LearnJazzPiano.com archives: Upper Structures?
ronald1 -- 09/14/2006, 06:58:13 -- #29813
I'm learning about upper structures, and have a few questions:

1.  why can you only play them over a tritone?
2.  are they just used to simplify the way you see chord extensions when you read from lead sheets, or do people hear use them in free improvisation (e.g. by playing a chord and then choosing say the triad a major 2nd above the chord)
3.  are they really necessary?!! seems like taking theory a bit too far from what I can tell

Thanks for the help.

jazz jasper -- 09/14/2006, 08:48:33 -- #29813
1.  Because with out the tritone you cannot tell or hear what the chord is, the 3rd and 7th (or tritone) are the most important thing in a chord so you must always have at the very least the tritone.  

2.  Yes people use them when comping and all the time when playing extentions, they are supposed to simplify the way you see extentions but I still found them very hard to get to grips with.

3.  Yes they are, the theory might sound complicated but the formula works!

I use them all the time, and like it says in the Levine book that you will soon know them as well as your left hand voicings.

I know that they are quite difficult to start off with but if your carry on you'll realise how clever they are and how much you use them.

7 -- 09/14/2006, 08:54:38 -- #29813
1. Who ever said that they can ONLY be played over a tritone? Any quality of chord can take upper structures.

2. People use them all the time in free improvisation. Charlie Parker's great revelation is that you can play extended chords as if they were scales.

3. Is it even necessary to play Jazz? Most people don't make any money doing it. Most audiences don't appreciate it.

And the role of any type music in the fabric of society is thought by many to be a completely useless endeavor with the ultimate goal of distracting people from the true meaning of life.

People who make millions playing power chords don't even think it's necessary to play anything higher than a perfect fifth and don't bother with thirds at all.

So NO, it isn't necessary to play upper structures, it isn't even necessary to play music.

But necessity is not what drives Art.

Jazz+ -- 09/14/2006, 11:41:53 -- #29813
They work as arpeggios in soloing to, very nice when used in neighboring pairs of arpeggio patterns.

Copyright 2005 by Scot Ranney. All rights reserved.
Click Here for more information about performances and clinics. Click Here to sign up for Scot's music announcements.