Tip #21 – Substitute Dominant!

Hey, if this works in jazz music, why not in other styles of music?

To explain what a substitute dominant chord (or “tritone-sub” as it is also called – which you will see & recognize why later), take a cadential V7 – I progression:

Now, erase everything except for the tritone of the V7 chord:

If you recall, a tritone can be spelled both a d5 as well as a A4 interval. Keeping that in mind, flip the tritone upside-down. From there, you might have to respell in an enharmonic.

Finally, fill in these bare bones with what can be made as a dominant chord. As you can see, the substitute dominant acts as a bII7/I and that can be your shortcut to getting to it.


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Tip #5 – Finding the Right Chords for your Phrygian-Dominant Scale

Or vice versa! Maybe you already have the chordal harmony, but are looking to see if playing a lead line over in a phrygian-dominant mode is appropriate.

The phrygian-dominant scale is a mode based off of starting from the fifth degree of the harmonic minor scale. So, to remind, a harmonic minor scale looks as such:

And if you were to start from the fifth degree, it would not look like this, becoming the phrygian-dominant scale:

Notice that the scale degrees are | 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7 1 | and what chords can be derived from them. The strongest chords built when playing in this mode are:

Harmonic movements between I – bII , and I – bvii are good indicators to the ear that you have now dove into the world of phrygian-dominant.

In the case that you are in a regular major/minor kay, but want to incorporate the phrygian-dominant, look to add chords like: 7alt , 7(b9b13) , V7/III , and V7/VI . These best fit the pitch collection of the mode. Also, a VImaj7 chord can possibly work if the melody has a raised sixth being approached from above.


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