#1
I wanted to make this thread after reading something mentioned in another thread.
Quote by Jet Penguin

A11 makes more sense, but it's still a troublesome voicing, we also usually see Dom11 chords ever, they're normally expressed as 7sus4 or 9sus4 (or again "add11", albeit rarely).


I assume he meant to write "we don't ever usually see Dom11 chords." But I see em all the time. My question is, am I mislabling them?

For example, "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang. Key of Ab major.



@1:20 I have
Dbmaj7 - Cm7 - F11 - F - Bbm - Eb11

Which could be expressed as
Dbmaj7 - Cm7 - F7sus4 - F - Bbm - Eb7sus4

Is one more right than the other? I can hear the third chord as F7sus4 that resolves to F, but the last chord feels more like a "softened" dominant 7. Would it be wrong to call it Eb11?

Other songs with the chord:

Gm7 - Fm7 - Ebmaj7 - A7b9 - Gbmaj9 - F11 - Ebm7 - Bb7sus4 - Bb7

Here I would instinctively use "11" and "7sus4" distinctly from one another, even though I play them the same way.
F11-Ebm7 feels kinda like Eb/F - Ebm7, but I don't like to write chords with the 9 in the bass.

Another:

I would call the first chord in the song Bb11. It's a dominant chord (key of Cm (I think)) but it's kinda "softer" than a harsh dominant chord. It's the sound I've learnt to call Dom11.

I'd like to hear anybody's thoughts on this. It's an odd chord that comes up surprisingly often in soul music. Over the past few months I've been recording every song I learn in standard notation and I want to be as accurate as possible.
#2
It doesn't matter how you like to label them. I prefer to use slash chords as they are easier to read, especially if your reading an unfamiliar chart.

So rather than G11, I would prefer F/G, because you only have to think of two simple separate entities, a triad and a bass note. In this case it's F major triad and G bass note.

Also, by viewing chords this way, you can visualise the shapes on the fretboard easier, providing your CAGED knowledge is good.
Last edited by mdc at Oct 25, 2016,
#3
To elaborate on my quote:

It's not that Dom7 chords with an added 11th degree are rare; they are quite common.

It's that we rarely see "true" Dom11th chord voicings(1 3 5 b7 11 and sometimes 9).

The reason being that have chord tones 3 and 11 in the voicing together clouds the harmonic function of the chord. So we often see 7sus4 or 9sus4 instead, both written and played. This gets rid of the 3rd, leaving us with 1 4 5 b7 (and sometimes 9) which is a much clearer sound.

If you try to play a "true" G11 with both the 3(B) and 11(C), notice it doesn't sound very "dominant-y" compared to a G9sus4 or G7sus4.

Which brings into play what you said about the "softened" dominant 7. That softness is due to the 9sus4 being voiced as a hybrid. Almost all these examples are likely this:

F11 (or F9sus4 whatever) = Eb/F = 1 b7 9 11

Or Ebmaj7/F adding in a 13 (D)

Both these get rid of the 3/4 clash, AND the tritone, giving us a really soft sound

ALSO IMPORTANT:

We do, however see minor 11 chords all the time. The flattened 3rd no longer makes a cloudy interval with the 11.

You will also rarely see a chord with a 9 in the bass, these are almost always the roots. Just like you pointed out, Eb/F is an F chord, not an Eb chord with 9 underneath.

Lemme know if that makes sense.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#4
Quote by Declan87
F11-Ebm7 feels kinda like Eb/F - Ebm7, but I don't like to write chords with the 9 in the bass.

That bass note is not a 9, it's the root.
#5
^This.

Great rule of thumb: Tensions in the bass (any number that isn't 1 3 5 or 7) are the roots.

Fmaj7/G is a G chord.

Cmaj7/F is an F chord.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#6
As Jet said, A11 usually means A7sus4 or A9sus4. It's really not a suspended chord in the original meaning of the word (because the suspension is not necessarily ever resolved). The chord symbol uses "sus4" to indicate that there is no third. A11 would have both a C# and a D in it and that is usually avoided.

A7sus4 can work as a standalone chord. It doesn't need to resolve to A7.

I don't think it would be wrong to call an "Eb/F" chord an F11. F9sus4 would just be the most accurate name for it because it makes it clear that the chord lacks a third. Actually, the most preferred chord symbol may be Eb/F, even though the chord functions as an F chord. Most people (especially those who aren't that familiar with other chords than basic triads and some basic 7th chords - which means the majority of hobbyist musicians) will find that much easier to read and will be able to play it immediately. It's kind of the same as if you have a chord progression like Am-Ammaj7/G#-Am7/G-F#m7b5-Fmaj7, writing Am-Am/G#-Am/G-Am/F#-Am/F may just be easier to read (again, for a "hobbyist musician"), even though the former is more "proper".
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#7
^Exactly.

If I see 11, I assume they mean 9sus4/7sus4, unless I I'm specifically told otherwise, either by the boss or by the word "add" in front of the 11.

Also Infant Eyes is awesome.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#8
Those are not dominant 11th chords. If there's no major third, you can't call it a "dominant" quality (major-minor 7). Using the bare extension "11" presumes that you're using every other tone below that, including the third. If you're not using that third, you have to qualify it with sus4. The difference between a sus4 and 11 is the presence of a major third, which makes a somewhat extremely big difference in how the chord sounds. The sus also kind of implies a certain voice movement (4-3 resolution) within the chord, which has a very distinct and familiar sound, while it's very unusual to include the 11th in a dominant because it clashes with the third both aurally and functionally.

Now you do see 7#11 regularly, if you read a lot of jazz charts, because that indicates a 3rd and 7th (and a 9th if you can squeeze it in).


A plain 11 on a dominant is so unusual an indication that I'd have to verify with my ear or ask whoever wants me to play it what they mean.
#9
Jet Pen^This.

Great rule of thumb: Tensions in the bass (any number that isn't 1 3 5 or 7) are the roots.

Fmaj7/G is a G chord.

Cmaj7/F is an F chord.



I know where you're coming from, Jet, but that rule of thumb needs rephrasing. If I take tit verbatim, it's confusing ... Relative to F (maj7), yes, the G would be a 2 (9). Hopefully folk wouldn't analyse it like that!
But relative to G, G isn't a tension ... it is the root.
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Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 26, 2016,
#10
Right. ^ Good Call.

I guess to rephrase, if as first glance it looks like there's a tension in the bass, that tension is actually the root of the chord.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#11
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Jet Pen

I know where you're coming from, Jet, but that rule of thumb needs rephrasing. If I take tit verbatim, it's confusing ... Relative to F (maj7), yes, the G would be a 2 (9). Hopefully folk wouldn't analyse it like that!
But relative to G, G isn't a tension ... it is the root.


Yeah, tensions are pretty unusual in the bass precisely because the bass tends to define the chord. The only two regular exceptions I can think of:
1) Using a slash chord or inversion to indicate melodic motion in the bass, such as F F/F# F/G
2) Indicating a specific voicing that would be clumsy or ambiguous to state with extensions, like F/G, because the voicing retains the sound of a F triad despite the 9th in the bass (see: like every Steely Dan song ever). If I saw F/G on a chart, I would voice it very differently than G9sus4.

Basically the idea is that the note to the left of the slash has to actually sound like the root of the chord for the slash indication to make sense. There are the odd situations where a non-chord tone is accented in the bass, but for the most part you want to analyze the bass as the root as often as it produces a sensible harmony.
#12
^Nailed it.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#13
This is all really interesting and it's good to hear all your thoughts.

I get why it's a 7sus4 chord now. I always left the third out of the chord to avoid the 3/11 clash anyway.
#14
Quote by Declan87
This is all really interesting and it's good to hear all your thoughts.

I get why it's a 7sus4 chord now. I always left the third out of the chord to avoid the 3/11 clash anyway.
Exactly. Because the 3rd is basically never included, we can use "11" as a shorthand for either "9sus4" or "7sus4" (makes little difference which). Everyone knows - or should - when they see "G11", it means G7sus4 with an optional 9th. No B note.
With "m11" it's different, because obviously "m" means a minor 3rd is included - and it doesn't clash with the 11 anyway.
#15
Quote by jongtr
Exactly. Because the 3rd is basically never included, we can use "11" as a shorthand for either "9sus4" or "7sus4" (makes little difference which). Everyone knows - or should - when they see "G11", it means G7sus4 with an optional 9th. No B note.
With "m11" it's different, because obviously "m" means a minor 3rd is included - and it doesn't clash with the 11 anyway.

huh? Why would anyone assume that the third is excluded? Third is presumed major unless indicated otherwise. Is there any place where this actually shows up in written music?
#16
cdgraves
Quote by cdgraves
huh? Why would anyone assume that the third is excluded? Third is presumed major unless indicated otherwise. Is there any place where this actually shows up in written music?
OK - it was presumptuous of me to say that "everyone knows - or should" that that is the case. It's by no means obvious! It's one of those shorthand conventions in chord symbol language - and there are lots of those, that one gradually gets used to. Not all of them are in books, which is why - despite a broad degree of agreement - there is still some inconsistency in how chord symbols are written.

I should have said, therefore, that in my experience "11" means the 3rd is omitted. (Unless "m" is included.)

IOW, it's a matter of "common practice", albeit one that has perhaps not made its way into every theory book yet.
Last edited by jongtr at Nov 2, 2016,
#18
Quote by cdgraves
I have -never- seen a chart that uses 11th interchangeably with sus4. What charts contain this?
You haven't lived, man!

I'd have to hunt for a few, because it's not as common any more as I was implying - ie another apology is due from me. They probably appeared in one of those old Beatles books that also use "7b10" for 7#9...

Wiki (take it or leave it) has this:

"Though rare, in rock and popular music ... the third of the dominant eleventh ("as theoretically conceived": C, E, G, B♭, D, F) is usually omitted. It may be notated in charts as C11, or, more often, "descriptively," as Gm7/C".

The reference it gives is Stephenson, Ken (2002). "What to Listen for in Rock: A Stylistic Analysis", p.87.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleventh_chord

I've no idea how authoritative any of that is, but the point is the practice exists.

I'd never use "C11" myself, btw. I'd always write C7sus4, C9sus4, Bb/C, or Gm7/C, whichever did the job best.

The Real Book chart you linked to is a great attempt to settle all chord symbol conventions, and I'd have no quarrel with any of that.
Last edited by jongtr at Nov 3, 2016,
#19
^Right.

It's either:

1. One of those names Jon listed, meaning use the 4(11) instead of the major third.

2. "add11", meaning they actually want both 3 and 4.

3. Wrong or mislabeled.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#20
Alright, so I've found one chart that uses an unaltered 11th chord as a sus. "Little Shoes" by Mike Stern, as it appears in the Hal Leonard "Real Jazz Book", p 216. The song contains Bb11, E11, and F11. Verified with a listen.
Last edited by cdgraves at Nov 3, 2016,