Chord Scales from the Maj Add b13

In my last post I talked about some ideas for using Add 11 chords, and this time I thought it'd be fun to attack another under-appreciated added note: the flat 13.

Playing Maj Add b13 Chords

A Maj Add b13 is a a major triad with the flattened 13 (a.k.a. the flattened sixth) added. So in the key of C we have C E G Ab. Here are some movable C Maj Add b13 chord fingerings:

Last time we looked at adding the 11 to both major and minor triads, but this time we're interested in major only. This is because Minor Add b13 is a mode of Major 7. For example, Cm Add b13 is C Eb G Ab, which is just Ab Maj 7: Ab C Eb G. So there's no new sounds to be had there.

Melodic Minor

There's a Maj Add b13 hiding in the Melodic Minor scale, though it belongs to the Mixolydian b6 mode, which for some inexplicable reason isn't very popular. In C that scale is C D E F G Ab Bb, and C Maj Add b13 is C E G Ab, so the missing notes are D, F and Bb; a Bb major triad. To make it sound more jazzy we can add the Ab, making it Bb7.

Here's a chord-scale built using this idea, alternating the two chords:

Harmonic Major

You should know about this scale, because a lot of younger jazz players are getting some very cool sounds out of it. Harmonic Major is a Maj Add b13 plus a diminished chord built a semitone below. Here's a Barry-Harris-style chord scale using that idea:

I would probably omit the last diminished chord because it shares its same top note with the next inversion of the Maj Add b13. There are many things you can do with chord-scales like this -- have a look at Alan Kingstone's book on Barry Harris for more ideas.


The following application was found by superimposing every Maj Add b13 on top of the one built on the root note and seeing what happens. This is particularly striking -- one (exotic) seven-note scale that three copies of Maj Add b13 are "diatonic" to:

1 b2 3 4 5 b6 bb7 Gayakapriya Scale
1 3 5 b6 1 Maj Add b13
b2 4 b6 bb7 b2 Maj Add b13
1 b2 4 bb7 4 Maj Add b13

So in C, we'd combine C Maj Add b13, Db Maj Add b13 and F Maj Add b13 to get the sound of this scale. Here's a simpleminded way to do it: just play them in rotation at each position. I'm not sure what I want to do with these yet, if anything: