When it comes to jazz chords, there are certain characteristics that distinguish them from other types of chords. These characteristics are rooted in the way that jazz musicians approach harmony and chord progressions, as well as in the specific sounds that are associated with jazz music. In this article, we will explore some of the key elements that make a chord sound jazzy.
One of the most important factors that contributes to the jazzy sound of a chord is the use of extended harmonies. In jazz, it is common to use chords that go beyond the basic triad, such as seventh chords, ninth chords, and eleventh chords. These extended harmonies create a richer and more complex sound than simple triads, and are often used to create tension and release in a chord progression.
Another important aspect of jazz chords is their use of alterations. Alterations involve changing one or more notes in a chord to create a different sound. For example, a dominant seventh chord can be altered by raising or lowering the fifth or ninth notes. These alterations can add a sense of tension or dissonance to a chord, which can then be resolved in a satisfying way.
Jazz chords also frequently use chord substitutions. This involves replacing a chord with another chord that shares some of the same notes, but has a different function. For example, a ii-V-I progression in a major key can be substituted with a iii-vi-ii-V progression, which creates a more complex and interesting sound. Chord substitutions are a key tool for jazz musicians, as they allow for greater harmonic flexibility and creativity.
In addition to these specific harmonic techniques, there are also certain sounds that are associated with jazz chords. One of these is the use of the flat 7th note, which is common in dominant seventh chords. This note creates a bluesy sound that is often heard in jazz music. Another characteristic sound of jazz chords is the use of quartal harmony, which involves building chords using intervals of a fourth rather than a third.
Finally, it is worth noting that the way that jazz chords are played is just as important as the chords themselves. Jazz musicians often use a variety of techniques to create a specific sound, such as playing chords with a swing feel, using voicings that emphasize certain notes, or using rhythmic displacement to create interest. These techniques are often subtle, but they can have a big impact on the overall sound of a jazz chord progression.
In conclusion, there are a variety of factors that contribute to the jazzy sound of a chord. These include the use of extended harmonies, alterations, chord substitutions, specific sounds like the flat 7th note and quartal harmony, and specific playing techniques. By understanding these elements, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the rich and complex world of jazz harmony.
Source: “Jazzology: The Encyclopedia of Jazz Theory for All Musicians” by Robert Rawlins and Nor Eddine Bahha