The Formation Of The Altered Chord – Simplified

This lesson is for you if you’re interested in learning about the formation of the altered chord.

Altered chords are worth learning, not only because they are harmonically sophisticated, but because they have a common place in gospel (and jazz) music, where they are used as passing chords too minor chords (most of the time.)

Before we get into the formation of altered chords, let’s discuss briefly on altered chords.

“What Is An Altered Chord?”

 

Formation Of The Altered Chord

The term altered chord for the rest of this lesson, would be limited to the dominant seventh (sharp nine, sharp five) chord.

Therefore, our focus in this lesson, which is on the formation of the altered chords is focused on the formation of the dominant seventh (sharp nine, sharp five) chord.

A closer look at the C dominant seventh (sharp nine, sharp five) chord:

…reveals that if the root (which is C):

…is isolated from the rest of the chord tones:

…we’ll have the E major seventh (flat five) chord:

“What Does That Mean?”

If the E major seventh (flat five) chord:

…is played over a C bass note:

…the C dominant seventh (sharp nine, sharp five) chord:

…is produced.

“Here’s The Relationship Between The Root And The Major Seventh [Flat Five] Chord…”

The overall root (which is C):

…and the root of the major seventh [flat five] chord (which is E):

…are the first and third tones of the C major scale:

So, playing the overall root note, and playing a major seventh (sharp five) chord on the third tone of the scale, produces an altered chord.

“Let’s Form The Altered Chord In Other Tones…”

To form the G altered chord, play the overall root note (which is G):

…and form a major seventh (flat five) chord on the third tone.

The third tone of the G major scale:

…is B:

…therefore the B major seventh (flat five) chord:

…played over the G bass note:

…produces the G altered chord:

“What Do I Need To Know To Form The Altered Chord?”

All you need to form the altered chord is the root note and the major seventh (flat five) chord.

Therefore, it’s important for you to learn the major seventh (flat five) chord in starting from all twelve notes on the keyboard.

“Check Out All The Major Seventh (Flat Five) Chords On The Keyboard…”

C major seventh (flat five) chord:

Db major seventh (flat five) chord:

D major seventh (flat five) chord:

Eb major seventh (flat five) chord:

E major seventh (flat five) chord:

F major seventh (flat five) chord:

Gb major seventh (flat five) chord:

G major seventh (flat five) chord:

Ab major seventh (flat five) chord:

A major seventh (flat five) chord:

Bb major seventh (flat five) chord:

B major seventh (flat five) chord:

Final Words

Congratulations!

You just learned the formation of the altered chord and I’m certain that you can form the altered chord on any given note on the keyboard using the major seventh (flat five) chord.

See you in the next lesson!

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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.

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