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So What chord

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In jazz and jazz harmony, a So What chord is a particular 5-note chord


voicing. From the bottom note upwards, it consists of three perfect fourth
intervals followed by a major third interval. It was employed by Bill Evans
in the "'amen' response figure"[1] to the head of the Miles Davis tune "So
What".

For example, an "E minor" So What chord (see illustration) is an Em7sus4


voicing,[2] or as a polychord:

So What chord Play

The So What chord is often used as an alternative to quartal voicings and


may be used in diatonic and chromatic planing,[2] and is identical to the standard tuning of a guitar's five lowest
strings. It is essentially a minor eleventh chord (-11, m11), arranged as it would be played on a guitar (root, 4th,
7th, 3rd, 5th).

It may also be thought of as a five-note quartal chord (built from fourths) with the top note lowered by a semitone.
More modern sounding than "tertial chords" (built from thirds), it is useful in comping; since the structure of
quartal harmony is usually vague, many roots may be applied to the So What chord and it may work well in
various contexts including, "a major scale context; a Mixolydian mode context; or a minor context".[3] For
9 6 [no 7]
example, the E chord described above can also be C69, Asus47 , G69, Dsus24 , Flydian (F91113 [no 5]) or
F phrygian (Fm79 1113 [no 5]).

Other jazz recordings that make extensive use of the chord include McCoy Tyner's "Peresina" and Gary Burton's
"Gentle Wind and Falling Tear." Tyner's use of similar voicings was an early influence on Chick Corea; it can be
heard in tunes such as "Steps" and "Matrix" (both featured on his landmark album "Now He Sings, Now He
Sobs").

The term "So What chord" is used extensively in Mark Levine's landmark work The Jazz Piano Book, wherein he
describes a range of uses for which the voicing might be employed. Frank Mantooth dedicated two chapters to the
chord under the name "Miracle voicing" in his work Voicings for Jazz Keyboard.

Sources
1. John Robert Brown (2004). Mel Bay's Concise History of Jazz, p.146. ISBN 0-7866-4983-6.
2. Rawlins, Robert and Eddine Bahha, Nor (2005). Jazzology: The Encyclopedia of Jazz Theory for All
Musicians, p.81. ISBN 0-634-08678-2.
3. Martan Mann (1997). Improvising Blues Piano, p.81. ISBN 0-8256-1624-7.

Bibliography
Levine, Mark "The Jazz Piano Book" 1989 Sher Music Co., Petaluma, CA ISBN 0-9614701-5-1.
Mantooth, Frank "Voicings for Jazz Keyboard" 1986 Hal Leonard Publishing Corp., Milwaukee, WI
ISBN 0-7935-3485-2.
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This page was last edited on 17 August 2017, at 20:51.


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