UD#101 Chameleon Jazz Chord

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UD#101 Chameleon Jazz Chord
from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek

I love this chord shape. It’s super useful in jazz.

There are many types of chords that this shape can play. I’ll just talk about one of them today, the 6/9 chord.

How does it work?

Let’s say that you are trying to play an F6/9 chord

This shape can be used to play an F6/9 in two different places on the neck of the ukulele.

First, a wee bit of theory.

Here are the notes in an F6/9 chord.

ROOT (1)      3        5       6        9
       F             A       C       D       G

NOTE: If you are curious about how chord formulas work, please check out this article. https://ukuleleinthedark.com/ud-45-what-do-the-sevens-mean/

ALSO!

It just occurred to me that a fret board chart would be useful for you in today’s lesson. If you don’t have one, you can get one here:
https://ukuleleinthedark.com/filesUD/Fret-Board-Chart-Uke

Back to the lesson.

The notes in the F6/9 are:

ROOT (1)      3        5       6        9
       F             A       C       D       G

You may notice that there are 5 notes in the chord. We only have 4 strings on the uke! That means that, at best, we will be able to play 4 of the 5 notes.

If we put today’s shape on the 2nd fret we leave out the F note in the chord.
See! No F, but all the other notes are there.

Also…

If we put the shape on the 7th fret, we leave out the A note in the chord, but all the other notes are there.
Both versions of the chord work just fine even though there is one note missing.

Isn’t it kind of cool that you can play the SAME chord in two different places on the neck using the SAME shape?

Let’s put this into action.

Let’s apply the 6/9 chord to a typical jazz progression.

Here is a common jazz chord sequence in the key of F. Give it a play!
We can substitute an F6/9 chord for the F chord, and it sounds like this.
It gives a kind of ambiguous sound, which can be quite cool. Some of you may not like it at first. It may be a bit of an acquired taste.

Let’s try something else. Let’s choose some nice “up the neck” voicings for the other chords in the progression. Like this!
What do you think? Better this way?

You may remember that I mentioned, we can use the same shape to play an F6/9 chord up at the 7th fret, too.

Here is the same progression played up at the 7th fret. Give it a strum, and see how it sounds.
What do you think?

Note: I wouldn’t recommend substituting 6/9 chords for major chords in all situations. You may get some strange looks at the bluegrass jam. But, used in the right context, they sound pretty cool.

How do you know where to put it?

It can be tricky to figure out where on the neck to place the 6/9 shape, so I will give you a rule.

THE RULE:

The shape needs to be placed so that its highest note is either the ROOT NOTE or the 5 NOTE of the chord.
Let’s look at our two F6/9 chords and see how they follow this rule.

When we put the shape on the second fret, the highest note is a C, which is the 5 note of the chord. Perfect!
When we put the shape on the 7th fret, the top note is an F, the ROOT of the chord. BAM!
CHALLENGE:

Using this rule, can you figure out two places on the neck where we can play a G6/9 chord with today’s shape?
I’ll give you a hint. The ROOT of a G chord is G, and the 5 NOTE is a D. So, you need to place the shape on the neck such that the top note is either a G or a D. Don’t forget. You can go here for a fret board chart.

https://ukuleleinthedark.com/filesUD/Fret-Board-Chart-Uke

You’ll find the answer way down at the bottom of the page.

All for now,

Guido

P.S.

The G6/9 can be played at the 4th fret and at the 9th fret using today’s shape. In tab that would 4 4 5 5 and 9 9 10 10.


P.S. I am regularly adding new lessons to Ukulele in the Dark. Please subscribe to my mailing list below to receive every lesson right when it comes out. Be sure not to miss a thing!

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