Chord ranger Iain Scott goes off the beaten 7b5 track with a look at Dominant and 7#5 chords, applying them to various styles for a different feel.
Welcome to this issue’s instalment of Chord Camp. As you expand your chord vocabulary you will find some chords are described as ‘altered’. These are chords that have specific notes changed from their basic formulae. Let’s start by looking at one of the most common and useful families: dominant 7th chords, and the ‘alterations’ of the 5th degree, the dominant 7th chord with a diminished (or flattened) 5th and the dominant 7th with an augmented (or sharpened) 5th. To clarify, the description ‘altered’ is being applied to specific notes (here the 5th) within the chord, not to the overall chord itself (ie: it’s not a 5 chord that’s being ‘altered’). This is another topic that will be discussed properly later on. Let’s kick off this month’s lesson with a recap on the Dominant 7th chord shapes and 7b5 then learn and 7#5 ‘altered chord’, four-note voicings across the fretboard following CAGED shapes. The examples will then show typical usage of the more common shapes you are likely to encounter, or find useful in your day-to-day playing.