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JAZZ THEORY (BeBop Drills)

The Jazz Dominant Chord - V7

The chord which gives BeBop harmonic progressions their greatest forward momentum is the dominant chord. Built originally from the 5th degree of a major scale, this seventh chord is used to resolve to any number of targets, especially those either one step forward through the cycle of fifths, or down a half step. With its related 11-7 preceding, it is the most common occurrence in jazz harmony. We will refer to it as the V7 when resolving through the cycle of fifths, or subV7 when resolving down by half step.

Because of its function as a chord of tension, the V7 accepts more dissonance than any other chord. Flat 9, natural 9 and sharp 9 are all dominant tensions, as are sharp 11, flat 13 and natural 13. Natural 9 is used singularly, while b9 and #9 are often combined in lines and scales, and one 13 excludes the other, although movement from natural to flat 13 is not uncommon. We will use C7, the primary dominant of F major, as our example. The chord tones C - E - G - Bb [1-3-5-7] extend to the tensions Db - D - D# -F# - Ab - A [b9-9-#9-#ll-bl3-13].

To perform the drills, first fix the tonal center of the chord in your consciousness by playing or singing the root (C in our example). Next find the lowest possible chord tone or tension and ascend, as in 1-3-5-b7-b9-9-#9-#l 1-M3-13-1 etc. (C - E - G - Bb - Db - D - D# - F# - Ab - A - C - etc., for C7). Once you have reached the highest point possible, descend in the reverse order to your starting point. Then find the chord tone or tension in between the first two notes you played, and ascend and descend in the same fashion. Play each dominant seventh chord this way through the cycle of fifths [C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, F#, B, E, A, D, Gj. String players should do this exercise one string at a time, piano players use two hands in octaves, and both can sing or hum the root for the duration of the drill for that chord.

The quantity and density of the dominant tensions can take a little getting used to, but you will find it well worth your while when you begin hearing the expanded musical possibilities in your imagination. Many chromatic lines can be created by introducing connections with tensions on dominant chords. Experiment with familiar chord progressions, and as always, use your ears and happy drilling! [top]
- Frank Singer 2002

I originally learned these concepts from Charlie Banacos, private instructor.

 

BACK TO THEORY DEN

CONTENTS
The Language of BeBop
The Use of Tensions 1
The Use of Tensions 2 
The Use of Tensions 3 
The Jazz Sub-Dominant Chord - II-7 
The Jazz Dominant Chord - V7  
The II-7 V7 Progression - II V series  
The Key of the Moment  
"Watch out for those chromatics!"    
Ear Training  

 

 

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