Dominant Voicings Worksheet
Root in the melody: My Foolish Heart
In the 2nd bar we have a G7 with the root in the melody.
- First try just 3rd and 7th
- Next add in the 13
- Now let’s test the different alterations – b9, #9, #11 & #5
- When I see a root in the melody I ofte voice the dominant chord with a suspension. Sus
chords are basically dominant in nature.
- The nice thing with sus voicings is that you can then resolve the suspension and add an
- On final option available to you is the tritone sub. An important relationship to
understand is that when you have the root in the melody over a dominant chord. If you
play the tritone sub, the root then becomes the #11.
- You can also move from the suspended dominant chord to the altered tritone sub.
b9 in the melody: You don’t know what Love Is
In the 5th bar we have a C7 with the b9 in the melody.
- the b9, #9, #11 and #5 are all present in the altered mode. This means that when you have
an altered chord, in theory you can substitute or move between these different alterations.
- The key point is that if you see a b9 in the chord symbol or melody, chances are that the #9
and #5 will also work well. This also works the other way around too, so if any of these
extensions are in the melody of the chord symbol, I’d recommend you experiment to see
how the other alterations sound.
- If we look at the melody we can see that both the b9 and #9 are present.
- Start off by just voicings them individually
- Then try some upper structures C13b9 / C7#5#9
- Then experiment with the tritone sub (F#13#11)
Natural 9th in the melody : Autumn In New York
In the 2nd bar we have a C7 with the 9th in the melody.
- When I see the 9 in the melody over a domiant chord, the first place I go is usually the 13
#11 upper structure. This is a major triad off the 9.
- I like this upper structure because it has very rich sound with the 9 and 13 extensions and
the floatyness of the #11.
- Remember you can always double the top and bottom note in the upper structure.
- Also remember that you don’t have to play upper structures for the chord to sound good.
Sometimes the nicest thing you can play is the unaltered tones.
- Stacked 4ths is also nice down from the 9 and that also gives you the 13 in there.
#9 in the melody – Blue in Green
In bar 2 we have an A7 with the #9 in the melody.
- A nice 2 handed voicing to start off with is the Root and b7 in our left-hand and then
major 3, #5 and #9 in our right hand. You can also double the b7.
- This voicing works in any key.
- A very common UST is the major triad of the #5 and that gives us #5, root and #9.
- For A7 that would be an F Major triad.
- You can play this rootless or hit the root and then the UST
- A nice relationship to understand is that for any #5#9 UST , you simply change the root
to the tritone and then like magic you are then playing a 13#11 UST.
- So basically A7#5#9 and Eb13#11 contain the same notes, the only difference is the root
- This works in any key and gives you a nice chromatic bass movement into the 1 chord.
3rd in the melody – My Romance
In bar 4 we have a G7 with the 3rd in the melody.
- As a primary chord tone, the 3rd is a very common tone to have in the melody of the
- Usually when I have to voice a dominant chord with 3rd at the top I am looking at the
inside of the chord to add more interest.
- Try adding in the 13, 9 or both into the middle of the chord.
- Then you have a choice of alterations, b9 and #5 and #11 are usually the most subtle.
The #9 can sound jarring so be aware of that.
- You can also voice the suspension underneath the 3rd. You may hear that the suspension
replaces the 3rd in a dominant chord but this isn’t always the case… the two can work
- Voicing the suspension then allows you to drop to the 3rd and also add in an alteration
which creates interest and inner movement within the chord.
Natural 4 in the melody: The Nearness of You
- When you have the 4th in the melody over a dominant chord it’s usually indicating that
sus voicing should be played.
- The sus chord is a suspension that is typicaly resolves to the major 3rd.
- In the 3rd bar we have an F7 with the 4th in the melody. Often if you look further in the
melody you will see that the suspension resolves itself.
- In the previous examples in this lesson we looked at resolving the suspension into an
altered dominant chord but this time I don’t think that is necessary.
- We covered a reharmonisation in the lesson. We added in an F#13 as a passing chord
which drops down half a step into F7 (this is a dominant passing chord a half step
above) and we then go to B9 which is the tritone. Check out the lesson for more info.
#11 in the melody – Tenderly
In bar 2 we have an Ab7 and in bar 6 we have a Db7 – both with the #11 in the melody.
- When I see this tone in the melody the first place I go to is usually the 13#11 upper
structure. This is one of my favourite upper structures so I use it quite frequently.
- For the Ab7, the melody not is pretty high up the keyboard, and so I like the sound of a
bigger spread voicing like this. We are still playing the UST and also adding the 3rd.
- Remember that the 13#11 UST is a major triad off the 9th. For Ab7 this would be a Bb
Major triad. To get the #11 in the melody we would have to put it into it’s second
inversion so put the top note on the bottom. Remember UST sound strongest in the 2nd.
- Moving onto the Db7 now, the melody note is closer to middle C and so let’s try a more
compact voicing. Be aware that the voicing we used for Ab7 would also work here.
Again we build a major triad off the 9th. For Db7 this would be an Eb Major triad.
- Arpeggiating up or cascading down the upper structure is always a nice touch.
5th in the melody – These Foolish Things
In bar 2 we have a Bb7, bar 5 an Eb7, Bar 6 a C7 and bar 7 an F7 – all with the 5th in melody
- Let’s start with the Bb7. We are coming from the 13, so I would start with a 13b9 upper
structure… major triad off the 13.
- Then just drop the top note down. This is technically still an upper structure but with a
diminished triad off the b9. It works nice when the 5th is in the melody.
- Next up we have the Eb7. We could just play a very simple dominant voicing but since
we are sitting on the Eb chord for a whole bar, let’s add in a sus to altered dominant
- Next for the C7 we could play the 5th and natural 9, the 5th and b9… maybe even both….
whatever you like the sound of. Remember that you can always fill in with alterations
with you thumb and it’s nice to add inner movement to the chord.
- Finally for the F7 I just like a simple shell… remember simple voicings can sometimes be
the most effective.
#5 – When I Fall In Love
In the 1st and 3rd bars with have a C7 with the #5 in the melody.
- The #5 will also sound good if you also add in either the b9 or #9. Remember that the #5
comes from the altered mode and the b9 and #9 are also in the altered mode.
- The most important is not to add the natural 9 which is not in the altered mode. This
creates another tritone interval. 2 tritones in the same chord is very dissonant!
- You have to add in these additional tones, sometimes the #5 on it’s own can be enough…
- Let’s see how these variations sound
- The b9 has a softer sounds and the #9 sounds slightly more dissonant and angular.
13th in the melody : Easy To Love
In bar 6 we have an F7 with the 13 in the melody.
- When I see the 13, two important upper structures spring to mind.
- We have the 13 #11 (also known as US2) that we have already covered many times in this
tutorial. This is a major triad off the 9.
- the next is the 13b9 or (also known as US6). This is a nice subtle US with the b9 as the only
- Let’s see how they both sound.
- a nice substitution you can use is to turn the dominant 13#11 into a major 13 #11, simply
raise the b7 to the major 7.
- there are some other interesting dominant voicings in this tune… check out the jazz
standard lesson on this for more information.
b7 in the melody: What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life
Every dominant chord in the bridge has the b7 in the melody.
- US4 should spring to mind when you have the b7 in the melody. This gives you b9, #11, b7
- I personally prefer the sound of other UST than this one but I still use this if I need to
harmonise a b7 in the melody. Remember that you are not required to like the sound of all
the upper structures. I really like the 13b9 and 13#11 US and so I use these more often.
- Just because you see me play something doesn’t mean you should or have to like the sound
of it. Remember we play for ourselves first and others second.
- Another thing we look at in this jazz standard tutorial is the sus to altered dominant
movement … this works particularly well here.
- We move from sus 9 to dominant b9 on each chord.