In The Wood­shed

This month Char­lie Grif­fiths takes a peek through the pur­ple haze to see what we can learn from ‘be­yond the Hen­drix chord’.

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON IN THE WOODSHED -

The most com­mon fin­ger­ing for the 7#9 chord is the one with the sec­ond fin­ger play­ing the root note on the fifth-string, 7th fret. But Ex­am­ple 1 shows how you can ap­ply the notes to five po­si­tions on the neck, or in a CAGED ar­range­ment. The chord is es­sen­tially a reg­u­lar dom­i­nant 7th (1-3-5- b7) with an added #9 in­ter­val. ‘Sharp 9’ is an­other way of say­ing ‘mi­nor 3rd’, so in fact the chord con­tains both a ma­jor and a mi­nor 3rd, which in­her­ently has a dis­so­nance, but a fa­mil­iar one as blues mu­sic has played with this ma­jormi­nor am­bi­gu­ity for nigh-on 100 years. Play through the five shapes and try nam­ing the notes and in­ter­vals as you go as this will help you put the shapes into con­text. Ex­am­ple 2 demon­strates the most com­mon voic­ing for the chord with a Ge­orge Har­ri­son ‘Beatles’ in­spired riff. This shows how the #9 in­ter­val can be added to a static dom­i­nant riff in or­der to add some ex­tra spice with a cool sound­ing in­ter­val.

The chord also has roots in jazz mu­sic and is a com­mon ‘al­tered’ chord. When­ever a dom­i­nant chord is used as a func­tion­ing V chord, you can add al­ter­ations to it. Two al­ter­ations are the b9 and #9. Ex­am­ple 3 demon­strates the A7 chord as a ‘func­tion­ing’ V chord as it is re­solv­ing to a chord a 4th higher (or a 5th lower), in the con­text of a mi­nor IIm-V-Im pro­gres­sion. To add some b9 ex­tra dis­so­nance we have used both the b9 and #9 in­ter­vals in this ex­am­ple, to make the res­o­lu­tion all the more ef­fec­tive.

The name ‘al­tered’ refers to the Al­tered scale, which has the in­ter­vals 1-b2-b3-3-b5-#5 b7); which is es­sen­tially a dom­i­nant 7th with all the al­tered notes added (b9 #9, and #5). This scale is also known as Su­per­locrian mode and is a sound used a lot in fu­sion mu­sic by play­ers like Scott Hen­der­son and Robben Ford. Ex­am­ple 4 shows a cool fu­sion-blues style riff based around the E Su­per­locrian mode, with two dif­fer­ent E7#9 chord shapes in­cluded.

Fi­nally, we look at a more re­laxed ex­am­ple in­spired by Dave Gil­mour. Here we are in the key of E mi­nor, or E Ae­o­lian mode. In this key the al­tered dom­i­nant chord is D and, as we can hear, the al­tered b9 and #9

Eb in­ter­vals ( and F re­spec­tively) work very well in this con­text too.

NEXT MONTH Char­lie looks at us­ing the waltz flavoured 3/4 time sig­na­ture in rock

shar p 9 is an other way of say­ing min or 3rd so in fact the 7#9 chord con­tain s both ma­jor an d min or 3rd

On Pur­ple Haze Jimi ac­tu­ally played the 7#9 at the open po­si­tion

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