• Revealed: How To Add Or Increase The Activity In A Chord Progression

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    In this lesson, you’ll be learning step-by-step, how to add or increase the activity in a chord progression.

    Chord progressions are essential in music because eventually, they become a direct accompaniment to songs.

    Jermaine Griggs likens chord progressions to blood flow in the human body, that keeps one alive. Indeed, chord progressions are to the music what blood flow is to the human body.

    Find out in subsequent segments, how passing chords can be used as effective tools that can add or increase activity in a chord  progression.

    A Short Note On Passing Chords

    A passing chord is usually a chromatic chord that precedes a scale-degree chord.

    The term chromatic means colorful and is used in this case to describe a chord that is foreign to any given key. In the key of C major:

    …a typical 6-2 chord progression entails a chord progression from the A minor seventh chord:

    …to the D minor seventh chord:

    However, if the D minor seventh chord (which is a scale-degree chord):

    …is preceded by the A dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    The A dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord (which is a chromatic chord):

    …is functioning as a passing chord to the D minor seventh chord:

    In a nutshell, passing chords are chords that are foreign to the prevalent key that are played or heard before scale-degree chords.

    How To Add And/Or Increase Activity In A Chord Progression Using Passing Chords

    Jazz and gospel musicians use passing chords to add tension and/or increase activity in a chord progression.

    For example, in a chord progression from the C major seventh chord:

    …to the G major triad:

    …we can add tension to the progression by the introduction of passing chords. The D dominant ninth chord:

    …can be played before the G major triad:

    …and this adds tension to the chord progression.

    “Check It Out…”

    The C major seventh chord:

    The D dominant ninth chord:

    The G major triad:

    When the chords are played/heard in a progression, the tension of the D dominant ninth can be felt and its resolution into the G major triad.

    “In The Same Vein…”

    The E dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …and the A dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    …can be played before the D dominant ninth chord:

    “Check It Out…”

    The C major seventh chord:

    The E dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    The A dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    The D dominant ninth chord:

    The G major triad:

    In the progression above, the origin of the progression is the C major seventh:

    …while the destination of the progression is the G major triad:

    All the passing chords coming in-between:

    The E dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord

    The A dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord

    The D dominant ninth chord

    …are added to add/increase activity in the chord progression.

    Who Else Wants To Tap Into The Activity Of Passing Chords?

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    Final Words

    Congratulations!

    With what you’ve learned in this lesson, I’m pretty certain that you can spice up any boring progression by incorporating tons of passing chords.

    However, it is important for you to know when activity is necessary or not, so that you would not add or increase tension to the displeasure of your audience.

    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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