I am a beginner in modern (Jazz?) piano and I am wondering how I should add tension(s) for "i" (minor of 1st) in a major-scale song.

I am aware that, e.g., for I and IV (major of 1st and 4th) we usually do add9, for vi (minor of the 6th) we usually do minor 7th, and for iv (minor of 4th) we usually do minor 6th.

What about "i" (minor of 1st)? Do we have common ways to add tension(s)?

1 Answer 1


Common ways to add tension to the i chord, in very rough order of common-ness, are:

  1. Add a minor 7,
  2. Add a major 6,
  3. Add a major 9, usually in addition to a 7 or 6,
  4. Add a major 2,
  5. Play as 1-4-b7 (i.e., "quartal" voicing, no third in the chord),
  6. Add a 4,
  7. Add a major 7,
  8. Add a minor 6 (relatively uncommon, in particular because it sounds like an inverted major-seventh chord).

Taking a C minor chord (C-Eb-G) as an example:

  1. Add Bb,
  2. add A,
  3. add D as highest pitch (and Bb or A),
  4. add D between C and Eb (e.g., C-D-Eb-G),
  5. play C-F-Bb, no Eb,
  6. add F,
  7. add B natural,
  8. add Ab.

C minor tension illustrations

  • What a great and vaste answer! Aaron, you're worthy the 25 Pts. Mar 26 at 6:49
  • @gidds You're right, they should be "add" chords. Thanks. I've corrected the image.
    – Aaron
    Mar 26 at 15:45

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