• # Top Secret: The “3-5-7-9” Principle Of Chord Substitution

Today, I’ll be exposing the “3-5-7-9” principle of chord substitution to you.

Although there are so many ways to approach the concept of chord substitution, the principle you’re about to learn will blow your mind.

Attention: This chord substitution principle hasn’t been taught anywhere in the world and this is because “I got it over the shower” just like my mentor and role-model, Jermaine Griggs. So, you have to take what you’re about to learn seriously because it can revolutionize your playing if well understood.

Let’s jump right into it.

## The “3-5-7-9” Principle Of Chord Substitution — Explained

The concept of chord substitution is concerned with the replacement of a given chord by another chord. Although the replacement for the given chord may be related or foreign, there must be a theoretical explanation for the substitution.

Let’s get started by taking a look at the foundation of the “3-5-7-9” principle of chord substitution.

### The Foundation Of The “3-5-7-9” Principle Of Chord Substitution

There are four tones in every seventh chord: the first, third, fifth, and seventh tone. In the C major seventh chord:

C is the first tone

E is the third tone

G is the fifth tone

B is the seventh tone

Each of these tones can be associated with numbers like 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. So, in the case of the C major seventh chord, C is the 1, E is the 3, G is the 5, and B is the 7.

The “3-5-7-9” principle of chord substitution is concerned with the replacement of the 1-chord with other chords that are derived from the consideration of the 1, 3, 5, and 7 as the 3, 5, 7, and 9.

“Here’s How It Works…”

The 1 in the the C major seventh chord:

…which is C:

…can be considered as the 3, (the 5, the 7, or the 9) of a major ninth chord in another key.

“Here Are The Possibilities…”

The 1 in the C major seventh chord (which is C):

…can be substituted with another major ninth chord where C is the 3, the 5, the 9, or the 7.

The 3 in the C major seventh chord (which is E):

…can also be substituted with another major ninth chord where E is the 3, the 5, the 9, or the 7.

The 5 in the C major seventh chord (which is G):

…can also be substituted with another major ninth chord where G is the 3, the 5, the 9, or the 7.

The 7 in the C major seventh chord (which is B):

…can also be substituted with another major ninth chord where B is the 3, the 5, the 9, or the 7.

Let’s go ahead and explore these possibilities for the 1 (which is C):

## “The Consideration Of The 1 As The 3…”

The 1 (which is C):

…can be considered as the 3.

So, in what key is C the 3? The answer is the key of Ab major:

So, the Ab major ninth chord:

…is the substitute for the 1-chord in the key of C major:

…and this is because we’re considering the “1 as 3”.

The Ab major ninth chord:

…is a chromatic chord in the key of C major:

…and has only C and G:

…in common between Ab and C.

Therefore, we’ll have to rearrange the notes of the Ab major ninth chord in such a way that either C or G is the highest-sounding note. This gives us these two voicings of the Ab major ninth chord:

Voicing #1:

Voicing #2:

Following the same guideline, other substitutes can be derived.

## “The Consideration Of The 1 As The 5…”

The 1 (which is C):

…can also be considered as the 5.

It is only in the key of F major (and minor):

…that C is the 5.

So, the F major ninth chord:

…is the substitute for the 1-chord in the key of C major:

…and this is because we’re considering the 1 (which is C) as 5 (in the key of F major [hence the F major ninth chord]).

## “The Consideration Of The 1 As The 7…”

The 1 (which is C):

…can also be considered as the 7.

It is only in the key of Db major:

…that C is the 7.

So, the Db major ninth chord:

…is the substitute for the 1-chord in the key of C major:

…and this is because we’re considering the 1 (which is C) as 7 (in the key of Db major [hence the Db major ninth chord]).

## “The Consideration Of The 1 As The 9…”

The 1 (which is C):

…can also be considered as the 9.

It is only in the key of Bb major (and minor):

…that C is the 9.

So, the Bb major ninth chord:

…is the substitute for the 1-chord in the key of C major:

…and this is because we’re considering the 1 (which is C) as 9 (in the key of Bb major [hence the Bb major ninth chord]).

## “In A Nutshell…”

The consideration of the “1 as the 3”, “as the 5”, “as the 9”, and “as the 7” gave us four substitutes for the 1-chord in the key of C major:

“The 1 as 3”:

“The 1 as 5”:

“The 1 as 7”:

“The 1 as 9”:

Every other tone of the 1-chord (the 3, 5, and 7) can also be subjected to the “3-5-7-9” principle of chord substitution.

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#### Chuku Onyemachi

Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group
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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