• Three Reasons Why Top Players Love The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano

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    In this lesson, we’ll be focusing on some of the reasons why top players love the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord.

    But before we go any further, let’s analyze the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord.

    Chord Analysis: The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord

    The dominant thirteenth sharp eleventh chord is the chord of the fourth degree of the melodic minor scale.

    Using the C melodic minor scale (as a reference):

    …where the fourth degree is F:

    …the dominant thirteenth (sharp eleventh) chord can be formed on F:

    “Check Out The Formation Of The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord…”


    Using the C melodic minor scale as a reference, we can form the F dominant thirteenth (sharp eleventh) chord by adding notes to F (the root):

    …in third intervals.

    F (a note):

    …to A:

    …is a third interval.

    F-A (a major third interval):

    …to C:

    …is a third interval.

    F-A-C (a major triad):

    …to Eb:

    …is a third interval.

    F-A-C-Eb (a dominant seventh chord):

    …to G:

    …is a third interval.

    F-A-C-Eb-G (a dominant ninth chord):

    …to B:

    …is a third interval.

    F-A-C-Eb-G-B (a dominant ninth [sharp eleventh] chord):

    …to D:

    …is a third interval.

    The F dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    …is the fourth scale degree chord of the C melodic minor scale:

    Analysis Of The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord

    Let’s break down the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord into these three terms:

    Dominant

    Thirteenth

    Sharp eleventh

    “What Does The Term Dominant Mean?”

    The term dominant is the technical name of the fifth degree of the scale. Consequently, any musical idea that is associated with the fifth degree of the scale is described using the term dominant.

    From this consideration, the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord is a chord of the fifth degree (aka – “dominant chord”.)

    “What Is A Thirteenth Chord?”

    Thirteenth chords are extended chords that encompass almost two octaves when played in root position. Most thirteenth chords comprise of all the notes of a given scale.

    For example, the C major thirteenth chord:

    …consists of ALL the notes of the C major scale:

    A Short Note On The Sharp Eleventh

    The term eleventh is used to describe a chord or interval that encompasses eleven degrees of the scale. The sharp eleventh is produced when the eleventh is raised by a half-step.

    “In A Nutshell…”

    The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord is an extended chord of the fifth degree with a raised eleventh.

    From our analysis, we can note the following:

    The degree of the scale where the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] can be formed

    Its width: which is a thirteenth

    The modification of the eleventh chord tone

    Now that we’re done with a basic analysis of the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord, let’s go ahead and discuss why top players love it.

    Why Top Players Love The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord

    Reason #1 – There’s No Avoid Tone

    There’s no avoid note in the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord.

    The avoid note in any given major key is the fourth tone of the scale. In the key of C major:

    …the fourth tone (which is the avoid note) is F:

    The C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    …does not have the avoid note (F):

    Instead of the fourth tone (F):

    …the C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    …has an F# tone:

    The regular C dominant thirteenth chord:

    …has an F note (an avoid tone):

    …that clashes with the third tone (which is E):

    However, in the C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

    …the third and eleventh tones (which are E and F#):

    …are not very dissonant.

    Reason #2 – Its Underlying Scale

    Another reason why top players love the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord is because of its underlying scale.

    The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord is formed from the the fourth tone of the melodic minor scale. Consequently, playing the C melodic minor scale:

    …from its fourth tone (which is F):

    …to its octave (which is also F):

    …produces the F lydian dominant scale:

    The lydian dominant scale is one of the scales for dominant chords that does not have an avoid tone, hence, top players prefer it to the mixolydian scale.

    The C mixolydian scale:

    …has an avoid note (which is F):

    …while the C lydian dominant scale:

    …doesn’t.

    Reason #3 – It Consists Of All The Triads Qualities

    The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord consists of all the commonly known triads:

    The major triad

    The minor triad

    The diminished triad

    The augmented triad

    “Let’s Check This Out…”

    Using the C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord (as a reference):

    …we can see the following triads:

    The C major triad:

    The G minor triad:

    The E diminished triad:

    The Bb augmented triad:

    So, every dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord, consists of a major triad, minor triad, diminished triad, and an augmented triad.

    Final Words

    The next time you’ll want to play an extended dominant chord, and you have tons of options, I’m sure you’ve seen three reasons why you should go ahead and play a dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord.

    See you in the next lesson.

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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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of 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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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Zino

    JESUS , THESE VOICINGS BAD OOOOO , WOW OOOO
    THANKS FOR ADDED VALUE TO MY MUSICALL CARRIER.
    hearandplay you are the BEST

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