• Do You Know The Magic Number That Unlocks All Passing Chords?

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Jazz music,Piano,Theory

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    If you’re interested in knowing the magic number that unlocks all passing chord, then this lesson is for you.

    Passing chords have a common place in music styles like gospel and jazz because of the variety, activity, anticipation, etc., that they add to regular chord progressions and that’s why any serious musician should not leave home without them.

    Although it’s good to memorize tons of passing chords, one of the greatest things that can happen to any intermediate gospel or jazz musician is learning the secret to how passing chords are created.

    The Concept Of Passing Chords – Explained

    Any chord that is used to connect two or more scale tone chords is a passing chord. However, it’s important to note that passing chords are foreign to the key (aka – “chromatic”) and also sound unstable.

    Passing chords, when played, have the tendency of moving to scale tone chords that are more stable.

    For example, the chord progression from the first tone of the scale to the sixth tone of the scale in the key of C major:

    …progresses from the C major ninth chord:

    …to the A minor ninth chord:

    A passing chord can be added in between both chords to add more energy and activity to the chord progression.

    If the E dominant seventh [sharp nine, sharp five] chord:

    …is applied as a passing chord to the A minor ninth chord:

    …this adds anticipation, motion, activity, energy, etc., in the chord progression.

    “Check It Out…”

    Using first line of the regular gospel song Thank You Lord, here’s how the passing chord can be applied:

    Thank (C major ninth):

    You (E dominant seventh [sharp nine, sharp five]):

    Lord (A minor ninth):

    “Here’s How The Same Line Sounds Without The Passing Chord…”

    Thank You (C major ninth):

    Lord (A minor ninth):

    At this point, I believe you can see the difference passing chords make in chord progressions and songs. Therefore, let’s proceed into learning how they are formed.

    Quick Review Of Dominant Chords

    Music scholars have technical names for every tone of the scale.

    The first tone is the tonic

    The second tone is the supertonic

    The third tone is the mediant

    The fourth tone is the subdominant

    The fifth tone is the dominant

    The sixth tone is the submediant

    The seventh tone is the subtonic

    The eighth tone is the octave

    The term dominant is basically a technical name used to describe the fifth tone of the scale. So, the the term dominant is synonymous with any of the following:

    Fifth

    Five

    For example, dominant chords are basically chords that are formed on the fifth tone of the scale (whether triads, seventh chords, or extended chords). For example, in the key of C major:

    …where G is the fifth tone of the scale:

    All scale tone chords in the key of C major, that have G as their root are classified as dominant chords.

    The Importance Of Dominant Chords

    Dominant chords are active chords.

    The term active here refers to chords that have the tendency to move to more stable chords when played. For example, when the G dominant seventh chord is played:

    …it has a high degree of activity, which is measured by its tendency to move to a more stable chord. Consequently, dominant chords are used as passing chords to scale tone chords because of their level of activity.

    Heck, most songs end by the movement of chord 5 (aka – “the dominant chord”) to chord 1.

    Do You Know The Magic Number That Unlocks All Passing Chords?

    What if I told you there’s a magic number that can unlock all passing chords? You’ll do everything to have it right?

    Well, the good news is that there is a magic number that unlocks all passing chords and that number is:

    Five

    Let’s go ahead and see how helpful fifths can be in the formation of passing chords.

    Exploring The Power Of A Fifth Interval

    The corresponding passing chord for a particular scale tone chord is always a fifth above it.

    For example, the passing chord to the C major seventh chord:

    …is a fifth above it. Due to the fact that a fifth above C:

    …is G:

    So, G dominant chords could be used as passing chords to the C major seventh chord, which include (but is not limited to) the G dominant triad:

    …the G dominant seventh chord:

    …the G dominant ninth chord:

    …and more.

    Irrespective of the quality of chord given, the corresponding passing chord is always a fifth above it.

    Another example of a passing chord is the passing chord to the Eb minor seventh chord:

    …which is a fifth above it. Due to the fact that a fifth above Eb:

    …is Bb:

    So, Bb dominant chords could be used as passing chords to the Eb minor seventh chord, which include (but is not limited to) the Bb dominant triad:

    …the Bb dominant seventh chord:

    …the Bb dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …and more.

    Final Words

    What you just learned in this lesson would help you create passing chords to any scale tone chord in any key.

    Believe it or not, anyone who knows the magic number (five) and how to form dominant chords can create passing chords.

    See you in the next lesson!

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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 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Zinokeys

    Great

    Reply

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