• Using Approach Chords To Spice Up Your Sound!

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    In music, an approach chord is a chord one half-step higher or lower than the goal (aka – place you’re going to), and especially helpful in turnarounds and chord progressions that move in fourths.

    So if you were in C major and about to play a chord on the 2nd degree (D minor 7), you could immediately apply this technique.

    D minor 7

    Since this D major 7 is your goal, we have a couple options when it comes to approach chords.

    We can take the Db (the tone a half-step LOWER) and play a chord on it. Or we could take the Eb (the tone a half-step HIGHER) and do something with it.

    For this example, I’ve chosen the Eb. We’re going to play an Eb13. Those, along with other dominant voicings (Eb7, Eb9) work great.

    Eb 13

    If we were going to use our other “approach chord” option, we could take the Db and play a diminished 7 on it.

    Db diminished 7

    Try experimenting. How many approach chords can you come up with to make your transition to the next chord smoother?

    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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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Kbug

    Could you please give us another example with another (perhaps smaller) chord? I’m having difficulty understanding what you did here. Tx.


    2 Jermaine Griggs

    Yes, here’s another one.

    Using the tone a half step “LOWER” than the chord you want to go to, play a minor7 #5.

    So if I wanting to go to Ebminor7, which is Eb on left /// Gb + Bb + Db on right, I could play D minor 7 #5 right before it: D on left /// C + F + A#

    Dmin7 #5

    Eb minor 7


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