This month Martin Goulding begins a new mini-series exploring extended harmony. In his first article he investigates the major 7, 9 and 13.
Welcome to this month’s column on developing fretboard fluency, with the first in a four-part series exploring extended harmony. Starting off with our basic tonic major 7 chord, we’ll work through the major 9 and major 13 forms arranged in five shapes. We’ll then study two approaches for creating extended arpeggios: the first – simply adding the triad from the next consecutive scale degree to our basic major 7 arpeggio; and the second – superimposing other arpeggios from the key. In addition to our extended chords and arpeggios, we’ll also be looking at some of the other common four-note forms such as the major add 9 and major 6th, which we can use to add colour to the basic tonic chord tonality. Throughout the lesson, we’ll be focusing on a range of ideas that we can apply to our arpeggio forms, including the use of chromatic enclosures, extended range shapes and sequences.
On all arpeggio-based examples, we’ll be using our usual legato approach, which combines hammer-ons and pull-offs with sweep strokes for a smooth and even tone. As well as picking lightly and hammering down firmly and from a height, the quality of your execution will also depend on effective use of muting, so follow the rule that the first finger on the fretting hand mutes the lower adjacent string, while the picking hand palm mutes off any unattended strings beneath the fingers.
The diagram opposite gives an overview of our standard G major 7 chord, along with G major 9 and G major 13 arranged across the fretboard in five shapes. The theoretically possible G major 11 is not generally used, as the 4th (11th) – which is a semitone higher than the 3rd in the chord, is considered dissonant. The major 9 can be heard in many contemporary jazz and rock styles, whereas the major 13 is predominantly used in jazz, due to its fully extended and more sophisticated sound. The intervals of our major 13 chord, with all the consecutive 3rds included, give us the formula: R-3-5-7-9-11-13. With too many notes in this formula for us to be able to play all at once, we’ll omit certain notes to arrive at a voicing.
The 11th is our ‘avoid’ note and is therefore omitted. The 5th degree, which functions primarily to support the root note is often left out, as well as the 9th degree. The most important intervals that define the sound of the major 13 chord are root, 3rd, 7th and 13th.
Work through these root based maj7 ideas slowly until memorised, before practicing over this month’s backing track. Remember that the muting techniques described are vital to this style, so make sure you give them their own practice time if they are not familiar.
Next time we’ll look at extended ideas based around the ii minor 7 tonal centre.
NEXT MONTH Martin looks at more fretboard navigation, introducing more extensions
Jim Hall was a master at using extended chords in his playing