C# over D major chord

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    this is not exactly a lesson question but anyways.
    i was noodling around with a G major backing track (G – D – Em – G) using the G major scale over G and Em chords but as soon as I try a C sharp over D major chord it sounds horrendous and I don’t understand why. it’s part of the D major scale. why is that? any ideas?


    You should always avoid using the b9 in non dominant chords, which as you’ll hear in the video, it sounds very dissonant.


    Actually, I need to clarify that statement: “You should always avoid using the b9 in non dominant chords”, b/c rules can be broken.


    I can see that that question really “struck a chord” with Andrew. It reminded me of my high school Algerbra teacher who was also the football coach. At the beginning of class on Mondays, someone would ask about a particular play in the football game on the previous Friday night. Coach got the twinkle in his eye and the Algebra books were closed for the rest of the class! Good questions always elicit a passionate response with, sometimes, the extra lagniappe.


    hey https://rockclass101.com/members/anirbaf/

    From my knowledge of playing the keyboard I suspect that if it is a backing track with that particular order of chords
    G – D(7)– Em – G….(I-V-VI-I)…..
    (same first chords as Can’t Help Falling In Love? πŸ™‚ )
    The D scale (V) in this particular chord progression is called mixolydian and has the same note material d e f# g a b c d, as G major. So don’t sweat it too much. Just fiddle around with the notes of G major. πŸ™‚


    So it is not D major that has a c# (maj7) in the scale but D mixolydian that has a c (dom7). So c# sounds off.


    @jinajupiter – right, he’s playing out of G. C# won’t sound good.


    wow, thank you both so much for the detailed answers! I’ll play around a bit more and figure out the when it sounds good and when not.

    concerning the theory behind:
    @jinajupiter can you explain why exactly the D scale in this specific progression would have to be mixolydian and how would you know apart from the obvious dissonance?

    as to the WHY, I don’t quite understand. playing a b over a c chord sounds just fine and b is the maj7, isn’t it. I feel like I’m missing something important!


    Hey Anir,
    it is because how the D is in relation to G.
    G is the tonality or tonic of the song.
    The 5th note of the G scale g a b c d e f# g is d.
    We write this degree with the Roman number V (5)
    The chords are related to G as a tonic have the same notes as the G scale
    but start on different positions.
    So the D scale here is d e f# g a b c d and is called mixolydian.
    The mixolydian scale has the same notes as a normal major scale
    (d e f# g a b c# d) except for the 7th note. It is half tone lower.

    If the chord progression would be D A Bm G for example the is D is the tonic and you can improvise with the notes of D major d e f# g a b c# d though the all chords.
    Now the A is mixolydian because it is on the 5th place in the D scale.
    So the A scale of this chord progression has a g note instead of a g#.
    A major is a b c# d e f# g# a and A mixolydian is a b c# d e f# g a
    So the difference is in the 7th note of the scale.

    Most Pop songs have only one tonic, sometimes it changes halfway the song.
    That is nice because you don’t need to think so hard and improvise with all your heart. In Jazz it can change every two counts For example Giant Steps by Coltrane.

    Try to improvise in D Major so with a c# on this backing track that I found on YouTube. It is a bit cheesy but just to get the idea of D as a tonic.
    Enjoy πŸ™‚

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by jinajupiter.

    So mixolydian has no maj7 but a normal (dominant) 7.
    Try to play the D7 (d f# a c) chord instead of the plain D in your track.
    The c in the D7 chord is not c#.

    I hope you understand now.
    Music theory is quite a complicated matter.
    But you can live without it.
    I understand you must have good ears to hear that c# was sounding off,
    so your improvisation skills probably will develop intuitively.


    thanks so much jina, I see my mistake now. I thought I could play over any chord in the progression the major scale of that specific chord but instead I would stay with the scale of the tonic. got it!
    I’m learning music theory for a few weeks now and connections start to form πŸ˜€


    (I meant to say: have to stay in the scale of the tonic)
    I heard of giant steps as the prime example to key changes so I’m hoping most songs would be easier (;


    You can play over any chord in the progression, which is called playing the changes. But that means to highlight the notes that are in that chord. So in this example: D F# A.


    Great that you understood!
    Let’s play Giant Steps if you ever come to Europe Andrew. :).
    Although just the thought of playing this song on the piano already gives me headache. To many ‘changes’ indeed.
    Here is a brave ukuleleist trying to play and impro on it. Bit slower bit nice experiment.

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