Altering non-Dominant Chords

I was wondering, do people ever alter non-dominant chords, like major/minor chords? If so, how is it usually done?


Really great question here @alanchung2000

As you say chord alterations are most commonly applied to dominant chords where there are 4 possible alterations (b9, #9, #11, and #5/b13).

The next most common chord type to apply alterations is major chords.
We have 2 options for altering the notes in a ‘vanilla’ major chord. These options are the #11 and the #5.

#11 For Major Chords

The #11 adds a mysterious floating quality to the chord, similar to the #11 over a dominant chord. An interesting tune to explore this sound is “Time Remembered” by Bill Evans as he draws upon this chord colour in the melody and harmony of the tune, check out the following 2 lessons:

See chapter 3 of this video (around 10 minutes) for #11 voicings and application

and the following tutorial on Time Remembered:

Another interesting #11 major voicing is the “Kenny Barron Major Variation”

#5 For Major Chords

The #5 is commonly used as an inner voice for major chords, or simply to add colour and tension, I will record a few examples of this tomorrow and share them in this thread, but for now check out these lessons which shows some inner voices using the #5 over major chords:


The #5 is used with great effect on the minor tonic chord in the “James Bond” theme.


And the man who wrote the James Bond theme has died at the age of 94:


Thanks for the great response!

My pleasure Alan.

Here is another related lesson that sprung to mind which uses the #5 alteration over major chords in tune “Autumn Leaves”.

See chapter 4 “Change The Chord Qualities”