Monday, 30 April 2012

3rds and 7ths in Jazz

Thirds and Sevenths in Jazz

The thing about learning jazz and its theory, its all numbers! I had a pupil about 10 years ago that said when he was driving home after a lesson, his head was buzzing with thirds, fourths, 9ths, 13ths............all these numbers were flying around in his head! I have some sympathy, music theory can sometimes seem to involve endless arithmetic (goodness knows how a mathematician survives all the figures he has to work with!).

Mind you, its better than the old days when the positions of notes in the major scale were called Tonic, Supertonic, Mediant, Subdominant, Dominant, Submediant and Leading Note!

Even singers have (since the Sound of Music!!) Doh Ray Me Fah So Lah Te (Doh)

Us jazzers just say One Two Three or First Second Third etc - simples!

So what about Thirds and Sevenths?  Well now we're talking voicing of chords, which again is different from the positions of notes in the major scale.

If you look back at the chords of the major scale posting, you'll see that the four note chord based on the 5th note of the major scale (numbers, numbers I hear you cry!)  you'll see you have a seventh chord (eg G7 in the key of C) the seventh refered to here is short for dominant seventh.

If you play just the third and the seventh of the chord (the B and the F in G7) you'll get the flavour or the essence of the chord.

Jazzers use the 3rd and 7th of chords all the time to suggest the chords that being played.

Numbers numbers!  To start making sense go on a jazz workshop and the whole thing will begin to come into focus.

Happy Jazzing

Peter Willson

Butlers Jazz Workshop, France August 13th -17th 2012

Ring 01323 833770 (UK)
+44 1323 833770 (International)

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