View Full Version : Deciding which chords tones get dropped in extended chords

11-27-2009, 01:47 PM
When figuring out a fingering for an extended chord (a chord with more than four tones) how do you decide which tone to drop? I assume that it depends on the chord you are trying to build. Anyone have any good guidelines on this?

11-27-2009, 01:59 PM
Context is everything - you should strive to make the chord fit into the overall sonic flow of the song. But here are some rules of thumb:

The 5th is usually the first one to go.

Then - surprisingly - you can often drop the root of the chord, IF the overall harmonic movement of the song makes it pretty obvious what the root of the chord is.

Hang on to the 3rd and the 7th whenever possible. And overall use your ears - not just theory - to determine what sounds best.

11-27-2009, 09:52 PM
if you are singing, you can drop the note that you're singing, unless you need to hear it to find it.

If you are going for a chord/melody instrumental, always keep the melody note and try to keep the root.

Another thing you can do is "vamp" throughout the measure, changing the chord to accomodate more than 1 extended harmony. For example, if the whole measure is supposed to be C9, you have to choose between C, G, E, Bb, and D. Playing the C9 chord on beats 1 and 2 and then a C7 chord on 3 and 4 gives you all the harmonies intended, just not for the entire measure.

We were doing this the other day, the measure called for a G6, we just vamped between G and Em and got the basic effect.

As you do this, you might hear lines moving through the chords, capitalize on this. One thing pianists and guitarists do is play a chord, alternating on the bottom between the root and the fifth. That gives you an automatic bass part - most bass parts are root/fifth, root/fifth. Hard to do on a uke, but makes things interesting.