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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chord Extensions

Hard to believe we are almost into November. Just seems like last week we were just entering September.
Busy week of practicing, teaching and mixing a recording.

Listened to the fantastic record "Cannonball and Coltrane" originally released as "The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago" in 1959 but later re-released with a new co-leader bill adding tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. It's basically Miles' band of the era without the leader. Paul Chambers on bass, Jimmy Cobb on drums and Wynton Kelly on piano. Beautiful renditions of "Stars Fell On Alabama" and "Weaver of Dreams".

Also listened to more Keith Jarret trio. "At the Deer Head Inn" which has Paul Motian on drums (filling in for the usual trio mate Jack DeJohnette) as well as Gary Peacock on bass. Great recording. Also listened to the trio's "Standards 1" which has probably the finest rendition of "All the Things You Are". John Scofield's version from "Flat Out" is also on the same level!

Here is a lesson that I give to my students about understanding chord extensions. How to hear and be able to use them while improvising. Chord extensions are basically any note beyond the 7th as we are building the chord. As the chord is built we use the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th but while doing so we are skipping a note every time as we ascend. The remaining notes are called extensions. Since we are building the chord (think of a building) the remaining notes are now referred to by another number. Instead of the 2nd, it is now the 9th etc. Just add 7 to the original number of the note. 4th is 11th and so forth. We are left with the 9th, 11th and 13th.

This exercise places the chord extension between two chord tones. By playing the chord tones on 4 and the and of 4
the extension lands on the beat which allows it to stand out but also gives it relevance to the chord because of the proceeding chord tones. When comfortable with the exercise, play the chord tones on 4 and the and of 4 plus 2 and the and of 2 which places the extensions on 1 and 3.
Check out the video. Watch for the cameo at the end courtesy of my dog Stu!

Enjoy and keep listening, going to see and buying music!

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