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So I have done this great exercise where you alter one note at a time to create a new chord:

    Cmaj7   C   E   G   B
    C7      C   E   G   B♭
    Cm7     C   E♭  G   B♭
    Cm7♭5   C   E♭  G♭  B♭
    Cdim7   C   E♭  G♭  B♭♭

This really helps you visualize how chords are made, so I wonder what other chords can you start with to do the exact same exercise?

  • 1
    interesting...have you played around with taking a chord, changing the root and getting a really different chord? F (major triad, F A C) put D in the bass...D F A C (d minor 7). – b3ko Jul 13 '18 at 17:26
  • That could also be a great exercise. I find the exercise to be really good to help visualize how chords relate to each other. It's like feeding the brain with a spoon. THIS is how a Fm7b5 is made, now REMEMBER it. – miniHessel Jul 13 '18 at 17:27
  • You could start with any chord. Should you be more specific in the question? – coconochao Jul 13 '18 at 18:13
  • >Yes, that is what I am thinking coco. I just need help creating an overview. One example could be the 9 chord. Starting with a maj9, altering one and one note. – miniHessel Jul 13 '18 at 18:19
  • Look at Pat Martino's work from the 80's. I have the books somewhere but not in front of me, Creative Force (I think). He has a way of looking at the diminished 7th chord as a seed for everything else (my interpretation). I'd butcher it if I tried to explain it. – ggcg Jul 13 '18 at 18:28
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Don't forget about the basic triads! But in order for your particular system to work, you'll have to start with either the augmented or diminished triad:

    +    C    E    G♯
    M    C    E    G
    m    C    E♭   G
    °    C    E♭   G♭

Also, note that, with one small adjustment, you can string some of these together to just keep going through all chordal roots. As one example:

    Cmaj7   C   E   G   B
    C7      C   E   G   B♭
    Cm7     C   E♭  G   B♭
    Cm7♭5   C   E♭  G♭  B♭
    Cdim7   C   E♭  G♭  B♭♭
    Cm7♭5   C   E♭  G♭  B♭ (return here to keep the one-half-step rule)
    C♭maj7  C♭  E♭  G♭  B♭ (enharmonic to Bmaj7)
    B7      B   D♯  F♯  A
    Bm7     B   D   F♯  A
    Bm7♭5   B   D   F   A
    Bdim7   B   D   F   A♭
    Bm7♭5   B   D   F   A (return here)
    B♭maj7  B♭  D   F   A

And so on.


Otherwise, it seems you could do this half-step exercise with pretty much every extended tertian chord (9ths and above), since you can always explain something as, e.g., ♯11 or ♭13 or add9.


I've also taken the liberty of editing your Cdim7 to use B♭♭ instead of A. In short, since that pitch is the seventh of the chord, we want to spell it as the note a seventh above C. Since a seventh above C is B, we want to spell that pitch as some type of B—in this case, B♭♭—even though it's enharmonic to A. When we spell it as A, we actually create an Adim7, since the thirds of A C E♭ G♭ stack with A as the root.

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Here's an example with 9 chords.

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What about something like this?

C E G (C major, of course) B E G (E minor, inverted) B D G (G major, inverted) B D F# (B minor)

... and so on.

This sort of thing might help you compose, because you will know which chords are really close together, if the passage requires something like that.

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