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Chord Substitution

Jazz Piano Chord Voicings & More 

All The Things You Are Revisited Again!



 In a previous lesson, we took a look at the first few measures of Jerome Kern's All The Things You Are as we explored
that 1-3-7 piano chord voicing. 
If you would like to see that lesson again, that lesson can be viewed here.

I have received LOTS of interest from people asking about chord substitution. If you are completely new to this
concept of chord substitution, where we take a standard chord in a song and substitute it with another chord for variety,
I would like to suggest that you consider the The Major-Minor Switch, which offers a very simple approach for beginners to enjoy the
satisfaction of getting their feet wet. It illustrates a very easy technique that anyone can begin using immediately in his or favorite songs.

In this lesson, I would like to introduce a very popular chord substitution used by the pros all the time. I am providing this
technique in its simplest form here. For those involved with ProProach, a bit later in the program, this tri-tone chord substitution
is acknowledged in a more comprehensive manner, so you'll really be learning how a pro piano stylist thinks when it comes to
using them. Of course, the program uses a video demonstration in each lesson so that you can actually see and hear what is
being played and why (a unique experience).

Okay, so what do we mean by tri-tone substitution? Well, "tri" means three... here, were are actually referring to
three whole steps. So, let's say that the chord you are playing is an Eb7. The root of this chord, of course, it Eb.
If we count three whole steps away from this root (in either direction), we arrive at an A. If we are to apply
the tri-tone chord substitution concept, then rather than playing an Eb7, we would play an A7 in place of it.
That is what we mean by tri-tone substitution! Simply, yes?

Let's take a look at how this would be applied to a four measure excerpt of All The Things You Are...

Jazz piano chord voicings
See that Eb7? Remember what we said: three whole steps away from that Eb7 is A.
Here is the tri-tone substitution principle being used:

Chord Substitution
Go ahead and play this excerpt with that Eb7. Then play it with the A7 and listen to the difference.

Is one chord better than the other? Not necessarily. Remember, we use chord substitution
to create variety and interest in our playing. So, once through the song, for example, you might
play the Eb7... the next time, you might opt for the A7.

I want to emphasize here: always listen to these sound distinctions for yourself. What may
sound especially tasteful to one person may sound different to another. A key point here
is that we always want to expand our thinking and always be open to new ideas.

Now, I feel a need to bring up an important point here:

The way you play the chord substitution means a lot!

This really need to be emphasized because if you simply compare one chord with its substituted chord
while playing them both in root position, for example, that's a good start of course, but you are really cheating
yourself out of what that chord actually could sound like because once you start learning more and
more about piano chord voicings, you realize a whole new world of possibilities when it comes
to using chord substitution. Also, as you apply yourself and really start to incorporate them into
your favorite songs, you learn what it's like to develop your own style... THIS is what I want for you!
ProProach serves as a terrific platform for learning about chord voicings. More importantly,
it gets you to not only play the chord voicings pros use, but it gets you to THINK like a pro (that's big).

Although chord substitution is applied to all types of chords, the tri-tone substitution specifically
refers to the concept explained above to dominant seventh chords. In ProProach, of course,
we explain why, but for the purpose of our lesson here, you have enough to go on to start
looking for places in your own songs where you can use this tri-tone substitutiion principle.

Remember, look for a dominant seventh chord (C7, G7, E7, Ab7, F7, etc)... then find the root
that is three whole steps away from the root, then substitute the dominant 7th chord on that
new root. For example, for a C7, you can substitute a Gb7 (or F#7)... for a G7, you can
substitute a Db7 (or C#7), etc...

Please... please... please explore your possibilities. Expand your thinking... smile... believe in yourself...
and as you become more and more in tune with that inner creative musical genius within you,

remember...

Always...

ALWAYS...

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave Longo


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