The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > PLAY and Write

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #16  
Old 04-23-2018, 10:02 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,674
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Slim II View Post
This thread has been an excellent education on the subject of altered chords. But...I'm not sure I've ever seen 'alt' used as a chord symbol on a chart or song sheet. Usually, the alteration is specified, as in #5, b5, etc., isn't it?
Yes. In jazz charts, however, "7alt" is pretty common.
__________________
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 04-23-2018, 10:23 AM
mattbn73 mattbn73 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 261
Default

Yeah. I'd think it's more rare, even in jazz charts. The example that comes to mind from the real book would be from something like "Here's That Rainy Day", where it occurs over a chord/melody combination which very explicitly outlines altered. That simply isn't the case most of the time. Usually there are options, but in that specific example, it's probably a good choice.

Last edited by mattbn73; 04-23-2018 at 11:15 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 04-23-2018, 04:42 PM
FwL FwL is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: USA
Posts: 293
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Slim II View Post
This thread has been an excellent education on the subject of altered chords. But...I'm not sure I've ever seen 'alt' used as a chord symbol on a chart or song sheet. Usually, the alteration is specified, as in #5, b5, etc., isn't it? I've never seen it in a chord book. And an internet search reveals the same thing as this thread: a lot of good stuff about altered chords in general, but no examples of it as a chord symbol.

So I guess I wouldn't worry too much about the "alt" chord per-se. Next time you see an altered chord, the specific alteration will probably be spelled out for you. You can build it, even if you don't understand it. That's how it works for me, anyway. I don't really understand chords more complicated than diminished or half-diminished (m7b5) chords, but I know how to "build" the more complicated chords based on the specific chord symbol. Chord symbols are specific, "alt" is not.

Or, could it be an error? Maybe a "note to self" from the transcriber, this is an altered chord of some kind, figure it out later -- but it never got fixed?

Anyway, this is Gershwin, right? Whatever it is he's doing with harmony is way beyond me. And I'd guess that even experts might struggle with it. I take all charts and transcriptions with a grain of salt.

Again, very educational thread, thanks...


I popped open a copy of the Real Book just to see how long it took to find an alt chord. By song #2 (A Child is Born) you've got D7alt. Song #14 (All in Love is Fair) has A7alt.

The use is pretty common on lead sheets.


.
__________________
.
.

My Personal Website | Band Website | youtube | soundcloud

Current Gear: Yamaha A3R TBL Limited Edition through a Digitech RP1000 and POG2 then straight into the PA
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 04-23-2018, 06:55 PM
Guitar Slim II Guitar Slim II is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 179
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by FwL View Post
I popped open a copy of the Real Book just to see how long it took to find an alt chord. By song #2 (A Child is Born) you've got D7alt. Song #14 (All in Love is Fair) has A7alt.

The use is pretty common on lead sheets.


.
Yep, there it is...I stand corrected, and thank you.

I'm still confused though. Is the "alt" symbol used exclusively for dominant 7 chords? If so, as mentioned above, the root, third and seventh could not be altered. That basically leaves your 5th and your extensions that can be altered. Easy enough to write, I would think. And if the alteration is implied in the melody -- still easy enough to specify, I would think.

So, are we saying the "alt" symbol is just intentionally vague? Is it just telling us rhythm cats "hey, its a dom chord, stupid, but add some extra tensions"?

Makes sense I suppose, but if you're savvy enough to understand the implication, then why do you need to see it written? Do you really need to tell a jazz player to mess around with his dominant chords? (That's a joke...)

An aside: I've heard some debate regarding specifically Real Book charts. Some complain that the chord symbols are too specific. Just because a tension is implied by the melody (and explicitly written on the chart), that doesn't mean you necessarily need to adhere to that harmony if you're comping or blowing a solo. Too-specific harmonies are too limiting, they say, and inhibit the freedom and creativity jazz musicians enjoy.

Is the "alt" symbol is in keeping with that general idea...give the musicians more options?

Great thread, I learned a thing or two. thanks again.

Last edited by Guitar Slim II; 04-23-2018 at 07:45 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 04-23-2018, 07:55 PM
Guitar Slim II Guitar Slim II is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 179
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Slim II View Post
So, are we saying the "alt" symbol is just intentionally vague? Is it just telling us rhythm cats "hey, its a dom chord, stupid, but add some extra tensions"?
Sorry, still thinking about this. Now that I know it's "a thing", I want to understand it better if I ever encounter it again. And a question occured to me: Can you sub a plain dominant 7 chord for a "7 alt"?

So I tried it out on the chart for "A Child is Born" -- (after listening to Thad Jones and then Bill Evans play it, has there ever been a more beautiful ballad?)

And I'm still confused...subbing a D dominant for the "alt" chord towards the end of the tune sure "feels" right, despite the F nat. in the melody. It's pretty clear the F nat. should be interpreted as an E# (#9), and if you add the Bb (b13, also from the melody), that's a strong argument for calling it D7#9b13 -- a fairly common blues and jazz chord. Another way to interpret the chord is to spell the Bb as an A#, which would make it a #5#9. Either way it's the same chord tones, easily expressed in a conventional chord symbol.

So I'm still not sure I understand what the "alt" symbol is actually telling me do.

Last edited by Guitar Slim II; 04-24-2018 at 09:29 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 04-24-2018, 05:04 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,674
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Slim II View Post
Sorry, still thinking about this. Now that I know it's "a thing", I want to understand it better if I ever encounter it again. And a question occured to me: Can you sub a plain dominant 7 chord for a "7 alt"?
If you omit the 5th, yes. Root-3rd-7th is present in all varieties of dom7 chords - the essential tones that define the chord. Everything else is up for grabs, and you judge from context.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Slim II View Post
So I'm still not sure I understand what the "alt" symbol is actually telling me do.
Well, put simply, it's saying "choose b5 or #5, b9 or #9, as you like. Whatever fits. Or just play 3-b7, leave the root to the bass and the alterations to the soloist."
IOW, it's not "telling you to do" anything specific. It's offering choices.
__________________
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 04-24-2018, 04:00 PM
Guitar Slim II Guitar Slim II is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 179
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
Well, put simply, it's saying "choose b5 or #5, b9 or #9, as you like.
I'm not so sure...in the "Child is Born" chart you couldn't use just ANY altered chord, could you? If certain tensions are implied by the melody, then by extension certain tensions would be excluded. So it seems to me that it's more sophisticated than just "any altered dominant will do".

So let me pose another question: In the "Child is Born" chart, why does it call for a "7alt" in that specific measure?

The chart contains other altered chords -- aug7s, 7#9s etc. So why is that single chord, in that single location, different from the other chords in the chart? Why did the arranger call for a "7alt" chord at that particular point in the chart, and nowhere else?

To put it another way: if it's about freedom and options, then why not apply the "7alt" to other dominant chords in the chart? If you want the the players come up with their own tensions, fine, but the why not make the whole chart that way, instead of one isolated chord?

I get what folks are saying about general altered chords and keeping things open...but It's still not clear why the "alt" symbol is used in certain situations and not in others. Is it, as another member implied, just a vague, incomplete and possible lazy way to harmonize -- artistic considerations notwithstanding?

Last edited by Guitar Slim II; 04-24-2018 at 04:26 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 04-24-2018, 08:55 PM
mattbn73 mattbn73 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 261
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Slim II View Post
Another way to interpret the chord is to spell the Bb as an A#, which would make it a #5#9.
That's actually the way it's notated in my Hal Leonard real vocal book. Again, I think this symbol is more rare in Hal Leonard, at least in traditional standards tunes. I see it on Detour ahead, but it's over a dominant chord with both the b5 and#5 in the melody.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Slim II View Post
If certain tensions are implied by the melody, then by extension certain tensions would be excluded. So it seems to me that it's more sophisticated than just "any altered dominant will do".
but it's not really. That's not the way the altered scale works . All of the scale tones are playable over other altered chords. Just like G13 theoretically can contain any scale degree from C major, but only more so, because there is no avoid note. The situation is slightly confused by the way it's spelled, relative to functional. So, you end up with two different 9ths and two different 5ths, but one doesn't necessarily replace the other. They just replace the nat9 and nat5. It's not functional like major or harm minor.

Anyway, determining what you play over a dominant chord isn't purely arbitrary. It's mostly to do with the harmony and melody which came before. Again, I think it's more about what NOT to play. Mixolydian or diatonic major doesn't work on every dominant chord.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 04-24-2018, 09:35 PM
Guitar Slim II Guitar Slim II is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 179
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattbn73 View Post

That's not the way the altered scale works . All of the scale tones are playable over other altered chords.
Ding! Ok, the lightbulb just turned on.

The "alt" symbol specifically refers to the "alternate scale"!

which is the 7th mode of the melodic minor scale. This was actually mentioned at the top of the thread, but somehow I missed the fact that the mode is known as "THE Alternate Scale".

Now the "alt" symbol makes sense to me (even if I can't jam on the 7th mode of melodic minor). It has a specific function, and tells the performer something important. And since it seems as much an instruction for the soloist as it is for the accompaniest, that would explain why it's more common in jazz charts than song sheets.

Thanks. I'll sleep easier tonight.

Last edited by Guitar Slim II; 04-24-2018 at 11:54 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 04-25-2018, 04:39 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,674
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Slim II View Post
I'm not so sure...in the "Child is Born" chart you couldn't use just ANY altered chord, could you? If certain tensions are implied by the melody, then by extension certain tensions would be excluded. So it seems to me that it's more sophisticated than just "any altered dominant will do".
But that's what I meant by "whatever fits" - which translates as "context".

The idea is that any jazz musician seeing "7alt" knows the options available, and doesn't need to be told, because they'll look at the context first. They'll probably be playing the melody before they play the chords.

I.e., you could interpret "7alt" as shorthand for "use whatever alterations suit the melody" - because the writer is too lazy to write them out. (Yes, jazz chord chart writers really are that lazy: how else you do explain the use of "-" instead of "m". "Oh man, that "m" takes too much time, I'm just gonna do a dash..." )

Sometimes, context is very prescriptive, but in that case you'd probably see the alterations spelled out. "7#5#9" or whatever. In other cases, the melody might well dictate which alterations fit, while you'd be free to choose others when soloing. Sometimes jazz charts actually offer two choices for a chord at any point - one that fits the melody, one as a second option for soloing. Chord symbols are often suggestive rather than prescriptive.
__________________
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 04-25-2018, 04:46 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,674
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Slim II View Post
Ding! Ok, the lightbulb just turned on.

The "alt" symbol specifically refers to the "alternate scale"!

which is the 7th mode of the melodic minor scale. This was actually mentioned at the top of the thread, but somehow I missed the fact that the mode is known as "THE Alternate Scale".
"Altered scale", to give it its usual name. (Aka "superlocrian" and "diminished wholetone", names you might see elsewhere, but "altered" is better IMO.)
"7alt" is short for "altered dominant".

As I said earlier, the "7th mode of melodic minor" is a handy memory aid for some, but the scale doesn't derive from that. It derives from altering the 5th and 9th of the chord, which is done (in turn) to give all those voice-leading options.
__________________
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 04-25-2018, 09:58 AM
OddManOut's Avatar
OddManOut OddManOut is offline
G7-C9-Edim-B9-B7b13-E7-E9
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Carson City, Nv (Want a jackrabbit? We've got extras!)
Posts: 2,922
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
The purpose of an altered dominant is to provide maximum chromatic voice-leading to the following chord. Forget about the scale on the chord itself - look at where it's going.

A D7alt chord is almost certainly resolving to Gm or G major. The core of the dom7 (root-3rd-7th) is always present, and those notes resolve as normal: root is a shared tone (5th of G), 3rd and 7th move by half-step (F#>G, C>B, or C>Bb if Gm - the only whole step move). So far, so classical.

The altered 5th and 9th can move as follows:

Ab > G or A (9th of G)
A#/Bb > A or B
Eb > D or E (6th of G)
E#/F > E or - less likely - F# (6 or maj7 of G)

You choose whichever of those (if any) you want, according to where you want your phrase to land on the G, and probably on where you're coming from on the preceding chord.
Another tip is that a 7alt chord is the same as its tritone sub (built from the same notes). D7alt = Ab7#11 (ultimately Ab13#11); only the bass note is different. Thinking "Ab7" helps remember the half-step leading idea.

The "7th mode of melodic minor" is a handy memory aid, IF you know your melodic minor scales. It's also handy for suggesting some arpeggios or pents you can play on the 7alt chord. (Eg, in this case Fm pent, or Ebm arp.) The chord doesn't derive from melodic minor, and - speaking personally - I didn't understand how to use this scale until I realised how the voice-leading worked.

Awesome info! Thank you!
__________________
Martin 00-18G (1949), The OMOM; Curly;
The Whistlepig; Butterscotch
Lil Spartan
"Hiding from the madman I am longing to be."
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > PLAY and Write

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:15 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=