Tip #221 – About a Line Cliché

What is a line cliché and is it really a cliché?

Commonly found in jazz music, a line cliché is…

  • A line moving between relatively stagnant chord harmonies
  • Either ascending or descending
  • Going chromatically (more typical) or diatonic
  • Staying at the bottom, top, or in the middle of the harmony
  • Usually the root, fifth, sixth, or seventh of the harmony

An example would be like such:

We have talked about these before in previous posts, especially with inner lines movements between harmonic changes.

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 #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 #125 – Crossing Voices to Avoid Repetition

Say you had this line written and you wanted to arrange it for three voices:

What would you do? Would you simply gives lines top-to-bottom?

While that is an option, you do run into the danger of sounding monotonous with having some voices continuously repeat notes.

A way to avoid this is by crossing voices!

So, instead of having the bottom two voices stay of the E4 and C4 respectively, they can cross and alter between the two.

Therefore, you would get something similar to this when arranging for three voices:

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 #79 – Cheat-Sheet to Movable Inner Voices under a Stagnant Melody

This long title may seem intimidating as to what I’m going to explain – but it is some common sense that you were probably aware of.

Say you have a composition with a beautiful legato melody and lush harmonies to accompany it. However, it lacks in motion and you feel that some of the inner voices need to move. At the same time, you don’t want to take away focus from the melody or change the harmony too much.

Below, I have provided a cheat-sheet on inner voice movement possibilities:

To read and assess this, first find what chord quality you have. Then, determine from your composition what is your melody note in relationship to the chord harmony. That will be on the left-hand side of the cheat-sheet. From there, look horizontally across to see the advised subtle inner voices that can be moved chromatically or diatonically.

Play around and see what best fits your musical work.


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.