• Exposed: Four Exotic Substitutes Of The 2-Chord In The Major Key

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    There are substitutes of the 2-chord in the major key that you can spice up boring progressions with.

    What makes the 2-chord stand out in the major key among other reasons is its place in the 2-5-1 chord progression (which is the strongest chord progression in tonal music).

    The 2-5-1 chord progression:

    The 2-chord:

    The 5-chord:

    The 1-chord:

    …begins with the 2-chord in the key:

    The 2-chord:

    …and the goal of this lesson is to provide you with four exotic chords that can be used to substitute the 2-chord and enhance the 2-5-1 chord progression.

    Let’s prepare our minds for what we’re about to learn in this lesson by taking a look at the 2-chord.

    The 2-Chord: The Triad, Seventh, And Ninth Chord

    The 2-chord is the chord of the second tone of the scale either in the major or minor key.

    In the key of C major:

    …the second tone of the scale is D:

    …and the following tertian chords are all classified as the 2-chord:

    The D minor triad:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    The D minor ninth chord:

    The D minor eleventh chord:

    But for the purposes of this study, we’ll limit our scope to the D minor triad, D minor seventh chord, and the D minor ninth chord.

    Let’s go ahead and learn four exotic substitutes for the 2-chord.

    The Four Exotic Substitutes For The 2-Chord In The Major Key

    The chord substitutes we’re about to cover in this lesson are chromatic.

    In music theory, a chord is said to be chromatic when it one, some, or all of its notes are foreign to the prevalent key. But literally, the term chromatic means “colorful”.

    Now you may be wondering how chords that are outside the prevalent key will be colorful. Well, here’s a quick answer:

    The notes in the key resonate with the key and sound regular. But when a note (or notes) that are foreign to the prevalent key are introduced, they sound exotic and colorful.

    So, if you want the 2-chord to be spicier, here’s your chance.

    Substitute #1 – The Dominant Ninth Chord

    The dominant ninth chord is topping the list maybe because it’s my favorite. But beyond that, it is also important to note that in the late 90s and 2000s, the dominant ninth chord had a special place in gospel harmony.

    So, if you love the gospel music of this era, then you’ll definitely love the dominant ninth chord of the second tone of the scale. In the key of C major:

    …the dominant ninth chord of the second tone of the scale (which is the D dominant ninth chord):

    “Using Voicing Techniques We Can Rearrange The Dominant Ninth Chord…”

    Check out other voicings of the D dominant ninth chord:

    Voicing #1:

    Voicing #2:

    Voicing #3:

    Voicing #4:

    Substitute #2 – The Half-Diminished Seventh Chord

    The half-diminished seventh chord can be borrowed from the parallel minor key. For example, in the key of C major:

    …the half-diminished seventh chord can be borrowed from the parallel minor key (which is the key of C minor):

    In the key of C minor:

    …the chord of the second tone (which is D):

    …is the D half-diminished seventh chord:

    …which consists of the second, fourth, sixth, and first tones of the C minor scale (which are D, F, Ab, and C).

    “Check Out Two Voicings Of The Half-Diminished Seventh Chord Of The Second Tone…”

    Here are two of my favorite voicings of the half-diminished seventh chord of the second tone in the key of C major (which is D):

    Voicing #1:

    Voicing #2:

    Voicing #3:

    Substitute #3 – The Minor-Major Ninth Chord

    Using the D melodic minor scale (as a reference):

    …you can derive the D minor-major ninth chord:

    …by picking out the first, third, fifth, seventh, and ninth tones of the D melodic minor scale.

    Here’s a breakdown:

    D is the first tone

    F is the third tone

    A is the fifth tone

    C# is the seventh tone

    E is the ninth tone

    Playing the F major seventh (sharp five) chord over D on the bass:

    F major seventh (sharp five) chord:

    D:

    …produces the D minor-major ninth chord:

    Substitute #4 – The Major Ninth Chord

    The chord quality of the 2-chord is minor.

    But if you’re daring enough, you can substitute the minor ninth chord (which is regular) with the exotic-sounding major ninth chord.

    The D major ninth chord:

    …can be used to substitute the D minor ninth chord (the 2-chord) in the key of C major.

    “For Your Reference Here Are Voicings Of The Major Ninth Chord…”

    Take a look at some of my favorite voicings of the D major ninth chord

    Voicing #1:

    Voicing #2:

    Voicing #3:

    Voicing #4:

    Final Words

    Using these exotic substitutes, you can substitute the 2-chord in a 2-5-1 chord progression.

    “Now That We Have Substitutes For The 2-chord, What About The 5-chord and 1-chord?”

    The 5-chord can also be substituted using the concept of tritone substitution and I’ll be showing you some of these tritone substitutes in a subsequent lesson.

    The 1-chord is the destination chord and the only chord that can resolve the tension of the 5-chord. Consequently, it’s not-so-easy to substitute it. That is not to say that the 1-chord cannot be substituted. But within the 2-5-1 framework, it’s best to leave the 1-chord.

    Thank you for your time and 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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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