Voice Leading with Dominant Chords

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Albert Hart
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Voice Leading with Dominant Chords

Post by Albert Hart »

I am working on a comping style - for playing along with a singer or instrument - playing chords in my right hand, but moving the hand as little as possible by using inversions.

For instance, when moving from Em7 in first inversion in my right hand (G B D E) to Cmaj - I try to go to (G C E) to keep the G and the E in the same "voices" (amd fingers).

One case my piano teacher keeps suggesting is when moving from a dominant 7th chord like G7, (G B D F) to the tonic chord C, (C E G), I should try to make the tritone in the dominant seventh chord (B and F) resolve well to C and E. The B moving up in the same voice and the F moving down.

So, if the G7 happens to be in root position - G B D F - the F should resolve down to E and the B up to C - leading to G C E - 2nd inversion - for the C chord. And also keeps the G in the same finger.

This works well for all inversions:

G B D F --> G C E
B D F G --> C E G
D F G B --> E G C
F G B D --> E G C

Where I get confused is when G7, (G B D F), is resolving to Cmaj7 (C E G B) which contains an B already. It is very tempting to leave the B in the same finger. What would you do with the various inversions of the G7 to a Cmaj7?

G7. Cmaj7
G B D F --> G B C E or B C E G
B D F G --> B C E G or C E G B
D F G B --> C E G B. or E G B C
F G B D --> E G B C or G B C E

If you haven't thought about this much, you might try playing the two choices at the piano - with a G and C in the left hand - to see which sounds best.

rondrotos
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Re: Voice Leading with Dominant Chords

Post by rondrotos »

Good line of thinking here, Al!

This question used to perplex me too, until I realized that in jazz, the B in a G7 chord can stay on the B in the Cmaj7 chord. At first it sounded a little strange to me, but then I started to hear it as a beautiful facet of jazz harmony.

Therandyman
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Re: Voice Leading with Dominant Chords

Post by Therandyman »

First, thanks for starting this forum. I am excited to see what happens with it.

As to the topic at hand, I’ll try to fashion a reply to get the discussion started. I am reminded that in moving from a minor 7 chord to a dominant 7 (ii, V) one only need lower the flat 7 in the -7 chord by a half step to get a nicely voiced dominant 7 chord, regardless of the voicing. This, going from D-7 (Root position, D, F, A, C) to G7 (third inversion, D, F, A, B) yields 5, 7, 9, 3.

In my Berklee Jazz piano class we were taught to change the root of a Major 7 chord to a 9. (Perhaps they assume everyone has a bass player available!). From the previous G7, just move the two inside fingers to E and G, and keep the D and B. That makes the C Maj 7 chord in your example become a 9, 3, 5, 7 chord (D, E, G, B). My jazz teacher says that it is perfectly acceptable to play a Maj 7 chord with 9 on the bottom—thus the same result, 9, 3, 5, 7. Because you are playing chords in the right hand, I assume you are playing the root in the left hand.

That is an “easy” way for me to do a ii, V, I progression.

Thanks again for administering the forum!

Albert Hart
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Re: Voice Leading with Dominant Chords

Post by Albert Hart »

Therandyman, thanks for the thoughts.

I spent some time about 6 months ago raising the root to the ninth in the right hand for all chords with a 7th (or 9th or whatever) in the chord signature. Since I am basically playing just the chord root in the left hand, I suspect I should just plan on doing this most the time. (Since I would prefer to be playing these 9ths in the right hand)

Let's make this a more defined example - I ii7 V7 IM7. with the V7 in "root" position. in the key of C.

Then I would have: (adding 9ths to all 7ths)

I /2 (5, 1, 3) G C E
ii7 /2 (5 7 9 3) A C E F
V7 /R (9, 3, 5, 7) A B D F
IM7 /2 (5, 7, 9, 3) G B D E

It looks like this eliminates the "resolve B to C" possibility in the dominant seventh chord since we aren't playing the C in the IM7 chord.

So I'll try to return to using 9ths in the right hand more and make this a mute point)

Stevierex
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Post by Stevierex »

I hope you dont mind if I jump ahead a little but I read something in RKs book that has puzzled me. He states that the bass of a dominant chord should never be doubled in any of the upper parts. He adds that this applies to other chords of the seventh and diminished chords also . Can you explain the reasoning behind this rule? Thank you very much

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HermanBub
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Post by HermanBub »

Id like to qualify this answer a bit.

RKs rule about not doubling the 7th in the bass is one example of a larger principle: Some notes, e.g. 7ths and leading tones, have strong tendancies to resolve in specific ways call them active tones and others are more neutral. Doublings of active tones in general need careful handling because they create strong colors. Reinforcing them with octaves makes them even more noticeable. Also there is the problem of resolution: one of the doublings is likely to go the wrong way, to avoid awkward, momentary parallel octaves.

When in the bass, a seventh, a leading tone, or any active tone doubled in the upper parts is particularly noticeable, simply because the octave doublings of fundamentals in the low register reinforce that note even more strongly, and can distort the chords balance.

Obviously this applies to tonal harmony, and needs re-thinking in non-tonal contexts.

Btw: Bb,C,E,G is the THIRD inversion, not the second inversion of the chord.

Alan Belkin

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Post by Sidneycok »

arent you giong a bit over your head? now that youve gotten into 1 episode of bs....
o well im not the voice actor tho every one says my voice can reach unnaturally high pitches

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wangmagnet
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Re: Voice Leading with Dominant Chords

Post by wangmagnet »

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