• These Altered Dominant Chord Voicings Will Revolutionize Your Playing

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano,Theory

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    In today’s lesson, you’ll be learning several altered dominant chord voicings that will take your playing to the next level.

    But before we go any further, it is important for us to glance through the concept of altered chords.

    “What Are Altered Chords?”

    Altered chords are chords of the dominant family but they are said to be altered because a few chord tones are either raised or lowered.

    In simple terms, altered chords are chords that some of its chord tones are modified to make them adaptable to a related or foreign key.

    For instance, the C dominant seventh chord:

    …which consists of the C, E, G, and Bb tones, can be altered by raising the fifth tone (to G#):

    …or lowering the fifth tone (to Gb):

    …and also by raising the ninth tone (to D#):

    …or lowering the ninth tone (to Db):

    In a nutshell, 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.

    “Check Out These Altered Chord Examples…”

    C Dom7#5#9:

    C Dom7#5b9:

    C Dom7b5b9:

    …and so on.

    Altered chords are used extensively in jazz and gospel styles to resolve to minor chords. For example, 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.

    A Short Note On The Concept Of Chord Voicings

    A chord is a collection of three or more related notes (agreeable or not), which may be played or heard together.

    For example, the C major chord:

    …consists of three related notes (that are agreeable), and may be played or heard together.

    The Concept Of Chord Voicing

    The notes of a chord can be considered as voices or voice parts – soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.

    Voicing is the consideration of the notes of a chord as voices, and has to do with the rearrangement of the notes of a chord using techniques known to music scholars as voicing techniques.

    The C major seventh chord:

    …can be rearranged into any of the following voicings…

    The part-over-root voicing:

    The skeleton voicing:

    The drop-two voicing:

    The rootless voicing:

    The polychord voicing:

    …and more.

    The Importance Of Voicing

    The overall harmony in all the cases is the C major seventh chord:

    …however, the use of a variety of voicing techniques to rearrange it adds an extra dimension to the C major seventh chord.

    The concept of voicing is used mostly in gospel and jazz styles by advanced musicians to enhance and sophisticate regular chords. For example, playing the drop-two voicing of the F major seventh chord:

    …sounds different compared to the regular F major seventh chord:

    So, using the concept of voicing, regular chords can be enhanced and stylized. Let’s go ahead and explore altered dominant chord voicings.

    These Altered Dominant Chord Voicings Will Revolutionize Your Playing

    Voicing #1 – Tenth and Quartal triad

    This voicing features a major tenth on the left hand:

    …built off the root note.

    On the right hand is a quartal triad:

    …built off the 7 degree of C major scale.

    Voicing #2 – Tenth and Tertian Triad

    Here’s another voicing with a filled-in major tenth on the left hand.

    In between the major tenth is the 7 tone.

    The difficulty of this left hand part is undeniable, but it’s worth it after all because having C, B, and E in one hand outlines the basic dominant seventh structure.

    This leaves the right hand with the obligation of providing the extensions via a triad (aka – “upper structure triad”).

    Our choice of triad in this case is a tertian triad – A major triad:

    When I said we’re borrowing from F minor and that there’s a relationship between F minor and A major, I was merely stating the obvious.

    Voicing #3 – Tenth and Suspended Chord

    This is the final voicing for today that will use a left hand major tenth.

    …built off the root note.

    On the right hand is an Asus2 (suspended) chord :

    …that’s another chord from A there. Expect more.

    Voicing #4 – Dom7 and Seventh Chord


    Alright!

    I flipped the left hand just in case you found the three earlier voicings challenging.

    In the left hand, I’m using a dom7 chord:

    …the fifth is omitted because we’re altering it.

    On the right hand, we’re playing a maj75:

    …built off the third degree of C major scale.

    Voicing #5 – Dom7 and Major triad

    Using the same left hand voicing of voicing #5:

    …I’m doing something different on my right hand.

    I’m playing the A major triad in second inversion:

    …I trust you’re getting used to A over Cdom7.

    Voicing #6 – Skeleton and Major triad

    The third and seventh of a chord are of the greatest importance in chord formation and recognition.

    They are often referred to as the skeleton.

    This voicing features the use of the skeleton (third and seventh):

    …on the left hand.

    On the right hand is an A major triad in second inversion:

    Voicing #7 – Skeleton and Suspended chord

    This voicing features the use of the skeleton:

    …on the left hand.

    On the right hand is an Asus2 chord in octave position:

    Voicing #8 – Quartal triad and Major triad

    This voicing features the use of the maj7sus4 chord:

    …on the left hand.

    On the right hand is an Amajor triad in root position:

    Voicing #9 – Tertian triad and Quartal triad

    This voicing features the use of an augmented triad:

    …on the left hand.

    On the right hand is a Bquartal chord:

    Voicing #10 – Tertian triad and Tertian triad

    This voicing features the use of an augmented triad:

    …on the left hand.

    On the right hand is an Amajor chord in second inversion:

    Summary

    Voicings #1-3 are related by the major tenth left hand voicing style. However, different right hand chords are used, ranging from quartal, to tertian, and suspended chords.

    Voicings #4 & 5 share the same left hand style in common. The right hand chords used are triads and seventh chords.

    Voicings #6 & 7 have the skeleton on the left hand part with major and suspended chords on the right hand.

    Voicings #8-10 consist of polychords (the superimposition of two or more chords). Variety is created between tertian and quartal triads.

    See you next time!

     

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") 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.

    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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    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Zino

    This voicing now wow ooo , so powerful.

    Reply

    2 Awe oluwatobi

    This is great. A lot of voicings on just the altered dominant chord. Keep up the good work.

    Reply

    3 Delano Douglas

    These chord voicings are open wide alternately by using fingerings on the piano. It is really fantastic. Keep it up, right here!

    Reply

    4 Josh

    This is a great article, but only if you can reliably reach a 10th with your left hand

    Reply

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