Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Ode to Altered Dominant Scales

My friend KMO has discovered the whole culture of jazz found in the Altered dominant scale. We were looking at triads superimposed over basic 7th chords specifically as extensions of the chord. Something that might be described as a 3rds 'ladder' emerges as in 135, 357, 794(11), 9 11 13, and perhaps 11 13 1. This sort of idea can be applied to Major and minor chords with interesting results. For example of particular interest is 579 which if one solos with that structure in mind, the motivic ideas using that, might be interesting.

For example: Cmi7 (dorian) CEbG, EbGBb, GBbD. This last one GBbD, might be an interesting point of departure for a motive of some sort. We were trying to apply this to a song like Sam River's "Beatrice" which is actually a fairly modal based song in that in the entire song there is 1(one) dominant chord and even that dominant is a secondary Dominant. We used lydian for Maj7 and usually Dorian or Aeolian in min7ths.

This is to just lead up to the discussion here on Altered dominants and specifically the altered dominant scale and it's facets as in 1b9#93b5b6b71 (or ABbCDbEbFGA)

Here's what KMO had to say about these new personal discoveries. I think they are worth noting.

KMO writes:

Another thing is I was trying to decide what 9-11-13 to put over a 7(b9), which is a diminished seventh. I'd been kind of degenerating the extensions to the basic diminished seventh notes, but that's no fun.

So I started with 7, then b9 (because it's in the chord), and then it's a major, so that normally means #11. But I wasn't very happy with how that sounded. Over an A7(b9) that's G-Bb-D#.

And then the 13, it would have to be F#, because of the E being a chord tone, so the 9-11-13 was Bb-D#-F#. I wasn't happy about that either. So I wrote C about it. His advice:

Here's a retry on A7(b9): EGBb....GBbC# (still in 3rds).... BbC#(Db) and F (for an altered scale sound) ... it gets to the point that a 9 isn't a '9' anymore etc...The C# (Db) is thought of as a lowered 11 :) altered.

Ooh.. I like that. I didn't think about the fact that 7(b9) is compatible with altered, and then b11 is legal, and b11 is a 3 so that solves all the problems, and also there is no E, so F natural is okay, and the whole thing sounds way better anyway.

(Austinato) Dear Reader this might be significant:

KMO continues:

I guess altered scales are the other thing I've been doing in the background all fall now, and I'm beginning to get a glimmer about them. So strange... At first seeming like a weird useless theoretical oddity, like the symmetrical augmented scale, but then actually in many ways they are the defining flavor and structure of this whole genre of music, if you take the whole constellation, the presence of all the altered extensions, the easy implementation of the tritone flip, the fact that every note goes wrong, but not a single one is an avoid, their intimate synergy with the blues scales, the coexistence of major and minor in a single chord, their synergy with harmonic minor despite being a melodic minor mode, their ability to combine all three flavors of minor, and in this case the conversion of the avoid tone 11 into the major third. There is no end to the weirdness and brilliance of this scale.

(Austinato) writes:

Well, I couldn't agree more. Altered scales are indeed not an oddity per say but the key to the door of a whole "constellation" of jazz culture sounds. The TriTone flip i.e. V7 Alt to bII lydian b7 — I.....They (the dominants) use the same source scale. Their synergy with Blues scales, the coexistence of major and minor all good descriptors of this wonderful sound.

Speaking of the 'Sound' the next blog will feature inversions of S1—S6 and voice leading ideas.