Skip main navigation

Reinterpretation of chords

Reinterpretation of chords
8.6
We reviewed most of the chord voicings that we have met to date. In principle, I’d like you to know them in every key. Now that’s a tall order, because how ever many voicings we’ve got, we have to multiply it by 12. That’s am awful lot of voicings.
33.5
If it’s any consolation, I don’t know them all, especially in some contexts where you might say “What’s A sharp7?” and the answer is “I’d have to think about it”. If you asked me “What B flat7 is?” - because I play B flat7 so frequently - I’d kind of know it, more or less, instantaneusly.
55
I ought to know all the chords in all the keys, but it’s not something that I’ve done. Whereas Bill Evans, for example, would take a standard and play it in every key, so that he was home in every key. That’s an ideal situation which one could aim for, but I certainly haven’t achieved it. But at least know your important chord voicings for important tunes - for jazz standards. Most of the tunes we’ve looked at in this course to date have been jazz standards and at the end of the course I’ll give you a list of jazz standards I think you should try and put in your knowledge bank - if nothing else, for jam sessions.
105.1
What I want to look at in this section is the idea that you can have one voicing which can have more than one meaning. Now all I want you to know really is that that’s the case. I don’t want to worry about which chords have 2 meanings. Just at least to make it clear, I’ll spell a few out. First of all, I’m going to spell a few out that have the same parent scale. Take, for example, this voicing over C. This is our friend the thirteenth, but we sus the chord and we put in the ninth. So it’s C7 sus. What’s the scale that goes with it? It’s the scale of C7
154
but you go easy on the E because of the suspended fourth. What’s the parent scale though for that? It’s the Mixolydian mode of F. So F major is the parent scale. But we can also see this as G minor7 - a voicing for G minor 7 - the first inversion. And what’s the parent scale that goes with G minor7? You go down a tone to get the Ionian scale and once again you get back to F. So it’s the same parent scale for each chord, but because the root differs, then the relative significance of the notes in the scale differ accordingly. So you need to, if you like, contexturalise your parent scale to use it to best effect.
208.2
Let’s have another example, C minor6/9. When we were talking about McCoy Tyner chords we said you could slip them up and down in the scale. Well if you take that shape and you slip in down in the scale then you get that, which is C 6/9 but with a minor - C minor6/9. I must say I haven’t given this chord perhaps the prominence it deserves, in the sense that I use this quite a bit even for a minor seventh, though there is no minor seventh in it. It has the analogue of the C 6/9 for a major seventh - which is C 6/9 for a minor seventh. So it’s quite important.
250.3
Thickening notes: if you want - you can even put in the fourth if you really wanted to. What’s the scale that goes with this? It’s the Ionian mode of B flat major sorry, its the Dorian mode of B flat major. What about if I interpreted it as an F based chord, namely the thirteenth shape? Then that too has the parent scale B flat major Mixolydian mode. So it’s the same parent scale but, depending on the context, notes in the scale will have different significance. This one we met recently for a diminished. I don’t really know what the correct name for this would be, but I’ll call it a diminished that includes a major seventh.
305.2
So we talk about C diminished with a major seventh in. That’s the chord. That’s a bit low, so I’ll probably take an inversion of that. Take that inversion. What’s the scale that goes with it? It’s C diminished
322.1
or E flat diminished, or G flat diminished or A diminished. If you can make those distinctions, that’s great. I can’t.
332.4
Also if we give it an F root, then you see it’s F13 but it’s got this G flat in it. So it’s F13 - F7 - with a flat 9. What’s the scale that goes with it? It’s the diminished that’s derived from the flat 9. So it’s G flat diminished, which is the same as E flat diminished, which is the same as C diminished. So it’s a mode of C diminished. In other words, it’s the same parent scale. Let’s have some examples where the parent scale is different. We saw pretty much one of the last chords we looked at in the previous section was the altered chord - C7altered.
373.6
The scale that goes with that starts off “diminishedy” and ends up “whole toney”, if I can put it like that. It’s D flat melodic minor ascending rooted on C. But if I reinterpret that as F sharp7 - the thirtenth voicing for F sharp13 - then the scale that goes with that is which is a mode of B major the Mixolydian mode. That mode is clearly different form
420.3
C altered. It shows itself in the sense that if you want to thicken the chord you have to use notes that belong to the appropriate parent scale. Take this fourth voicing for C minor7. It’s the Dorian mode, so it’s B flat major is the parent scale. But I can also interpret it as D flat 6/9, in which case the parent scale is D flat major
454.1
which is different from B flat major. It shows itself, for example, if I want to thicken this I could put in the fifth, or the fourth as well, if I wanted to, and those 2 notes are in D flat major, but they’re not in B flat major. So if I wanted to thicken this, I’d have to use a note that belongs to the parent scale. Ok, like I say, you don’t really need to know that. Just if you happen to spot - when we’re looking at a voicing - that it’s the same voicing as some other rooted chord - then that happens.
498
The important thing is to know the scale that goes with it and, in some sense, the context, so that you know which are the important notes and you use it accordingly.
We illustrate how the same voicing can have a different interpretation.
You can download the chart for “Reinterpretation of Chord Voicings” in PDF format at the bottom of this step.
This article is from the free online

Learn Jazz Piano: Advanced and Solo Playing

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education