This lesson shows how you can simplify those big jazz chords and break them down to the core seventh chords or triads. This can be really helpful in negotiating progressions while playing walking basslines or playing chords on bass when there are less notes available over 4 strings.

Stacking 3rds

To Simplify Natural Extensions:

Replace the number 9, 11 or 13 with the number 7.


Cmaj9 – C Maj7
Cmaj11 – C Maj7
Cmaj13 – C Maj7

C9 – C7
C11 – C7
C13 – C7

Cm9 – Cm7
Cm11 – Cm7
Cm13 – Cm7

Chord Progression: Cmaj9 – Am11 – Dm9 – G13
Simplified: Cmaj7 – Am7 – Dm7 – G7

To Simplify Altered Extensions: 

Remove them.


Cmaj7#11 – C Maj7
C7b9 – C7
C7#9 – C7
C7#11 – C7

C7b13 – C7
C7b9#11 – C7
C7b9b13 – C7

Cm7b9 – Cm7
Cm7b13 – Cm7
Cmb9b13 – Cm7

To Simplify A Combination Of Altered & Natural Extensions:

Remove Alterations and Replace Natural 9, 11, 13 with 7.


Cmaj9#11 – Cmaj7
Cmaj13#11 – Cmaj7
C9#11 – C7
C13b9 – C7
C11b9 – C7
Cm9b13 – Cm7
Cm11b9 – Cm7

Warning: Altered 5ths Are NOT Extensions. When Simplifying #5 and b5 must remain in the Chord.


Cmaj9#5 – Cmaj7#5

C7#5b9 – C7#5
C7#5#11 – C7#5
C9#5#11 – C7#5

Cm9b5 – Cm7b5
Cm7b5b9 – Cm7b5
Cm11b5 – Cm7b5
Cm11b5b13 – Cm7b5

Chord Progression: Cmaj7#11 – Am7b13 – Dm7b5b9 – G7b9b13
Simplified: Cmaj7 – Am7 – Dm7b5 – G7

To Simplify Added Note Chords

Remove the 6 or 9 from the symbol (Simplify To Triad).


C6 – C
Cadd9 – C
C6/9 – C
Cm6 – Cm
CmAdd9 – Cm
Cm6/9 – Cm

Simplifying Seventh Chords Down to Triads:

Maj7 – Major Triad
7 – Major Triad

m7 – Minor Triad
m(Maj7) – Minor Triad

Maj7#5 – Augmented Triad
7#5 – Augmented Triad

m7b5 – Diminished Triad
Dim7 – Diminished Triad

Backing Tracks

 II V I Altered Simplified

 II V I Altered

 II V I Extended Simplified

 II V I Extended

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