Triad Textures

January 1, 0001
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Want to add some bite and spice to your voicings? Look to upper structure triads for the uplifting effects you desire. As the name implies, an upper structure triad (UST) is simply a triad placed over another chord with a different root. Some of the hippest sounding voicings have USTs at their core. These triads are usually major or minor, and are normally used over dominant seventh chords. This is not exclusive, as USTs can go over major and minor chords as well. Although the ear can extract the triad from the underlying chord, the UST blends into the harmony seamlessly, and creates colors and tensions which add depth to the voicing or line

Click the thumbnails for larger music staff examples.


/uploadedImages/keyboardmagazine/KB0110_Play_Jazz_Ex-1.jpgMAJOR TRIADS OVER DOMINANT SEVENTH CHORDS

a) Dmaj triad over C7 creates C7#11, a dominant seventh alteration that doesn’t necessarily resolve to a tonic.

b) Ebmaj triad over C7 creates a C7#9, a dominant seventh alteration that often resolves to a tonic minor.

c) Gb major triad over C7 creates C7b9#11.

d) Abmaj triad over C7 creates a C7#9b13 (C7alt), a dominant seventh alteration that often resolves to a tonic minor.

e) Amaj triad over C7 creates C7b9, a dominant seventh alteration that often resolves to a tonic minor.

f) Fmaj triad over C7 creates C7sus4; notice the sus4 in the left hand as well.

 g) Bbmaj triad over C7 creates C7sus4, too. h) Dbmaj triad over C7 creates C7sus4b9.

/uploadedImages/keyboardmagazine/KB0110_Play_Jazz_Ex-2.jpgMINOR TRIADS OVER DOMINANT SEVENTH CHORDS

a) C#m triad over C7 creates C7b9#5.

b) Ebm triad over C7 creates C7#9#11, a dominant seventh alteration that often resolves to a tonic minor.

c) F#m triad over C7 creates C7b9#11, a dominant seventh alteration that often resolves to a tonic minor; it has a slightly richer sound than the F#maj triad, due to the natural 13.

d) Am triad over C7 creates C13.

e) Gm triad over C7 creates C7sus4.

f) Dm triad over C7 creates C7sus4.

g) Bbm triad over C7 creates C7sus4b9.

/uploadedImages/keyboardmagazine/KB0110_Play_Jazz_Ex-3.jpgMAJOR AND MINOR TRIADS OVER MAJOR SEVENTH CHORDS

 

a) Dmaj triad over Cmaj7 creates Cmaj7#4, which can substitute for a major seventh chord.

b) Emaj triad over Cmaj7 creates Cmaj7#5, which can serve the same purpose.

c) Gmaj triad over Cmaj7 creates Cmaj9.

d) Fmaj triad over Cmaj7 creates Cmaj7sus4. This dissonant sound, which contains the “avoid” note of the fourth is not usually found in standard tunes; John Coltrane used this to good effect to create tension.

e) Bmaj triad over Cmaj7 creates Cdim(maj7). This diminished chord can be used to delay resolution to a major tonic.

f) Em triad over Cmaj7 keeps the chord Cmaj7.

g) Am triad over Cmaj7 creates Cmaj7 (with a 6th).

/uploadedImages/keyboardmagazine/KB0110_Play_Jazz_Ex-4.jpgMAJOR TRIADS OVER MINOR SEVENTH CHORDS

a) Ebmaj triad over Cm7 keeps the chord Cm7.

b) Fmaj triad over Cm7 creates Cm11, one of the prettiest chord qualities in jazz.

c) Abmaj triad over Cm7 creates Cmb6; the b6 replaces the third and seventh in the left-hand voicing.

d) Bbmaj triad over Cm7 also creates Cm11.

e) Gbmaj triad over Cm7 creates Cm7b5b9. This is an easy way to create the half diminished sound.

 


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