Chord Substitutions

Last night I was preparing for a group set and I got pretty bored with the sounds I was making. I wasn’t feeling particularly smart or creative so I reached out to the internet for some advice. I really liked these articles:

  • Chord Substitution – simple trick to keep up your sleeve, simply substitute in the minor-7 relative chord. E.g. instead of C, play Am7. It will sound good since it contains the C chord anyways.
  • Tritone Chord Substitution – another simple trick to keep up your sleeve, simply substitute in (or follow) the chord with root 1 tritone away. E.g. instead of G7, play D-flat7. Works best with dominant chords.

The tritone idea really got me excited. It has that complex coolness that you hear in gospel church vamping music that I’ve always wanted to figure out but never quite got the hang of. I initially had issue visualizing where the tritone-away chord is. The trick I learned is to see/feel where the fifth is (my hand already knows the fifth interval.. I can see it too from any note) and then grab the key directly lower (one half step lower; the tritone is a diminished 5th interval) and use that as the root.

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