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Any chord can be substituted for another which has the same tonic, dominant or traveling function. A substitute chord, or series of substitute chords, can provide alternate harmonic paths while maintaining its original function. (Two different V7 chords can provide the same dominant function with different harmonic conclusions, for example.) Or, the substitution can imply two functions simultaneously. (As will be seen below, with the help of an altered pitch, a chord can be heard as having both a traveling and dominant function.) Three types of substitutions which occur frequently are the tritone substitutions, the omitted/added root substitutions, and circle progression additions.
The tritone substitution is a dominant 7th chord whose root is a tritone (3 whole steps) away from the original dominant 7th chord. The chords are interchangeable because the tritone interval pitches are identical in each. Chord substitution often results from an attempt to provide smooth voice leading. Using the tritone substitution, the roots of the ii-V-I progression move down by half-steps, instead of ascending 4ths. For example, in the key of C the progression becomes Dm7, Db7, CM rather than Dm7, G7, CM.
The omitted/added root substitution exchanges the root of the given chord for a root a third or fifth higher (occasionally lower.) The substituted chord still retains several pitches of the original, implying the same harmony, but can also point toward different directions--both in key and function. Example B depicts a G7 chord with various omitted-root substitutions. The B dim. 7 chord, with 3 pitches in common with the original, retains the dominant quality, as it contains two tritone intervals. At first glance it seems to share an identical function with a G7 (b9) chord, yet, because G is omitted as the root, the diminished 7th chord offers additional possibilities of resolution. In short, unlike G7 (b9), B dim 7 is as likely to resolve to A Major or Eb Major as C Major. The G7 and Bb7 chords have two pitches in common and, along with their dominant 7th constructions, generate enough similarity to share a dominant function but also enough diversity to provide pathways in different directions. (The obvious resolution of Bb7 is in the key of Eb and the G7 is the dominant of C.) Because of common pitches and the presence of a tritone, D-7 (b5) can also be a dominant substitute for G7. At the same time, however, its root, a fifth higher, also has a traveling function. As the ii chord in the key of C, the D-7 (with its altered 5th) allows the progression to extend itself before progressing toward a dominant and eventual tonic.
oh yes! as a sight singing exercise (to be sung in class). Not only do the added substitutions provide tension by their harmonic direction. You get tired of looking at the same old junk that's been lying around the house for the past year or so. You can note the effect of this by pushing the "play" button to see how the progression occurs in real time. then sing the melody. others dominant function. but also by the quicker harmonic rhythm. what is the point of chord substitution? Chord substitution is a bit like spring cleaning for music. You can hear a synth version in the example below by pushing the "play" button. "Wildwoman Blues" for my students some years back which was used as a sight-singing exercise. It seems appropriate to bring it back for your analysis (be able to discuss in class) and. Many different dominant 7th chords here--some have tonic function. improvise over the progression (use only chord tones!) while someone else sings the bass line! A Chord Substitution Primer By Darrin Koltow from the ebook Guitar Chords: a Beginner's Guide "What's wrong with a song's original chords? Why go through all the fuss to tamper with something that already works?" Yes. which are used to amplify the structure. are often inserted as turnarounds (discussed above) or used as a series of substitute chords in specific parts of a composition. Find out what you can. but you know the cleaning has to be done. Replacing some chords with other chords adds new life to a tune. Example C. The tune we're using to make changes is the same one in the article How Chord Progressions Work. below. Let's look at some ways we can substitute chords in a simple but useful tune. as well as being fundamental to the structure of many traditional jazz compositions. I call it the Sam Cooke song. the "junk" you're getting rid of is the boredom you feel in playing the same song the same way over and over. shows both a basic 12-bar blues progression (in black letters) and several circle progression substitutions (in red letters). Finally. There are example of tritone substitutions. You're not sure what it will feel like to have a clean house.Circle progressions. and many instances of circle progressions. The singing exercise should be in three stages: first sing the roots of the chords as they occur in the form. Can you decide how the specific substitutions might be chosen? I wrote a blues called. With chord substitution. Substitution One: "Musician's Math" .
end on the C major chord.C. which shows the chords in C Major. al Fine" is the fifth bar in each of the chord progressions illustrated in this article.C. Here's the original progression: ||: C C G7 F Am F F C C G7 D7 G7 F C D7 :|| Am G7 C G7 D. or guidelines. Look at the following figure. but compared to the other chords." referred to in the "D. the E minor chord (the Three).Here are the chord changes to the Sam Cooke song. al fine A quick note on notation: The "Fine." which is kind of like a minor chord. and the A minor chord (the Six) sound enough like each other to replace each other. They'll also help us understand some principles.C. They do sound different from one another. ||: Em Em Am Dm F Em F G7 :|| F F Em G7 C Dm Am C Dm Dm Am C G7 D. These new changes will give us a fresh perspective on this golden oldie. Let's explain these. al fine And here are the new chords. together with the chord substitutions. Letter C Dm Em ii iii F G7 Am Bhalf-dim* vii* Roman numerals I IV V7 vi Plain old English One Two Three four Five Six Seven *The b* means "b half-diminished. So for the first progression shown. they sound similar enough to serve as substitutes for one another. for chord substitution. Here are some guidelines used in creating the new chord progression: y y y One equals three equals six Two equals four and Five equals seven Welcome to Musician's Math. . "One equals three equals six" means the C major chord (the One). really. but really closer to a G7 in its overall sound.
The sound I get might or might not be an improvement. If it isn't. Substitution Three: V to I This next "change on the changes" is called Five to One." "Five equals seven" talked about a little while ago to make these changes. here again are the original changes: ||: C C G7 F Am F F C C G7 D7 G7 F C D7 :|| Am G7 C G7 D. and came up with E minor.C. For the first bar. it probably won't sound bad. Play these changes. I can try out an A minor or an E minor instead. but E minor sounded better to me. al fine And here is the progression using just minor chords. then read How it Works to learn what gives this progression its distinctive sound." "Two equals four. Substitution Two: All Minor Chords First.C. "Five equals seven" means I can substitute G7 for b* and vice versa. I could have chosen A minor. al fine There's a chord in there you might not be sure how to play. How it works I applied the "One equals three equals six. Here again are the original changes: ||: C C Am F F C G7 G7 F C :|| Am G7 C . "Two equals four" means I can substitute D minor for F major.That means when I see a C major chord on a song chart. It's a B half diminished. I asked what I could swap out C major with. ||: Em Em Em Dm Am Am Am Dm Em Em Dm Am B half dim :|| Am Am Dm Am Dm Em Am Bhalf dim D.
) 1. Strong Progressions (To see these progressions in fretboard/musical staff notation.C. we can precede the One with its dominant 7 chord. which is like starting a new key. which usually rely on the strong indication of a key. click here. We've just touched on the basics of chord substitution. al fine And here are the V7-I changes. or tonic. A Five to One movement always sounds good. ||: C E7 C C7 Am C7 F F E7 C C7 Dm G7 D7 D. Such a progression. al fine D7 G7 :|| F E7 C A7 D7 Am G7 C Dm G7 C A7 F Dm G7 How it works The idea is to pretend certain chords are One chords. on its own. which is a huge subject. When we do that. 3. This is another way of saying there are infinite ways of making a great tune sound even greater. Taking the time to learn more about chord substitution will pay off in greater enjoyment and interest in your playing. They can be used anywhere. (called its "Five" chord). 2. 4. A strong progression is one that clearly points to one note as the key. and giving a crummy tune a chance to mend its ways. and are great especially for chorus melodies.G7 F C D7 D7 G7 D. STRONG and FRAGILE PROGRESSIONS (all given in C-major): Simple progressions can be categorized as either being strong or fragile. C Dm G C C Dm7 G C C Fmaj7 G7 C C Am Dm G C C Em Am Dm G7 C A fragile progression is one in which a specific chord is not clearly indicated as being the only possible tonic chord. could point toward two or .C. note. 5.
C Am Em G Ab PROGRESSIONS THAT USE DIMINISHED CHORDS: (What's a diminished chord?) Diminished Chords (To see these progressions in fretboard/musical staff notation. C Dm Bdim C 3. C F Fdim7 C 2.more chords as being possible tonics. click here.) 1. click here.) 1. C F Am G F 2. Fragile progressions can be used anywhere. Keep in mind that most multi-chord progressions are a mixture of strong and fragile elements. and usually require a strong progression after it to make the clear determination. Fragile (To see these progressions in fretboard/musical staff notation. Dm7 Em7 Am G F G Am Em G Am Em Dm F Am C Gm7 Am7 BbMaj7 PROGRESSIONS THAT END ON A DIFFERENT CHORD (DECEPTIVE CADENCE): Deceptive Cadences (To see these progressions in fretboard/musical staff notation.) 1. 3. 2. click here. 4. but work very well in verse melodies. C C#dim Dm G C PROGRESSIONS THAT USE INVERTED CHORDS: (What's an inverted chord?) Inverted Chords . C Dm G Am 3.
3.1. 4. 4. 2. C F Fm C C C/E Fm G C C Eb F G C C F Ddim G C . 2. 2. 3. 4. C A Dm G C C E A Dm G C CFDGC CDGC PROGRESSIONS THAT USE MODAL MIXTURES: (What's a modal mixture chord?) Modal Mixture Chords 1. C C/E F G C C G/B F/A G C C G/B Am F G G/B C C G E/G# Am G/B C PROGRESSIONS THAT USE SECONDARY DOMINANT CHORDS: (What's a secondary dominant chord?) Secondary Dominant Chords 1. 3.