Tony Oreshko jazz and gypsy jazz guitar


Click a subject below to see the submitted question and our answer:

Q1 - Upper and Lower Auxiliary Notes in Soloing Lesson 8
Q2 - Gypsy jazz guitar right hand picking
Q3 - Gypsy jazz guitar - right hand speed

Q4 - Dominant 7th and tonic chords
Q5 - Arpeggios on altered dominant chords
Q6 - Are modes appropriate in jazz?
Q7 - Diminished chords and arpeggios in a Blues
Q8 - Soloing over 11ths and altered dominant chords
Q9 - Working out m7b5 arpeggio substitutes more accurately

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Question 1

Here's a question from Chris about the upper and lower auxiliary notes discussed in the website soloing lessons 7 and 8:

hey, i was reading the lessons about auxiliary notes, and lesson 7 made sense, but lesson 8 got me thinking a little. i've been trying to figure out why when you play the lower notes, it's a semitone below (no matter what?) but when you play the upper notes there seems to be a formula, but not a diatonic formula. why is it different??

Tony Oreshko replies:

Thanks for the mail about the lessons, Chris.

There is a logic behind the pattern. The notes below the chord tone are always one semitone (or one fret) lower. The notes above the chord tone are either one semitone (one fret) or one full tone (two frets) higher.

The reason why the upper notes vary is that they follow the notes of the scale that the chord tones come from. Or put another way, the upper notes are diatonic.

In the example I gave the chord/arpeggio notes are C, E and G. The matching upper auxiliary notes are D, F and A. Notice that these all belong to the scale of C major, but that C to its upper auxiliary D is 2 frets, whereas E to its upper auxiliary F is only one fret. This is because a major scale is made up of a mixture of tones and semitones.

As for the lower auxiliary notes, they are always one fret lower so they end up being a mixture of diatonic and chromatic notes.

Why are they always one fret lower (rather than a mixture of 1 and 2 frets as with the notes above)? It's basically because we like that kind of sound!

By making some of the lower notes chromatic it adds a little bit of colour to the sound ('chromatic' comes from the word meaning 'colourful').

Hope this is of some help, Chris.

Tony Oreshko

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Question 2

Abdelkader from France writes the first of two messages asking about gypsy jazz picking:


i'm still begin to study gypsy jazz soloing but i had a problem with the technic of the pick while descinding (from the high E string to the low E string) it's I thinkit's all played with a down strockes and it's paralyze my dextirity , can I use the technic of AL dimeola (down up) in this situation?

many thanks and sorry for my english!

Tony Oreshko replies:

Salut! - thanks a lot for your message about gypsy jazz picking.

I think I can help with your question. Yes, most of the time you certainly should use alternate picking in gypsy jazz guitar, playing down-up (like Al diMeola), otherwise it is impossible to play with any speed.

Gypsy jazz players do sometimes play what is called a 'rest stroke', but this is only used as a special effect to play loud, powerful and slower lines. With the rest stroke you always play down strokes - down-down.

To play a rest stroke on the bottom (low) E string you pluck this string using a very strong downstroke and carry on moving your pick downwards until it rests on the next string (the 5th or A string). Now to play a rest stroke on the 5th string you play the 5th string with a downstroke, and then rest your pick on the 4th string...and so on.

If you now use rest strokes playing from the top E through to the bottom E this will always be slow as your pick moves downwards each time, but your next string to play lies in the opposite direction of your pick stroke.

As I said, the rest stroke is just used as a special effect, but most of the time every gypsy jazz guitarist uses alternate up and down strokes with the pick for speed, just like Al diMeola and the other guys.

However, there is one big difference in right hand technique for gypsy jazz players. In other styles of jazz, and in rock guitar, we rest the right hand wrist on the bridge of the guitar when picking. But gypsy jazz guitarists play with the right hand wrist curved so that the hand is raised above the bridge and not resting on it.

The best way to understand this gypsy jazz right hand position is to watch some good players very closely. This historical film of Django Reinhardt (on youtube) will let you see the classic position of the gypsy jazz guitar right hand:

Link to Django Reinhardt on youtube

As you probably know, Django Reinhardt was the inventor of gypsy jazz guitar, and all the players since then have tried to copy his style.

Hope this is of some help, and that you enjoy watching this very old film of one of the world's greatest guitarists.

Best wishes, and good luck with your playing! Let me know if I can help in any other way.

Tony Oreshko

Abdelkader responded:

Thanks a lot for answering me (and quickly!!) i'm very happy, as i understand , while playing fast licks (like the descending chromatic scale in Minor swing 1937 afterthe chords of nine played, or the descending lick of minor blues after the theme, or fast licks of descendingscales in Dark Eyes 1947) I use only alternate picking? please confirm that Other question, is while descending and playing one note per string (very fast) we play an alternate pickingor a sweep picking? and if you can please, are stochelo and bireli plays like this ?(their dextirity is simply fantastic!!) thanks a lot for reading and answering my questions

Tony Oreshko replies:

Thanks for your reply. You're most welcome - glad I can be of some help to a fellow guitarist!

Regarding your latest questions, yes, the fast licks you mention are almost certainly played with alternate picking. Very fast runs on any single string will need to use alternate picking regardless of the style of music. There is a limit to how fast you can play with all down strokes on this type of phrase.

But when moving from one string to the next - such as playing a note on the 4th then on the 3rd then the 2nd strings - some gypsy jazz guitarists keep the pick moving in the same direction, that is playing up-up-up with the pick in this example. To play the same three notes in the opposite direction (from D to G to B) it would be down-down-down. This of course is basically simple sweep picking.

It's also possible to play this type of phrase using alternate picking, but some of the gypsy jazz phrases work much better with sweeping. For example, here's a diminished arpeggio pattern that you'll hear in a lot of gypsy jazz solos. You can play it with alternate picking, but I think sweep picking will produce better results, and sweeping is probably the way Stochelo and Bireli (and Django) would play it:

Hold down an F# diminshed chord with your left hand like this:
1st finger 4th string 1st fret
3rd finger 3rd string 2nd fret
2nd finger 2nd string 1st fret
4th finger 1st string 2nd fret

Now pick the following strings one after another:
1st string with an upstroke
4th string with an upstroke
3rd string with a downstroke
2nd string with a downstroke
1st string with a downstroke

Now repeat these five notes using the exactly the same pick strokes, but with the diminished chord shape moved up three frets.

Hopefully you will recognize the kind of sound this produces, and with a bit of practice you'll see how well it works using sweeping.

For gypsy jazz guitar then, there are these different ways to pick:
1) alternate picking for the fast runs (up and down any string)
2) sweeping for arpeggio-type runs across the strings
3) rest strokes for strong, loud melody lines that aren't too fast

Rest strokes with a plectrum tend not to be used much outside gypsy jazz (although classical and flamenco guitarists play rest strokes with the right hand fingers). Alternate and sweep picking as you know are used by most other jazz and rock guitarists. But as well as the rest strokes, the main thing that distinguishes gypsy jazz guitar technique is the right hand raised above the bridge, as mentioned last time.

Finally, you also need to think about the actual notes that gypsy jazz guitarists play with their technique. It's a very arpeggio-based style, and it uses very few left hand ligados (hammer-ons and pull-offs) so it sounds very fast, strong and clean. Also guys like Bireli will have spent many, many hundreds of hours working on the guitar to play with such speed and control.

Once again I hope this has been helpful!

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 3

James from Ireland asks about playing fast in gypsy jazz.

Hi Tony,
How do gypsy jazz players get the speed on the right hand.

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi James,

Good to hear from you, and thanks for that question.

Well, the most basic answer is lots and lots of practice! The best gypsy jazz players - the likes of Bireli Lagrene, Jimmy and Stochelo Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre etc. - will have spent years clocking up countless hours on the guitar, so don't expect to be able to play like that in a short space of time.

Having said that, let's see if I can make some useful practical suggestions that will help you work on developing your right hand.

First of all, bear in mind that your left and right hand need to be working together, so whenever you want to develop right hand speed you also need to think about your left hand, and make sure the two are perfectly co-ordinated.

Some of the reasons why gypsy jazz players sound so fast and clean is that:
1) They are playing with a plectrum (not right hand fingers like flamenco guitarists)
2) They are generally plucking each individual note with the plectrum rather than using lots of hammer-ons and pull-offs.
3) They are mainly using strictly alternating plectrum strokes, i.e. up-down-up-down

I think scales are great for getting to know your instrument, but I'd suggest working on short repeating patterns instead for developing speed. Below are two example patterns for you to work on. Practice these (and similar patterns) for 100 hours and you should be pretty good. Do them for 1,000 hours and you'll be a whole lot better.

The timing on both these patterns should be perfectly regular, i.e. every note is the same length. When you get to the end of the pattern just repeat from the beginning without a pause.

Pattern 1
Play this on the top E string. It will sound good played against an Em chord. This pattern uses 16 notes. You basically play one fretted note then play the open string 3 times before moving on to the next fretted note followed by the open string 3 times, and so on.

3  0  0  0  5  0  0  0  7  0  0  0  5  0  0  0
d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u 

Pattern 2
This uses the first and second strings, and will sound good played against a D7, D9 or D13 chord:


1  1  1  2  2  2
7  6  5  7  6  5
d  u  d  u  d  u

For both these patterns remember to make all the notes last exactly the same length of time, and play them with strict alternating up and down strokes of the plectrum - otherwise you may be wasting your time!

Hope that's of some help! Best of luck with your playing.

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 4

Here's a question from Daniel about the dominant and tonic chords in a key

On your tritone lesson, you gave the chords G7 for a bar, and then C for a bar, and repeat. You said that the G7 was the dominant 7th, but wouldn't the C be the dominant chord?

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for asking that question about the dominant 7th chord mentioned in the Tritone Substitute lesson.

I can confirm that what I wrote isn't a mistake - G7 is indeed the dominant 7th chord in this example.

I wonder if you're perhaps mixing up the dominant chord with the 'home' chord of a key (technically known as the 'tonic' chord)? In any major or minor key, the tonic chord is chord 1. So in the key of C major a C chord will be the tonic chord. In the key of A minor the tonic chord will be Am, and so on.

As for the dominant chord, this is always chord 5 in a key. To work out the dominant chord we count 5 steps through the musical alphabet from the tonic. In the key of C major the tonic is C and the dominant chord will be G, because C-D-E-F-G is 5 steps.

Similarly, in the key of A minor the dominant chord will be 5 steps up from the tonic A, which is A-B-C-D-E, giving E as the answer.

You can easily spot a dominant chord as it usually has an 'ordinary' 7th added to it. For example, G7, A7, Bb7, C7 are all dominant 7th chords. If you add a 7th to the tonic chord in a key you end up with a major 7th, e.g. a C major7 chord in the key of C. This chord is quite different from C7, which is actually the dominant 7th in the key of F.

Hope this helps a little, but feel free to write again if I've not made it clear for you.

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 5

This is a question from Ken about altered dominant arpeggios:

Tony, Firstly thanks for all the info - your lessons are the best on the Net; packed with information, each building on the last - priceless. One thing I'd like to know is; can arpeggios be built on all the Altered Dominant chords?Is their a pattern? eg 1st; 3rd;5th etc, or is this a daft question? (ps name only;not e-mail) Ta.

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Ken,

Thanks a lot for the message, and for your very generous compliments about the online lessons - really appreciated!

The question you asked is far from daft, and I'll be more than happy to try and respond to it.

Basically the answer to the first part is yes, arpeggios can indeed be built on all the altered dominant chords. In fact, just think of chords and arpeggios as being identical in terms of the notes that make them up. The only difference is that with chords the notes are all played at the same time, and with arpeggios they are played one after another. This means that any chord can be played as an arpeggio, and vice versa.

Now there is a pattern for working out altered dominant chords, but first lets step back a little and look at the ordinary 'unaltered' dominant 7th chord, as this will help clarify things later. We'll take G7 as an example.

In the key of C we get a major scale with the following notes:

The dominant chord is always chord 5 in any key. This means that G is the dominant chord in C major, as C D E F G is five steps counting through the musical alphabet.

Now that we've figured out the starting note (root note) of our dominant chord, we need to work out the other notes that make up the chord. This is where the 1st, 3rd and 5th you mentioned come into the equation.

Using the notes of the C scale above, we now write it out starting from the dominant note, G, and number all the notes from there:

G A B C D E F G A B  C  D  E etc
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

You can think of this scale as the dominant scale on the root note G. It's actually known as the Mixolydian Mode (but that's a story for another time).

With this numbered scale we can now easily see how all the G dominant type chords or arpeggios are built up.

The basic dominant chord, G major will have the notes 1,3,5 from the scale = G,B,D.
The dominant 7th, G7 has the notes 1,3,5,7 = G,B,D,F
The dominant 9th, G9 has the notes 1,3,5,7,9 = G,B,D,F,A
The dominant 11th, G11 has the notes 1,3,5,7,9,11 = G,B,D,F,A,C
The dominant 13th, G13 has the notes 1,3,5,7,9,11,13 = G,B,D,F,A,C,E

Hopefully you can see the simple pattern that emerges, where we build the chords by stacking up the odd numbered scale notes.

Altered Dominant Chords
Now that we have our 'unaltered' dominant family of chords in place - the basic 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th chords - we can use these to make altered dominant chords.

What we mean by altered dominant chords are those with either a b5 or #5 (instead of the 'ordinary' 5th), or a b9 or #9 (in place of the 'ordinary' 9th). Here are some examples of altered dominant chords:
G7b5, G7#5, G7b9, G7#9, G9b5, G9#5, G7b5#9, G13#5, G13#5b9 etc.

Let's look at some of these examples to show how the altered dominants can be made by adapting the basic dominant family chords.

First of all let's take G7b5. We start off with plain G7, which has the notes G,B,D,F. To make G7 into G7b5 all we do is take the 'ordinary' 5th, D, and change it into a flattened 5th, Db. This means a G7b5 chord or arpeggio is made up of the notes G,B,Db,F.

Here's another example: G7#9. We know that G7 with an 'ordinary' 9th (or simply G9) consists of the notes G,B,D,F,A. To turn it into G7#9 we simply raise the 9th, A, to make it A#. This means a G7#9 chord or arpeggio is made up of the notes G,B,D,F,A#.

Here's one final example: G13#5b9. Start off with G13, which has the notes G,B,D,F,A,C,E. We now need to raise the 5th, D so that it becomes D#. We also need to lower the 9th, A, so that it becomes Ab. So G13#5b9 ends up with the notes G,B,D#,F,Ab,C,E.

Hope you've mananged to follow most of this, as it's covered a lot of ground in a short space. In particular you might find it confusing that the G dominant chords are built from a C scale starting on the note G, and not from a G major scale. Do let me know if you want me to explain anything in more detail.

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 6

Edgar writes in to ask whether it's OK to use modes when playing jazz

Dear Tony,

I can't thank you enough for posting the lessons, they were extremely helpful. I have a quick question on modes.I often play dorian modes to avoid straight minor scales while soloing i.e A Dorian over a Am7 chord with the overall key of the piece being Cmaj. My brother is a jazz musician and says that this is totally frowned upon by other jazz musicians. Then I looked through your lessons and found that you said that it was ok to do so. So my question is what do I do? Is my way of looking at modes technically allowed, or this another case of do what I think sounds right?

Thanks a mil,

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Edgar,

Thanks a lot for writing in - great to hear from you and glad you've found the lessons helpful!

Well, apologies for the long delay, but if the question about the aptness of using modes in jazz improvisation still interests you I can offer an answer. I understand what you're saying about using an A Dorian over an Am7 chord, and can confirm that it is OK to do this. However, to pick up on what your brother was saying, in one sense he's quite right, as for many styles of jazz it just wouldn't sound very appropriate.

The issue here is purely one of style. In early styles of jazz, soloing was broadly speaking based around arpeggios. So for example if you want to play solos that sound like Django Reinhardt, Eddie Lang or Louis Armstrong, then using modes would be totally alien to the style. Similarly if you're playing bebop tunes and want to use the musical vocabulary of Charlie Parker then a modal approach would be the wrong choice. However, if you're aiming to create the kinds of lines that say Miles Davis and John Coltrane played at a certain point in their musicial careers then modes are the right option. They would also be a good choice for soloing in some jazz fusion tunes.

A very crude guideline would be to use modes for soloing over tunes that have long stretches of static harmony. A good example might be the Miles Davis tune 'So What', which is based on 16 bars of continuous Dm followed by 8 bars of Ebm then 8 bars of Dm again. Here you can simply use D Dorian and Eb Dorian against the respective minor chords. However, if you're playing Gershwin and Cole Porter standards with perhaps a couple of chord changes in each bar then modes would possibly make you sound like a rock player trying to bluff a jazz solo!

Hope this is of some help, Edgar.

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 7

Robin writes in with a question about using diminished chords and arpeggios in a blues

Hello Tony,
I'm trying to get to grips with some of the theory behind the use of diminished chords and arps. As I understand it diminished can be used over any dom7.( as illustrated in your lesson on dim. chords) I know it's very common in blues to use it when returning from 4 to 1 but - as blues harmony is based on Dom7 chords does it mean that theoretically you could play an entire chorus solo using dim. arps and chord fragments etc?

Best wishes


Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Robin,

Thanks for your message - good to hear from you again.

There are a couple of common uses of diminished chords and arpeggios. One of them is what I think you're referring to in your message, which is the kind of situation below (such as you might find in the middle of a blues in C):

Instead of these standard chords:
F7 / / / | F7 / / / | C7 / / / | C7 / / / | G7 / / / etc.

you can use:
F7 / / / | F7 / F#dim / | C7 / / / | C7 / Gdim / | G7 / / / etc.

This would be an example where we're using the two diminished chords as "passing chords", that is extra chords which are added in to the harmony to make the change from one chord to another a little smoother and more interesting.

Bear in mind you don't actually need to change the chord accompaniment (although you can if you like), but can just use the arpeggios of the chords in the second example above to solo over the basic chords given in the first example. The result is that you imply the extra passing chords in your soloing, while the basic chords over which you're soloing remain the same.

Now the other common use of diminished chords/arpeggios is the one I cover in the website, and that is to use them as a substitute for dom7 chords. What this means for a blues in C is that the standard chords will be C7, F7 and G7, and the diminished substitutes for these will be C#dim, F#dim and G#dim respectively.

This means you can either play a C#dim chord instead of a C7 chord when playing the chordal accompaniment, or you can use a C#dim arpeggio for soloing when someone else is playing a straight C7 chord accompaniment. The same applies for the other substitute chord pairs, using F#dim instead of F7, and G#dim instead of G7.

You asked whether you could solo for an entire chorus over a Blues using diminished arpeggio substitutes, and the answer is that you can. However, because their sound is more dissonant than when using ordinary dom7 licks, you might prefer to use them a bit more sparingly in your soloing rather than all the time in place of dom7ths.

As a guideline, when soloing over a C7 going to an F7 chord I'd probably play some C7 licks first, and then some C#dim arpeggio licks over the C7, then over the F7 I'd play some F7 licks followed by some F#dim licks.

This way the dissonant diminished sound gets introduced as an element of tension (the C#dim against C7 chord) which is then released or resolved (the F7 lick against the F7 chord). Once the tension is released you can then build it up again (the F#dim lick against the F7 chord), ready for release over the next chord (e.g. a C7 lick over a C7 chord again).

If you use diminished arpeggio substitutes exclusively throughout your Blues solo it will be all tension without the release, so will sound more dissonant. This is perfectly OK if it's the kind of sound you want to create.

Hope this is of some help, Robin, but let me know if you're still not clear about anything and I'll try and explain some more.

Best regards,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 8

Here's a question from David about using altered chords and soloing over them:

I'm a guitar teacher and have taken on the job of teaching a jazz ensemble and we have several guitarists and one of their most frequent questions is how to use 11th chords and altered chords to breath life into common chord progressions and what scales to use over these chords?

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi David,

Thanks for writing in with those questions - hope the following is of some help to you.

Regarding 11th chords, simply use these in place of ordinary dominant 7th chords. So for example, instead of D7 you can use D11, or instead of G7 use G11, and so on.

As for which scale to use over an 11th chord, the easiest option is the Mixolydian mode. For soloing over a D11 chord use a D Mixolydian scale and over a G11 use a G Mixolydian scale. The Mixolydian also works perfectly over the ordinary dominant 7th as well as the 11th chord.

As you probably know, the Mixolydian scale/mode is exactly the same as the major scale but with the 7th note lowered by one semitone.

Altered dominant chords can also be used in place of an ordinary dominant 7th chord, and will give a more spicy sound. These chords are basically any combination of b5, #5, b9 and #9. For example G7#5b9, G7b5, G7#9 etc. are all altered dominant chords that you can try using in place of an ordinary G7.

You might find it helpful to look at the first couple of my online lessons on jazz chords as they deal with this particular topic:

Altered Dominant Scale

For the scale to play over an altered dominant chord, use the melodic minor scale a semitone higher than the root of the chord. This will produce the altered dominant scale for that chord. So against a G altered dominant chord play the notes of a G# (or Ab) melodic minor scale and this will give you the notes of a G altered dominant scale. Against a D altered dominant chord (e.g. D7#5, D7b5#9, D7#5#9 etc) use a D# (or Eb) melodic minor scale and this will give you the notes of a D altered dominant scale.

Bear in mind that you need to get used to the altered dominant chord and scale sounds: they are much more dissonant than simply using a Mixolydian over a dominant 7th. You'll need to feel your way into these sounds over a period of time and get your ears used to them before you can use them properly.

Once you do become accustomed to them you'll hear that they sound a lot more authentic than say the Mixolydian for playing jazz solos. The use of these altered dominant sounds is one of the things that distinguishes real jazz musicians from e.g. rock musicians playing their take on jazz.

Best of luck with your teaching, David. It'd be good to know if this has been of any use to you and your students.

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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Question 8

Here's a question from Chris, asking for more detail about working out the m7b5 arpeggio substitutes in soloing lesson 1:

Thanks very much for the lesson, they have been extremely helpful. My question is in regards to lesson 1 on arpeggios. You say to count up six steps in the musical alphabet from the root note of a particular m7b5 arpeggio, to determine the equivalent 9th chord. How would this work for a D#m7b5 arpeggio given that there is no such thing as a B# Chord, or if you needed an Arpeggio for a G#9 Chord.

I hope my question makes sense and isn't a stupid. Thanks again for the lesson they have been exactly what I needed.

Tony Oreshko replies:

Hi Chris,

Good to hear from you. Thanks a lot for writing in with that question, which makes perfect sense and is anything but stupid. It shows that you've grasped the material in that lesson really well, and that you're ready to move on to a deeper understanding of how the substitutions work.

Let me just say that the lessons were deliberately written to try and give readers some useful practical tips, but without getting bogged down in too much music theory. By the time you've read this reply perhaps you'll understand why I decided to simplify things a little.

So the idea of counting up 6 steps through the musical alphabet to find the 9th chord that matches with a given m7b5 arpeggio is just a rough and ready way of working out the substitution. In order to understand things more completely we now need to account for the different sharps and flats in various keys. Here's an example to show what I mean:

Start with C#m7b5
Count up 6 steps (inclusive): C# D E F G A
Answer: C#m7b5 = A9

Start with Cm7b5
Count up 6 steps (inclusive): C D E F G A
Answer: Cm7b5 = A9

Here we started with two slightly different arpeggios, C#m7b5 and Cm7b5, yet ended up with the same answer, A9. One of them is obviously wrong! In fact the correct answer should be:

C#m7b5 = A9
Cm7b5 = Ab9

Now they both start with some kind of C for the m7b5, and both end up with some kind of A for the 9th, so counting 6 steps will give us the right alphabet letter for the 9th chord. But what this doesn't tell us is whether the A in the 9th chord should be sharp, flat or natural.

In order to be able to do this we now need to learn a little bit about musical intervals, so please bear with me and hopefully you'll see the relevance of the next couple of sections.


Intervals are simply a way of describing the distance between one note and another. As you might expect, counting 6 steps through the musical alphabet gives us a musical interval of a 6th (from the lower note to the higher note). So, for example:
C to A is a 6th
D to B is a 6th
G to E is a 6th,
and so on.

Major 6ths

Now the pairs of notes in the three examples above are all called major 6ths. If you count the distance from the lower to higher note in each pair you'll find the second note is always 9 frets higher on the guitar. Or to put it another way:

To go from C to A, go up 9 frets
To go from D to B, go up 9 frets
To go from G to E, go up 9 frets

Minor 6ths

But what if our note pairs are now written like this:
C to Ab is a 6th
D to Bb is a 6th
G to Eb is a 6th

For each note pair the interval is still a 6th as it goes through 6 letters of the alphabet, but is slightly smaller than the major 6th. In each case to get from the lowest to the highest note of each pair we now go up only 8 frets. This smaller interval is called a minor 6th

Cutting to the Chase

Here's where we can use our new-found knowledge of intervals to get a more accurate answer for the m7b5 substitutions discussed in lesson 1.

We can now say more precisely that any m7b5 will work as a substitute for a 9th chord whose root note is a minor 6th (or 8 frets) higher.

Look at this list of substitutions below. You'll see that from the root note of the m7b5 chord you always go up 8 frets to find the root note of the matching 9th chord:

Bm7b5 = G9
Cm7b5 = Ab9
C#m7b5 = A9
Dm7b5 = Bb9
D#m7b5 = B9
Em7b5 = C9
Fm7b5 = Db9
F#m7b5 = D9
Gm7b5 = Eb9
G#m7b5 = E9
Am7b5 = F9
Bbm7b5 = Gb9

Hope this answers your question!

One final point: note that the D#m7b5 that you mention in your question turns out to be a substitute for B9.

However, let me just add that there is actually such a note as B#. It's played in exactly the same place as C, and most of the time it gets called C for the sake of simplicity. But sometimes it is theoretically correct to call it B# rather than C. However, that's a subject for another question! Let me know if you (or any other readers) would like an answer to it!

Best wishes,

Tony Oreshko

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