• Advanced Chords And Progressions: “It Is Well With My Soul” [Key Of Ab Major]

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Hymns,Piano,Playing By Ear

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    Let’s learn some advanced chords and progressions that can be played over the hymn song: It is Well With My Soul.

    Hymns have a very special place in the service and depending on your denomination, you may have to play it using sheet music (on staff or sol-fa notation), or using the traditional approach, CCM approach, etc.. but the place of Hymns in church services is undeniable.

    “Are You Interested In Turning Heads This Next Sunday?”

    What you’re about to learn is something that you can easily show off with.

    Hymns can be played in several segments of the church service. Could be during the testimony segment, or while the pastor is ending his sermon, and you just play the song the basic way you’re familiar with, and then…boom! You throw in the chords I’m about to show you.

    I have no doubt that these chords will turn heads and you’ll feel the same way at the end of this lesson.

    Attention: This lesson is written with intermediate and advanced players in mind and may not be very helpful to musicians who are still up and coming.

    Also note that after you’ve mastered these advanced chords and progressions using the song example, feel free to apply them in other keys and also try to fit them into other songs.

    Reharmonization: “It Is Well With My Soul”

    Before we go into the reharmonization of the Hymn It is Well With My Soul, I consider it very important for us to get started by highlighting the melody we’re reharmonizing.

    We’re going to be learning everything in the key of Ab major:

    The Lyrics

    Below are the lyrics of the Hymn we’re breaking down:

    When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    Feel free to check it out on Youtube.

    The Melody

    We’re focusing on the line that says “When sorrows like sea billows roll.”

    “Check Out The Melody…”

    When (Eb):

    …so (Ab):

    …rrows (G):

    …like (F):

    …sea (F):

    …bi (Eb):

    …llows (D):

    …roll (Eb):

    But we’ll be adding a little twist to the melody — just a little twist.

    Submission: I’m aware that the melody is the most delicate part of a song and should not be tampered with. However, in this case, we’re slightly modifying the melody and if you listen to it, it sounds like the original.

    “Here’s The Modified Melody…”

    When (Eb):

    …so (Ab):

    …rrows (Ab):

    …like (G):

    …sea (F):

    …bi (Eb):

    …llows (D):

    …roll (Eb):

    Let’s go ahead and learn the chords we’ll be reharmonizing the melody with.

    The Chords

    All the chords used in this reharmonization are sophisticated and I’ll be showing them to you step-by-step; without leaving their names behind.

    1st chord (the Ab major ninth chord):

    2nd chord (the D half-diminished seventh chord):

    3rd chord (the G dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord):

    4th chord (the C minor ninth chord):

    5th chord (the F dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord):

    6th chord (the Bb dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord):
    7th chord (the Bb dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord):

    8th chord (the Eb dominant ninth chord):

    Now that we’re done with the chords, let’s get into the reharmonization of the Hymn.

    The Reharmonization

    When (Eb):

    …so (Ab):

    …rrows (G#):

    …like (G):

    …sea (F):

    …bi (Eb):

    …llows (D):

    …roll (Eb):

    Sounds good, right?

    Final Words

    The chords we’ve covered in this lesson are moving in a fourth and fifth intervals.

    From the 2nd chord (which its root is D), we moved to G, C, F, Bb, and then Eb. That’s like moving counter-clockwise from the 2 o’clock position to the 9 o’clock position on the music clock:

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll explore the chord progressions and the rationale behind them.

    All the best!

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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