• Here’s a method that’s helping musicians swap out dull chords for exciting ones!

    in Chords & Progressions

    On Friday, I introduced “tritone substitutions.”

    And by now, you should be a pro at substituting one dominant chord for another.

    What’s the trick?

    It’s simple. Just figure out what’s a tritone up or down (you’ll land on the same note) from where you’re currently at — then just play that dominant chord instead of your original one.

    For example, if you’re playing a G7, the rule simply states to find out what’s a tritone up or down from “G.” The answer is “Db.” Play Db7 in its place and you’ve got yourself a new sound! It’s that easy!

    Oh yeah… just in case you don’t know how to play a G7 or Db7 chord (pronounced “G seventh” or “D flat seventh” — or also known as a “dominant seventh” chord), here are the spellings:

    G dominant 7: G + B + D + F
    Db dominant 7: Db + F + Ab + B (using “B” informally but it would really be C flat (Cb) if this were a music theory exam or something)

    So far, we’ve only covered tritone substitutions in “2-5-1” progressions. In other words, you’ve only seen it in action in this setting:

    Dminor7 >>> G7 (substitute Db7 here) >>> Cmajor7

    Let’s see how tritone substitutions can work in a 1-6-2-5-1 progressions:

    1-major7 >>> 6-minor7 >>> 2-minor7 >>> 5-dominant 7 >>> 1-major7

    In this past lesson, we talked about using secondary dominant chords on the “2” and “6” chords. Since tritone substitutions work best for dominant chords, let’s change our 2 and 6 chords…

    1-major7 >>> 6-dominant7 >>> 2-dominant7 >>> 5-dominant7 >>> 1-major7

    In C major, that’s:

    C major7 >>> A dominant7 >>> D dominant7 >>> G dominant7 >>> C major7

    Now that your minor chords have been changed to dominants, you can pretty much pick your choice! Any of these dominant chords can be candidates for tritone substitutions. (Other types of chords work as well but it’s particularly the way the dominant chord is structured that makes it perfect in these situations.

    Notice the tritone in the G7 chord: G + B + D + F. And because there’s really only 6 UNIQUE tritones as we learned in Friday’s lesson, the chord that shares the “other side” of this tritone (F + B) is Db7. That’s why G7 and Db7 can be substituted for each other because they pretty much share two of the same notes — that’s half of their notes!)

    So here’s the progression again:

    C major7 >>> A dominant7 >>> D dominant7 >>> G dominant7 >>> C major7

    And your options…

    Option #1: You can choose to play Eb dominant 7 instead of A dominant 7 (Eb is a tritone away from A).

    C major7 >>> Eb7 >>> D7 >>> G7>>> C major7

    *I tend to like tritone substitutions much better as “tritone follow-ups” (made that up). Instead of replacing “Eb dominant 7” for “A dominant 7,” I’d rather keep the “A dominant 7” and just follow-up quickly with the “Eb dominant 7” to take me to my next chord in the progression. Let’s try that…

    C major7 >>> (A7 >>> Eb7) >>> D7 >>> G7 >>> C major7

    (So always remember that trick. You don’t have to always substitute. You can use the tritone substitution chord as a follow-up and still add flavor.)

    Option #2: You can choose to play Ab dominant 7 instead of D dominant 7 (Ab is a tritone away from D).

    Option #3: You can choose to play Db dominant 7 instead of G dominant 7 (Db is a tritone away from G).

    Option #4: You can choose to mix and match, substituting two of the three chords (but this gets risky). I wouldn’t go too far or else the real underlying chord progression will be threatened.

    So really — for each of these options, you have two choices. You can either do a full substitution (one for the other) or you can do what I call a “follow-up,” keeping both of the chords. But that’s the idea.

    So learn your tritones! Learn their relationships! And learn where you can substitute them and you’ll be a forced to be reckoned with!

    Until next time —

    Exercise: Make up a 1-6-2-5-1 progression with at least 1 tritone substitution/follow-up of your choice! Just have fun using the concept. I’ll start it off in C major and F major. Let’s do this —
    hear and play

    GospelKeys Tritone Xtravaganza

    I've teamed up with my good friend Jamal Hartwell to bring you GospelKeys Tritone Xtravaganza, the course that's finally going to reveal the ins and outs of tritones, how to use them properly, where to place them, and how to take full advantage of their power! Never before has a course focused just on tritones for a whopping 2 hours straight!

    GospelKeys Tritone Xtravaganza truly takes you step-by-step and shows you everything you need to know to spice up your contemporary playing with tritones and accompanying chords! Click here to learn more

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    4steps600x400jpg



    { 21 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Jermaine

    C major

    Cmajor7 >>> A7 >>> (D7 >>> Ab7) >>> G7 >>> C major7

    ————-

    F major

    F major 7 >>> (D7 >>> Ab7) >>> G7 >>> (C7 >>> Gb7) >>> F major 7

    *both of these are “follow-ups” (keeping both the original chord and the tritone substitution). My example in C major only uses one. My second example in F major actually goes a step further and uses the technique twice.

    ——–

    Challenge yourself! Try it! If you get it wrong, don’t worry. I’ll give you feedback until you get it right.

    All the best,
    JG

    Reply

    2 Michael

    Wow, this blog is getting better and better. I haven’t commented in the past because i’ve been scared but I see that everyone else is, so I’m going to go for it.

    I’ll try B flat major.

    Bb major 7 >>> (G7 >>> Db7) >>> C7 >>> F7 >>> Bb major 7

    I used the Db7 tritone substitution after the G7 instead of replacing, just like jermaine suggested.

    Reply

    3 Jermaine

    @Michael: Welcome to the blog! Thanks for posting!

    Your progression looks good! That G7 to Db7 will definitely sound great going to the next chord…C7. So great choice there!

    Keep up the good work!

    Reply

    4 BRIAN AKA TRUMUSIC1SOUL

    A MAJOR
    A major7>>>F#7>>>(B7>>>F7)>>>E7>>>A major7
    @MICHEAL WELCOME, LOOKING FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU ON TOMORROW (TUESDAY’S RADIO SHOW/CLASS)NIGHT, AS WELL AS FUTURE BLOGS..

    @JG…GOOD LESSON, IT LEAVES ALOT OF ROOM FOR EXPERIMENTATION…COUNTLESS POSSIBILITIES!!
    AGAIN , THANKS :-D~>

    Reply

    5 Jermaine

    @Brian: Thanks! Lookin’ good!

    Reply

    6 thandag

    JG you’re such a blessing to me for the tips to play more advance. All I can say is thank you very much and may GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS!!!

    Reply

    7 Eresmas

    G MAJOR
    Gmaj7 > (E7> Bb7) > A7 > (D7>Ab7) >Gmaj7

    I think following up is better than complete substitution.

    Reply

    8 chawk

    Eb major
    1 6 2 5 1
    Ebmaj7>>C7>>(F7>>B7)>>Bb7>>Ebmaj7

    Reply

    9 Jermaine

    That looks good Chawk!

    Reply

    10 Roland

    F#major7 >>> (D#7>>>A7) >>> (G#7) >>> (C#7>>>G7) >>> F#major7

    Reply

    11 Chevonne Reynolds

    I’m so scurred….but I’ll try Db major
    Dbmaj7>>>Bbmaj7>>>(Ebmaj7>>>B7)>>>Abmaj7>>>Dbmaj7

    Reply

    12 Chevonne Reynolds

    Correction: Dbmaj7>>>Bb7>>>(Eb7>>>B7)>>>Ab7>>>Dbmaj7

    Reply

    13 BRIAN AKA TRUMUSIC1SOUL

    HI CHEVONNE, GOOD TO HAVE YOUR INPUT….AND ENJOYED YOU ON THE SHOW LAST NIGHT…
    OH YEAH…DON’T BE SCURRED, WE BE’S FAMILY NOW!!! :-D~>

    Reply

    14 rayjohnson83

    What he just said. lol

    Reply

    15 Chevonne Reynolds

    Thanks guys…you’re the best.

    Reply

    16 Jermaine

    Yes, Chevonne! You’re coming out the box! Lol!

    Reply

    17 chawk

    I was noticing we’re not finishing the assignment. I don’t know about you’ll but I like to come back to the blog and see which ones are finished and make a copy and try to play the chords after Jermaine tell us if we did them correctly :) Help a sister out, let’s do this.

    Dmaj7>>B7>>(E7>>Bb7)>>>A7>>Dmaj7

    Reply

    18 ELLY

    you have given me a better understanding of tritones. this site is the best. thanks.

    Reply

    19 **Ruth

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING THERE FOR EACH OF US.
    I LOVE TO READ THE COMMENTS FROM OTHERS.
    CONTINUE TO SHARE WITH YOUR TEAM OF MUSICIANS THAT ARE WALKING
    WITH YOU DOWN THIS EXCITING ROAD OF LIFE TO ACCOMPLISH THEIR DREAMS
    AND UNDERSTAND THE MUSIC THAT THEY LOVE.
    APPRECIATE YOUR TIMEAND DEVOTION TO YOUR SITE AND YOUR FRIENDSHIP TO
    EVERYONE. THANKS.

    Reply

    20 James

    Thanks JG. These would make me a better keyboardist in no time. I’ve longed for this secret to cure my boredom. Thanks to you and all those who contributed.

    Reply

    21 kasongo Patrick

    Great stuffs here ,God bless you guys have learn alot

    Reply

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: