Sus Chords For Jazz Piano
In this lesson we are going to look at Sus chords. We have used Sus voicings in many of the jazz standard tutorials and I’ve received some requests to do a dedicated lesson on this type of chord.
‘Sus’ is shorthand for ‘suspended’ and it refers to the 4th which is said to be ‘suspended’ in the chord. Generally speaking, a Sus chord can be defined as a dominant chord where the major third is replaced by the perfect fourth a half step higher. However, you can also voice a Sus chord with both the major 3rd and the suspended 4th.
We start the lesson by recapping the basic theory behind Sus chords and then look at them in context of major and minor 251 progressions. Throughout the lesson we will be applying these voicings to examples in jazz standards so that you understand the application in a practical context.
Sus Chords Lesson Supplement File Type: pdf
The first step is to understand the basic construction of the sus chord.
The easiest way to build a sus voicing is to play the root in the left hand, and a major triad off the b7 to create a Sus9 voicing.
Play a major 7th chord off the b7 to create a sus13 voicing
Next apply these voicings to the major 251 progression. Practice including the suspension over the V chord and then resolve the suspension by dropping the 4th to the 3rd.
Once you are comfortable with this, try adding an alteration when you resolve the suspension.
You can choose from any of the altered tones. Remember you can also play an upper structure triad after the suspension before resolving to the I chord.
Finally, perhaps the most important step... is to apply your knowledge to the jazz standards you are playing.
- You can add the additional sus movement to any 251 progression, but some will sound better than others... this is a process of discovery.
Hi Hayden. I just want to make sure I understood this. At 19:23 you played a tritone substituion off G7 which was an upper structure off Db’s sharp nine which is e major. Is that correct?
Yes that’s correct.
The V chord is G7, and we first played G13sus4 which is a suspension over the G7.
We could have then simply dropped the C by half a step to B, and we would be playing G13. The sus4 (C) resolves down to the major 3rd (B).
However, instead of going to G13, we went from G13sus4 to the tritone of G7 which is Db7.
As you point out, we also played an upper structure triad to create Db13#11 (major triad off 9) … there is no sharp 9 in the chord.. the upper structure contains the natural 9, #11 and 13.
Think of the Db13#11 as a passing chord, in between G7 and Cmaj7.
Does this help?
Hi Hayden, at 10:00 why are the G7 chords on the right and left called G7 chords and not G13 as they have the 9th and 13th in the chord? I have seen this elsewhere too with dominant chords where there are extensions but it is still called a 7th.