Monday, May 21, 2012

The Minor Side of the Dominant Sound

   

    Here we will deal with dominant (V7) chords and use the melodic minor scale to color them.  For the purposes of this article, we will call attention to two different types of dominant chords:

    Type I:  A dominant (V7) chord that does not move to a chord which lies at the interval of a fifth below (or a fourth above) it

    Type II:  A dominant (V7) chord that does move to a chord which lies at the interval of a fifth below (or a fourth above) it


    Check out the Gb7 in bar 6 of "The Girl From Ipanema."  It moves to an F Major chord.  Since this dominant chord does not move to a chord whose root is a fifth below, it falls under the category of a "Type I" dominant chord.  Other examples of "Type I" dominant chords include:

The Eb7 in Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon"
The Ab7 in the turnaround of Miles' "Freddie the Freeloader"
The Bb7 in the fourth bar of "Lady Bird" by Tadd Dameron
The Ab7 at the end of the third bar of "'Round Midnight" by Thelonious Monk

    To hear the colors of melodic minor on these chords, play the melodic minor scale starting from the fifth of the chord.  For example, over the Bb7 in "Lady Bird," you could play F melodic minor.  This will give you the 1, 9, 3, #11, 5, 6 and the b7 of the chord.  The #11 gives it a nice open sound.


    Here are some examples of "Type II" dominant chords:

The V chord of any blues
The B7 in the B section of "The Girl from Ipanema"
The G7 before the turnaround at the end of "Lady Bird"
The Bb7 at the end of the second bar in "'Round Midnight"

    To hear the colors of melodic minor on "Type II" dominant chords, play the melodic minor scale starting 1 half-step up from the root of the dominant chord.  For example, over the B7 in "The Girl from Ipanema," you could play C melodic minor.  This will give you the 1,b9, #9, 3, b5, b13 and the b7 of the chord.  These are all the possible alterations you can have on a dominant chord, giving it a tense sound that begs to be resolved.


    So the next time you're at a jam session and encounter a dominant 7th chord, decide whether you are dealing with a "Type I" or "Type II" chord and address it accordingly.  It may just add a whole new dimension to your playing, or just turn your bandmates' heads.  Either way, it's a nice little trick to throw into your elusive "bag o'tricks."

    Cheers!

    







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