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Slash Chords

Most articles on this site are written at a level that probably doesn't interest players with more than
a basic knowledge of harmony and theory. This article dealing with slash chords comes to us from
Palle Pesonen, a teacher at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

Upper structure triads is something commonly used in both Pop and Jazz, major triads are mostly used but
minor and diminished are also available. They are written as "slashchords" for exampe: A/F, G/Ab,
Dm(b5)/G, Ebm/Db etc.

So it is a regular triad with a different root than any inversion of the triad would yield, the rule is: from the
bassnote the triad MUST contain at least one tension (b9, 9, #9, 11, #11, b13 or 13) all depending on the
scale of the moment.

For example Bb altered scale gives us E, Gb majortriads, say we choose to use Gb as our upper structure
triad, we now look for possible bass notes . Bb altered scale is Bb, Cb, C#, D, E, (F#) or Gb, Ab.

Starting from the root of the scale of the moment I ascend and see which bass notes are available for me
to use.

Bb is not available since it is the major third of our upper structure triad Gb, Cb is OK, C# is not available
since it is enharmonic with Db - the fifth of Gb, D is OK, E is OK, Gb is not available since it is the root, Ab
is OK.

So possible slashchords are: Gb/Cb, Gb/D, Gb/E and Gb/Ab.

With E as our upper structure triad the possible slashchords are: E/Bb, E/Cb, E/D and E/F#. (I wouldn't use
E/C# since it results as a C#m7 so there is no Tension only chordtones 1, b3, 5 and b7).

Try to get the bass note seperated from the triad by at least minor 6th, otherwise it can easily sound like
inversions of 7th chords in some cases; Gb/E, since E is enharmonic with Fb the b7th of a Gb7 chord, or
like other "common" 4 part chords such as; Gb/D can also be seen as DbMaj7 (#5).

Seperate triad and bassnote so that they SOUND as two seperate parts.

Now take a chord progression that you are familiar with and reharmonize with slashchords, for example
the jazz standard "Stella by Starlight".

Slash Chords: D/Bb Eb/A Eb/D F/B Ab/D E/F Eb/F Bb/Gb F/G etc.

Original Changes: Em7(b5,9) A7(alt) Cm7 F7 Fm7 Bb7(symetrical Diminished) EbMaj7 Ab7(#11) Bbmaj7