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Basic Harmony

Jazz (and popular music) harmony is based on the diatonic major scale.

Fig 1.Scale of C

& œ œ œ œ œ
œ œ œ

Classical music uses the Triad as it's basic harmonic unit.


This contains 3 different chord "qualities": major, minor and diminished.

œœœ œœœ
Fig 2. Diatonic triads
œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ
& œœœ œœœ
I II III IV V VI VII I
C Dm Em F G Am Bº C
(major) (minor) (diminshed)

Jazz uses four note chords-Sevenths, as it's basic harmonic unit.


This contains 4 different chord "qualities": major 7th, dominant 7th, minor 7th, and half- diminished.
Fig 3. Diatonic sevenths.
œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ
œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œ œ
& œ œ œ œ
œ œ
I II III IV V VI VII I
C^ Dm7 Em7 F^ G7 Am7 BØ C^
(major7th) (minor7th) (dominant7th) (half- diminished)

One chord which is used extensively in Jazz falls outside the diatonic scale- the DIMINSHED 7th.

bbœœœœ bbbœœœœ
& bbœœœœ

Together, these represent the 5 CHORD QUALITIES that we use in Jazz.

In the key of C: (half diminished) (diminished)


C^ Cm7 C7 CØ Cº

œœ
& œœ bbœœœœ nbœœœœ bbbœœœœ œœœœ

The intervals used in the five chord qualities are:

& œœœœ bbœœœœ nbœœœœ bbbœœœœ


^ m7 7 Ø º
bbnœœœœ
Maj3rd min3rd min3rd Maj3rd min3rd
min3rd Maj3rd min3rd min3rd min3rd
Maj3rd min3rd Maj3rd min3rd min3rd
In G: ^ m7 7 Ø º In F:
^ m7 7 Ø º
& #œœ nœœ nœœ b nœœ b œœ œœœ bbœœœ nbœœœ bbbœœœ bb œœœ
œœ b œœ n œœ b œœ b œœ œ œ œ œ œ
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