• Intermediate Players: Here’s How To Apply The Tritone In Worship Songs

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Gospel music,Piano

    If you’re interested in learning how to apply the tritone in worship songs, you are on the right page.

    The tritone is one of the most-fascinating sounds associated with gospel music (and jazz) and this is because of the amazing role it plays in chord progressions.

    A tritone can transform an ordinary chord progression into something that can turn heads and that’s why a lot of gospel musicians use the tritone to spice up their chord progressions.

    So, I see you want to join the tritone club, right? Well that’s a good thing and if you stick with me on this page for the next 5 minutes or so, I’ll give you a specific application of the tritone in worship songs.

    Alright, let’s start with a quick review on the tritone.

    A Short Note On The Tritone

    The octave has twelve half-steps.

    For example, the C octave (C to C):

    …has twelve half-steps:

    …and if you divide the octave into two equal parts, you’re going to have one part encompassing six half-steps each and that’s C to F#:

    …and the F# to C:

    …and each of these parts are a tritone.

    But, even if you don’t remember how many half-steps there are in one octave (which I seriously thing you should be able to recall), and you don’t know how we divided an octave into two equal parts, I want you to always remember that the tritone has 6 half-steps.

    If we go ahead and change these half-steps into whole-steps, we have:

    6 half-steps = 3 whole-steps

    …and this is because 2 half-steps make one whole-step.

    So, go up three whole-steps from any note you’re on and you’ll have a tritone.

    From C:

    C to D:

    …is the first whole-step.

    D to E:

    …is the second whole-step

    E to F#:

    …is the third whole-step.

    …and now we have three whole-steps up from C taking us to F# and that means that C-F# is a tritone:

    “Here Are All The Tritones On The Keyboard…”

    C tritone:

    Db tritone:

    D tritone:

    Eb tritone:

    E tritone:

    F tritone:

    F# tritone:

    G tritone:

    Ab tritone:

    A tritone:

    Bb tritone:

    B tritone:

    How To Apply The Tritone In Worship Songs

    A lot of church musicians are fascinated with the tritone and are really interested in learning how it is applied in worship songs and here in this segment, I’ll be showing you how this works over the 2-5-1 chord progressions.

    The 2-5-1 Chord Progression Using Tritones

    In the key of C major:

    …a 2-5-1 chord progression progresses as follows:

    From D (the second tone of the scale):

    …to G (the fifth tone of the scale):

    …to C: (the first tone of the scale):

    ..and there are so many things you may want to do over the 2-5-1 chord progression but because our focus is the tritone, here’s what you might have to play:

    F# tritone over D on the bass:

    …and that’s the D dominant seventh chord.

    F tritone over G on the bass:

    …and that’s the G dominant seventh chord.

    C major add9 chord:

    “Let’s Apply This 2-5-1 Chord Progression Using Tritones…”

    The worship song As The Deer ends with the line that goes:

    Desire and I…

    Long to (2-chord):

    …worship (5-chord):

    …you (1-chord):

    …and I’m sure you love how that sounds.

    Final Words

    In this lesson, I’ve been able to show you how the tritone works especially when it comes to playing worship songs and I’m sure that with what you’ve learned you can apply the tritone in other songs with similar chord progressions.

    So, don’t limit what you’ve learned to a particular key or song example. Go ahead and practice this in other keys and using other songs as well.

    I want to end by appreciating my mentor and role-model, Jermaine Griggs, for the opportunity to share this with you and if you have any question or suggestion, kindly share them with me in the comment section and I’ll see you in another lesson.

    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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