7TH CHORD UPPER-STRUCTURES & SUBSTITUTIONS FOR DOMINANT CHORDS:
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PART I: Basic Dominant 7 Chords
Here is a list of chords that may be used either as Upper-Structures or as Substitutions for a C7.
An Upper-Structure is a chord that is played OVER another chord. The chosen Upper-Structure can be played as a chord when comping, or as an arpeggiated single-note line when improvising.
On the other hand, a Substitution is a chord that is played INSTEAD of the original chord.
Here is how you can use this chart:
Each line indicates the degree from which the Upper-Structures/Subs are built. For each degree follows a list of chords that can be superimposed. For example, from the II of C7 we can build a Dominant Chord (D7). Since the 4 notes of D7 are D, F#, A, and C, the analysis of those notes over the C7 would be respectively the 9, #11, 13, and Root. The resulting sound would be MIXOLYDIAN #4. Another way of looking at this example is to see it as:
D7/C7 = C7(9 #11 13)
Here is another example: from the bVII (Bb) we can build a Minor 7(b5) chord (aka Half-Diminished). That chord, Bbm7(b5) is spelled Bb, Db, E, Ab. Those notes analyzed over a C7 are the m7, b9, M3, and #5. This is quite an interesting mix of chord-tones and strong alterations!!! The resulting sound here is ALTERED (aka SUPERLOCRIAN).
Bbm7(b5)/C7 = C+7(b9)
This chart will give you plenty to experiment with. When using block chords, make sure you try different voicings or inversions.
I did not write out the analysis for each given chord-- you get to do that yourself!
I: (C7), C7(b5), C+7, Cm7, Cm7(b5), Cdim7
bII: DbmM7, Dbdim7, DbdimMaj7
II: D7, D7(b5), D+7, DMaj7, DMaj7(b5), D+Maj7, Dsus7
bIII: D#7, D#7(b5), D#m7, D#m7(b5), D#mM7, D#Maj7, D#Maj7(b5), D#dim7, D#dimMaj7, D#sus7
III: E7(b5), E+7, Em7(b5), EMaj7(b5), E+Maj7, Edim7, EdimMaj7
bV: F#7, F#7(b5), F#+7, F#m7, F#m7(b5), F#dim7
V: GmM7, Gdim7, GdimMaj7,
bVI: G#7, G#7(b5), G#+7, G#Maj7, G#Maj7(b5), G#+Maj7, G#sus7
VI: A7, A7(b5), Am7, Am7(b5), AmM7, AMaj7, AMaj7(b5), Adim7, AdimMaj7, Asus7
bVII: Bb7(b5), Bb+7, Bbm7(b5), BbMaj7(b5), Bb+Maj7, Bbdim7, BbdimMaj7
Note that no chords are built from the VII nor from the IV on this page.
Over a C7 chord, substitutions from the VII would include the note B which is the Major 7th (aka the Leading-Tone). That one could work linearly (as a passing-tone) but not chordally.
Substitutions from the IV would include the note F (suspension). Sus7 Chord substitutions will be explored in Part II (go here: 7th Chord Upper-Structures & Subs For Dominants (Part II)).
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