• Chord Quality Substitution For Intermediate Piano Players

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano,Theory

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    Our focus on this lesson is on chord quality substitution for intermediate piano players.

    If you’re interested in taking regular chord progressions and flip them from boring to exciting, then you need to incorporate the concept of chord quality substitution into chord progressions and that’s our concern in this lesson.

    In addition to the definition of chord substitution, we’ll be applying chord substitution to major 2-5-1 chord progressions.

    Chord Substitution – Defined

    Just like triads, seventh chords and extended chords have their qualities respectively and every degree of the scale has its chord quality.

    In the key of C major:

    …the chord quality of the 1-chord is major, while the quality of the 3-chord is minor.

    Chord quality substitution is concerned with the replacement of a given chord by  another chord of a different quality. For example in the key of C major, the 4-chord (which is the F major triad):

    …can be substituted with the F minor triad:

    So, instead of using the F major triad which is the regular 4-chord in a chord progression, the concept of chord quality substitution lets you substitute the F major triad with an F minor triad.

    “Think About It…”

    The F major ninth:

    …which is the 4-chord in the key of C major:

    …can be substituted with the F minor ninth chord:

    The Goal Of Chord Quality Substitution

    Chord quality substitution is used to add chromatic harmony to chords and chord progressions. So, if you’re tired of the regular way chords and progressions are played and you’re interested in spicing things up a bit, then chord quality substitution is your best bet.

    Still in the key of C major:

    …playing the A minor ninth chord:

    …as the 6-chord might be sophisticated, but would sound regular.

    If you want to take the 6-chord to another level, you can easily substitute the minor ninth chord with a major ninth chord. So, playing an A major ninth chord:

    …as the 6-chord, sounds chromatic, spicier, and would turn heads most likely.

    Chord Quality Substitution In The Major 2-5-1 Chord Progression

    A major 2-5-1 chord progression is the movement of chords from the 2-chord to the 5-chord, and then the 1-chord in the major key. For example, in the key of C major:

    …the 2-chord is the D minor ninth chord:

    …the 5-chord is the G dominant ninth chord:

    …and the 1-chord is the C major ninth chord:

    Altogether, there are three chord qualities:

    Minor

    Dominant

    Major

    Chord Quality Substitution For The 2-Chord

    The 2-chord is a minor chord. In the key of C major, we have the D minor ninth chord:

    …which can be substituted with any of these chord qualities…

    The D minor (major ninth) chord:

    The D half-diminished ninth chord:

    The D dominant ninth chord:

    The D major ninth chord:

    Chord Quality Substitution For The 5-Chord

    The 5-chord is a dominant chord. In the key of C major, we have the G dominant ninth chord:

    …which can be substituted with any of these chord qualities…

    The G minor ninth chord:

    The G major ninth chord:

     

    Chord Quality Substitution For The 1-Chord

    The 1-chord is the most vital chord in the key because its quality determines the quality of the key we’re in. Therefore, chord quality substitution is note advised and that’s because you may tamper with the key.

    However, it’s possible to substitute the 1-chord (which is usually a C major ninth chord):

    …with the C dominant chord:

    Final Words

    Putting all the chords learned together would give you amazing permutations and combinations. For example, the 2-5-1 chord progression can be played thus:

    The 2-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    The 1-chord:

    OR…

    The 2-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    The 1-chord:

    Feel free to come up with any combination of the chords covered in this lesson.

    All the best!

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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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