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Help with Guide Tones

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,390
Can anyone help me to improve my understanding of using guide tones ?

I think that identifying and using the 3rd and 7th of each chord of the harmony is key.

But what note would I use as the 7th for a C chord (as opposed to Cmaj7) ?

And what would be the guide tones for chords such as: C6 or C6/9 ?

And what about Csus4 ?

Thanks

Rhys (confused)
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Can anyone help me to improve my understanding of using guide tones ?

I think that identifying and using the 3rd and 7th of each chord of the harmony is key.

But what note would I use as the 7th for a C chord (as opposed to Cmaj7) ?
I'm pretty new to this so better take anything I say with a large grain of salt, but as far as I understand it...

A C chord doesn't have a 7th (it does have a 3rd though, obviously). If we're talking about an older, "trad", tune the 6th will sound fine as an extra chord tone (ie play it as a C6 --the 6 is part of the pentatonic scale) but I don't know if you'd want to use it as a guide tone. For a more modern sound you could create some tension by chucking the major 7 in anyway. I suppose the answer, as always, is try it and see what happens.

And what would be the guide tones for chords such as: C6 or C6/9 ?
Well if the the 6 is specified as part of the chord the I would think that would make a useful guide tone as it helps to bring out the sound that's being called for (unlike the root or 5th which tend to be a bit bland).
For C6/9 I probably wouldn't bother with the 9 (ie D) much as it should already be there in the bass.

And what about Csus4 ?
For a C sus4, you could use the 4 instead of the 3, as that's the note that defines the quality of the chord.


Thanks

Rhys (confused)
Hope I made some kind of sense. Like I said, I suppose the real answer is to try stuff and see what it sounds like, preferably by recording yourself and playing it back.
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Can anyone help me to improve my understanding of using guide tones ?

I think that identifying and using the 3rd and 7th of each chord of the harmony is key.

But what note would I use as the 7th for a C chord (as opposed to Cmaj7) ?

And what would be the guide tones for chords such as: C6 or C6/9 ?

And what about Csus4 ?

Thanks

Rhys (confused)
First of all, the following is assumed to be entirely within a jazz standards context.

Yes, 3rd and 7th are key. The way I was taught and still find useful is that those two define the chord, everything else is just color tones. (excepting altered 5ths, those are always important but less common so we'll ignore for now).

In cases of major chords, it's really not as important where you go from there, as how you get there. These are usually static chords, resting points. Music is tension-release, and inusing guide tones to build lines is to give your lines forward motion through the dominant-tonic cadences (5-1), or subdominant-dominant-tonic cadences (2-5-1). So which part of the Major chord you resolve to depends on where you've come from. e.g., F on a G7 resolves down to E on the C. B on the G7 resolves up to the C. Sure, you can hang on the Major 7th for color, but it sounds like a suspension, it still wants to resolve somewhere. So use your ears and ask 'where is this going?'. Your ears are always right.

sus4 chords are also pretty static. They don't move strongly in a direction, and rarely serve a dominant function because of this. But yeah, 7th and 4th in the odd case where you find them in the middle of changes, but I can't think of anyone offhand who likes to do that.

Do you have a piano? If not get one. Any piano, even a cheap electronic one. No better tool for working on understanding chord progressions than a piano. Also, if you have band in a box or something like that program a 2-5-1 loop and play various guide tone lines over it and hear what works best to your ear.

hth
Morgan
 
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