Upper Structure chords

Posted by: Wizard of Oz

Upper Structure chords - 11/25/09 04:54 PM

For the jazzers, I've been working on some upper structure chords, figuring out their sounds and putting them into use.

I know there are limitless possibilities, but anyone have some good ones that they use frequently?

I like the sound of D/Cmaj7, that #4.

Also, Bb maj7/C works great for a C7.

I tend not to think of them as "slash chords", but from the bottom up, so the original chord with color or altered tones added.

This concept works in tandem with pedal points too, taking a note that you normally wouldn't play in the bass, and the chord in the right hand. Adds that friction or dissonance to the note.

2 songs that use this alot are Hancock's Dolphin Dance and Shorter's Nefertiti.

Any ideas for a systematic approach?

Posted by: Swingin' Barb

Re: Upper Structure chords - 11/25/09 05:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Any ideas for a systematic approach?

Your question came at a good time. I am getting back into experimenting around with this stuff. Here is how I learned this...

I use these chords over dominants. So, for a C7, I will use root and b7 in the left hand while my right hand will form a major chord built upon:

the second degree of the scale (D major chord),
or
the sixth degree of the scale (A major chord),
or
the flatted fifth degree of the scale (F# major chord),
or
the raised fifth degree of the scale (Ab major chord)

It is a different sound --- and I like it! smile

Barb
Posted by: nitekatt2008z

Re: Upper Structure chords - 11/25/09 05:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
For the jazzers, I've been working on some upper structure chords, figuring out their sounds and putting them into use.

I know there are limitless possibilities, but anyone have some good ones that they use frequently?

I like the sound of D/Cmaj7, that #4.

Also, Bb maj7/C works great for a C7.

I tend not to think of them as "slash chords", but from the bottom up, so the original chord with color or altered tones added.



This concept works in tandem with pedal points too, taking a note that you normally wouldn't play in the bass, and the chord in the right hand. Adds that friction or dissonance to the note.

2 songs that use this alot are Hancock's Dolphin Dance and Shorter's Nefertiti.

Any ideas for a systematic approach?



One way to start getting into upper structure triads is start with the LH tritone.The tritone is the only interval when inverted, remains a tritone. Example E-Bb or Bb-E. The tritone defines a dominant seventh chord C7 or
Gb7. So LH plays E-Bb RH possibilities, Db Gb Bb (C7b9#11)
RH Eb Ab C (C7#9b13)

Start with C7-Gb7 tritones LH, play right hand chords in different inversions and notice how they relate to the tritone. Tough in the beginning, but really useful when you get them down. A vert unique sound

katt
Posted by: keyboardplaying1

Re: Upper Structure chords - 01/25/10 09:39 AM

A good upper structure is the one for a 7#5b9 chord. To do this play the tritone of whatever seventh chord you are using in the left hand, and a minor chord, whose root is the note a semitone above your actual chord.

For example, for G7, in the left hand play the tritone, B and F, and in the right hand play a G#minor chord.
This sounds great when arpeggiated and using pedal.

Upper structures are really just dominant 7th chords with alterations, except they're easier to remember because it's just a certain triad over a tritone.
Posted by: beeboss

Re: Upper Structure chords - 01/25/10 11:19 AM

Originally Posted By: keyboardplaying1


Upper structures are really just dominant 7th chords with alterations, except they're easier to remember because it's just a certain triad over a tritone.


You can use upper structure triads (and others) on any chord type. Try adding a B major triad to a C maj 7th chord, or a D major triad to a C minor 7th. Endless possibilities.
Posted by: KlinkKlonk

Re: Upper Structure chords - 01/25/10 04:05 PM

The force theme from Star Wars: A/B (e on top) F#/B (c# on top under the e) C/B (with g on top over the the e) B/B (duh) and finally A over B, or superimpose it all without the B bass note over a C7alt chord.
Posted by: wavelength

Re: Upper Structure chords - 01/26/10 12:31 PM

I've never practiced it systematically until recently, I decided to get them in my fingers once and for all. Before that I would just try to get them into tunes once in a while.

Playing the tritone (the 3rd and 7th) in the LH was the way I first learned it, both from my old teacher and from Mark Levine's book. My new approach is a little different, and I'm adapting it from Rebeca Mauleon-Santana's book "101 Montunos".

I've been practicing this progression in every key, using specific voicings:

||Am...|D7...|GMaj7...|Bm.E7.||


Am: G C E / B E G B (US v)
D7: F# C Eb / Bb Eb F# Bb (US bii)
GMaj7: F# B D / A D F# A (US V)
Bm: A D F# / C# F# A C# (US v)
E7: G# D G / C F G# C (US bii)

This approach is different than Mark Levine's in two ways. The left hand isnt just playing the 3 and 7 (or root, 3,7). And it is a little more liberal about doubling notes. It's just a little snippet, but it is a particular upper-structure sound that really appeals to me, and I've heard it before in some modern salsa and been unable to nail it with the Mark Levine approach.
Posted by: etcetra

Re: Upper Structure chords - 01/26/10 03:13 PM

You can get a whole bunch of upper structure/slash chord using the half-step whole step scale on V7.. on C7, you have C#min, Ebmin, Eaugemented, F#.. and so on
Posted by: ajrdileva

Re: Upper Structure chords - 12/25/11 11:22 PM

Here's a complete method for UST piano voicings that cover all possible upper structure triads over IIm7 and V7.

mDecks.com/ust.php





Not only you'll find all possible UST but a method to classify, qualify and practice each of them.
Posted by: TromboneAl

Re: Upper Structure chords - 01/10/12 11:38 AM

Here are the two that I use very often -- thanks go to Swingin' Barb for turning me onto this.

For a dominant seventh, I play the triad one whole tone above the root in root position (e.g. A over G7: G, B, D, F, A, C# E. Or with a bass player, I'd play F, A, B, E, A, C#, E).

Over a minor seventh, I play the triad one whole tone below the root, in second inversion. For example, with a bass player, I'd play a Bb over Cm7 like this: Eb, G, Bb, D, F, Bb, D).
Posted by: s_winitsky

Re: Upper Structure chords - 01/10/12 01:41 PM


Neat question.

I originally learnt upper structures in the context of dominant chords first, as most. The left hand would play the root, third and flat 7. In the right hand you could play any triad as long as it didn't have a fourth or a major 7th. The idea behind that is the 4th and the 7th would conflict with what the left hand is playing (they are considered the avoid notes.)

For example lets say the chord is a C dominant 7th and the melody note is a F#. In the right hand you could play D major or F# major triad. You can also play a E flat minor or F sharp minor.

You might ask about Sus chords. In those cases the left hand wouldn't play a third (and the 4th is no longer an avoid note) its worth noting that playing the third in the left hand generally only works in higher ranges of the keyboard. If it gets too low it sounds muddy.

Of course there are countless ways to voice chords. The above is just an example, and the way I was taught upper structures.

Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
For the jazzers, I've been working on some upper structure chords, figuring out their sounds and putting them into use.

I know there are limitless possibilities, but anyone have some good ones that they use frequently?

I like the sound of D/Cmaj7, that #4.

Also, Bb maj7/C works great for a C7.

I tend not to think of them as "slash chords", but from the bottom up, so the original chord with color or altered tones added.

This concept works in tandem with pedal points too, taking a note that you normally wouldn't play in the bass, and the chord in the right hand. Adds that friction or dissonance to the note.

2 songs that use this alot are Hancock's Dolphin Dance and Shorter's Nefertiti.

Any ideas for a systematic approach?

Posted by: AnonymousInvention

Re: Upper Structure chords - 01/11/12 01:38 PM

I have used the Levine approach as well as that posted earlier by keyboardplaying1. I also use what I call polychords - usually two major triads, one in each hand - for example a C major chord with a D major chord played over it (C E G D F# A). Good posts, thanks to all, I'm going to check out wavelength's approach...sound interesting.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Upper Structure chords - 01/11/12 04:19 PM

Originally Posted By: AnonymousInvention
I have used the Levine approach as well as that posted earlier by keyboardplaying1. I also use what I call polychords - usually two major triads, one in each hand - for example a C major chord with a D major chord played over it (C E G D F# A). Good posts, thanks to all, I'm going to check out wavelength's approach...sound interesting.

Because I started with "classical" music, but also moved through Debussy and Ravel and right into the 20th century (and now 21st), I also think of these complex chords as poly-chords. I don't necessarily hear them or feel them that way.

Charles Ive's thought nothing of having a C major chord with a D major over the top, and so I see a kind of evolution:

RH//LH
CEG//DF#A

C G E// A D F# A (open voicing)
C G E// A D *E* F# A (throw in E just because it sounds cool)

And after you are all done, you still have a D# chord over a C chord.