Upper structure triads in tunes

(9 posts)


  1. Joxo

    I was listning to a Kurt workshop the other day. One of the topics was the use of upper structure triads on Darn That dream. Now, i find it logical to pull triads from the dimineshed or the altered scale for like a C7 b9 with a A triad on top. How would you go about to apply it on a tune like Darn that dream ?

    Would one use the root scale for the each chord to find triads or maybe target the dominants? Could someone maybe give me some tips about how to start with the A section of D T D? Also , would you treat the uperstructure triad as a substitusion chord or like a voicing with the Root (3 ,7) behind it ?

    Best /J

  2. Matt

    one cool upperstructure idea i really like is building a major triad, then building a major triad off the last note of that triad.

    so, in Gmaj, you'd have

    G B D F# A C# E G# B D# F# A# C# F G# C D# G A# D F A C E G.

    kinda lengthy, but i hear it as a cool idea to extend these triads to seventh or ninth arpeggios. you can do a lot with it, and as for connecting it to other chords, try experimenting and see what you get. i hear jonathon kreisberg use these type of lines a lot, so maybe if you hear some of his lines you'll get some inspiration

    really, the best advice i've ever gotten is that you can play anything over anything as long as it sounds good by itself and resolves.

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  3. Hmm. Nice to look at this like this rather than alternating M3s and m3s only; seeing other discreet relationships here.
    " time keeps on slipping into the future "( insert lick here )

  4. Matt

    yeah, alternating intervals like that creates tons of different relationships.

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  5. silverwater

    The thing with triads is that the sound is so strong by itself, it's not really necessary to find a harmonic justification for every note you play. Experiment and find some sounds that you like. Loop a chord a triad built from all 12 tones to find some good ones. The main things to remember are melody, resolution, and play every note like you meant to choose that note!

    That being said... On dom7 chords, besides the triads you mentioned from the diminished and altered scales, I like the sound of alternating between maj triads from the b9 and M6th. So over a C7 chord, finding some cool licks with the notes from a Db and an A maj triad.

    Also over a major chord, any maj triad built from a scale tone can sound good. I play a lot of major triads built from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Hmm or maybe even major triads with the 3rd being a scale tone...so in C: Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G. Or maybe with the 5th as scale a scale tone: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E.

  6. Guk

    Really interesting this last point, silverwater!

    I used to play triads 1. diatonically and 2. chromatically:


    i.e. for Cmaj7 I play C, Em G, Bm, D, Am ...
    so you get the Root - 3rd - 5th - 7th - 9th - #11 - 13 - Root. They appear gradually, so can develop the appear of colors.

    i.e. for Cm7: Cm, Eb, Gm, Bb, Dm, F

    You can choose just a few triads from the tonality you're playing in:

    i.e. Cmaj7: C & D; Am & Bm

    i.e. Cm7: Cm & Dm; Eb & F


    In order to play triads chromatically I pick triads from different scales, i.e.

    Diminished scale (CÂș7 or B713/b9): B - D - F - Ab (Bm - Dm - Fm - Ab-)
    Augmented scale: C - E - Ab (Cm - Em - Abm)
    Whole tone scale: C - D - E - F# - Ab - Bb

    So you get trias in cicles: min3rds, maj3rds & 2nds. The other cicles are found in 4th cicles, 5th cicles. And I play just major, just major, and a mix of maj and min triads when I hear one or another colour/sound.

    Great forum! cheers from Chile,


  7. silverwater

    That's a nice breakdown Guk. I've been experimenting with those major triads built from an Aug triad, that's a killer sound, especially if you start a half step up from the root of a dom7 chord.

    I've also been experimenting with major triads that have the root, 3rd , or 5th as a scale tone, and having some success. It seems that ending the triad with the diatonic note helps the ear to make sense of things...even more so if you end on a chord tone.

    So Joxo, here's an idea for the first 4 bars of Darn that Dream A section. 3 notes per beat, every structure is a major triad that ends on a chord tone of the progression (or tensions on the last 3 beats of this):



  8. silverwater

    Or this, with some chromatic action towards the end:



  9. Joxo

    Thanx guys. A lot of nice information to process :-)


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