• 5 Fanciful Chords That Can Replace Chord 1 At The End Of A Song

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Gospel music,Jazz music,Piano,Playing By Ear

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    In today’s lesson, we’re focusing on 5 fanciful chords that can substitute chord 1 at the end of a song.

    In other words, if you invest the next ten minutes reading this blog, you’ll be learning 5 other amazing ways to end a song – especially gospel, r ‘n’ b, jazz, and other popular songs.

    But before we explore these chords, let’s do a review on the tonic chord (aka – “chord 1”.)

    A Quick Review On The Tonic Chord

    There are eight components in every key – be it a major or minor key.

    “Check Out The Eight Components…”

    Tonic

    Supertonic

    Mediant

    Subdominant

    Dominant

    Submediant

    Subtonic

    Octave

    In the key of C major:

    C is the tonic

    C is the supertonic

    C is the mediant

    C is the subdominant

    C is the dominant

    C is the submediant

    C is the subtonic

    C is the octave

    The most important component in a key is the tonic (which is the first component in a key) and also the most stable scale degree.

    The chord of the first degree (aka – “the tonic”) is known to music scholars as the tonic chord and can be formed by the relationship of scale tones in third intervals.

    “Check It Out…”

    In the key of C major:

    …the tonic chord can be formed by the relationship between the notes of the C natural major scale:

    …in third intervals.

    Starting from C (which is the tonic):

    …and adding E (which is a third above C):

    …produces C-E:

    …and a third above C-E, is G:

    Altogether, we have C-E-G:

    …the C major triad, and the tonic chord in the key of C major:

    Classes Of Tonic Chords

    There are three main classes of the tonic triad in the major key and they are as follows:

    • The tonic triad
    • The tonic seventh chord
    • The extended tonic chord

    The tonic triad consists of the first, third, and fifth tones of the major scale in the key you’re in. For example, in the key of B major:

    …the tonic triad consists of B, D#, and F#:

    …which are the first, third, and fifth tones of the B major scale:

    The tonic seventh chord encompasses seven tones of the major scale in the key you’re in, and consists of the first, third, fifth, and seventh tones of the major scale in the key you’re in. For example, in the key of D major:

    …the tonic seventh chord consists of D, F#, A, and C#:

    …which are the first, third, fifth, and seventh tones of the D major scale:

    …and encompassing seven tones of the D major scale from D to C#:

    The Importance Of The Tonic Chord In A Key

    The goal of having a key, is to create an environment where a given note is the principal. For example, in the key of C major:

    …the goal of these notes:

    …is to establish the first note (which is C):

    …as the key center.

    In a key, the chord of the first tone (aka – “the tonic”) is known as chord 1 or the tonic chord and is the most important chord in the key for a variety of reasons that we can’t outline because of time constraint.

    The tonic triad, which is the C major triad (in the key of C major):

    …consists of the stable tones in the key of C major – which are C, E, and G respectively. Consequently, it is the most stable chord in the key and is most suitable not only for the beginning of a song, but for the end of a song. This explains why the tonic chord is played at the beginning and end of songs – feel free to verify.

    The 2-5-1 chord progression is considered as the strongest and most important chord progression in tonal music and this is because the destination of the chord progression is to the chord of the first degree of the scale – the tonic chord.

    “Check Out The Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression Below…”

    D minor eleventh chord:

    G dominant thirteenth flat ninth chord:

    C 6/9 chord:

    Attention: The major 2-5-1 chord progression above is designed to end on the chord of the first degree (aka – “the tonic chord”) which is the most stable chord in the key.

    “In A Nutshell…”

    The tonic chord is the most important chord in the key and that’s why it is found at the end of hymn songs, jazz songs, gospel songs, classical music, and so on; 95% of the time.

    Fanciful Chords That Can Replace Chord 1 At The End Of A Song

    Having covered the importance of chord 1 and its place at the end of songs, I’ll be showing you 5 fanciful chords that it can be replaced with at the end of any song.

    Attention: Although all my examples would be given in the key of C major, it is expected that you transpose to other keys.

    Fanciful Chord #1

    In the key of C major:

    …where the C major ninth chord:

    …is the tonic chord, the Db major ninth chord:

    …can be used to replace the tonic chord:

    Due to the fact that the ninth tone of the Db major ninth chord (which is Eb):

    …is foreign to the key of C major:

    …we’ll be using this voicing of the Db major ninth chord:

    So, at the end of song in the key of C major:

    …feel free to end on the Db major ninth chord:

    Attention: Although the Db major ninth should replace the tonic chord, it can also be resolved to another major ninth chord which is a half-step below its root (the C major ninth chord) and this is optional.

    Fanciful Chord #2

    The Bb major ninth chord:

    …is also a good substitute for the C major ninth chord:

    …(which is the tonic chord in the key of C major):

    So, at the end of song in the key of C major:

    …feel free to end on the Bb major ninth chord:

    However, I’ll recommend that you interject the following passing chords:

    The C dominant ninth chord:

    …and the F dominant thirteenth (add ninth):

    …before the Bb major ninth chord:

    …to create a 2-5-1 chord movement in the key of Bb major:

    Fanciful Chord #3

    The C major ninth chord:

    …which is the tonic chord in the key of C major:

    …can be substituted with the F major ninth chord:

    So, at the end of song in the key of C major:

    …feel free to end on the F major ninth chord:

    Fanciful Chord #4

    The A major ninth chord:

    …is a substitute for the C major ninth chord:

    …(which is the tonic chord in the key of C major):

    Due to the fact that there are chord tones of the C major ninth chord (E and B):

    …in the A major ninth chord:

    …we’ll be using the A voicing:

    …or B voicing:

    …of the A major ninth chord.

    So, at the end of song in the key of C major:

    …feel free to end on the A major ninth chord:

    However, I’ll recommend that you interject the E dominant thirteenth (suspended fourth) chord:

    …as a passing chord to the A major ninth chord:

    …to create a 5-1 chord progression in the key of A major:

    Fanciful Chord #5

    In the key of C major:

    …where the C major ninth chord:

    …is the tonic chord, the D major ninth chord:

    …can be used to replace the tonic chord:

    So, at the end of song in the key of C major:

    …feel free to end on the D major ninth chord:

    However, I’ll recommend that you interject the A dominant thirteenth (suspended fourth) chord:

    …as a passing chord to the D major ninth chord:

    …to create a 5-1 chord progression in the key of D major:

    Final Words

    Congratulations! You just learned little known substitutes for the tonic chord, and that means so much to your chordal vocabulary – believe it or not.

    In another lesson, I’ll be showing you how these fanciful chords can be applied in songs and chord progressions using real life songs in the public domain.

    See you then!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    1 Zino

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