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Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle #2866562
07/06/19 12:24 PM
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ZeroZero Offline OP
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HI all,
I am a reasonably competent player on the lower tiers of an advanced player. I am trying to get chord extensions (AKA) upper structure triads, flowing in my free improvisation.

BIO: I can play any chord in any key easily.Any scale any key too, including the altered scale. I can run around basic diatonic chords in any key any inversion(s) all day long, but although I know upper structure triads, in the sense I know the theory, they do not appear instinctively as I improvise. I even know passing chords, which I am beginning to use.

Here is what I think I understand about upper structure triads. First there are loads of them and every musican has a different take. Left hand plays a chord, usually a dom7, the right hand takes the upper structure. It's important to realise that the triads can be inverted. That's about it. I know that the diatonic non chordal notes can be found with a d minor over a C7 (and equivalants in other keys) this gives the diatonic 9th, the11th and the diatonic 6th. This upper structure is no its way.

But how to think about the non chord tones? Hopw to itroduce them and not get thoroughly confused?

Any tips and insights would be appreciated

Zero

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Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866606
07/06/19 02:16 PM
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In the book "Jazz Pianist" Mark Levine offers a set of upper structures for dominant seventh chords - 5 major triads and 4 minor with inversions. In fact, any triad, which consists in part or in whole of pitches alien to the main(lower structure ) chord, is the upper structure ; the question is only in resonance and sound. Of course, the upper diatonic triads do not create such a hard sound, like chromatic; but this is a matter of style and taste . If you aren't content with ready-made recipes, then experiment, and you will find what suits you by ear. Main chords for reminding:
Maj 6
Maj 7
Dom7
Min 6
Min7
Min7 / b5
Dim7

In principle, it is desirable to study the system of overtones, where the upper structures come from.


[Linked Image]

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866628
07/06/19 03:38 PM
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I, too, have learned much about upper structure chords from Levine's book. I tend to use them when I want altered notes, not 9ths, 11ths or 13ths. My regular voicings includes those notes, but upper structures get you the altered notes. My approach is to take just one or two of them and work on them. If I tried to learn several, I would learn none.

The two most basic ones for me relate to the dominant chord, which is the chord I'm most likely to want to add altered notes to. Here are the two I use:

A major triad a minor third below the root, so a A major triad for a C7 chord. This is what I use for a dominant 7, flat 9 chord. Of course, the triad also gives you the 13th. But if I'm comping and I see a dominant 7th flat nine, this is what I frequently go to.

A major triad a major third below the root, so Ab major triad for C7. This is what use for C7alt, because it gives me the sharp 9 and the sharp 5 (flat 13).

Working to get these two in all 12 keys is a project worthy of many months study.

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866635
07/06/19 03:49 PM
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Thank you guys. Both replies help. I have the Levine Book my problem is not so much indetifying upper structure triads in front of me I have my own list of 15 types. Its more how to use them I suppose you guys are thinking in II V I's ? For me teh question is when to use this one and when to use that one? I know people say that relates to the tune, but usually I am composing on the fly and make my own tunes, Coming from Sax orignialy I know all my scale/chord relations and use melodies based on these at present. I am having a hard time giving context to uppoer structure triads and hjow to lead them, or more precisly how to voice lead the altered notes?

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866735
07/06/19 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ZeroZero

my problem is not so much indetifying upper structure triads in front of me I have my own list of 15 types. Its more how to use them I suppose you guys are thinking in II V I's ? For me teh question is when to use this one and when to use that one?


All extensions have their own flavours so you can just use the one whose flavour you like. It seems to me that maybe you are just overwhelmed with all the possibilities, which is quite understandable if you start with a big list of all the possible upper structures. Instead try just getting really used to using one, say A major triad over a C7 shell. Find a few different ways to use it in a 2 5 1 and then work it a bit until you are familiar with the sound and it is coming out easily. Write out some 2 5 1 voicings and think a bit about the voice leading, which ones work and why?

Have a go at using the upper structure chord to generate some different lines - there is lots of scope here.
Don’t even think about the other ones until you are getting familiar with actually using the first, but for the record the ones I like and use a lot over a C7 chord are ..
D major triad, A major triad, Gb major triad, Eb major triad, Ab major triad
I tend to think of them as subsets of scales so Dmaj/C7 is from the G melodic minor scale (lydian mixolydian), A/C7 Gb/C7 Eb/C7 are all from the diminished scale and Gb/C7 and Ab/C7 are from the altered scale (ie Db melodic minor).

I did a few sheets on how to generate progressions and lines from upper structures so i will try to attach these if i can work out how. These are using the cycle of 5ths rather than a 251 but it is the same idea.

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866736
07/06/19 07:54 PM
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Sorry it seems I can't post a jpg to the thread so you can't see my excercise pages.

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866842
07/07/19 01:48 AM
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Thank you that has helped, I shall give it some thought. Don’t worry about the jpeg as as soon as I get one idea down I can generate inversion/patterns easily
I guess I shall start with a few favourites. I think I admire these sounds in other peo0es playing but somehow my own ear is ruling them out.
I notice you have a few sharp 4s, my ear tends to dislike this sound and rules it out, I guess that is just personal prefs. Will work with it more

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866868
07/07/19 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ZeroZero
For me teh question is when to use this one and when to use that one? I know people say that relates to the tune, but usually I am composing on the fly and make my own tunes,
This is a very important issue that touches the topic " Ratios of measures of dissonance and density of different voicings, including non-tonal" . On this topic was written back in the 60s by Russian musicologist Jozef Kohn an article , where he proposed some numerical ruler to measure the above parameters, based on the music of A. Schönberg and A. Berg. However, these composers were not based on theory, but on their ears; which very much resembles the history of the development of jazz harmony, which was advanced by non-professionals with large ears.

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2562437/1.html

In fact, you can do without numbers, only by your own hearing. For example, if you add the upper structure of Db maj triad at C maj7, the sound will be noticeably sharper than if you add D maj; those, already you can feel subordination of sounds . That's why I wrote that you need to experiment.

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866872
07/07/19 05:00 AM
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Nahum I took a look at that, like you I also play jazz sax. I can understand the Tension index and see why the numbers are associated (but I would not put the aug 4 at position 13) . I did not understand the point of adding all the interval values up to get a sum - perhaps it is to mathematicaly grade different chords for dissonance, but why? How can this usefully be appplied when it's kind of obvious anyway to the ear?

I notice from the photobucket chart second staff, that C7 and C-7b5 have the same score, which is odd, I would definitely class the b5 chord as more dissonant than c7.



I don't see where this get's me with voicings on the fly. Could not find much on Kon online.

I am still intrigued, I am a bit of a fan of the Lydian chromatic concept IF simply applied

Last edited by ZeroZero; 07/07/19 05:10 AM.
Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866895
07/07/19 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ZeroZero


I notice from the photobucket chart second staff, that C7 and C-7b5 have the same score, which is odd, I would definitely class the b5 chord as more dissonant than c7.



You're right!
X7 = maj3 (6) + perfect fifth (3) + minor seventh (9) + minor third (8) + tritone (13) + minor third (8) = 47

m7/b5 = minor third (8)+tritone(13) + minor seventh (9)+ minor third (8)+ perfect fifth (3)+major3 (6) = 47

This suggests that both chords are suitable for the same cadence - their sound is balanced. However, the second chord is no more dissonant, but denser, what is created by smaller intervals in its lower part. If you remember, the widest intervals are in the lower part of the harmonic system, of which 3 are natural and one major; they create major triad.

Last edited by Nahum; 07/07/19 07:46 AM.
Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866897
07/07/19 07:47 AM
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Regarding a system to classify the level of dissonance, it's probably of value for analysis and study. But I'm relieved to hear the suggestions of using the ears (and aural perception) as the determiner of what works.

One quick mention about voice leading and chord voicings. What precedes and what follows a particular dissonant chord voicing influence whether that dissonant chord works for your ears. I'd have to notate some chord voicings to illustrate my point. But voice leading can make dissonance sound more palatable.

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866899
07/07/19 07:49 AM
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If you use your ears why do you need the system? I don't understand. I dont get it. (first para above)



Last edited by ZeroZero; 07/07/19 07:50 AM.
Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866901
07/07/19 07:54 AM
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I get the point about voice leading. Obviously one can only analyse one voice lead at a time, on the fly, from noter a to note b, intellectually, so I guess its about pre-analysis.

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866960
07/07/19 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by ZeroZero
If you use your ears why do you need the system? I don't understand. I dont get it. (first para above)

Here is the task: find the upper structures instead of question marks, observing the smooth voice leading and the line for lifting and descending tensions ( hint: not everything is according to book recipes ).

[Linked Image]

If you can do it by ear, then your gain is yours; but if not, Y. Kohn's method indicates the direction where to look.

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866985
07/07/19 12:00 PM
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Nathan, with thanks to you, I really do not think I want to go ahead with any analysis, I do not care for putting math into this process. I am not a quick reader too. Simplicity is what I am striving for not mopre complexity

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866998
07/07/19 12:59 PM
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Can I ask you all a VERY basic question. When playing in a combo, do you use upper structures on the fly? Or is it that it is agreed beforehand - maybe by a leadsheet that the upper structures will be played?

Here is my attempt at an answer: I would use the diatonic notes such as ninths and sixths, but not the extended non diatonic tones. Over minor chords, the sixes and nines would depend on which location modally the minor chord is in - dorian, phrygian aeolian. non diatonic notes I would use as either passing tones - eg. chromatic melodic runs, or rarely, as a deliberate dissonance. There are caveats - the higher the range the more one can get away with, but this is my general understanding, over basic chords stick to the above described.

Last edited by ZeroZero; 07/07/19 01:03 PM.
Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2866999
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Originally Posted by ZeroZero
. Simplicity is what I am striving for not mopre complexity
I can not say that the upper structures belong to elementary harmony.

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2867008
07/07/19 01:36 PM
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Nathum yes I understand that, I meant simplicity of concept rather than sound chord number 37 sounds a bit to much. I might say though I am not in a position to know, I am aware that ther is something wrong in my thinking. 6s and 9's are flowing, but not much else, currently working on introducing the #5 over the 7 chords. I might say I am not after extreme cacophony as can be found on the outer fringes of Jazz,

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2867023
07/07/19 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ZeroZero
. I might say I am not after extreme cacophony as can be found on the outer fringes of Jazz,

Here is my solution:

[Linked Image]

Having at the beginning only the book of J. Mehegan, I trained for many years the main sevenths, then the A and B chord positions , then the chords superposition and harmonic tensions - before moving to the upper structures. Therefore, in no stage was there a feeling of cacophony.

Re: Upper structure triads and extensions life or death struggle [Re: ZeroZero] #2867036
07/07/19 02:58 PM
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Nahum I simply do not understand you. I have no idea at all how these two bars are a "solution". I dont even know what is question that is a solution to. I find the first chord near unplayable.

I can play any diatonic chord in any inversion any key instantly already, and any diminished. I can mess around modally. I can play any scale fluently. I have never heard of Mehagen's book and after hearing his stuff on utube I really am not going in that bepop-esque direction. I can play this kind material on sax but don't care for it, give me Getz over Parker any day. I don't know what you mean by A and B positions unless you mean inversions of triads ( I can play all these instantly) . I dont know how you could have move on to harmonic tensions without using upper structures. Surely it is the other way around, upper structures being custom template containing a pallet of tensions.

I am sorry, with respect, but we are speaking different musical languages I fear.

Last edited by ZeroZero; 07/07/19 03:05 PM.
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