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How Chord Extensions Work

Understanding Chord Extensions and Chromatic Harmony

Are you a jazz musician looking to take your skills to the next level? In this short clip from one of my video lessons, I'll show you how to use chromatic harmony to add flavor and depth to your playing.

But first, let's talk about the chords. We're essentially dealing with a ii-V-I progression, but it starts on the one. So, we have a I-ii-V pattern. The first chord is Fmi7, followed by Fmi7/Ab (which is just an inversion to give the bass player something to do). Then, we have a II7(b9) chord. Finally, instead of a regular V chord, we have a V+(b9)

Now, let's talk about the extensions. They don't change the function of the chord, but they add some strong flavors. For example, the fourth chord in the solo sequence is C+7(b9). The + symbol tells us it has an augmented fifth, and the b9 adds another extension. We end up with a chord with a major third, sharp five, flat seven, and flat nine. This gives us a lot of flavor without changing the function of the chord.

It's worth noting that this isn't a blues, but it has a bluesy sound. The chords move quickly, so we need to think more horizontally with the harmony. This means we can't play an entire scale for every chord. Instead, we need to focus on the extensions and the chromatic harmony.

The good news is that you can still blow over the top of this progression with the blues scale. The chords are passing by quickly, so you don't need to hit all the extensions. They're giving the backing a rich, strong flavor, but they're not the main focus of the solo.

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