What Exactly Is An Altered Dominant Chord?

Author: Tommaso Zillio

Despite the strange name, ‘altered dominant’ chord are some of the tastiest chords you can use in your music. It’s too bad that most guitarists have little idea about what they are and how to use them.

I mean think about it. The last time a guitar player introduced an altered dominant chord in rock music and wrote a couple of songs with it, it took the world by the storm.

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I am talking about the "Hendrix chord" of course… a chord used by many other musicians before Hendrix I might add ;)

Most altered chords are used today in Jazz. Of course (like the Hendrix chord) these chords don’t HAVE to necessarily sound Jazzy. But most examples you hear are in Jazz anyway… so in the video below I make a couple of examples in non-Jazz situations.

Then we see what and altered chord actually is (and why musicians don’t seem to agree on that), what scales we can use on them, etc etc.

So I’m not saying that learning altered dominant chords will make you into the next Jimi Hendrix… but if Hendrix never learned them, then we would not have an Hendrix chord today… so that’s that:

If you want to go beyond the ‘standard’ altered chord and enter a world of crazy dissonances that can actually work in your music, then you want to have a look at this next video too:

And to see some examples on how to take an altered dominant chord and make super-smooth chord progressions, then have a look at this other video. I guess you never even noticed how dissonant were the chords that Stevie is using… that’s because he is a master at using them!


About the Author

Tommaso Zillio is a prog rock guitarist and teacher with a passion for Music Theory applied to Guitar. To know more do not forget to subscribe to his youtube channel.

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