||It has been suggested that Altered seventh chord be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2012.|
|This article may be in need of reorganization to comply with Wikipedia's layout guidelines. (March 2011)|
In music, an altered chord, an example of alteration, is a chord with one or more diatonic notes replaced by, or altered to, a neighboring pitch in the chromatic scale. For example the following progression uses four unaltered chords:
Unaltered chord progression.
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
The next progression uses an altered IV chord and is an alteration of the previous progression:
Altered chord progression.
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
In jazz and jazz harmony, the term altered chord, notated as an alt chord (e.g. G7alt Play (help·info)), refers to a dominant chord, "in which neither the fifth nor the ninth appears unaltered". – namely, where the 5th and the 9th are raised or lowered by a single semitone, or omitted. Altered chords are thus constructed using the following notes, some of which may be omitted:
- ♭5 and/or ♯5
- ♭9 and/or ♯9
Altered chords may include both a flatted and sharped form of the altered fifth or ninth, e.g. G7♭5♯5♭9; however, it is more common to use only one such alteration per tone, e.g. G7♭5♭9, G7♭5♯9, G7♯5♭9, or G7♯5♯9.
The choice of inversion, or the omission of certain tones within the chord (e.g. omitting the root, common in guitar harmony), can lead to many different possible colorings, substitutions, and enharmonic equivalents. Altered chords are ambiguous harmonically, and may play a variety of roles, depending on such factors as voicing, modulation, and voice leading.
The altered chord's harmony is built off the altered scale, which includes all the alterations shown in the chord elements above:
- ♭9 (=♭2)
- ♯9 (=♯2 or ♭3)
- ♯11 (=♯4 or ♭5)
- ♭13 (=♯5)
Altered chords can be analyzed as a kind of tritone substitution (♭5 substitution). Thus the alt chord on a given root is the same as the 7♯11 chord on the root a tritone away (e.g., G7alt is the same as D♭7♯11 Play (help·info)).
Altered chords are commonly substituted for regular dominant V chords in ii-V-I progressions, most commonly in minor harmony leading to an i7 (tonic minor 7th) chord.
More generally in jazz, the terms altered chord and altered tone also refer to the family of chords that involve ♭9 and ♭5 voicing, as well as to certain other chords with related ambiguous harmony. Thus the "7♭9 chord" (e.g. G7♭9) is used in the context of a dominant resolution to a major tonic, which is typically voiced with a ♮13 rather than the ♭13 of the alt chord. When voiced with a ♮13, jazz musicians typically play the half-step/whole-step diminished scale over the ♭9 chord (e.g. G, A♭, B♭, B, C♯, D, E, F over G7♭9).
Note that in chord substitution and comping, a 7♭9 is often used to replace a diminished chord, for which it may be the more "correct" substitution due to its incorporation of an appropriate root tone. Thus, in a progression where a diminished chord is written in place of a G7 chord, i.e. where the dominant chord is replaced by an A♭-dim (A♭-C♭-E = G♯-B-D), D-dim (D-F-A♭), B-dim (B-D-F), or F-dim (F-A♭-C♭ = F-G♯-B)), a G7♭9 is often played instead. G7♭9 (G-B-D-F-♭A) contains the same notes as any of these diminished chords with an added G root.
|Look up alteration in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
In music, alteration, an example of chromaticism, is the use of a neighboring pitch in the chromatic scale in place of its diatonic neighbor such as in an altered chord. This should not be confused with borrowing (as in borrowed chord), in which pitches or chords from the parallel key are used in place of those of the original key. Altered notes may be used as leading tones to emphasize their diatonic neighbors. Contrast with chord extension: "Whereas chord extension generally involves adding notes that are logically implied, chord alteration involves changing some of the typical notes. This is usually done on dominant chords, and the four alterations that are commonly used are the ♭5, ♯5, ♭9 and ♯9. Using one (or more) of these notes in a resolving dominant chord greatly increases the bite in the chord and therefore the power of the resolution." "The more tension, the more powerful the resolution...we can pile that tension on to make the resolution really spectacular."
The ♭9 chord is recommended for resolution to minor chords, for example VI7 to ii (G7♭9 to Cm7) in the I-vi-ii-V turnaround. The ♯9 chord is also known as the Purple Haze chord, is most often notated with the enharmonic equivalent ♭3, and is thus used with the blues. The 5 in a ♭5 chord is enharmonically equivalent to a ♯4 or ♯11, but the eleventh chord includes the ♮5 while in the flat chord it is replaced. The ♯5 chord is enharmonically equivalent to a ♭13, does not include the ♮5, and is more common than the ♭13 chord. Both the flat and sharp fifth resolve nicely to the natural ninth.
In jazz, chromatic alteration is either the addition of "notes which are not diatonic to the given scale" or "the expansion of any given [chord] progression by adding extra nondiatonic chords". For example, "A C major scale with an added D♯ note, for instance, is a chromatically altered scale" while, "one bar of Cmaj7 moving to Fmaj7 in the next bar can be chromatically altered by adding the ii and V of Fmaj7 on the second two beats of bar" one. Techniques include the ii-V-I turnaround, as well as movement by half-step or minor third.
For example, an altered dominant or V chord may be G♭-B-D♯ (♭5 and ♯9).
See also 
- Erickson, Robert (1957). The Structure of Music: A Listener's Guide, p.86. New York: Noonday Press. ISBN 0-8371-8519-X (1977 edition).
- Coker, Jerry (1997). Elements of the Jazz Language for the Developing Improvisor, p.81. ISBN 1-57623-875-X.
- Sher (ed.). The New Real Book Volume Two. Sher Music Co., 1991, ISBN 0-9614701-7-8
- Erickson (1957), p.86. Subtitled "a study of music in terms of melody and counterpoint".
- Baerman, Noah (1998). Complete Jazz Keyboard Method: Intermediate Jazz Keyboard, p.70. ISBN 0-88284-911-5.
- Baerman (1998), p.71.
- Arkin, Eddie (2004). Creative Chord Substitution for Jazz Guitar, p.42. ISBN 0-7579-2301-1.
- Arkin (2004), p.43.