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Simply put, these are chords that contain tones beyond the 7th. Examples of extended chords would be the 9ths (9ths are equivalent to the second), 11ths (11ths are equivalent to the 4th), and 13ths (13ths are equivalent to the 6th). You may ask why there aren't 15ths and so forth. Well, since chords are structured in 3rds, the 15th is really just an octave (In the key of C Major - 1st: C, 3rd: E, 5th: G, 7th: B, 9th: D, 11th: F, 13th: A, 15th: C and we've come full circle). These chords have a more complex harmony, so naturally they are very well suited for jazz, but they can also be substituted fairly easily for simpler chords. Here's a brief guideline for supplanting or substituting extended chords for basic 7th chords:
See the pattern? This can also be used to reduce extended chords to basic ones.
Altered chords include both basic and extended chords that have had one degree raised or lowered chromatically. A few examples would be the 7#9, 7b5, and 9#5. Often times these chords are used to facilitate voice leading, usually chromatically. Here's one such example:
See how the D9(#5) smoothens the resolution to E minor chromatically?
Here's another example, of how extended chords can add tension and interest to a chord progression:
Also take note of how altered chords can be used to make a chord progression more economic. Many of my examples require the movement of only a few notes.
Even More Chords!
Beyond altered and extended chords lie even more chords to experiment. Just a few examples are add chords, 6ths, and slash chords.
6ths follow the 1 - 3 - 5 - 6 structure, instead of 1 - 3 - 5 or 1 - 3 - 5 - 7. These can be both minor and major (minor being 1 - b3 - 5 - b6)
Add chords are basic triads with a note other than a 7th stacked on top. These can be combined with 6th chords to create 6/9 chords.
You can also place a slash after the chord to denote a bass note other than 1. For example, an Am7/D could be played like this:
Instead of a regular Am7 with an A in the base like this:
Just make sure the chord still has the 1, otherwise it's not the same chord anymore.
Hope this was helpful! Good luck!
How would you play the d13? With only 4 fingers..
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