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  1. #1
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    Default What's a "7 alt." chord??

    Hi all, I've been playing through the real book and have run across chords like E7 alt. Can you tell me what that is? In many years of playing guitar I've never run across that...

  2. #2
    Heterodox nonconformist renaissance_man's Avatar
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    No problem, it's actually more simple than you might think. Of course an E7 is a dominant chord (major 3, flat 7). The alt. is short for altered, and implies some kind of modification to the 5 (B, in this case), either flat or sharp. Often, the 9 is also changed along with the 5. So and E7 alt can be any of the following:

    E7b5 (E-G#-Bb-D)
    E7b5b9 (add F)
    E7b5#9 (add G)
    E7#5 (E-G#-C-D)
    E7#5b9
    E7#5#9

    Experiment with different voicings/inversions until you find one that you dig. Generally, altered dominant chords are used as the V in a ii-V-i in a minor key, although I've experimented with altered V chords leading to a major I.

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    And it suggests the use of the "altered scale" (7th mode of ascending melodic minor) over the chords mentioned previously. The altered scale that fits the E7 alt chord(s) is: E-F-G-G#-A#-B#-D-E, (spelled in terms of the E chord not the parent Fm scale.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by wersax
    And it suggests the use of the "altered scale" (7th mode of ascending melodic minor) over the chords mentioned previously. The altered scale that fits the E7 alt chord(s) is: E-F-G-G#-A#-B#-D-E, (spelled in terms of the E chord not the parent Fm scale.)
    This is correct. The 9th & the 5th, are BOTH lowered, AND raised. the voicing I like best for an E7(alt),is E, G sharp, C, (really a B sharp), D, and G.The scale is half diminished/half whole tone. See Mark Levines The Jazz Theory Book.

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    Just play a C major triad over it. Now that's hip!

    Let the rhythm section take care of the tritone (G#-D).

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by hgiles
    Just play a C major triad over it. Now that's hip!

    Let the rhythm section take care of the tritone (G#-D).
    Funny - I was taught to consider the B-flat (tritone sub) triad over an E7alt, but I guess a C is just as funky!


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    Quote Originally Posted by larry
    Funny - I was taught to consider the B-flat (tritone sub) triad over an E7alt, but I guess a C is just as funky!
    Both will work, because they contain the notes of a F melodic minor scale.E is the 7th degree,(which makes it the alt.scale).

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    I'm glad someone asked this question. My follow-up question is does the rhythm section have to agree on the alteration? Or since the function (dominant) of the chord is the same regardless of alterations, does everything work out so long as one of the chords listed is played?

    I've never cared for the Alt.Symbol - It's sort of a guessing game as to what the rhythm guys are going to play.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jentone
    I'm glad someone asked this question. My follow-up question is does the rhythm section have to agree on the alteration? Or since the function (dominant) of the chord is the same regardless of alterations, does everything work out so long as one of the chords listed is played?

    I've never cared for the Alt.Symbol - It's sort of a guessing game as to what the rhythm guys are going to play.
    Yeah, it presumes that they understand melodic minor harmony........

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    Quote Originally Posted by renaissance_man
    No problem, it's actually more simple than you might think. Of course an E7 is a dominant chord (major 3, flat 7). The alt. is short for altered, and implies some kind of modification to the 5 (B, in this case), either flat or sharp. Often, the 9 is also changed along with the 5. So and E7 alt can be any of the following:

    E7b5 (E-G#-Bb-D)
    E7b5b9 (add F)
    E7b5#9 (add G)
    E7#5 (E-G#-C-D)
    E7#5b9
    E7#5#9

    Experiment with different voicings/inversions until you find one that you dig. Generally, altered dominant chords are used as the V in a ii-V-i in a minor key, although I've experimented with altered V chords leading to a major I.

    Good times.
    Theoretically, for an E7b5-I would use the lydian dominant scale, or a whole tone(which I don't like) on this chord. The lydian scale would be: E, F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D, E. I know this also contains the 5th,(and the b5) but sounds fine. I think of this chord as an E7#11, which is the 4th degree of the B melodic minor scale,(not the F scale). For the E7b5b9, or the E7b5b9, you can play an alt. scale, OR a diminished scale,(starting on the half step),as both scales cover all the chord tones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jentone
    I'm glad someone asked this question. My follow-up question is does the rhythm section have to agree on the alteration? Or since the function (dominant) of the chord is the same regardless of alterations, does everything work out so long as one of the chords listed is played?

    I've never cared for the Alt.Symbol - It's sort of a guessing game as to what the rhythm guys are going to play.
    Good point, The alt. chord is-b5,or#5,AND
    b5,or#5!!! BUT- many tunes have the alterations, such as b9,#5,etc. on the chart. I like #5,#9, in most cases.

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    Cool, thanks!

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    Many times when you get an alt. chord and are not sure what to play you can look at the notes in the melody of the tune to get an idea. Many times the melody containes notes or scales that imply specific alterations to the dominant.

    As far as improvisation over this chord it depends on the fifth. The Altered scale (aka the super locrain scale, diminished whole tone scale, Pomeroy scale, whatever you call it) should be used if the fifth is raised. If there is a natural fifth use the half step diminished scale. Both of these scales have sharp and flat nines. The lydian dominant scale should only be used if the fourth is raised and nothng else, and the whole tone if the fourth and fifth are raised.

    Since there are so many possible alterations to a dominant chord I prefer specifics, I am more interested in what the composer wanted. I think that just putting alt is to general.

    Chris

  14. #14

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    i was told today that 90% of the time a guitar player or piano player sees this chord symbol they voice it with a #9 and a b13.

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    Distinguished SOTW member, musician, technician & columnist clarnibass's Avatar
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    Altered chord means it has all the tensions. Other than the 1, maj3, and b7, it will have b9, #9, #11/b5, b6. You don't have to play all of them, you decide. Trinitron is right, based on history, if you look at all of the great arrangements, the #9 and b13 work very good together and was used a lot.

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    The best thing a Rhythm section can do over an ALT chord is to play the tritone. In the case of E7alt, the bass player plays E and the chord player (guitar/piano) plays G#-D. This way the soloist can pick his alterations and use a hw diminished scale derivation, whole tone, or a combination (diminished-whole tone).

    By the way, #9 and b13 with the root added back in yields the C major triad that I suggested earlier and is a hip sound.

    I actually think of the Altered dominant chord as being very specific, specifically it is the hw-dim scale. If notes of the melody don't match this scale then someone got the chord symbol wrong.

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    Forum Contributor 2010 DukeCity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hgiles
    I actually think of the Altered dominant chord as being very specific, specifically it is the hw-dim scale.
    If by "hw-dim" you mean half-whole diminished, it doesn't quite fit the fully altered sound. Alt. dom has b13, or b6, or #5 (whatever you want to call it) and the hw-dim scale has natural 13, or natural 6. That's why the Fully Altered scale (Diminished - Whole Tone, Super Locrian, 7th mode of melodic minor) works perfectly. If you take the fully altered dominant: Root, 3rd, b7th, and add b9,#9,b5,#5, those seven notes make up that Super Locrian scale.

    I tend to use the hw-dim scale when the dominant chord has b9 in the chord symbol, and is going to a Major I chord. Then the piano player is more likely to be playing that natural 13.

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    I agree with DukeCity. The definition I read of an altered dominant chord was a dominant chord with a b9 and/or +9, +11 and/or b13. The 7th mode of the melodic minor scale has all of those notes.

    I used to use the 7th mode of the melodic minor a lot, but now I tend to just play a couple of altered notes like the +9 and b13, otherwise it just sounds like I am running a scale.

    [Edit]I was just reminded of something Hadley Caliman said to me the other day "You can play anything over a dominant, but don't **** with the root
    Last edited by Ken; 09-12-2006 at 10:01 PM.
    Ken

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2008 bobsax's Avatar
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    Default another look

    Another reason to learn the minor scale with the natural 6 and 7 is you get three hip scales for the price of one.
    F , G , Ab , Bb , C , D , E , F
    Works on :
    F- (Fmin) . Depends on the tune , usually the major 7 is in the melody .
    F-Maj7 . Nica's Dream
    Bb7(#11)
    E7 Alt

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    Many wonderful and complex explanations here.

    But to keep it simple, I just think of the ALT chord as what in
    the old days used to be an Augmented chord. ie. a dominant 7th
    with a raised 5th. All the other bits are just variations.

    I find there is a big distinction in the usage between the 7th/b9 and
    the 7th/#9, even though the ALT chord has b9 as well.

    The b9 chord has a predominantly diminished sound to it, whereas
    the ALT has the augmented sound.

    It seems to crop up a lot more in minor keys with II-V7-I
    progression. The V7 in this case is often ALT.
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