Tip #171 – Incorporating a Diminished Passing Chord

Say that you have a progression that utilizes two chords (one after the other) a M2 distance apart in the root:

As you can see by the example above, the Eb major triad and the F major triad fit that definition.

What you can do for some added harmonic progression color is insert a diminished passing chord in-between.

Simply, you build a diminished triad on the root of the pitch that falls chromatically in between the two chords:

From there, you would then orchestrate the chords for better voice leading, but the added diminished passing chord gives a little more emphasis to the arrival of the F major triad in the progression.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #170 – Incorporating a Chromatic Approach/Passing Chord

We are going to be talking about different kinds of passing chords.

Today is about the chromatic passing chord (although I prefer to call it a chromatic approach chord – and you will see why shortly).

Take a simple pop chord progression like the example below:

To create this passing chord, you approach to destination chord with a chord the same shape/structure/voicing a m2 higher or lower. While you are using to pass in-between two chord, the structure of this passing chord is based on the chord you want to approach onto.

It would look like this, going from above and from below, respectively:

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #169 – Finding Place for the #iv Chord

The #iv chord…

A minor triad (or minor seventh chord if you choose to expand the harmony) built on the #4 scale degree… which is a tritone away from the tonic.

One use for it is as a loose chromatic approach from the IV to the V. For example, take the following harmonic progression:

Now, let’s insert the #iv chord in between the IV and V of the progression. Notice the chromatic lines and how it makes this interesting chord less “out-of-place” with the key:

It does soften the blow of the cadence because the ear is trying to figure out what key we are in, but it can be used for coloristic effect.

On the same idea of chromatics, we can substitute the IV with a #iv chord in a vi-IV-V-I progression with the use of chromatic voice-leading:

Play around with it and see how it sounds!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #168 – Having Harmony Never Return Home

One thing I have noticed to be pretty common in early and classic 80’s heavy metal is a chord progression between the V and the VI.

This use of the progression to alter between tension (the V or V7 harmony) and uncomplete resolution (the VI). The listener wants to hear the tonic, but instead gets the minor triad that governs over the natural minor scale.

It creates a somber and unresolved sound without falling away from the key center. You can still hear this progression in the major key area without over using the I chord:

You can also change the order and have the V chord on the first measures of the phrases, but it might create a poor distribution of tension and resolution according to the hierarchy of the song form:

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #166 – Using sus4 Chords for Inner-Voice Movement

Say that you an “out-of-the-ordinary” progression that involves a bunch of major triads going up by whole steps.

So, that would be: C – D – E – F# …

This parallel movement is irregular because there is no “standard” key that has more than two major chords a whole step apart in a row.

However, you can make the progression sound really amazing by using sus4 chords in between.

To remind: a sus4 chord is when you replace the third of a triad with a P4 interval above the root.

By altering each chord to become a sus4 voicing, you create a chromatic line ascending upwards that makes the chord progression become more interesting and flowing:

Try it out on your own with different major chords.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #165 – Using sus2 Chords for Inner-Voice Movement

Say that you an “out-of-the-ordinary” progression that involves a descent of minor triads by whole steps.

So, that would be: Cm – Bbm – Abm – Gbm …

This parallel movement is irregular because there is no “standard” key that has more than two minor chords a whole step apart in a row.

However, you can make the progression sound really amazing by using sus2 chords in between.

To remind: a sus2 chord is when you replace the third of a triad with a M2 interval above the root.

By altering each chord to become a sus2 voicing, you create a chromatic line descending downwards that makes the chord progression become more interesting and flowing:

Try it out for yourself starting at different minor triads.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #161 – Cheat-Sheet for Building Large Eight-Part Chord Structures

Previously, we have talked about reimagining the idea of eight-part chord structures. Instead of thinking the chords as one big harmony, we can mentally divide the chord into two different chords at smaller harmonic density – and then from there, arrange the two chords into unique voicings.

Below is a cheat-sheet on how to build these large chord structures:

To read the cheat-sheet, start by deciding what chord harmony/family you want to do in the left-most column. Then, you will notice that each selection is made up of two horizontal rows. The bottom horizontal rows are chord harmonies that work best for the bottom half. Likewise, the upper horizontal row is of chord harmonies that work best for the upper half.

If the chord is highlighted in light blues, that means that it is most optimal to use if you want the root to be in the melody.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.