Tip #210 – Jazzy Progression with the Hindu Scale

For those that don’t recall the Hindu Scale, I suggest looking back at some music theory posts I have covered. But to bring you up to speed, the Hindu scale is one of the modes of the melodic minor scale – specifically, the fifth mode.

That being said, we can think of the Hindu scale as the dominant (or mixolydian) of the melodic minor scale. And what do you know! Take a look at what kind of chord is built on the root of the Hindu scale. A dominant-seventh chord.

But that isn’t the only dominant seventh chord of the scale. In fact, there are two that are found in it, creating this famous jazz progression:

I7 – bVII7

While this progression certainly sounds modal because of the scale as well as jazzy because of the dominant-seventh chords, it flows well because it is similar to the “backdoor” progression we have talked about before. Only now the tonic is an unstable dominant figure.

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Tip #208 – Jazzy Progressions with the III7 Chord

Oh no, here is another dominant chord.

Well, this isn’t as boring as it could be – trust me. While dominant chords appear often in music (as well as in these blog posts) there is something new to learn about them every time.

Typically, a dominant chord would resolve down to the chord a P5 below it. So in this case it would be III7 – vi like in this progression:

I – III7 – vi7 – Imaj7

But, another way that I found interesting that appears in jazz music is a resolution up a m2 interval to the predominant chord:

I – III7 – IVmaj7 – Imaj7

Here we see a motion opposite to that of the tritone substitution bII7 chord, but this time it is resolving up. Also, the root motion of III to IV is common in music, so the ear tunes in to the bass. Try it out!

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Tip #207 – Two Ways of Resolving Secondary Dominants

Seems a bit silly that we have gone this bar in the blog without mentioning secondary dominants as much as they should be. Nonetheless, they are common in music composition and deserved to be discussed.

A secondary dominant is the V7 of a chord besides I (usually the V7 / V ). The progression would be:

V7/V – V7 – I

And that is one way to resolve it. Simply use it like the nature of the V7 chord and resolve to the chord a P5 below it.

Another way, that is common in jazz, is to have it resolve to the minor version of itself. That progression would be:

V7/V – ii – V7 – I

Both the V7/V and ii have the same function of being the “predominant area” so it makes sense that they can lead into one another.

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Tip #203 – Jazzy Way of Modulating to Predominant Key Area

Most music typically modulates from the tonic to the dominant, but that is not the only place it can go to.

Say that you wanted to go to the predominant (which is the fourth scale degree). That is like going from the key of C to the key of F.

One way that can be done is with an I – v7 – I7 – IV progression that utilizes the common ii – V7 formula found in jazz music:

Essentially, because the tonic chord hasn’t played the seventh, we are in ambiguous terms as to whether the triad expands to a major-seventh chord or dominant seventh chord. This works to our advantage that when we set up the ii – V motion, all we do is lower the leading tone down (making it mixolydian). Finally, the ii – V tonicizes the IV chord to become the new tonic and having the piece modulate to the subdominant area.

Try it out and see how you can vary this up.

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Tip #184 – Unique Use of Dominant 13 (b9 #11) Chord

Some jazz performers, arrangers, and composers have the inclination to add tension tones and various extensions on top of simple triad chord harmonies. Not that it is a bad thing, but it can become mundane if used too often or too frivolously.

With that out of the way, one chord that I have noticed some people using is the dominant 13 chord with alterations of a b9 and #11. Usually, this is recognized as a V 13(b9 #11) in the jazz tune – but here is another use of it:

Let’s first start by separating the dominant 7 from the upper extensions. That gives us the V7 chord and the (b9 #11 13) above.

If we reharmonize the (b9 #11 13) be their enharmonic, we get a minor triad a tritone above the root of the chord.

Typically, there is no major or natural minor key that has both a V7 and bii. However, who said that the dominant chord has to function as a V7 chord? Instead, we can think of it as a tritone substation making it a bII7 in a minor key with the minor triad acting as a v. In which case, both the bII7 and v chords resolve to the minor tonic triad of i.

Try it out for yourself!

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Tip #161 – Cheat-Sheet for Building Large Eight-Part Chord Structures

Previously, we have talked about reimagining the idea of eight-part chord structures. Instead of thinking the chords as one big harmony, we can mentally divide the chord into two different chords at smaller harmonic density – and then from there, arrange the two chords into unique voicings.

Below is a cheat-sheet on how to build these large chord structures:

To read the cheat-sheet, start by deciding what chord harmony/family you want to do in the left-most column. Then, you will notice that each selection is made up of two horizontal rows. The bottom horizontal rows are chord harmonies that work best for the bottom half. Likewise, the upper horizontal row is of chord harmonies that work best for the upper half.

If the chord is highlighted in light blues, that means that it is most optimal to use if you want the root to be in the melody.

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Tip #159 – Reframing Thoughts on Eight-Part Chord Structures

Say that you are being extravagant and want to incorporate a chord like this into your composition:

This is a D7(b9 b13) chord with the doubling of the root at the top.

Instead of thinking of this as one big chord, you can divide it in half and get this result:

Now, you have a D7 chord on the bottom with an Ebmaj7 chord above it.

Thinking of large chords at a micro level can help with voicing. Now that we know that the D7(b9 b13) chord is really just a combination of the two chords (D7 and Ebmaj7), we can essentially “divide and conquer” with solving how we want to voice the chord harmony:

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