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#1312295 - 11/25/09 05:54 PM Upper Structure chords  
Joined: Aug 2009
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Wizard of Oz Offline
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Wizard of Oz  Offline
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For the jazzers, I've been working on some upper structure chords, figuring out their sounds and putting them into use.

I know there are limitless possibilities, but anyone have some good ones that they use frequently?

I like the sound of D/Cmaj7, that #4.

Also, Bb maj7/C works great for a C7.

I tend not to think of them as "slash chords", but from the bottom up, so the original chord with color or altered tones added.

This concept works in tandem with pedal points too, taking a note that you normally wouldn't play in the bass, and the chord in the right hand. Adds that friction or dissonance to the note.

2 songs that use this alot are Hancock's Dolphin Dance and Shorter's Nefertiti.

Any ideas for a systematic approach?


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#1312334 - 11/25/09 06:43 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 889
Swingin' Barb Offline
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Swingin' Barb  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 889
North Carolina
Originally Posted by Wizard of Oz
Any ideas for a systematic approach?

Your question came at a good time. I am getting back into experimenting around with this stuff. Here is how I learned this...

I use these chords over dominants. So, for a C7, I will use root and b7 in the left hand while my right hand will form a major chord built upon:

the second degree of the scale (D major chord),
or
the sixth degree of the scale (A major chord),
or
the flatted fifth degree of the scale (F# major chord),
or
the raised fifth degree of the scale (Ab major chord)

It is a different sound --- and I like it! smile

Barb





A Sudnow Method Fanatic
"Color tones, can't live without them"

To hear how I have progressed since 2006, check out: http://b.kane.home.mindspring.com
#1312341 - 11/25/09 06:52 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 552
nitekatt2008z Offline
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nitekatt2008z  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 552
Originally Posted by Wizard of Oz
For the jazzers, I've been working on some upper structure chords, figuring out their sounds and putting them into use.

I know there are limitless possibilities, but anyone have some good ones that they use frequently?

I like the sound of D/Cmaj7, that #4.

Also, Bb maj7/C works great for a C7.

I tend not to think of them as "slash chords", but from the bottom up, so the original chord with color or altered tones added.



This concept works in tandem with pedal points too, taking a note that you normally wouldn't play in the bass, and the chord in the right hand. Adds that friction or dissonance to the note.

2 songs that use this alot are Hancock's Dolphin Dance and Shorter's Nefertiti.

Any ideas for a systematic approach?



One way to start getting into upper structure triads is start with the LH tritone.The tritone is the only interval when inverted, remains a tritone. Example E-Bb or Bb-E. The tritone defines a dominant seventh chord C7 or
Gb7. So LH plays E-Bb RH possibilities, Db Gb Bb (C7b9#11)
RH Eb Ab C (C7#9b13)

Start with C7-Gb7 tritones LH, play right hand chords in different inversions and notice how they relate to the tritone. Tough in the beginning, but really useful when you get them down. A vert unique sound

katt

#1357589 - 01/25/10 10:39 AM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: nitekatt2008z]  
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 52
keyboardplaying1 Offline
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keyboardplaying1  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 52
Winnipeg
A good upper structure is the one for a 7#5b9 chord. To do this play the tritone of whatever seventh chord you are using in the left hand, and a minor chord, whose root is the note a semitone above your actual chord.

For example, for G7, in the left hand play the tritone, B and F, and in the right hand play a G#minor chord.
This sounds great when arpeggiated and using pedal.

Upper structures are really just dominant 7th chords with alterations, except they're easier to remember because it's just a certain triad over a tritone.

#1357636 - 01/25/10 12:19 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: keyboardplaying1]  
Joined: Jul 2009
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beeboss Offline
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beeboss  Offline
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Posts: 1,368
uk south
Originally Posted by keyboardplaying1


Upper structures are really just dominant 7th chords with alterations, except they're easier to remember because it's just a certain triad over a tritone.


You can use upper structure triads (and others) on any chord type. Try adding a B major triad to a C maj 7th chord, or a D major triad to a C minor 7th. Endless possibilities.

#1357861 - 01/25/10 05:05 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: beeboss]  
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 475
KlinkKlonk Offline
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KlinkKlonk  Offline
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Joined: May 2009
Posts: 475
The force theme from Star Wars: A/B (e on top) F#/B (c# on top under the e) C/B (with g on top over the the e) B/B (duh) and finally A over B, or superimpose it all without the B bass note over a C7alt chord.

#1358571 - 01/26/10 01:31 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: KlinkKlonk]  
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 340
wavelength Offline
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wavelength  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 340
Vermont, USA
I've never practiced it systematically until recently, I decided to get them in my fingers once and for all. Before that I would just try to get them into tunes once in a while.

Playing the tritone (the 3rd and 7th) in the LH was the way I first learned it, both from my old teacher and from Mark Levine's book. My new approach is a little different, and I'm adapting it from Rebeca Mauleon-Santana's book "101 Montunos".

I've been practicing this progression in every key, using specific voicings:

||Am...|D7...|GMaj7...|Bm.E7.||


Am: G C E / B E G B (US v)
D7: F# C Eb / Bb Eb F# Bb (US bii)
GMaj7: F# B D / A D F# A (US V)
Bm: A D F# / C# F# A C# (US v)
E7: G# D G / C F G# C (US bii)

This approach is different than Mark Levine's in two ways. The left hand isnt just playing the 3 and 7 (or root, 3,7). And it is a little more liberal about doubling notes. It's just a little snippet, but it is a particular upper-structure sound that really appeals to me, and I've heard it before in some modern salsa and been unable to nail it with the Mark Levine approach.



#1358703 - 01/26/10 04:13 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: wavelength]  
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 1,458
etcetra Offline
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etcetra  Offline
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You can get a whole bunch of upper structure/slash chord using the half-step whole step scale on V7.. on C7, you have C#min, Ebmin, Eaugemented, F#.. and so on

#1812400 - 12/26/11 12:22 AM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 64
ajrdileva Offline
Full Member
ajrdileva  Offline
Full Member

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 64
FL
Here's a complete method for UST piano voicings that cover all possible upper structure triads over IIm7 and V7.

mDecks.com/ust.php

[Linked Image]



Not only you'll find all possible UST but a method to classify, qualify and practice each of them.


Ariel J Ramos
Musician & Music App Developer
mDecks Music AppsMapping Tonal HarmonyTessitura Pro
arieljramos.com
#1822120 - 01/10/12 12:38 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 798
TromboneAl Offline
500 Post Club Member
TromboneAl  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 798
Northern, Northern California
Here are the two that I use very often -- thanks go to Swingin' Barb for turning me onto this.

For a dominant seventh, I play the triad one whole tone above the root in root position (e.g. A over G7: G, B, D, F, A, C# E. Or with a bass player, I'd play F, A, B, E, A, C#, E).

Over a minor seventh, I play the triad one whole tone below the root, in second inversion. For example, with a bass player, I'd play a Bb over Cm7 like this: Eb, G, Bb, D, F, Bb, D).

#1822197 - 01/10/12 02:41 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 61
s_winitsky Offline
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s_winitsky  Offline
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Posts: 61

Neat question.

I originally learnt upper structures in the context of dominant chords first, as most. The left hand would play the root, third and flat 7. In the right hand you could play any triad as long as it didn't have a fourth or a major 7th. The idea behind that is the 4th and the 7th would conflict with what the left hand is playing (they are considered the avoid notes.)

For example lets say the chord is a C dominant 7th and the melody note is a F#. In the right hand you could play D major or F# major triad. You can also play a E flat minor or F sharp minor.

You might ask about Sus chords. In those cases the left hand wouldn't play a third (and the 4th is no longer an avoid note) its worth noting that playing the third in the left hand generally only works in higher ranges of the keyboard. If it gets too low it sounds muddy.

Of course there are countless ways to voice chords. The above is just an example, and the way I was taught upper structures.

Originally Posted by Wizard of Oz
For the jazzers, I've been working on some upper structure chords, figuring out their sounds and putting them into use.

I know there are limitless possibilities, but anyone have some good ones that they use frequently?

I like the sound of D/Cmaj7, that #4.

Also, Bb maj7/C works great for a C7.

I tend not to think of them as "slash chords", but from the bottom up, so the original chord with color or altered tones added.

This concept works in tandem with pedal points too, taking a note that you normally wouldn't play in the bass, and the chord in the right hand. Adds that friction or dissonance to the note.

2 songs that use this alot are Hancock's Dolphin Dance and Shorter's Nefertiti.

Any ideas for a systematic approach?


#1822793 - 01/11/12 02:38 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: Wizard of Oz]  
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 142
AnonymousInvention Offline
Full Member
AnonymousInvention  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 142
Florida
I have used the Levine approach as well as that posted earlier by keyboardplaying1. I also use what I call polychords - usually two major triads, one in each hand - for example a C major chord with a D major chord played over it (C E G D F# A). Good posts, thanks to all, I'm going to check out wavelength's approach...sound interesting.

#1822862 - 01/11/12 05:19 PM Re: Upper Structure chords [Re: AnonymousInvention]  
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 5,605
Gary D. Offline
5000 Post Club Member
Gary D.  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 5,605
South Florida
Originally Posted by AnonymousInvention
I have used the Levine approach as well as that posted earlier by keyboardplaying1. I also use what I call polychords - usually two major triads, one in each hand - for example a C major chord with a D major chord played over it (C E G D F# A). Good posts, thanks to all, I'm going to check out wavelength's approach...sound interesting.

Because I started with "classical" music, but also moved through Debussy and Ravel and right into the 20th century (and now 21st), I also think of these complex chords as poly-chords. I don't necessarily hear them or feel them that way.

Charles Ive's thought nothing of having a C major chord with a D major over the top, and so I see a kind of evolution:

RH//LH
CEG//DF#A

C G E// A D F# A (open voicing)
C G E// A D *E* F# A (throw in E just because it sounds cool)

And after you are all done, you still have a D# chord over a C chord.

Last edited by Gary D.; 01/11/12 05:22 PM. Reason: typos

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