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Posted By: ZeroZero Delicious chord - 08/12/19 09:30 AM
Just discovered this one! It's a simple half diminished chord. Root minor 3, flat 5, flat 7th. What's so special about this? Well not much, if you simply resolve to the the root a half step above - the modeal function of the chord (Locrian). It's also an inversion of the dominant.... but...
Try this....sub aD half diminished for a G7, resolving to 1 (C)

So sweet!

Posted By: pianowillbebach Re: Delicious chord - 08/16/19 06:38 PM
Very cool!
Posted By: Mark Polishook Re: Delicious chord - 08/18/19 02:30 PM
That chord that you mention, has a really interesting history in jazz. Because it was often called or known (by Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie and Barry Harris and others) as a minor triad with the 6th in the bass.

So that ‘D minor b5’ ZeroZero mention would have been described by those I just named as an F minor triad with D, the the 6th, in the bass.

For more information about that, the best, most comprehensive source I know of is the Barry Harris Video Workshop series ... here’s a link


It’s expensive but worth every penny. In it BH builds on what ZeroZero observed and goes all over the place (to good places) with it. Also, check out what Steve Coleman says about so-called “half-diminished chords.”


Here’s the relevant part, including a quote from Dizzy Gillespie’s autobiography about the so-called half-diminished or minor 7 flat 5 chord.

*** Copied and pasted from the link above which is an essay by Steve Coleman about Charlie Parker * * *

I realized by using the high notes of the chords as a melodic line, and by the right harmonic progression, I could play what I heard inside me. That’s when I was born.” ( c. 1939 quoted inMasters of Jazz)

“I found that by using the higher intervals of a chord as a melody line and backing them with appropriately related changes I could play the thing I’d been hearing. I came alive.” (1955 Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya)

However, Parker’s version of “higher intervals of a chord” was not in the form of flatted 9ths, 11ths and 13ths, but in the form of simple melodic and triadic structures that reside at a higher location within the tonal gamut which I refer to as the Matrix (who really knows how Bird thought of it?). In this case, simple minor structures such as Ebmin6, Amin6 and Fmin6 are the upper intervals of Ab7, D7 and Bb7, respectively. These minor triads with an added major sixth are very important structures in music, often mistakenly called half-diminished (for example Amin6 could be called F# half-diminished today). In this instance, the function of Amin6 is that of dynamic A minor, in the same sense that the function of D7 is that of dynamic D major. By dynamic I mean energized with the potential for change. Adding a major 6th to a minor triad has a similar (but reciprocal) function to adding a minor 7th to a major triad, and that function in many cases is to energize the triad, to infuse it with a greater potential for change, due to the perceived unstable nature of the tritone interval. Pianist Thelonious Monk was a master of this technique, and demonstrated this to many of the other musicians of this time (including Dizzy and Bird). Regarding whether to use the name half-diminished or minor triad with the added 6th, this is a case where a simple change in name can obscure the melodic and harmonic function of a particular sound. Dizzy Gillespie mentions this in his autobiography when he says that for him and his colleagues, there was no such thing as half-diminished chords – what is called a half-diminished chord today, they called a minor triad with a major sixth in the bass.

... [Here’s Dizzy Gillespie talking about the half-diminished or minor-seven flat 5 chord .... except he explains how his generation knew it as a minor triad with a 6th in the bass .... the quote is from Steve Coleman’s article ... ]

“Monk doesn’t actually know what I showed him. But I do know some of the things he showed me. Like, the minor-sixth chord with a sixth in the bass. I first heard Monk play that. It’s demonstrated in some of my music like the melody of “Woody ‘n You,” the introduction to “Round Midnight,” and a part of the bridge to “Mantaca.”…. There were lots of places where I used that progression… and the first time I heard that, Monk showed it to me, and he called it a minor-sixth chord with a sixth in the bass. Nowadays, they don’t call it that. They call the sixth in the bass, the tonic, and the chord a C-minor seventh, flat five. What Monk called an E-Flat-minor sixth chord with a sixth in the bass, the guys nowadays call a C-minor seventh flat five… So they’re exactly the same thing. An E-Flat-minor chord with a sixth in the bass is C, E-flat, G-flat, and B-flat. C-minor seventh flat five is the same thing, C, E-flat, G-flat, and B-flat. Some people call it a half diminished, sometimes.” (from the chapter Minton’s Playhouse in to BE, or not… to BOP)

* * * *

Lastly, take a G7 chord (G B D F) where the intervals in the chord are (ascending) a major third (G to B), and a minor third (B to D) and another minor third (D to F). Now invert those intervals, meaning instead of an ascending major third followed by two ascending minor thirds you have a DESCENDING major third (F down to Db ) followed by two descending minor thirds (Db down to Bb and Bb down to G).

What you have there is a chord we call G minor 7 flats 5 or G half-diminished 7. Convert it into the nomenclature used by Dizzy Gillespie and you could call that a Bb minor triad with a G (the sixth) in the bass.

Big deal? Coincidence? Go through enough Bill Evans transcriptions and you’ll find that sort of thing all over the place. So, for example, you’re playing the melody to Miles Davis’ Tuneup. You’ll quickly find a flat 5th over the second chord (which in fake books is shown as a dominant chord.

In particular, you’ll see for the second chord that D# moves to E natural and the chord underneath is A7. Use the logic above and don’t play Eb over A7. Instead play (from bottom to top) A G C Eb .... and then resolve that chord to A C# E G. All we’ve really done is taken the middle two voices from the A7, dropped them down a half-step to cover the D# in the melody, and then raised them back up a half-step (to follow the melody) so that we arrive back at an A7 chord. But if we want to get crazy about it, that first chord we got from the A7, simply by lowering the middle two voices ... we could just as well call it a C minor triad with a 6th in the bass. Of course, if we saw that written out in a lead sheet, we’d think the writer of said lead sheet had lost their mind!

* * * *

For anyone who’s still reading .... take our minor-seven b5 chord, perhaps built on D. So we have D F Ab C. Inner the intervals and now we have from top to bottom D B G# E (or from bottom to top, making it’s easier to recognise, we have E G# B D. Ok, so, what’s big deal and what do we get from this?

Well, if we know D min7 b5 inverts into an E7 chord, let’s just take the E as our new root and put the D F Ab C back on top. Now we’ve got (bottom to top) E D F G# C or an E7 with a flat 9 and flat 13.

* * * *

Think about this stuff as “shapes” rather than specific notes and chords that have be inverted. It’s much easier to work with it all like that. Steve Coleman more or less says the same thing in his essay. If you get the Barry Harris workshop videos, you’ll find he pretty much reduces everything to a 6th chord (major 6th or minor 6th) and then show how to put those on top of different roots to get whatever chord you might need.

But watch him explain this stuff in isolated videos on YouTube and it may make no sense whatsoever! You really do need the step-by-step explanation he gives in his Workshop video series.

And lastly, lastly, are there other ways to look at this stuff? OF COURSE THERE ARE! That place where ZeroZero began is a beginning. And there are a million jazz theory books that explain this stuff in a completely different way. All I’ve done here is to put it into the historical context that’s documented in SC’s essay and Dizzy Gillespie’s autobiography.

There is a lot more one could say about this stuff but it never ends!! Hope this is helpful!! And back to ZeroZero, what you discovered now your own with your ear is as good if not better than any theoretical explanation! Because now you have your own way to work with this stuff!!!! smile
Posted By: ZeroZero Re: Delicious chord - 08/18/19 02:41 PM
Will take me a while to digest the above, but I shall try. Also the half diminished is of course the ii of a minor ii V i - that's the locrian role again, it's also the first inversion of a Dominant 7, 9 chord.
What puzzles me is that it subs so nicely for a V chord especially if the top C is sounded on the 1 chord
. It works as the first inversion of a V chord, but its not that special inm that role.
Posted By: Mark Polishook Re: Delicious chord - 08/18/19 03:13 PM
ZeroZero, I know the above is dense. If you have questions because I explained something too ambiguously, just let me know. Something else about that chord we’re calling the half-diminished is Charlie Parker freely substituted it for just a regular minor seventh chord. For him, both chords where equivalent. Barry Harris explains this because part of his method, so to speak, is there is no such thing as a ii7 chord or a ii-7b5 chord. All there is are dominant chords with different scales that apply depending upon what you want to emphasise in the chord.

But, still, with all those words and theory behind this stuff, it sounds like you came across it by ear. THAT’s how jazz evolved too and that’s how the players I mentioned got to this stuff (or how it was explained to them by others who had found it).

If you really follow this through to the end you find that major and minor sixth chords that fall over dominant seventh chords (you’ve already found one example) can also move around by minor thirds. So, for example, I had a teacher (who recorded with Charlie Parker so he knew the idiom) who had me practice

D minor 7 to G7 to C major 7.

But he’s also have me practice

F minor 7 to Bb7 to C major 7. Some in jazz call that the back door dominant!

He’s also have me practice

Ab-7 to Db7 to C maj 7 (that’s just putting the ii chord before a dominant flat 5 substitution.

And he’d have me practice

B-7b5 to E7 to C major 7. That particular one can seem very non-intuitive. But if you look at Confirmation by Charlie Parker you can see how he uses it in the first two measures. .... Just play the melody without the underlying chords in the lead sheet.

Of course, all above was in 12 keys. And my teacher didn’t tell me WHY I was practicing it. It wasn’t until after I had studied with a bunch of other teachers and had some bandstand experience that HOW to use that stuff became apparent.

It’s also how the be-bop players often managed to ended up with things like (bottom to top)

G B D# F# -to- G B D F -to- C B C E

For that one begin with the G an octave lower (so that it forms a 10th against the B).

Anyway, you discovered it with your ear! I just added some more (hopefully not too much!) context. And to be sure, you can find the same stuff elsewhere described differently. I just prefer BH’s method because it leads from very simple to as complex as you want it to be, all in a very easy and direct way. (My opinion ..... smile
Posted By: ZeroZero Re: Delicious chord - 08/19/19 09:33 AM
OK. I have read the above. With respect and a smile, I think we are different kinds of players. I also play sax. I am a Getz fan and not a Parker fan or fan of Bepop. I find Parker too busy and too intellectual, academic, lacking in grace,its almost as if you need a calculator to listen to him, not my style at all, or bepop. I don't think he touches the soul and there is hardly any space or silence - he reminds me of traffic jams and migraines. Getz on the other hand floats like a damsel fly, on a summer pond. Like Lester Young he worked from the melody. His lines were created in the heart not the technical manual of all possibilities.

I am also a huge fan of simplicity. One of my teachers once said to me, "a single note is a huge thing", It's in the delivery, trhe nuance and the presence of the note.

As you know musical concepts are like lego blocks, simple bricks are much more useful that complex structrures. From simple bricks wonderful architecture can be built. I am always re-visiting simplicity, its like a magic well. All the above explanations although I understood them, were making simple stuff complex, yes they are plausible, but when I improvise I hardly every use complex lines, complex lines are built on simple structures and they do arrive in my playing, but from simple roots. If I discover an extra note, I can convert this into so many worlds of sound, I study it, sometimes for days.

I found the "back door dominant" cool, will take a look at that. {Aside: I have a new Roland RD2000 arriving today in my studio, so I might be a while - replaces my 700NX).

I am not saying any of what you said was wrong. I am saying when I go on a journey I need to travel light. I can't bring along the three piece suite and the full canteen of cutlery all the sacucepans etc. This would just bog me down am=nd make exploration of my surroundings impossible

If you have further simple suggestions about where the chord could go to, I would like to hear them. I respect that you know your stuff , I will check out the text some more. Try the examples

Thank you Z
Posted By: Nahum Re: Delicious chord - 08/19/19 11:29 AM
Originally Posted by ZeroZero

I am also a huge fan of simplicity. One of my teachers once said to me, "a single note is a huge thing", It's in the delivery, trhe nuance and the presence of the note.

The simplicity of a single note is deceptive. Here is a comparison of Bird's and Hawk's playing , duration less than 3.5 seconds, also on slow motion. Parker plays 38 notes = 38 pitches; Hawkins - 3 notes, 28 pitches.

Posted By: Mark Polishook Re: Delicious chord - 08/19/19 12:41 PM
Originally Posted by ZeroZero
OK. I have read the above. With respect and a smile, I think we are different kinds of players.

Thank you Z

ZeroZero, take what’s useful and throw out the rest. Or save it for a rainy day. Or just leave it hanging and don’t even bother to throw it out!!

What ironic is all that dense stuff is stuff can be used as simply or with complexity. Including ironing complexity into one single note and therefor back to simplicity. So “traveling light” is a pretty good way to go smile .... and a good phrase too ....
Posted By: Nahum Re: Delicious chord - 08/20/19 10:20 AM
Originally Posted by ZeroZero
Just discovered this one! It's a simple half diminished chord. .. What's so special about this?

The function of this chord in Gentle Rain I defined as a “wrinkled tonic” or “wrinkled minor ” . Very unusual! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PuYxt2tCAA
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