db dominant seventh [#9, #5] chord:

    …which functions as a substitute for the G dominant thirteenth [add9] chord:

    Altered Chord For the b3

    The b3 tone in the key of C major:

    ….is Eb:

    Lowering the 3rd tone of the scale (which is E):

    …by a half-step (to Eb):

    …produces the b3 tone.

    The altered chord for the b3 tone (which is Eb):

    …is the Eb dominant thirteenth [add9] chord:

    …which functions as a substitute for the A dominant seventh [#9, #5] chord:

    Altered Chord For the b5

    The b5 tone in the key of C major:

    ….is Gb:

    Lowering the 5th tone of the scale (which is G):

    …by a half-step (to Gb):

    …produces the b5 tone.

    The altered chord for the b5 tone (which is Gb):

    …is the Gb dominant seventh [#9, #5] chord:

    …which functions as a substitute for the C dominant thirteenth [add9] chord:

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    Altered Chord For the b6

    The b6 tone in the key of C major:

    ….is Ab:

    Lowering the 6th tone of the scale (which is A):

    …by a half-step (to Ab):

    …produces the b6 tone.

    The altered chord for the b6 tone (which is Ab):

    …is the Ab dominant seventh [#9, #5] chord:

    …which functions as a substitute for the D dominant thirteenth [add9] chord:

    Altered Chord For the b7

    The b7 tone in the key of C major:

    ….is Bb:

    Lowering the 7th tone of the scale (which is B):

    …by a half-step (to Bb):

    …produces the b7 tone.

    The dominant chord for the b7 tone (which is Bb):

    …is the Bb dominant thirteenth [add9] chord:

    …which functions as a substitute for the E dominant seventh [#9, #5] chord:

    Final Words

    I’m doubly sure that you’ve learned a couple of altered chords (which are passing chords) in this lesson. It is important to note that all the altered chords covered in this lesson resolve by moving to major and minor chords that are a half-step below.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll be breaking down how these altered chords are resolved.

    Keep up the great work!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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