@sj1 Wow, fantastic Steve! Great ear and great explanation. Now I understand exactly what you mean. So the first thing we should acknowledge is that 5D and 3- are very similar chord concepts. Because they are separated by a diatonic third, the four-note chord of 3- (notes 3, 5, 7, 2) actually includes the complete triad of the 5D chord (5, 7, 2). So in deciding which of these chord concepts more accurately describes the sound of that moment, here are some questions to ask:
Is the root note 3 or 5 being played especially prominently, giving us a reason to favor that interpretation?
Is note 3 present in the chord, giving us a reason to favor the 3- interpretation?
Is note 4 present in the chord, giving us a reason to favor the 5D interpretation?
Does the overall sound and feel of the chord remind us more of our personal experience with the 5D chord or the 3- chord?
Regardless of the answers to these questions, labelling the chord will always be problematic. Any chord can be extended to include all seven notes of the scale, so the presence or absence of any single note doesn’t necessarily force one interpretation or the other. But we’re just looking for the best label to describe what we feel, so all of the above questions are relevant.
Before going any farther, the first thing I want to acknowledge is that your ear is perfect and I actually agree with you. I didn’t create this jam track myself, and now that I’m listening to it more closely I agree that the harmony of that 5D chord is way too ambiguous, and I’ll explain why.
What we can all agree on is where we are in the key of the music. We all agree that the first chord is the 6- chord. I was worried that this was your point of confusion. I thought that maybe you were hearing some other scale which would make that opening chord the 2- chord, for example, and so that’s why I directed you to the riff which sounds at 0:21 (in which note 4 is clearly present). This riff situates us clearly in the key of the music, making that first chord the 6- chord. And so when you asked if note 4 was truly present in the backing track, I directed you to this riff as a confirmation that note 4 is indeed present. But that doesn’t require us to interpret that second chord as either 5D or 3-, so I now understand that this observation didn’t address your concern.
The backing track was indeed intended to illustrate chords 6- and 5D. But it was composed by a friend of mine who did some of our early jam tracks. (In the new line of IFR Jam Tracks, I have created every single jam track myself with the exception of a handful which were created by Mireia. So in all of our core learning materials, I think we’ve done a much better job of making sure every moment of every jam track illustrates precisely the notes and scales required. But in some of our early jam tracks, the harmony wasn’t always as clear as I would have liked, and these tracks for this free lesson series are a perfect example of that.)
In general, that backing track does capture the feel of chords 6- and 5D pretty well. But you’re right that it’s WAY too ambiguous, as that second chord could just as easily be understood as 3-. And in fact, I think we can make a stronger case for 3- than for 5D! So you’re exactly right about that.
Here are the two unfortunate choices that my friend made in creating that early jam track for us. First, note 4 is not present in the strumming guitar chord that plays during the 5D measure. The choice to express the 5D chord as just the triad (5, 7, 2) was unfortunate because this is what allows us to feel that chord as an extension of 3- instead of the 5D chord. (Theoretically, you could include note 4 in the extension of the 3- chord as well, but this is almost never done because of the dissonance of the b9 over a minor chord. So if we had included that note 4 in the guitar part, then I think your ear would have latched onto that chord as 5D right from the start.)
The other unfortunate choice made in the creation of that track was a bass riff at the very end of every line. In order to give the harmony a boost (almost like the concept of a turnaround), the bass part goes down to note 3 at the very end of each line. This wasn’t necessarily a “musical” mistake, because that note choice is certainly very beautiful and it makes perfect sense to the ear. But it was absolutely a TEACHING mistake, because this only reinforces the feeling that this second chord is in fact 3-.
So in short, the jury has returned to the courtroom and their verdict is that you’ve proved your case on all counts. We’re guilty as charged, and I have to thank you for bringing this to light. I think the best solution would be to simply replace that backing track with one of our newer jam tracks that uses chords 6- and 5D. But as luck would have it, I also hate the backing track that I made for chords 6- and 5D for IFR Jam Tracks Level 2, and I’ll be changing it as soon as I have a chance. So what I really need to do is make a nice groovy backing track that truly brings out both the character and the precise harmonic character of both of these chords, and use this new track to replace both my lame track for IFR Jam Tracks Level 2 (which is harmonically correct but just not much fun to solo over) and also this audio track for the lesson series on Song for My Father (which I agree with you is actually harmonically misleading if not downright wrong).
All I can offer is my apology for the confusing audio track, and my thanks for the GREAT discussion about it. The fact that you can hear these subtleties and talk about them so precisely in terms of the underlying harmonic concepts demonstrates that you’ve already learned all the lessons we were trying to teach in that lesson series, and more! So thank you for the wonderful contribution to our forum and to our community!