Friday, February 19, 2016

Striking A Chord: Power Chords, Sus Chords, And Added Notes

Hey! This week we talked about some chord variants when we stop worrying about being quite so tertian. Let's try some exercises!

1) As we mentioned, one great use of power chords is in riffs. They don't carry as much harmonic weight as normal chords, so you can use them to create melodies with your supporting harmony. There's no better way to learn than by doing, so let's try writing a power chord riff! Use any of the rhythmic or scale tricks we've learned so far, just try to make something that sounds cool. As always, if you can't play it yourself, send me a transcription and I'll try to get you a sample recording.

2) Sus chords! Sus chords let you extract some extra movement and dynamics from static harmony. We talked about a bunch of different types of sus chords, so let's make sure you understand them all. Give me the notes in each of the following:

  • A sus 4
  • D sus 2
  • F# sus 2/4
  • Bb7 sus 4
3) And finally we get to added note chords. For this one, I want to examine something I said in the video a little closer. I mentioned that, no matter what quality the triad is, 6 chords always use a major 6th. But why is that? Why do you think that would be the case? Why wouldn't a minor 6 chord use a minor 6th? This might require you to use knowledge from some of our earlier videos.

And that's that! Put your answers in the comments below or on the main video, and we'll see you next week!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tensions: Somewhere Over The Chord Tones

Hey! Today we talked about chord extensions, best known by their nickname "tensions". They're not that complicated, but let's get some practice to make sure you got it! As always, you can put your answers in the comments below or on the main video!

1) Let's start with identification. For each chord listed below, tell me the listed tension, and whether or not it fits over that chord.

  1. What's the 9th or Ema7?
  2. What's the 11th of A7?
  3. What's the b13th of C#mi7?
  4. What's the #11 of Gmi7?
2) Now let's look a little harder at avoid notes. For each diatonic chord in the key of F major, tell me all its diatonic available tensions. An available tension is any tension that is not an avoid note for that chord. To get you started, the available tensions of Fma7 are G (the 9th) and D. (the 13th)

3) Below is a progression of 7th chords. Write a melody over it. Use at least one tension per bar. Remember: Tensions are used like chord tones, so you can sit on them for a while.

Here's an example of that progression being played a couple times. Try to play your melody along with it if you can. If you can't, send me notation of it and I'll try to get you audio of what it sounds like, hearing your compositions is really useful.

And that's it! See you next week!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Worth A Tritone Substitution

Hey! This week we covered a dominant variant called tritone substitutions.  Let's get practicing!

1) So we know that each dominant seventh chord shares its tritone with another one. Let's see that in practice: For each dominant seventh chord below, identify the tritone, then figure out which of the other dominant sevenths listed shares that tritone.

  • C7
  • F7
  • Ab7
  • F#7
  • B7
  • D7
2) Alright, now let's talk II-Vs! Below are four progressions: One is a regular II-V, one a chromatic II-V, and the other two are the other variants we discussed in the video. All you need to do is figure out which is which!

3) And finally, let's take a look at those augmented 6th chords. These can be a little complicated, but let's see if you got the idea. For each of the chords below, give me the notes it would contain:

  • German Augmented 6th, root: Eb
  • Italian Augmented 6th, root: A
  • French Augmented 6th, root: F
And that's it! Hopefully you were able to follow along fine, and we'll see you next week!