• This trick will spice up your dominant chord progressions… instantly!

    in Chords & Progressions

    chile-med.jpgWow, the last 4 posts have been crazy!

    On Thursday, I introduced you to the power chord’s little cousin, “tritone.”

    Then on Friday, we talked about tritone substitutions with 2-5-1 chord progressions.

    Just yesterday, we took it a step further and applied tritone substitutions to 6-2-5-1 chord progressions.

    Today, I want to show you another way to use tritone substitutions.

    Consider this simple 1-4 turnaround progression:

    C major

    C7 (1-chord) >>> F7 (4-chord) >>> C7 >>> F7

    (Play this in rhythm. Just cycle from the 1 chord to the 4 chord).

    For this progression, I prefer to play these voicings of the dominant chords:

    Bb + E + G on right /// C on left (instead of the regular “C + E + G + Bb”)

    Eb + A + C on right /// F on left (instead of the regular “F + A + C + Eb”)

    Now, to spice this up, let’s figure out what a tritone up from C is. You should have mastered “tritone relationships” in prior lessons.

    The good news is that if you’re moving in fourths, a tritone up from your current chord should always fall right next to the chord you’re progressing to. In other words, it will be a half step higher than the chord you’re moving to.

    Let me explain…

    A tritone up from C7 is Gb7. Gb7 is a half step higher than F7, the chord we’re ultimately trying to get to. It’s that simple.

    So basically, similar to yesterday’s lesson, we just throw in this Gb7 chord (in the same voicing) to take us to our 4 chord. It adds much more flavor than just going directly there. See what I mean?

    Bb + E + G on right /// C on left

    Fb + Bb + Db on right /// Gb on left

    *Note: “Fb” is basically “E.” Heck, you can call it “E” if you want. You won’t pass a music theory test though :)

    Eb + A + C on right /// F on left

    So anytime you’re playing dominant chords and you’re progressing in fourths, you can always look for an opportunity to throw in a tritone “transition” chord.

    Exercise: Let’s figure out the tritone transitions between all twelve 1-4 dominant chord progressions. I’ll start off with the C major and F major chord progressions below. Use the comments section to participate. Let’s do this!

    Until next time —

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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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    1 Jermaine

    C major
    C7 >>> Gb7 >>> F7

    F major
    F7 >>> Cb7 >>> Bb7

    2 Roland

    B major
    B7 >>> F7 >>> E7

    Gb major
    Gb7 >>> Dbb7 >>> Cb7
    Gb7 >>> C7 >>> B7


    Bb major

    Eb major


    4 ajjazz

    G major

    G7 > > > Db7 > > > C7

    A major

    A7 > > > Eb7 > > >D7

    I’m new. I think I get it.

    5 chawk

    A major


    6 chawk

    D major


    7 Eresmas

    Db MAJOR
    Db7 >>G7 >>Gb7

    E7 >>Bb7 >>A7

    Hey JG, i was checking out the circle of fifths, and i really think it’s an amazing invention. I tried to play the scales progressively from C going anticlockwise as you suggested and it took quite sometime, I looked at it later and saw that, what lies in the right, lies in the left in disguise.
    Like aah, F has 1 flat, then G has 1 sharp. So i tried to play a song (jingle bells) in C, then in F and found that i could play it in G too. I am still on F and G, having “recently graduated” from C(being an absolute beginner)and hope to go to other keys with the same motivation.

    Thanks man.

    8 Chevonne Reynolds

    I hope this is right..
    Ab major


    9 Jermaine

    Wow, all of you guys are on point! Looks like this lesson resonated well!

    @Eresmas: that’s awesome that you’ve found something in the circle you never noticed. In fact, that circle is full of SURPRISES. Search above in the box for “circle of fifths” (with quotes) and you’ll come across many lessons concerning it.

    Keep up the great work!

    10 Eresmas

    Thanks again.

    11 Alex Tanner

    Peace and Blessings to All,
    Hey Jermaine,
    I just want to thank you for the opportunity that gave to me, and so many others, to receive the “The Musician Transformation Collection”………for free. Much to my surprise after being away fro home for a good little while, when I returned I was blessed to be a recipient of this awesome DVD/CD collection. The information is priceless and has boosted my desire to play tremendously. I am still watching the DVDs and listening to the CDs. I am a beginner in every sense of the word. I have been in your Monthly Music Mentor “courses” for over a year now. I’m progressing slowly because of a very demanding schedule, however still progressing. I just want to say thank you for being such an awesome teacher and God serving at that. Also much thanks to the Professor of Phatness, Mr. JP. God Bless you Brothers and all at Hear and Play for all that you do.
    **This may not be the place to post this, if so, I apologize but I had to say thank you.
    A. Tanner

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