Monday, November 1, 2010
Posted by Hal Rodriguez | at 11:47 PM
You might think of a dominant 7 chord as bluesy or funky, but inside its heart lurks an evil sounding tonality that can take your compositions to new places. Consider an F7 chord whose R, 3, 5, and b7 in that order are F, A, C, and Eb. Let's start with a simple inversion by changing the root to Eb. Now if you omit the fifth (C) you'll be left with only the 3rd (A) and 7th (Eb). This is basically an ominous b5 interval that can be considered as a D#(b5) chord (see the chord diagram in measure 1). The advantage of trimming down the F7 into just its 3rd and 7th, is that you still get the essential sound of the chord, but can now liberally imply other minor intervals around it. In fact, if you add all other possible flatted notes, you create the Locrian mode (1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7) (measure 1). Your F7 has now transformed into its evil Hyde counter part – a D#(b5) chord that readily embraces the dark sounding Locrian scale.
Let's see this in action: measures 2 to 3 above demonstrate a typical happy I - V blues progression going from F7 to C7 with equally happy mixolydian licks running through them. However, instead of returning to F7 in measure 4, I substitute in the D#b5 chord and sneak in the Locrian scale. This helps my solo finish with a spooky touch and ultimately avoids predictability. Think of this substitution as a way of opening up darker sounding possibilities in any chord progressions you’ve composed that contain dominant chords. Follow me on Twitter @halwit and on youtube.com/halromusic for more lessons and transcriptions!