• Who Else Wants To Know How The Rarely-Played Add4 Chord Can Be Applied?

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    This lesson is for you if you’re interested in learning how to apply the add4 chord in the major key.

    But before we go any further, think about this:

    In the key of C major:

    …if you’re given the C [add4] chord:

    …and you’re asked to apply it, I’m very sure a lot of people may want to play it as the 1-chord:

    …and you may even want to try that out.

    However, playing the add4 chord as the 1-chord doesn’t really sound stable and pleasant and I’ll tell you why it’s so in the next segment.

    Now, if the add4 chord doesn’t sound right as the 1-chord, there must be a way it can be applied in the major key and that’s the goal of this lesson: to show you have the add4 chord is applied.

    Let’s get started by reviewing added-tone chords.

    A Review On Added-Tone Chords

    The addition of an extra tone to the major triad produces added tone chords and using the C major chord (as a reference):

    …we can add the D (which is the second tone of the C major scale):

    …to produce the C major [add2]:

    …or we add the F (which is the fourth tone of the C major scale):

    …to produce the C major [add4]:

    Lastly, we can add the A (which is the sixth tone of the C major scale):

    …to produce the C major [add6]:

    I’m sure you’ve certainly come across the add2 and add6 chords:

    C major [add2]:

    C major [add6]:

    …and have probably applied them.

    This is because it’s common to play each these two common added tone chords as the 1-chord in the key of C major:

    …or as the 4-chord in the key of G major:

    But when it comes to the add4 chord, it’s rarely-played and I’ll tell you why this is so before we proceed.

    “Dr. Pokey, So, Why Is The Add4 Chord Rarely Played?”

    The add4 chord is one of the rarely played added-tone chords and this is because of the minor second interval between the third tone and the added tone (which is the fourth tone.)

    Attention: Keep in mind that the fourth tone of the scale is also known as the avoid note and one of the reasons why this is so is because of the clash between the fourth tone of the scale and the third tone. So, adding the avoid note to the major chord produces a dissonant-sounding added-tone chord.

    For example, the C major [add4] chord:
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    …consists of a minor second interval between its third and fourth tones (which are E and F):

    …and this interval sounds restless and dissonant.

    Now, because nobody wants to play a 1-chord  that sounds dissonant and restless, the add4 chord is not usually played.

    In the next segment, I’ll show you how this dissonant chord can be applied in the formation of extended chords in the major key.

    The Application Of The Add4 Chord In The Major Key

    What if I told you that all you have to do is to change the bass note in the major key and you’ll be able to apply the add4 chord?

    Well, that’s just what it is!

    Instead of playing the C [add4] chord over C on the bass:

    …which clearly doesn’t sound great as the 1-chord, why don’t we just change to some other bass note in the major key?

    Alright! Let me show you how this works.

    Application #1 – “As The 2-Chord”

    Playing the C [add4] chord:

    …over D on the bass:

    …produces an interesting harmony that I know you’ll love — the D minor eleventh chord:

    Here’s the D minor eleventh chord (with all the chord tones):

    But using the C [add4] chord:

    …we can form the D minor eleventh chord by playing D on the bass:

    …and that produces your 2-chord:

    …in the key of C major:

    Final Words

    The next time you’re thinking about extended chords like the minor eleventh chord, the major ninth, and the dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord, and how they can be formed, always keep it in mind that you can shortcut your way using the add4 chord.

    For example, the E [add4] chord:

    …played over F# on the bass:

    …produces a nice-sounding F# minor eleventh chord:

    …which can be your 2-chord in E major:

    …and 6-chord in A major:

    You can even play it as the 3-chord in D major:

    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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