Sharp 5, Flat 5, Sharp 9, Flat 9

In the last lesson we analyzed the spelling and formula of a basic dominant 7 chords sound and the most logical tensions (extentions) of the chord. Let's quickly review that information in terms of a C dominant 7 chord.

Dominant chords are often turned into altered dominant chords by flating or sharping the 5th and or the 9th. Below is a way for you to visualize these 4 altered notes in relation to a C dominant 7 chord.

Now, let's get you ear working! Although this is not a course in how to play and name chords, listen to the altered dominant chords below and practice them on your guitar, ascribing a name (#5, b5, #9, b9) to each of these 4 distinct sounds.

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When we add these 4 new altered notes to the C7 chord tones and acceptable tensions we have already studied something amazing happens...

Listening Examples

This is a lesson in the use of altered tones which is the raising or lowering, by half step, of the 5th or 9th degree of the chord. Of course, each one of these altered notes, (b5, #5, b9, #9) has it's own character, sound and flavor. What's called an altered chord (G7 alt. for example) can contain any of the altered tensions, or any combination of the altered tensions. The video below is a listening exercise and a starting point.


Guitar Tab And Printed Studies

Click here to open the sheet music and TAB for the four altered dominant ideas found in the video above.

Use the diagram and Youtube backing track below to gain fluency with a G7 arpeggio, practice playing the provided solos and also of course as practice for improvising your own ideas.

Funky G7 Vamp For Play Along


The diagram below will help you to memorize the location of the altered tensions in relation to a root 6 G7 chord. Experiment with altered notes slowly, without the backing track, reinforcing their sound against the G7 arpeggio.

Transpose To C7; Common Shapes And Play Along

Play the common knowledge C7 chord shape below then rhythmically pick your way through the arpeggio -repeat the C7 chord and continue to expereiment with the altered notes. When this starts to sound good and in time to you, test out your new ideas against a one bar C7 vamp backing track.


Roots Music: Bluin' The Blues

My suggestion for anyone studying this course is to become a student of melody, of styles and of eras. The rules of music and melody do not ever, nor will they ever change. When I hear an interesting, unusual or exciting melody I learn it, analyze it, extract the best ideas from the melody and then quite simply, I steal it. I adapt those new ideas into my playing, furthering my goal of creating a unique style. the recording below is a guitar driven version of an amazing jazz song written in 1918, what do you think? To go further in depth with this tune, print out PDF lesson notes just below the lead sheet.

Click Here to find a complete study, including TAB and melodic analysis for Bluin' The Blues.

Funky C Blues Play Along Track

This lesson is all about giving yourself time and space to hear the arpeggios, the sound of the dominant 7 chords themselves, and the added tensions, which are the 'spices' -each adding their own unique sound and flavor. Below is our Funk style 12 bar blues in the key of C, use the play along track to "stretch out", or push yourself to the limits of your comfort zone and beyond. Remember, you are learning to make great note choices, not to buzz around scales.


Course Objectives To This Point

This course in lead guitar playing begins not with a discussion of scales and licks but with a discussion of chord sounds, chord shapes and arpeggios. Guitarists traditionally start out by learning their pentatonic scales, box patterns and classic songs. When our studies turn to improvisation, we then are taught to run up and down, or start "blowing" on modes of the major scale and melodic minor over various standards, blues and classic jamming tunes -right?

When I was a student, this approach left me feeling flat and unsatisfied. Althought I knew I had to know the chord-scale relationships, the normal songs and hot licks all the other guys in guitar college knew, I wanted to speak the language of music and make memorable melodies and play my own style of solos. We will fully discuss and understand lead guitar scales in this course but the next step towards our musical goals is learning to play the changes, or imitate the sound of the chords we hear with our lead guitar playing.


Parting Thought