I'm trying to understand an interesting non-diatonic chord in the chord progression at 0:30-0:45 of this video; my rough transcription of the chords is as follows. enter image description here

  • As far as I can tell, the non-diatonic chord is a tritone substitution for C#7 (the dominant of the following chord F#m) or C#m7 (the vi in E). Is this a fair assessment of the chord's function?
  • Is my naming of G9add13 correct? I don't think it's a G6/9 because of the presence of the F. More generally, is there a broader name for this particular kind of voicing, like "quartal upper structure"?

Thank you again.

  • There is a minor triad, E G B, in there. The F natural would be a b9 and the A an 11. But that view doesn’t simplify anything. – Todd Wilcox Mar 4 at 4:04

Your assessment is right, so is the voicing you wrote. It is a G13 chord (7,9,13) and it is a substitute dominant chord for C#7 going to F#m7. The strong G root, presence of the B and F notes in the chord and the function to the F#m leaves no doubt in my mind that it is a G dominant chord and not a slash or inversion chord.

I think quartal voicing is pretty accurate (two 4ths, one tritone). It is also a drop 2 voicing of (bottom to top) B-E-F-A or 3,13,b7,9 (with the low root added) which is a typical way players with a jazz sensibility voice dominant chords without altered tensions in one hand. FYI this same voicing can be used for a C#7alt chord by changing only the root from G to C#.

  • Thanks again John, always appreciate your answers! The drop 2 interpretation was interesting (I was not aware of this "typical one-handed voicing of dominant chords"). Could it also be interpreted as a kind of shell voicing? – angryavian Mar 4 at 5:47
  • Yes, jazz pianists often voice 9th or 13th dominant chords as 3,13,b7,9 or the second inversion of that b7,9,3,13 when comping behind their own solos. Altered chords are usually 3,b6,b7,#9 or the 2nd inversion of that. The drop 2 on these really opens them up and sounds complex and rich. I don’t think of them as shell voicings since those are usually more bare bones whereas these voicings are full and complex even though they don’t have roots or fifths. – John Belzaguy Mar 4 at 6:33
  • Thanks for the info about voicings! – angryavian Mar 8 at 0:42

Yes, it's a substitution, but it's not G9add13, it's A7/G, or better, A7sus2/G.

  • How is it A7 with no C# and an added F? OP is correct, it's a G9add13, and it's a tritone substitution for C#7 in a ii-V-i progression. – Aaron Mar 4 at 3:17
  • Ahh, I see. Sus2. Still, makes no sense: doesn't explain the F and doesn't fit functionally. – Aaron Mar 4 at 3:19
  • @Aaron well, using suspended/quartal chords the concept functionality becomes more "volatile" than the "standard" approach that is based on abstractions. G9add13 is not that different from A7sus2/G, and the most important notes of the substitution (the bass, and, considering the following chord, the third) do exist. It lacks the seventh, yes, but it doesn't matter that much. – musicamante Mar 4 at 3:42
  • No offense, but the G13 analysis makes a lot more sense in context. Try reducing the chords down to seventh chords, and G#m7 G7 F#m7 still has clear function in E major. G#m7 A7 F#m7 is a lot less functional. Also, the correct chord name for your A-rooted analysis would be something like A9b13(no3) in third inversion, which is uncommon harmony compared to the logical tritone substitution G13. It's not wrong objectively, but it's also not a very useful understanding of what's going on here. – user45266 Mar 9 at 21:58

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