Harmonic Techniques to Create Moving Chord Progressions using Three Note Voicings - Part 1
by Michael Pettersen (January 2002)
As an example of the seventeen chord progression techniques listed below, I have notated and analyzed 32 bars of "I Got Rhythm" in Bb. This example progression, rich with substitutions and connecting chords, is based on an exercise from the book "Guitar Comping", by Barry Galbraith, Weybridge Productions Inc., copyright 1981.
In the example, all chords forms are on strings 6, 4, and 3; or strings 5, 4, and 3. Each of these chord forms can be found in the playing of Freddie Green.
Note that the interval between the 6th string and the 3rd string is always a major or minor tenth. This extensive use of the tenth can be traced back to the jazz pianists of the 1930's, most notably Teddy Wilson, a member of the Benny Goodman small groups from this era.
Teddy Wilson employed tenths in his left hand to create smooth, continuous harmonic movement. The techniques illustrated in this guitar example "represent the basic tools employed by Wilson to connect root position chords by long bass lines rich in harmonic implications," from "Swing and Early Progressive Piano Styles", by John Mehegan, Amsco Music Publishing Company, 1964.
Suggestions on creating moving chord progressions:
In my analysis of "I Got Rhythm", note the abbreviations below the staff, e.g., "S2" or "M3". These abbreviations refer to the techniques described below.
Chords used as Substitutes:
S1 - For a major triad, substitute a major 6th chord or major 7th chord. Example: For Bb, substitute Bb6 or Bbmaj7.
S2 - For a major triad, substitute a minor 7th chord whose root is up a major third. Example: For Bb, substitute Dm7.
S3 - For a major triad, substitute a minor 7th chord whose root is up a major sixth. Example: For Bb, substitute Gm7.
S4 - For a minor triad, substitute a minor 7th chord or minor 6th chord. Example: For Cm, substitute Cm7 or Cm6.
S5 - For a dominant 7th chord, substitute a minor 7th chord whose root is up a perfect fifth. Example: For F7, substitute Cm7.
S6 - For a dominant 7th chord, substitute a dominant 7th chord whose root is up a tritone. Example: For F7, Substitute B7.
Chords used to create Movement:
Note: In the examples below, the chords are notated to indicate which note is to be played in the bass: Bb/3rd indicates a Bb triad with D in the bass.
M1 - Move from one inversion of the chord to another. Example: Bbmaj7/root >> Bb/3rd >> Bbmaj7/5th
M2 - Move each chord voice upward to the next note in the scale. Example: Bbmaj7/root >> Cm7/root >> Dm7/root >> Ebmaj7/root
M3 - Move each chord voice downward to the next note in the scale. Example: Bb/3rd >> F7/5th >> Bb6/root
M4 - Move to diminished chord with same root - then back to original chord. Example: Bb6/root >> Bbdim/root >> Bb6/root
M5 - Move upward using the diminished chord 1/2 step above. Example: Bb6/root >> Bdim/root >> Cm7/root >> C#dim/root >> Dm7/root
M6 - Move downward using the diminished chord 1/2 step below. Example: Dm7/root >> Dbdim/root >> Cm7/root >> F7/5th >> Bbmaj7/root
M7 - Move downward to a dominant seventh 1/2 step below - then upward to original chord. Example: Bb6/root >> A7/root >> Bb6/root
M8 - Move downward using the dominant 7th chord 1/2 step below. Example: Dm7/root >> Db7/root >> Cm7/root >> B7/root >> Bbmaj7/root
M9 - Move downward to a dominant seventh chord from the dominant seventh chord 1/2 step above. Example: Bb6/root >> Ab7/root >> G7/root >> Db7/5th >> C7/5th >> Gb7/root >> F7/root
M10 - Move upward using the same voicing 1/2 step below. Example: Bb6/root >> Bdim/root >> Bm7/root >> Cm7/root
M11 - Move fifth of chord chromatically while keeping all other voices
the same. Example: Cm/root >> Cm+5/root >> F7/5th
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