Dominant & Altered Chords

Dominant chords (e.g. E7, F9, G11, and C13) like major chords, employ the root, a major third, and perfect fifth – but always contain a flat seventh like those found in minor chords. Therefore a C dominant seventh or C7 would be (C-1st, E-3rd, G-5th, and B-flat 7th). All dominant chords contain the ninth interval as well (with the dominant seventh being the obvious exception).

Dominant seventh sharp five and dominant seventh flat five chords (e.g. F7#5 or F7+5 and F7b5 or F7-5) occur when the fifth interval is raised or lowered respectively to the annotation in a traditional dominant chord formula.

Dominant ninth chords (e.g. B9) are yielded by adding the ninth interval to the dominant seventh chord formula of the root, major 3rd, perfect fifth, and flat seventh (R, M3, P5, b7, 9).

Dominant seventh sharp nine and dominant seventh flat nine chords (e.g. E7#9 and E7b9) are produced when the ninth interval is raised or lowered, respectively.

Dominant eleventh chords follow the same formula, with the eleventh interval attached (R, M3, P5, b7, 9, 11). However, as discussed later in the text, the third may be omitted. This is primarily because the third and eleventh “clash” (since the eleventh is a higher octave of the fourth) and secondly, because they contain six intervals and which may make the chord too difficult or impossible to play.

Dominant thirteenth chords are constructed from the root, major third, perfect fifth, flat seventh, ninth, and thirteenth intervals (R, M3, P5, b7, 9, 13).

Altered chords also belong to the dominant family because they contain a major third and flat seventh. Altered chords are formed when another interval (such as a b5 or #4) appear in a dominant seventh chord but does not replace any of the existing intervals. Consequently, a C7b5 would still contain the perfect fifth as well as a flat fifth (1st-C, 3rd-E, 5th-G, flat 7th-Bb, b5th-Gb).