guitarjazz wrote:Having heard George Russell play the Principal ChordModes at the piano I believe that his thinking was more based on his ears more than a slide rule. In the case of the troublesome bII, play an F major Principal ChordMode, now add a Gb. It certainly is a troublemaker. GR was concerned with vertical unity and the WOTG does as nice job of establishing a spectrum whereby all twelve tones can be utilized vertical over any PMG. If you sit at the piano and start playing all the chords starting on page 23 I think it will become more apparent what GR was after.
If you spend too much time on the floor of the woods with a microscope you might miss the tastiest morels.
On the contrary...
Play a Gb on an F maj triad and you get a very usable sound that could be symbolized as F(addb9).
Acoustically speaking, it's a partial voicing of F7b9, with the b7 (the 7th partial above F) omitted (and with a distorted version of the 9th partial sounding).
Please see my initial post to this forum where I discuss the theory of acoustical roots.
I.e. The ear interpolates the b7 as being implied by the presence of the b9.
Just looking at it statistically; the only chord type that regularly supports Tb9 is the dom7 chord type.
So when we hear a b9 above a root we expect it to be a dom7 chord.
On the other hand, context can affect how we hear this chord.
Eg. If we have an already firmly established key of F major happening, and we play a cadence that treats Fmaj as the I chord, when we arrive at the F chord having a b9 on it will be heard as a contextual non sequitur, even though vertically speaking there is *no* rub.
It's only when you add Gb to an Fmaj7 chord that you get the vertical rub.
And that's because by also having the E nat present in the voicing the door is closed to hearing the b9 above it as being harmonically compatible with the chord, and there are at least 2 acoustically related reasons why we hear it that way.
1. The maj 7th of a maj7 chord is also experienced as a distorted partial, in this case a distorted 7th partial.
F A C E
4 5 6 7*
I use "*' to denote a distorted partial.
2. With the b9 also being experienced as a distorted partial we now have a vertical structure with two altered partials.
The more altered partials that a chord voicing possesses the more dissonant the chord will be experienced as.
F A C E Gb
4 5 6 7 *
And although b9's on maj7 chords are by no means everyday occurrences for most jazz musicians, there are notable instances of it actually being used.
Eg. The second melody note of Herbie's Tell Me A Bedtime Story.
Sometimes it's even notated that way in a chord symbol.
There are two charts played in the big band that I am a regular member of that have maj7b9 chords and both instances sound beautiful.
One symmetrical structure in music that tends to help to justify the b9 on a maj7 chord is often called the super-arpeggio.
It's the sequence of maj 3rds followed by min 3rds that exists within (GR's favourite chord) the maj7(9,#11,13) chord.
F M3 A m3 C M3 E m3 G M3 B m3 D
If we continue that symmetrical pattern, the next note will be a maj 3rd above D, i.e. F#.
When the chord is actually voiced that way
1 3 5 7 9 #11 13 b16
it's really not all that dissonant sounding, although, admittedly, it's not nearly as consonant sounding as the same chord without the b9.
Likewise... The ladder of P5ths is also a symmetrically patterned structure and to my ear it totally supports F# as the 7th P5th above F.
F C G D A E B F#
The symmetry involved in the construction of both these chords helps to cause the ear to actually expect the F# to be the 8th note in the sequence. Any tone other than F# would be a non sequitur.
And, for my money, adding a C# to an Fmaj triad is several more times annoying than adding a Gb to an Fmaj triad.
The first reason for this is because of the b9 interval formed between C, down in the main body of the chord, and the C# above.
b9's are the interval that is avoided most often within harmonic structures, i.e. chords, within straight-ahead music (i.e. music that is not relying heavily on atonal effects).
b9's, being the most complex interval of all the intervals, are, for the most part, anathema to the experience of harmony.
Of course there are some notable and very common exceptions to this "avoid b9's rule" too, the most common being the b9 interval within a dom7b9 chord.
Still, b9's are very nearly almost universally shunned in chord structures in most all of Tonal music.
Now, if the C# is voiced below the C then we have a whole other situation because there is no b9 interval.
Instead, we have a maj 7th, C#-C, which is several time more consonant and more usable harmonically than the b9 interval.
But if the chord is voiced that way then it's not an F chord anymore.
It'll be Dbmaj7#5.
I.e. F A C C# is an ugly sounding F chord.
But Db F A C is a vanilla sounding root position Dbmaj7#5 chord.
I haven't tried them all yet, but I suspect that any other voicing/permutation or inversion of these 4 tones that has the C# below the C will be experienced as a Db/C# chord rather than as an F chord.
The other reason why C# doesn't harmonize with an Fmaj triad is because the ear can't make sense of how it clouds the 3rd partial (the P5th) of the F fundamental.
I.e. We seem to be willing to hear an Faug triad as having a distorted 6th partial, but having both the un-distorted partial and the distorted partial together in the same voicing totally confuses the ear as to the consonance of the chord and it will be heard as a dissonance.