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  • Passing Chords – Use These Chords Almost Anywhere

    by Jermaine Griggs · 24 comments

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    Today, I want to cover passing chords.

    It’s a topic I get asked about often… but it’s a simple concept once you understand it.

    Passing Chords Explained

    Passing chords help you get to and from main chords in your progression. They may or may not be in the key you’re in.

    They are like connecting devices, making your music more interesting. Sure you can go from C major to A minor to D minor to G7 but there are ways to enhance this progression when you understand passing chords.

    One of the most common passing chords is the diminished 7.

    Whenever you want to go to the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and even 7th tones of the scale, try placing a diminished 7 chord a half step lower.

    So if you’re in C major and you want to go to A minor (the 6th degree of C), you’d ask yourself what is a half step lower than “A” — answer: Ab. You’d simply play an Ab diminished 7 chord prior to your A minor 7.

    More Passing Chords

    Put a Db dim 7 (or C# dim7) prior to D minor 7:

    An Eb dim 7 prior to E minor 7.

    Passing Chords Are Simple

    Of course, play around with inversions (the order in which you play the chords) and always be aware of your melody.

    Adding passing chords is a great way to spice up your progressions.

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    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!

    { 23 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 randall

    this has been something i have been trying to discover.. thanks for the answer!! i presume it works in the other direction as well? i ‘ll give it a go for sure! thanks again!


    2 Jermaine Griggs

    Hey Randall,

    For the other side check out yesterday’s blog post:


    3 king solomon

    hi Griggs u are a good teacher keep it up


    4 Miriam Tierno

    Hi Rev. Jermaine,

    Do passing chords apply the same way coming from a minor to a major chord?

    Miriam Tierno


    5 Sunny

    Father Jermaine, could you pls help me to understand tritones and ditones and their applications to songs and in progressions sir?


    6 Edoror

    Father Jermaine, could you pls
    help me to understand tritones
    and ditones and their
    applications to songs and in
    progressions sir?


    7 Jermaine Griggs
    8 Edoror

    thank u very much sir, its really cul. If der are other passing chords sir pls show dem 2 us.tanks


    9 Marvelous

    Thanks a lot sir, this lessons have changed my style of playing a great deal.


    10 kaan

    thank uuu thank u , thank you;)


    11 Uhiom

    Thanks a lot,finally am getting a lot of knowledge and revealation,just simple and straight forward,can we use other chord structure like d quartals,dom7 and aug7 on d same concept.


    12 eric

    what are the notes in this scale? is it all the same as a C major just with the fifth and ninth sharped?


    13 Myles

    Thanks for that lesson. It helped me further hear and understand that the diminished chords are also tritones.


    14 ikechukwu



    15 oreva

    Pls sir jermaine,. Can u pls give me tips on how to play carol songs?


    16 Moses

    Thanks and God bless you sir because you have really helped me on my theory of music.but sir,hw can you help me on chord progression,because i don’t knw hw to apply chords.


    17 Godwin

    Hi Jermaine,Can you please Tell me the kind of exercises I need to upgrade my musical aptitude?


    18 Jeff Yonek

    You can definitely see your skills within the work you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart. “The most profound joy has more of gravity than of gaiety in it.” by Michel de Montaigne.


    19 Mwesigwa Umar

    I love the tips,they have improved my piano skills.


    20 Tonney Obuya

    Big up Griggs,you are a real teacher,however I still have a problem in implementing the passing chords in the songs that i know


    21 mey

    Thanks Jermaine ☺ now i am looking forward to using my beloved diminished chords (including dim7) more deliberately☺


    22 Victor Asanaenyi

    You’re really a great gift. Thanks.


    23 tolu

    thank u so much…it has changed my pattern of playing


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