Maj7 chord on b6 degree

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by jtwang, Feb 13, 2008.


  1. jtwang

    jtwang Member

    Messages:
    501
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Hi,
    could someone please explain the theory behind using a major 7th chord on the flat sixth scale degree (for example AbMaj7 in the key of C)? You hear it every now and then in slick pop music (very Burt Bacharach-ish to my ears), a recent example for me is "Gravity" from John Mayer's last album. In the key of G the cadence is (roughly, inversions not being critical here): Am7 - D7 - EbMaj7 -D7. The major 7th chord leads very nicely back to the dominant, but my head is too tired to understand the logic and reason why...

    Sorry if this is a stupid question.
     
  2. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    16,443
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2002
    I think of it as borrowing from the parallel minor.

    In the key of C, for example, the parallel minor would be C minor. The naturally occurring chords would be C minor, D diminished, Eb major, F minor, G minor, Ab major, and Bb major. If you go build the chords with sevenths, then you'll get Abmaj7.

    A somewhat common trick is to add the bVI and bVII chords to a major key.

    Bryan
     
  3. JonR

    JonR Member

    Messages:
    11,880
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Location:
    London
    Yes, Ebmaj7-D7 would be quite a common cadence in G minor; and it is indeed quite common to use minor key changes (as well as single chords) in a major key.

    If you see an Eb7, OTOH, you can think of that two ways. Either as a G minor blues bVI. Or as a tritone sub for A7, secondary dominant (V of D).

    Both bVI chords (with either 7th) are generally used to go to the V (D in this case).

    In rock, the bVI also makes it appearance as a triad, usually resolving up to the I via the bVII - there's a good example in "Layla" - but also following the IV chord, where you can think of it as a version of the minor IV.
    As in "I Saw Her Standing There": E-E7-A-C (and back to E), is very similar to the standard jazz sequence E-E7-A-Am.
    (The minor IV is another borrowing from the parallel minor key.)
     
  4. jtwang

    jtwang Member

    Messages:
    501
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Ahh, borrowing from the parallel minor... I know some of the standard parallel minor tricks but for some reason it never occurred to me that this was one of those. Thanks guys.
     
  5. jzilla

    jzilla Member

    Messages:
    1,508
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Location:
    los angeles, ca
    yeah, this is sometimes referred to as a modal interchange. try experimenting with other modes in addition to aeolian (minor)!

    cheers!
    -j
     
  6. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

    Messages:
    16,897
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Close to the burn zone
    Robben Ford would use the bVIdom7 chord in place of the IVm7 in a minor blues

    ||:Am7|....|....|....| F7|....|Am7|....|E7#9|Dm7|Am7|E7#9:||

    He would use F minor pent over the F7

    Pretty hip.
     
  7. JonR

    JonR Member

    Messages:
    11,880
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Location:
    London
    That's quite a common change in jazz. Herbie Hancock does it in "Canteloupe Island" and "Senor Blues".
    I like using the tonic blues scale on that chord. I.e, A blues scale over F7 in that key (except for the E natural of course).
    I know that's not a big change of scale (if any!) from the rest of the chords, but I like to hear how the chord changes the sound of the scale - makes it a lot funkier.
     
  8. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

    Messages:
    16,897
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Close to the burn zone
    I think Robben said he copped it from Herbie come to think of it.
     
  9. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

    Messages:
    20,273
    Joined:
    May 20, 2003
    Location:
    Home of the ex-world champion Cavs
    It's a synonym for a ivmin7 chord. In the key of C, Fm7, Abmaj7, Cm7(#5) are all close cousins. It's also a variant of a dm7b5 chord and that is how it is used most often - As a suspension of a G7Alt type chord. F melodic minor sounds great over this as does a Ab blues scale with a flatted tonic.

    G B Db D Eb Gb
     
  10. garyh

    garyh Member

    Messages:
    627
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Location:
    Nova Scotia
    I see it as a tritone substitute (b5th) for the II chord. It resolves nicely into the V as does the II. I use these all the time mostly as dominant 7ths but you also hear the major 7th a lot in popish tunes like Burt Bacharach stuff; a lot of times with the ending slowing down for a dramatic effect.

    Tritones are great for voice leading in jazz; eg Dm7 -Ab7 -G7 -Db7 -C instead of just Dm7-G7-C. They are also used in a lot of tunes to replace the chord they're subbing. Real useful tool and you can sub the related scales as well (eg. play an Ab Maj7 arpeggio over a Dm7 chord if it's going to a G7 or play an Ab major scale or mixolydian against the Dm7 to G7); gives an altered sound.
     
  11. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Member

    Messages:
    9,118
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Location:
    we eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of beer
    Phrases like parallel minor loose me, but one way to think of it is like a ii7b5 (or half diminished) chord like Jack said. So in the key of C, Abmaj7 is very similar to Dmin7b5 in function.

    For me the real reason why this stuff works isn't the chord theory but the melody. Look at what this can do to a melodic line: It's basically moving the key center from a C major sound to a C minor sound. This opens up a lot of melodic possibilities.
     
  12. kimock

    kimock Member

    Messages:
    12,202
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    Location:
    Where the Palm Tree meets the Pine
    Good question.
    One way to conceptualize it is to just consider the essential structural components of any diatonic C chord, the root and fifth, as "hinges" for the polarity of major thirds.
    If you add a major third above the pitch C, you have C, E.
    If you add a major third above the pitch G you have G, B.
    The whole thing is what we call C major 7. C E G B

    Keep the C and G and flip those major thirds upside down, and you get
    G down to E-flat, and C down to A-flat.
    We call that chord A-flat major 7, A-flat C E-flat G.
    You're still in C, same root and fifth, you just reversed the color.

    You can flip those thirds in any combination in the key of C, and they're still "C sounds"; sometimes we just let the naming conventions throw us when it comes to "families of sounds".

    IOW "Major seventh chord built on the flat sixth degree of the scale" as a statement has more cognitive dissonance than the sound of the actual intervals themselves. Same root and fifth, opposite polarity for the thirds, sounds close. The chord names, and the generating instructions you follow, and the "new" relationships they imply relative to the tonal center make you think those sounds are farther apart than they are.

    yeah. yeah. I know. . .:NUTS

    peace
     
  13. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

    Messages:
    16,897
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Close to the burn zone
    That's a very clever usage of reciprocals to explain the bVI.

    Unfortunatly, I didn't see it. I should have but didn't.

    Makes great sence now.
    Major thirds off the root and fifth, flipped.

    Seems thirds and fifths always pop up.
     
  14. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    16,443
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2002
    I'm curious how long it would take to start thinking/hearing things in this way. Do any instruments lay things out in this way? Autoharps or squeezeboxes, maybe?

    Bryan
     
  15. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

    Messages:
    16,897
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Location:
    Close to the burn zone
    This is what all that flipping sounds like
    http://www.kimock.com/content/tunes/kime2007-11-30KimockMutronSolo.mp3

    I'm transcribing this as a way to better understand this flipping of 3rds.
    I've worked with these reciprocals enough to hear them peppered throughout
    this solo.

    The only way to get it is to play it off my own fingers.
    It's got to go beyond these words.

    First lick from fade in.
    G7
    |-------------------------------17----12-15--------13-|-12---------------------|
    |--------------------12-15---------15-----------15----|----12-13-14-15---------|
    |-----------------12----------------------------------|------------------------|
    |-----------12-15-------------------------------------|-----------------15-----|
    |--------14-------------------------------------------|------------------------|
    |-----15----------------------------------------------|------------------------|
     
  16. kimock

    kimock Member

    Messages:
    12,202
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    Location:
    Where the Palm Tree meets the Pine
    They all do. That's equal temperament in a nutshell.

    ;)
     
  17. Mike T

    Mike T Member

    Messages:
    897
    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Many many moons ago in school we called the bVI major sound "sub-dominant minor", and that name has always stuck with me describing the sound, because structurally that is what it is. It is a unique sound with a handle that is immediatley identifiable.
     
  18. kimock

    kimock Member

    Messages:
    12,202
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    Location:
    Where the Palm Tree meets the Pine
    Except for no chord tone at the sub-dominant, and the wrong chord quality, and structurally that's what it isn't, that's a perfect and typical use of a bunch of wrong names for the right idea!;)

    Agreed:BEER

    peace
     
  19. Mike T

    Mike T Member

    Messages:
    897
    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Yea, it's pretty convoluted to say that the bVI major triad is actually the first 3 voices of the 1st inversion of IV-7. But the name stuck. What can I say...:rolleyes: :BEER
     
  20. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Messages:
    14,076
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    I've always known this as 'modal interchange' - borrowing chords from the parallel minor key. Pretty common move if you view it that way.
     

Share This Page