• Who Else Wants To Learn A Fancy Altered Chord Progression?

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano

    In this lesson, I’m switching things up a little bit.

    Warning: This isn’t for beginners. These chord progressions will require a “stretch” — multiple octave playing. But nevertheless, it’s good to feed the brain with what is to come (hopefully in the near future).

    Today, I want to talk about altered minor chords and altered dominant chords.

    These chords can be used as a “7-3-6” progression in the key of Db or as a “3-6-2” progression in the key of Ab.

    Sidenote: An important point to bring up now is that what is a “7-3-6” in one key can often times work as a “3-6-2” in another key. Heck, you could even find a way to incorporate the same progressions as a “b5 – 7 – 3” in another key. It’s because all of these tones have minor chords on them. You may know the 7th tone as a half-diminished 7 but that’s just another way to say minor 7 b5… still MINOR. The 3, 6, and 2 tones are naturally minor. That’s why the same progression can be used in different places… in different keys. Your job as an “ear player” is to look for opportunities like this. Let your ear be the final judge.

    7-3-6 in Db

    Major scale: Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db

    7th tone = C
    3rd tone = F
    6th tone = Bb

    On the 7th tone, a nice chord taught in GospelKeys 202 is C minor 11 (C + Eb + G + Bb + D + F):

    In this post, I want to make one change to this. We’re going to take the 5th degree in the chord and lower it a half step (“flat” it).

    C minor 11 b5 (C + Eb + Gb + Bb + D + F)

    (But the C and Eb will be played on left hand and the rest will be played on the right hand. Technically though, if your right hand is flexible, you can play the Eb on your right but it’s also a stretch.)

    *I realize this is a “stretch” for most people. One strategy is to hit the C in your left hand bass, use your foot pedal to sustain the note, then follow up with the high Eb on left and the right hand chord (Gb + Bb + D + F). But don’t give up, I’ve seen very small hands hit that b10 interval (aka – “flat 10“… because C to regular E is a major 10th interval, C to Eb is a flat 10th or minor 10th interval).

    Next chord…

    F 7 b9 b5 (a.k.a. – “F dominant 7 flat 9, flat 5”)

    Notes are: F + Eb on left /// Gb + A + Cb + Eb on right

    *Just think of Cb as “B”

    Now here’s some stylistic things you can do.

    On the first C minor 11 b5 chord, halfway through sounding the chord, you can move your highest note from F to Eb. The original chord should be sustained with a pedal as you slide the F to Eb. Do not hit the chord again. Sounds really good.

    Then on the second chord, F7 b9 b5, you’re going to take the “B” (or Cb) in the chord and move it up to C natural.

    *Raising the B to C makes this chord an F7 b9. Relieves a lot of tension and thus makes for a wonderful resolution to a Bb minor chord.

    And lastly, Bb minor 9 (Bb + Ab on left /// F + C + Db on right):

    *And with this chord, you can resolve “C” down to “Bb.” Keeps the movement going.

    So the notes that are moving in each chord are as follows:

    First chord – Top F is moving down to Eb

    Second chord – B is moving up to C

    Last chord – C is moving down to Bb

    These same 3 chords can be used in Ab as a 3-6-2 progression. C is the 3rd of Ab, F is the 6th, and Bb is the 2. No changes necessary… just new key.

    Again, I warned you. These are pretty altered voicings so it may take a while for your ear to hear these and even for your fingers to play them. But hang in there. Or at the least, understand why they’re called what they’re called for now. If not ready yet, you’ll be playing them soon!

    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!

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



    { 8 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 simeon

    hi jermaine i found out that this altered chord is a huge one . I just like to know if they are best suited for the key of Db. Simeon


    2 Jermaine Griggs

    Yes Simeon, Db or Ab.


    3 Marie

    Hi Jermaine,

    A friend shared your newsletter with me, I couldn’t have been happier, your explanations are so clear that you can’t help but get it!!. Keep up the good work.

    Can you tell me the difference between a Triad and a Chord?


    4 Jermaine Griggs


    A chord is a term used when 3 or more notes are pressed down. Some argue only 2 or more notes.

    A triad is specifically a 3-toned chord: C+E+G, or F + Ab + C.

    So all triads are chords but all chords are not triads.



    5 freedom

    hi mr griggs\


    6 Barnabas

    mr jermaine i understand apergian chord if i’m correct with the word


    7 Logo Design NI

    hello respect your blog take a look of mine


    8 zino

    i know dis will sound really good


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