This week I’m here to offer some help with those pesky suspended chords. In this video lesson we talk about the three most commonly seen suspended chords in jazz harmony.

For the most part, students that I work with understand them theoretically, but still are unsure of what to play over them. I know for me when I was first learning to deal with these chords it felt like everything I played sounded like I was nailing wrong notes all over the place. The first step in really being able to deal with this harmony is understanding what it is. The next step is getting used the sound of that natural 4 in your lines.

The issue with the chord to your ears is the fact that we are dealing with a chord stacked in 4ths instead of the common stacked 3rds. This is going to result in some new sounds that you aren’t used too. Sticking that 4th as a melodic note in your lines is a little unusual. This is where listening to the soloists on the Herbie Hancock composition Maiden Voyage becomes really important. They all use that note melodically in their solos. Training your ear to hear that and become comfortable with it will help a lot. Another thing to keep in mind is that a suspended chord is a dominant chord, so technically it has a major 3rd not a minor 3rd. In my video I discuss this a little bit, but keep in mind that the use of the minor 3rd in the blues is different then playing a minor scale over a suspended chord. The intent is different and lends itself to a different expectation. (Check out Wes Montgomery playing on Days of Wine and Roses – The use of the minor 3rd (blues) on the static Eb7 dominant chord vrs. the minor scale over the static Gminor7 chord).

Check out the video lesson and if you have any questions please reach out and I’ll be happy to answer!