Song 18

  1. Chord Plurality
  2. Applications
  3. Sweet Talk
  4. Phrasing : Non-stop Quavers
  5. Practice : IIø - V7 - Im7 modes
  6. Session Materials


Song | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | ?? |

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S 18.1 Chord Plurality

Consider the notes C, E and G.
Together these three notes form one single chord with one unique quality : the C major triad : C E G

However when a fourth note, Bb, is added the situation changes.
These four notes now form three different chords

  • C E G = C major triad

  • E G Bb = E diminished triad

  • C E G Bb = C dominant 7th chord

This aspect, where different chord qualities are present within one large chord, is called chord plurality.

A chord and its related scale (or mode) are different expressions of one and the same tonality.
The scale or mode is a horizontal expression, the chord is a vertical expression of that tonality.The complete chord contains, like the scale, all the notes that constitute the tonality.

The complete Cm13 chord for example, contains the same notes as the C Dorian mode.

Audio 18.1

The complete Cm13 chord structure contains a large collection of smaller chords of minor and major qualities. These are the pluralities of the Cm13 chord.

Audio 18.2

The complete major chord always contains a sharp 11th (the natural 11th sounds horrible). This chord is therefore the vertical expression of the Lydian mode tonality.
The complete (Cmaj13#11) major chord structure again contains a large number of pluralities of both major and minor qualities.

Audio 18.3 - Audio 18.4

The complete dominant chord also usually contains a sharp 11th, rather than the natural 11th. The dominant chord is therefore the vertical expression of the Lydian Dominant scale tonality.
The complete (C13#11) dominant chord structure contains a large number of pluralities of various chord qualities.

Audio 18.5 - Audio 18.6

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S 18.2 Applications of Chord Plurality

Chord plurality plays an important part in Jazz music in several ways.

1. Chord Progressions
Any chord has a plurality link with a chord a 3rd higher and lower. This facilitates quite natural steps a 3rd up or down from one chord to the next in a chord progression.

  • Cmaj7 ----> Em7

  • Cmaj7 ----> Am7

  • Cm7 ----> Ebmaj7

The second chord need not even be a complete plurality member,
but can change quality, creating an additional surprise :

  • Cmaj7 ----> E7

  • Cmaj7 ----> A7

  • Cm7 ----> Ebm7

2. Keyboard Voicings
Modern Jazz pianists commonly use pluralities based on the 3rd of the mother chord as chord substitutions.
The substitute voicing does not contain the root of the mother chord (played by the bass) but includes the essential chord tones 3 and 7, creating a more open interesting sound.

The bass and/or melody will suggest to the ear that the notes E and B in the Em7 voicing function as 3rd and 7th of an Cmaj9 chord, and not as root and 5th of an Em7 chord.

Plurality also forms the basis for so-called polychords, where one complex chord is split up into two simple chords. The polychord is written as a fraction with one chord on top of the other.
For example D/Cmaj7 (D triad played over Cmaj7) is really a Cmaj13#11 : C E G B - D F# A

3. Improvisation
Arpeggiated passages of a plurality can produce very fresh interesting effects. It can be used within a solo or as a colourful ending over the final chord.

  1. In Example 1 below an arpeggio is played over a C7 (or C major triad) to produce C9.

  2. In Example 2 a G minor triad arpeggio is played over a C minor chord to produce Cm9.

  3. In Example 3 a G major 7th arpeggio is played over C major chord to produce Cmaj9#11.

Audio 18.7

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S 18.3 Sweet Talk

Sweet Talk is a 32 bar song in G minor. The format can be described as A B A B.
The chord progression is identical (but in a different key) to the one of the Latin standard Blue Bossa (in C minor) by Kenny Durham.
Blue Bossa is only 16 bars long. In Sweet Talk the 16 bars progression is repeated.

The progression's main features are two IIø - V7 - Im segments in G minor in the 2nd and 4th line, separated by a IIm7 - V7 - Imaj7 in Ab major in line 3.

Audio 18.8 - Melody

Gm Gm Cm7 Cm7












Note the intervals of a 3rd connecting the last chord in line 1 (Cm7) with the first chord in line 2 (Aø), and another 3rd connecting the last chord in line 2 (Gm) with the first chord in line 3 (Bbm7).

Note also the transition from Abmaj7 (Ab C Eb G) at the end of line 3 to Aø (A C Eb G) at the beginning of line 4. Both chords share three of their chord tones. They have one of their pluralities, Cm (C Eb G) in common.

For improvisation use the following scales :

Audio 18.9

Included in this session two tracks swapping fours on the
Sweet Talk chord progression.

  • On Sweet Talk 1 - I play the first 4 bar phrase, you play the next 4 bar phrase, I play the following 4 bars, you again the next and so on.

  • On Sweet Talk 2 - You play the first 4 bar phrase, I play the next 4 bar phrase, You play the following 4 bars, I again the next and so on.

  • On Sweet Talk 3 - you can listen to the combined result, where I play the entire solo.

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S 18.4 - Phrasing : Non-stop Quavers

Try to play non-stop quavers over a whole chorus of Sweet Talk. Demo : Audio 18.10

  1. Use only notes from the appropriate modes : C instruments - Bb instruments - Eb instruments

  2. Do not stop until you get to the end of the chorus.

  3. Wind instruments may take a 1 beat rest when they need to breath.

This is a excellent practice routine to really get to know the scales to use over a song. It is a good idea to use this as preparation for all the songs in your repertoire.
I have included a Slow Play-a-Long track (MM = 100) with which you can start, as it is by no means easy to do.

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S 18.5 - Practice : IIø - V7 - Im7 modes

Practise the following modes over the IIø - V7 - Im7 chord progression in all twelve keys.

Audio 18.11

Included are two play-a-long tracks.

  1. One track plays each progression once in each key (1x4 bars)

  2. The other track plays each progression twice in each key (2x4 bars)

The tracks start on the progression in the key of C minor (shown above). Following progressions are in Circle of 5ths order.

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S 18.6 - Session Materials

ItemMidi fileSheet music
Sweet TalkDemo P-a-L C instr.Bb instr.Eb instr.
Scales for ImprovisationDemo P-a-L C instr.Bb instr.Eb instr.
Easy Key for C instr. (Am)E-PalBb instr.
Slow track (MM = 100)Sl- Pal
Swapping 4sSweet Talk 1Sweet Talk 2
Sweet Talk 3 (Demo)
IIø-V7-Im7 modes4 bars each8 bar eachp.1p.2
IIø-V7-Im7 Chord Progr.p.1

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© 2003 Michael Furstner (Jazclass)