~ color tone pitches ~

'evolution of the harmony beyond the triad ...'

~ diatonic or altered colortones ~

One

Two

~

.

In a nutshell. Searching for the 'lost' chord to complete the compositional puzzle you're creating? Maybe tired of the 'same old same old' harmony that's in your jams. Looking to branch out a bit, wondering why your jazzy musical rhythms just ain't quite so jazzy? Want to 'jazz up' the chords you're working with? Maybe get hip to 'the changes' as the saying goes, soloing through chord changes rather than over them? Well read on! For the color tones of our harmony might just be the direction to explore to open up a potential endlessly wide array of harmonic colors for the modern, evolving artist.

wiki ~ the 'lost' chord
read on = right on = explore

As our chords are supportive of our melodies, they often reflect the pitches and stylistic character of a melodic line. They'll give a melody more support and also a bit more wiggle room or flexibility if a melody's pitches go off to unusual or surprising and colorful places, like so many of modern singers love to do. For example, the bluesy and often melismatic character of an R&B vocalist's ideas are often supported by a triad with an added 'blue 7th', 9th or 13th.

Here in Essentials, the color tone pitches as so named as they 'color up' any type of triad. The color tones are the pitches we add to triads that create the different chords of our different styles of music. Children's songs and folk music is mostly created with the three notes of the triads. Blues influenced music loves and needs the blue 7th added to most if not all of the chords in a blues styled song. Country loves the major 6th and of course V7 for its cadential motions. While rock mostly hangs with power triads, and the 5th's of today's metalists, its blues influence often also looks for the blue 7th. Pop music of today finds us mostly back to the triads yet like jazz players, are often looking to the major 7th, major 9th and beyond to color harmonies on tonic and Two functioning chords. Here, all goes even further into the diatonic arpeggio's upper reaches for V7. In jazz stylings, and really from any historical era, all 12 pitches are in play to be included in any chord on any of the scale degrees of the whole tamale.

Colortone rule of thumb. The endless speculation surrounding how to numerically identify colortones by numbers hinges on mostly two things; where they live in the arpeggio and which colortones are included. For example, if we want to call something a '9' in a chord we probably should have a 7th underneath it in the arpeggio. If the 6th is moved up an octave in the voicing, it is probably a 13th now. And does a 13th always have to have an 11th underneath? Nope, but it can and usually will have some sort of 7th, 9th and or 11th in the mix. Remember here, we're not piano players. We can't just push a pedal to sustain and add in any number of pitches to our chords. Our voicings often leave out unnecessary or unwieldy pitches. So just be flexible and roll with it all. For as a theorist, you know the theory and have ways to 'sus out' and identify any colortone in any chord. Just be diplomatic and get the sounds you want, whatever anyone might want to call them :)

Numbers of pitches / style. Starting back at our core philosophy, that the actual number of pitches in a chord; the three notes of the triad plus added color tones, will often help determine where it's commonly found in our musics. As artists here, we simply look to examine the available resources to understand their organic origins, a basis for conjuring up new colors to express our ideas. As theorists, we look to understand how we diatonically generate additional pitches above the triads we term color tones. Thus empowered we've the knowledge basis to mix and match and alter as needed or discovered.

The upper colortones; 9, 11 and 13, are surely creating chords that lean to a blues and jazz direction stylistically, as we won't generally find these colors beyond these genres. For most of our most popular styles today are major / minor triad based. Folk, country, pop and hip hop, while each will have its own character colortones, are diatonically created and triad based.

That said, adding the 7th to any diatonic triad is really not all that uncommon today in any style really. And this simple addition often adds that extra bit of artistry that opens up new areas of our palette for explorations as we evolve our art. Here's the 'Essentials chord spelling coffee chart', that cores much of the chord theory of this work, adding the diatonic 7th of each of our seven triads. Example 1.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord # / quality
Imaj7
ii-7
iii-7
IVmaj7
V7
vi-7
vii-7b5
VIII
diatonic 7th chords
CEGB
DFAC
EGBD
FACE
GBDF
ACEG
BDFA
CEGB

Understanding how this chart works and being able to sub in the letters of any of our key 12 key centers covers most of what is available chord wise for us. Throw in chord inversions and finding their solutions on our instruments should keep us busy. Then we need to make our music out of it, but that's the fun part. Oh, and is this the same chart for spelling the 7th chords for the natural minor key center? Sure is, we just reshuffle the letters of the relative keys of 'C' major into 'A' natural minor. Example 1a.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
A minor scale
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
A minor arpeggio
A
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
chord # / quality
i-7
vii-7b5
III
iv-7
v-7
VImaj7
VII7
i-7
diatonic 7th chords
ACEG
BDFA
CEGB
DFAC
EGBD
FACE
GBDF
ACEG

Diatonic color tones named by number. Like most of our understanding of the theory, starting with a purely diatonic basis feeds the bulldog correctly. Once internalized, there's really no end to the machinations or slang wording to identify the pitches. Our triads have favorite color tones based on the way we most often find them in the musics we each dig. As for their theory, it is for the most part set in stone; we simply assign them a numerical designation as to their point within a chord's parent scale / arpeggio. We include these numbers along with a letter name pitch for the root of the chord, as when we're talking about a chord or in a chord symbol as designated in written music. Here in Essentials we call this sort of thinking of music and math 'by the numbers.' So along these lines examine the diatonic scale, here built on the root pitch C, and its re-spelling by major and minor 3rd's into its arpeggio, both identified by their numerical representations. Example 1.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C

Cool so far? For building chords in our tertian harmony, we usually stack up various 3rd's to make our chords. And while any combination of pitches is possible, diatonic theory is the initial basis of the colortones and keeps it all fairly straight. So by simply applying the numbers to the letter names of the arpeggio, the following color tone designations evolve. From the root pitch 'C.' Example 1a.

arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
color tones
C
'C' is One, the root of the triad, so not a color tone
One
E
'E' is Three, the major 3rd of the triad, so not a color tone
Three
G
'G' is Five, the 5th of the triad, so not a color tone
Five
B
'B' is Seven, the 7th above the root, thus a colortone
Seven
D
'D' is Nine, an octave + maj 2nd above root, thus a color tone
Nine
F
'F' is Eleven, an octave + per. 4th above root, thus a color tone
Eleven
A
'A' is Thirteen, an octave + maj 6th above root, thus a color tone
Thirteen
C
'C' is One, two octaves above root, so not a color tone
Fifteen

Note capitol letters of the written number? Cool. In this Essentials work, a number, spelled out in letters starting with a capitol letter, 'One' will always denote its interval relation to its root pitch. Is this why most of the discussions are in 'C' major? Exactly. No sharps, no flats, always thinking from the root. Always ? Well ... Here are these pitches from the above chart. Example 1b.

And for minor? Same basic ideas and numbering system but all shaded to create the natural minor colors. From the root pitch 'A', the following theory evolves. Ex. 1c.

natural minor
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
A minor arpeggio
A
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
color tones
A
'A' is One, the root of the triad, so not a color tone
One
C
'C' is the minor 3rd of the triad, not a color tone
minor 3rd
E
'E' is Five, the 5th of the triad, so not a color tone
Five
G
'B' is Seven, the 7th above the root, thus a colortone
minor 7th
B
'B' is Seven, the 7th above the root, thus a colortone
Nine
D
'D' is Nine, an octave + maj 2nd above root, a color tone
Eleven
F
'F' is Eleven, an octave + per. 4th above root, a color tone
minor 13
A
'A' is Thirteen, an octave + maj 6th above root, a color tone
Fifteen

Here are the color tone pitches of the natural minor tonality. From the root pitch 'A.' Example 1d.

Rule of thumb. With the color tones, a general rule of thumb when first venturing in to the upper part of the arpeggio, is to include as best one can the pitches underneath that numerical level. For example, a C major 9 chord would include a major 7th, an '11' chord has a '7' and '9' in it, a '13th' chord has '7, 9, and 11.' This is really more 'in theory' than practice, as it is often downright impossible to get all the pitches into a functioning guitar voicing. Any worries here? Nope, we've tons of chords and voicings. Have a piano? Just step on the pedal and push the buttons :)

'If I only had sustain ... '

Common chord symbols. Well, here's a best guess as to what you might see in the written charts you're using. A basic rule of thumb here is if you just get a letter name such as 'C' for a chord symbol, think of it as a three note triad that's major. And just be flexible and sort it out as best as you can. There's a variance of symbols in the biz and we all make boo boo's. That's why many pro leaning cats have a pencil handy when working over their music. Here's a basic start point of chord symbols found in the many real books out there on the market today. Ex. 2.

Color tone theory. Once we've our triads in place, the stage is set to add some extra coloring to our chords. Termed in this work as the colortones, and also known as or tensions or upper structure tensions or pitches in other theory systems of thought, we simply select additional pitches to add to the triads. Which pitches we add is usually determined by style.

Advancing artists might also consider viewing kilotons in regards to a chord's 'type.' In this approach, a chord's function within the song and its progression helps to determine common color tones added to the triads. In thinking diatonically, songs in a major key follow along the above charting of the pitches, while in a minor key, we've the pitch variations of the harmonic and melodic minor to consider as color tones also.

All of our 12 pitches are available on any of the chords. Some just sound better than others depending on one's tastes and thus have found their enduring place within a musical styles. The following are general ideas along these lines; style and historical precedence in locating color tones on each of the seven diatonic triads.

Diatonic or altered colortones. So as with near all of our topics of music to understand, we can designate the pitches involved as being diatonic or not. Those pitches that are not diatonic to a key center, when working with the color tones, we often term as 'altered.' meaning, they are changed from their diatonic identity. Examine the letter name pitches. Example 3.

diatonic
altered
key center
relatives
scale # degrees
1
.
2
.
3
4
.
5
.
6
.
7
8
C major scale
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C
diatonic
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C
altered as #'s
.
C#
.
D#
.
.
F#
.
G#
.
A#
.
.
altered as flats
.
Db
.
Eb
.
.
Gb
.
Ab
.
Bb
.
.

So with 12 total pitches and a couple of ways of lettering / notating our pitches the distinction emerges; that in relation to a chosen or created key center any one pitch is said to be either diatonic or not. And with color tones, the non diatonic pitches are often termed 'altered.' Altered from their diatonic note? Yep. And they look to be the 'blue notes' for 'C' major ... yes they are.

Minor key colortones. Into the bonus we go as with our natural minor group of pitches, we can easily jazz it up with it's close cousins harmonic and melodic minor. When we combine the pitches of the three variations together we end up with nine of our 12 total available. In writing and performing music, chords that back melodies in minor keys often take a pitch or two extra from the harmonic and melodic groups. Not really an issue as long as we stay flexible and understand these options. Our goal is simply to locate a source for each pitch as it comes along in the music. Examine the pitches thinking from the root pitch 'A.' Example 4.

rules of thumb
altered
key center
relatives
scale # degrees
1
.
2
3
.
4
.
5
.
6
.
7
8
A minor scale
A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
A harmonic minor
A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
.
G#
A
A melodic minor
A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
.
F#
.
G#
A
nine combined pitches
A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
F#
G
G#
A

Wow that's chromatic at the end of the line. By half step from 'E' to 'A', chromatic. So clearly we can see that there will be a couple of choices for the colortones of the 6th and its upper octave 13 and the 7th; both blue and major 7th's are included. So when we build up chords we've a few more options than just the diatonic seven. Here's our chord spelling chart for the combined pitches from above. Example 4a.

chromatic
scale # degrees
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
b5
5
b6
6
b7
7
8
A minor 9 pitch scale
A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
F#
G
G#
A
arpeggio # degrees
1
b3
5
b7
7
9
11
b13
13
15
.
.
.
A minor 9 pitch arpeggio
A
C
E
G
G#
B
D
F
F#
A
.
.
.

And awfully close to 'A' major. With these added pitches and subtracting some others, we're just the one essential pitch away from the major scale grouping of pitches. Of course the one we're missing is the one that counts :) Example 4b.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
A melodic minor scale
A
B
C
D
E
F#
G#
A
A major scale
A
B
C#
D
E
F#
G#
A

So as we evolve our natural minor group with the addition of the pitches from harmonic and melodic minor groups, are we just trending towards the major scale? Absolutely. Even without getting completely to major, our raised 6th and 7th degrees create some new pathways both in melody and in generating harmony to support the lines. The leading tone 'G#' is essential to make the Five chord a major triad, which with an added blue / dominant / b7, creates the essential two pitch tritone tension of the V7 dominant chord.

Having just the raised 6th 'F#' in the group leans us to the key center of 'G' major, thus potentially adding in all that is available there. Here the mode from 'A' our root pitch becomes Dorian and Four is a major triad with b7, thus our Two / Five evolves from within these additions. It is pretty twisty theory at this level really, so we think from the root pitch and start diatonically so hopefully we'll find our way forward and back if necessary :)

Color tones of the seven diatonic triads. Easiest way just might be to go through each one of the seven diatonic notes of the relative major / minor scale and see just what color tones commonly shake out and what styles we'll commonly find them. While it seems that there are a lot of variables here, and there can be, certain colors consistently find their way into a musical style and help create a certain character of a style. Like blue jeans being blue? Yep :) In academia, we're simply 'big picture' looking at all this with an eye towards understanding the color tones and where we might use one or two new ones in the music we are creating today.

One. In a song in a major key, the triad built on One is a major triad and the colortones pretty much follow as in the chart presented above. Here it is again followed by tonic / One chord color tones. The One chord is also designated in this text as a chord type, and as such becoming the tonal, chordal model of tonal stability. Example 2.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
C major arpeggio
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C

Cool? Easy really as anything beyond the major 7th becomes a bit of pop but mostly leaning jazz. Notice how the 11th is raised by half step in the third bar to the non-diatonic #11? The C11 chord is probably more of a 'sus' chord as there is no 3rd in the triad. So not really a solid, tonic function chord. Raised up by half step we avoid the 'E' to 'F' pairing and create some bi-tonal sounds character of the jazz modernes.

Bossa staple. The major 9th colortone on One is a bossa nova staple, simply a must have. The voicing in the above idea is a bossa keeper in that we get to alternate the One / Five / One essential bass motions of the bossa style with a rather handy chord solution. Ex. 2b.

wiki ~ bossa nova

There's a few of these alternating bass, bossa nova shapes for guitar. Do bossa-fy the rhythms as you see fit. And no blues chords on One? Can't be. Well, blues music is based on dominant, V7, harmony. The chord with the two pitch tritone? Exactly. We'll surely see it when we get to Five. That's one of the tricky theory 'rubs' with the blues. No worries if we source things diatonically and always try to think from the root of the chord or chords in play.

Two. In a song in a major key, the triad built on Two is a minor triad and its diatonic colortones are all in play. Measuring its colortone intervals from the root; its 7th is a minor or blue 7th, 9th is a major 9th, 11 is a perfect 4th up an octave, and 13th is a major 6th up an octave. All are cool and diatonic and yes, Two like One and Five, is also designated as a chord type.

We can find any of these in most of our styles excepting songs for kids and folk songs, whose chords are mostly triad based with a 7th on Five. Again the idea that open tunings simplify all this and open up the motor hand with a couple of twists of the pegs. Examine the diatonic color tone pitches built on Two. Example 3.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
Two / D minor arpeggio
D
F
A
C
E
G
B
D

Some interesting colors yes? And with five or so unique minor scale constructions, plus their modes, we've additional options to pursue. Or we can find the chords as we need them or discover them in the musics we play. Two is also a chord 'type', and as such becomes a bus stop for minor chords and theory. As the harmonic motion to Four is so predominant in our musics, when we evolve Four into Two, things can change in a hurry.

Too common a color to leave out. A very common coloring of Two comes from its diatonic role as Two in the minor tonality. Known as a 'minor 7th / flat 5', this chord is also the diatonic Seven 7th chord of any major key. So why here as part of Two? Well in the literature, we'll find this half diminished coolness on Two and even Three for that matter, in both songs in major or minor. It adds a bit of a surprise spice to major while a true diatonic color of the minor key. Amazing how that works huh? Just part of the 'relatives' nature of the same group of pitches creating both major and minor key centers / tonalities? Yep. Examine the color tone pitches of Two again noting the altered 5th. Example 3a

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
Two / D minor arpeggio
D
F
Ab
C
E
G
B
D

Wow ... somebody say 'ah ... men.' So be it ! Sound like we've come to a resting point in the music? Breath a sigh of relief ? That's the idea :) Tension to resolution, or not as the artistic case might be. Do remember that this Two half diminished 7th is also the chord built on Seven in a major key. The half diminished 7th is just too common as Two in both major and minor jazz compositions not to mention here.

Not that uncommon a to leave out. A not uncommon colortone for jazzing up the diatonic minor triad on Two is to use the major 7th atop the triad. We hear it throughout the styles and while mostly as a passing chord between tonic and b7, don't be surprised to find it as a stand alone chordal color, finding a bit of an exotic spot in the musics. Example 3b

jazz up
passing chords
minor triad / major 7th
scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
Two / D minor arpeggio
D
F
A

C#

E
G
B
D

Sound familiar? Fairly common of slower tempo songs in a minor key. Easily added in the right spots as determined by the artist, you :)

Three. In a song in a major key, the triad built on Three is a minor triad, root note of the Phrygian mode and most of the diatonic color tones work just fine. We have a bit of a rub 9, as it creates the minor 9th or b9 interval from the root. Also 13, which is our tonic pitch, often leans the chord towards sounding as a first inversion collection of pitches. The seventh is cool and in all probability the most popular of the colortones built on Three, throughout all of our styles. Eleven is also common, creating a bit of a suspended or floating quality to the chord. Common as a stepping stone or passing chord between Two and Four, the triad on Three is as essential as near any in the folk, blues, rock and country styles, often becoming the first chord of the verse. Examine the letter names of Three as created within the key center of 'C' major. Example 4.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
Three / E minor arpeggio
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
E

Here's the potential 'rub' between our root pitch 'E' and its diatonic 9th and 13th. Example 4a.

Here are some of the common colortones and chord shapes built on Three, thinking 'C' major. Example 4c.

See any you know? Without a 9th or 13th it gets pretty thin. As 'E' is the major 3rd of our tonic triad, it gets additional work there in 1st inversion tonic chords. Also as a passing chord between One and Four, going either way is fairly common. Example 4d.

Cool? So just smoothing out the motion to Four? Maybe but variety is also nice as is the case above with the 'lighter' tonic sound of 1st inversions. These inversion chords oftentimes come up in chord melody style playing and arrangements, when a song's storyline gets interpreted with what we term 'block' harmonies.

This block chord approach is often one pass through a song to clearly present the idea as the composer intended, followed by our 'theme and variations. The 3rd inversion Five chord, on beat three of the second measure two is also a keeper. It's quite a swing thing and your bass player might appreciate it too as you stay off their root notes pitches that tell their story :)

Four. One and Four are nearly identical. The chords and color tones built-up on Four in a major key are near identical to our tonic / One chord possibilities. As One and Four function so alike, providing stability and resting points in our songs, the color tones for their chords are essentially the same. What works for One is cool on Four too. The one diatonic difference is with the 11th, a basis for all things whole tone from within the diatonic realm. Examine the pitches building up out of the pitches of 'C' major. Example 5.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
Four / F major arpeggio
F
A
C
E
G
B
D
F

Looks like the pitches of 'F' Lydian ... ? Yep, sure is. So colortone wise just like our tonic, we've a major 7th, major 9th and the 13th, a major 6th interval moved up one full octave. The 11th is diatonically 'raised' by half step from the perfect 4th, augmenting the interval. Unique to Four, the raised 4th helps core the Lydian mode pitches of the ancients. Here's some of our basic voicings for the colortones. Example 5a.

Left out the triad shapes sorry. And the blues chords / major? No, they're all based on Five, V7 chord type and all things dominant harmony. So they are next right after Four but first a discovery point to explore ...

~ super theory game changer ~

Elevation of the 11th. Let's take a quick look and compare the interval steps of the One and Four diatonic arpeggios and look for the organics of the augmented 11th interval. Examine the letter names and their arpeggiated tertian intervals. Example 5b.

stgc
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
One arp. intervals
.
maj 3
min 3
maj 3
min 3
min 3
maj 3
min 3
One arpeggio pitches
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
Four arp. intervals
.
maj 3
min 3
maj 3
min 3
maj 3
min 3
min 3
Four arpeggio pitches
F
A
C
E
G
B
D
F

From the chart in bold we see the interval swap; minor for major from nine to create the augmented 11th. All of our pitches are diatonic yes? Sure are, we're just illuminating where the #11 is naturally found in our relative major / minor scale grouping. Here's some of the positions for the pitches. Example 5c.

major / minor
minor 3rd
major 3rd

Hearing some of the augmented 11th and its 'whole tone' color through the line? Without this ever so subtle shift we'd just be building a major scale from 'F.' Examine the pitches of 'F' major built up with the two consecutive minor 3rds of the major scale formula. Example 5d.

arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
One arp. intervals
.
maj 3
min 3
maj 3
min 3
min 3
maj 3
min 3
Four arpeggio pitches
F
A
C
E
G
Bb
D
F
The 'Bb', the natural 11th as measured from the root, is the one pitch that varies here to create the key center of 'F' major. Down an octave, the 11th becomes the 4th scale degree, and is the reoccurring totally essential catalyst pitch for modulating around the cycle of 5th's.

Quick review; colortones One and Four. So from the root pitch; our major 3rd, perfect 5th, major 7th, major 9th and major 13th color tones and intervals are all identical. Which colortone wise covers all of our styles including our finest Hollywood jazz chords. Just this slight shifting of the intervals between One and Four does diatonically build the #11 into Four's arpeggio and chord; so tonic like stability with some whole tone.

Lydian mode. In this next idea we use the same pitches and build up the Lydian mode. We swap arpeggio thirds for scaler half and whole step intervals and match pitches with interval steps. Examine the pitches and stepwise scale formula for the Lydian mode. Ex. 5e.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
intervals
.
1
1
1
1/2
1
1
1/2
F Lydian
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F

So just like the major scale we have a leading tone 7th, half step below the tonic. We also see the 'F' to 'B' as 'three tones.' So a tritone ? Yep. Three whole steps or major 2nds. So just as the chords and colortones, the Lydian and Ionian modes are near identical also. Lydian varies in that it brings out more of the whole tone / augmented color as a tonal center, so it brings a degree of tonal ambiguity within its tonic center.

If we continue these three consecutive whole steps, we could continue the whole step (1) symmetry and create a whole tone scale. Example 5f.

interval
.
1
1
1
1
1
1
F whole tone scale
F
G
A
B
C#
D# (Eb)
F

Why do this? Because we can and as theorists we simply may want to know the organic source of things. Never know when we might need that one chord to complete our artistic, compositional puzzle. So the wholetone scale is a perfectly closed loop? Sure is.

Lydian b7 mode. A fairly common and colorful group leaning whole tone-ish is Lydian b7. This is a jazz color mostly, though it gets nicked and called upon on rare occassions in the any of the rock / blues sounds. Its organic theory can be derived this way. Examine the pitches and compare their sounds. Example 5g.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
F Lydian
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F
F Lydian b7
F
G
A
B
C
D
Eb
F

Where is it used? Well it'll create interesting melodies and can diatonically generate some interesting chords. Jazz improv is its main domain and it's a catalyst color to points beyond its initial diatonic subdominant position as illuminated in this discussion of diatonic colortones.

In looks and sounds. Cool and a bit out there yes? Whole tone colors have their own uniqueness for certain. These pitches are an awful lot like 'C' melodic minor yes? They sure are and here we find another improv portal to explore. Here are the above pitches from 'C' to 'C', so the 5th mode of 'F' Lydian. Ex. 5h.

A mode within a mode within a mode within a mode :) Here the close of the line in the melodic minor? Cool, that's the juice of the leading tone 7th working its magic. Thanks to the perfect closure of all of our resources, there's an endless looping of the colors within, thus the opening lick of 'modes within modes within modes.' For in the gradual modal shifting of the pitches that reshape their tonal gravity around one central pitch, (a tonic) their aural and emotional hues are revealed. Cool ?

Advancing jazz improvisors will apply the Lydian / melodic minor colors to chord changes in a similar manner as the V7b9 chord substitution properties enable. In this book we call this 'softening' the diminished colors and use 'artistic license' to help glue it all together. Compare the pitches of the two groups; F Lydian b7 and 'C' melodic minor. Example 5i.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
F Lydian b7
F
G
A
B
C
D
Eb
F
C melodic minor
C
D
Eb
F
G
A
B
C

No surprise that jazz players want to jazz it up and with tempos, that usually can include to speed things up. Horn players who cannot play chords rely on scales and arpeggios to make their melodies. And for some the faster the better. In this 'blur' of speedy notes the colors come forth. Back in the 60's there was the original 'sheets of sounds' pioneered by Coltrane. And while not the first in this approach, he had the chops, fame and luck to inspire this description by a music reviewer thus forever after added to his accomplishments and contributions to our Americana musics.

Five. The Five chord is the home of our tension creating Mixolydian motor that decides how things generally go in the music we create. Known as the dominant and also a chord type, the colortones available on Five within a major scale, diatonic key center include ALL of the possibilities of ALL of the pitches ... except one. All except one? Yep. Which one? Any guesses? Hint; what makes a dominant chord a dominant chord? A two pitch tritone? Correct. And those pitches are ... ?

Regardless, so once past the major triad of root, major 3rd and perfect 5th, the 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th are all available. And further, even the root, 3rd and 5th are available for alteration, often positioned up one octave or not as the case may be.

And depending on our musical style, we'll often push past the diatonic boundaries of 9, 11, and 13 and incorporate their alterations into our dominant / Five chords. Examine the letter names and sounds of the diatonic pitches and color tones built on our root pitch 'G', Five in 'C' major. Example 6.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
Five / G major arpeggio
G
B
D
F
A
C
E
G

And their alterations? Color tone alterations and the voicings they can create on the dominant Five chord are legion; really and endless number of possibilities. Add in chord inversions and substitutions and it is game on really for the creative artist. We talking jazz here? Yep pretty much. Examine the pitches followed by some common chord shapes, all of which are movable chords. Example 6a.

arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
Five / G major arpeggio
G
B
D
F
A
C
E
arpeggio # degrees
.
b5
#5
b9
#9
#11
b13
altered colortone pitches
.
Db
D#
Ab
Bb
C#
Eb

All of these chords and altered colortones are jazz and blues chords really. Surely The 'b5' is a jazz chord. The #5 often in a minor blues song and progression, b9 very common jazz chord, #9 again a blues chord, #11 is jazz as it leans polytonal and the b13 paired with #9 probably qualifies for Hollywood status as a dominant chord type. So in folk, rock, country and pop styles, these sorts of dominant colors are saved for when a big blues or jazzy effect is desired. That said, not at all unusual to hear these colortones throughout the libraries among Kings of Pop icons such as Stevie Wonder and 'Steely Dan.' Choose and follow links forward for discovery learning with these dominant colortones.

wiki ~ Stevie Wonder
wiki ~ Steely Dan
wiki ~ discovery learning
#4 / b5
6
b7
b9
9
#9
11
#11
b13
13
#15

The Six chord. As the Six chord is home of the relative minor, its parent scale is the natural minor / Aeolian grouping of pitches. We can follow along these pitches and create our diatonic colortones. Examine the letter name pitches as we evolve the relative key centers of 'C' major and into 'A' natural minor, followed by some fairly common minor triad based colortone chords / voicings. Example 7.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
A minor scale
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
Six / A minor arpeggio
A
C
E
G
B
D
F
A

Three in one. As the natural minor group is easily evolved by altering its 6th and 7th degrees into the harmonic and melodic minor groupings, we open up some new opportunities for the color tones with these additional pitches. Examine the pitches. Example 7a.

scale # degrees
1
.
2
3
.
4
.
5
.
6
.
7
8
A minor scale
A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
A harmonic minor
A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
.
G#
A
A melodic minor
A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
.
F#
.
G#
A
nine combined pitches
A
.
B
C
.
D
.
E
F
F#
G
G#
A

Using just the raised 6th gives us the pitches of 'G' major and all that comes along with it. The raised 7th evolves the diatonic Five chord from a minor triad into major, setting the stage for all things V7. Examine the evolutions of the diatonic Four and Five chords. Example 7b.

Surely the Two / Five motion is important as a sleeker, jazzier version of Four / Five / One. Making the minor Five chord major and V7 is more common than its diatonic source through the literature, in all of the styles really. That said, anything that might be considered 'roots', could very well use the minor dominant. In some of the reggae styles, the minor Five is not uncommon in cadential motions. As theorists we just tend to want to know the theory of the evolutions.

 

The Seven chord. The Seven chord in the major tonality is home of the diminished triad. Surely one of a kind, two minor 3rd's stacked leaves little if any room for additional colors. We do add a 7th to the triad and in two forms, to form the half and fully diminished chords. There's a common suspension that happens which we could consider a colortone of sorts, but beyond that there's very little else in the literature or any style really, that expands the harmony with colortones from Seven. Examine the pitches as we evolve Seven from within the key center of 'C' major. Example 8.

scale # degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio # degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
Seven / B minor arpeggio
B
D
F
A
C
E
G
B

So the diatonic 7th is cool, making the 'half diminished' 7th chord. The diatonic 9th 'C' makes for a minor 9th interval, so quite dissonant. The 11th is the 'sus4' so, while not usually included in a chord it is used as a suspension. The 13th 'G' over the 'B' create more of a first inversion quality than colortone effect it seems. Hear the evolutions of the numerical theory. Ex. 8a.

Well not a lot of colortone choices but the one's we get are keepers. At least to jazz and pop players. The half diminished 7th voicing in the second bar is a common blues chord; B-7b5 is a G9 chord in first inversion, so 'B' in the bass. Common, cool and very unique in a rather handy chord shape. Surely there's more here, just explore :)

The common colortones of various musical styles. Colortones are mostly blues and jazz thing. So anywhere we've some blues hue or jazz it up as they say, chances are we'll add in some color above the triads, both major and minor. Here's just a brief survey of what we may find where in the literature.

Children's songs. The 6th on tonic and Four is not uncommon and a b7 on V7 to push the cadence a bit more. On more modern arrangements sky's the limit although diatonic generally rules the day. Sing-able, funny and joyous, and vanilla minor keys for a sad song.

In a folk styling. In folk storytelling, three chords and the truth is often the rule of the day. And most times these chords are triads and diatonic. Any blues influence brings in the b7 colortone, while using an open tuning opens things further colortone possibilities.

wiki ~ 3 chords and the truth Harlan Howard

In a blues styling. The blues is most often dominant V7 based as its tonic chord. The blues version of the three chords and the truth in a 12 bar form. 9, #9 on V and 13 are common also.

In 'jump' or rockabilly. The colortones of major 6th and b7 rule the day. Chord progressions generally run 1,4, and 5 through a 12 bar blues form. The Five chord is V7, 1 and 4 are often 6th / 13th jump chords with our without the blue note 7th.

In a country and rock styling. Country loves the 6th while rock is triads and blues 7th. When the pop influence comes along major 7th is not uncommon. Harder rock loves #9.

In a pop styling. Everything is on the colortone table. Mostly diatonic triad based weaving of the 3 and 3, modulations both within a song and at the close of an arrangement, i.e., up a step are not uncommon. Pop music loves hooks and hooks are usually very signable, memorable and unforgettable :) That jazz was America's pop music for 60 odd years before rock and roll and forward, tells us any colortone can be anywhere.

In a bossa styling. The bossa loves the major 7th and major 9th colortones on tonic chords. The softer color tones often disguising the incessant pulse of the dance. All of the colortones are in play really, as the gifted composers weave stories into puzzles of form where each piece is shaped and colored to create the mosaic.

In a jazz styling. All the colortones are available for sure, with periods within the 100 odd years of jazz now having faves. Blues early on of course. The complex weave of ragtime. More blues in the teens and 20's. Swing with a big band choir of mostly diatonic, inside colorings of the harmony. Bebop expands to include more dissonance of b5, b9 a budding chromaticism. West coast cool draws back to well crafted pop of the 40's and 50's. Bossa also arrives. And then on towards the 12 tone chromaticism from the 60's forward. Rock rhythms influence and jamming over one chord or pitch. Today all of this history is on the table, some making better sense than others of course, for art and beauty, is in the eye of the beholder who composes.

In a modern styling. Quartile harmony, the #11's of polytonality and onto key cycles of #15 all are modern sounds that mix the traditional color tones in non-traditional ways. Tone rows for melodies, free form based on a four bar phrase repeated as in a vamp creating sections, there's a new sense of tonality centered not only on pitch but rhythm cycles and pedal tones. When sequences become non-diatonic we very quickly can ascend into the modern realms of the musical arts.

Review. So have a sense of the colortones, their labeling and which ones commonly are found in certain styles? Not really sure that is possible to really do but we can try. Having the skills to spell out the scales into arpeggios and segment the arpeggios into triads and add colortones is the basis of understanding we seek. Once the basics are in place, the search for the 'lost chord' continues newly unabated :)

wiki ~ lost chord

"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known."

Pete Seeger

Grout, Donald Jay. A History of Western Music, p. 10. W.W.Norton and Company Inc. New York, 1960.