Slash Chord | Harmony | Chord (Music)

focus session

SLASH CHORDS

Slash Chords – Part II Beyond Western Harmony
BY CHAIM BURSTEIN

L
Melody Harmony Harmony

ast time we covered how to substitute slash chords to simplify complex harmonic situations. Now we’ll look at how to use slash chords to create modal chord structures and interesting re-harmonizations. These techniques can be useful in creating a more modern sound in your writing and arranging.

What Mood Is Your Mode?

Modal music has intrigued jazz listeners since Miles Davis first released Kind Of Blue. Modal jazz has even influenced hip-hop artists such as Erica Badu and Outkast. Often the simplicity of modal music makes for some lazy writing, however. Rather than finding new ways to evoke a certain feeling, writers will just stack up 3rds or 4ths from the chosen mode. While this can be very effective, there are other ways of finding innovative and unique chord voicings. Slash chords can effectively create new tonalities within a mode. In Example 1 I’ve written a modal melody based off of the raised 5th from the E♭ Lydian Augmented scale. This scale is the third mode of C melodic minor and has an eerie feeling to it. Example 1

Harmony

             
       

                        
3
  

Eb Lydian #5 Example ♭

                            
       

  

 

 

 

 

      

   
   

 

  

 

 

Rather than harmonizing this example with tertian or quartal harmonies, I chose to use slash chords to generate my harmonic material. I did so by creating a worksheet with just the simple triads from the mode. Armed with my simple triads, I sat down at the piano and experimented with different triad/bass note combinations. After getting used to the sounds I was creating, I harmonized the melody with simple 22 JAZZed August/September 2007

JAZ_22 22

8/23/07 10:33:20 AM

I happen to like Level 4 and use it quite frequently when stuck in a harmonic rut. I’ve harmonized the note E natural three different ways (Example 3). They will definitely result in some sounds that your mother wouldn’t approve of. In addition. This can be quite effective when scoring for horns or improvising solos at the piano or on guitar. I came up with the harmonization that you see above. The first way I use this chart is to create the feeling of constant structures or stagnant harmony. try experimenting with slash chords to evoke new modal moods. Example 2 Piano    C/C  1     F/C Ab/C   2 3 Slash Chords Levels: Consonant (1) to Dissonant (12)   G/C  4   Eb/C  5         D/C E/C Bb/C A/C     6 7 8 9       B/C Db/C F#/C    10 11 12 Once you’ve decided what order to put the chords in. After some tinkering. Next time you’re writing modal music. Using Level 4 on my chart as an example. But beware. One of my favorite ways to use slash chords almost completely disregards Western harmonic concepts. which complements the melody accordingly. Now that you’ve picked a level. you may harmonize each melody note three different ways. The next step was to find the appropriate bass note for each triad. with Level 1 being the least dissonant and Level 12 containing the most dissonant harmonies. we were only concerned with slash chords that do not appear as some form of a chord inversion. Below you’ll find a chart that contains every possible major triad and bass note combination (Example 2). You may find that you would like to re-order the levels of consonance/dissonance. Try playing these on the piano and notice that although the chord changes. I’ve organized it from what I find to be the most consonant to the most dissonant. 20th Century and the Avant-Garde Slash chords can be a great way to get away from your typical diatonic chord progressions. Each new chord is labeled in levels of dissonance. the level of dissonance stays the same. Example 3 Piano       Melody: E Level:4    JAZZed August/September/July 2007 23 JAZ_23 23 8/23/07 10:33:24 AM . simply pick a level that gives you the sound you’re searching for. Today we are going to discuss every possible combination of triads over bass notes. there are two different ways to apply these chords to your writing. You might want to experiment on your own to create a similar chart for yourself. To do this. Experiment on your own by harmonizing your favorite melody with a level of dissonance that tickles your ear. you may want to try to generate a similar chart using only minor triads rather than major triads.focus session triads. for these chords are not for the faint of heart. In the prior article on slash chords. This chart was created using only a piano and my ears.

Stravinsky didn’t become famous for his easy listening. not as strict rules. or if you miss Sub have an idea for a feature story. New York 11746 email: admissions@ftc. he broke rules and as a result he revolutionized western harmonic concepts. Take a look at Example 4. Service Road Dix Hills. This gives you three different ways to harmonize any melody note at any given level of dissonance. Be a rebel.B. • Jazz/Commercial Music M.2110 305 N.M. please contact editor Christian Wissmuller: cwissmuller@symphonypublishing. www.edu If you'd be interested in submitting an instructional article for publication in ions JAZZed.656. Concentrations in: •Composition/Arranging •Music Teacher Education •Music Technology •Music Performance •Music History . The top voice can act as the root. Try playing these on a piano and notice how the level of dissonance increases each time a new chord voicing is played. A graduate of Berklee College of Music.M. Example 4 Piano    C/C  1     F/C Ab/C   2 3 Slash Chords Levels: Consonant (1) to Dissonant (12)   G/C  4   Eb/C  5     Bb/C A/C   6 7   D/C  8   E/C  9   B/C  10     Db/C F#/C   11 12 Try This at Home! Open House on October 6. where I’ve harmonized part of the melody to the tune “My Favorite Things. • Doctor of Musical Arts D. you’ll see the traditional harmonization of this melody.A Concentrations in: •Composition/Arranging •Music Education •Music Performance •Music History and Literature 1. Remember to experiment with the tools and use the techniques as guidelines. or fifth of a chord.” The first time through. 2007 at 1PM Undergraduate Programs • Jazz/Commercial Music Mus. increasing the level of dissonance with each new melody note. you can start to form new sounds and harmonic movement with some of your favorite tunes.com. The sonorities produced by many of these chords are about breaking the rules.myspace. Chaim Burstein is an active jazz musician and educator working in the greater Philadelphia area. write like you don’t know what a major scale is and perhaps you’ll find new harmonic backgrounds to incorporate into your next masterpiece.focus session Another way to use this chart is to increase or decrease the level of dissonance perceived by the listener. ¡ 24 JAZZed August/September 2007 JAZ_24 24 8/23/07 10:33:28 AM . I started on Level 3 and moved up to level 12.com/chaimburstein Graduate Programs • Master of Music M. third. Concentrations in: •Audio Recording Technology •Composition/Songwriting •Music Teacher Education •Music Business •Musical Theatre •Music Performance Armed with these techniques. The second time.M. He is currently working towards obtaining his Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of the Arts.631. This can be very effective at high points in an arrangement.

.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful