Tag Archives: functional harmony

How To Make 4 Chord Vamps That Sound Great

Whether you need chord progressions for your own song or an intro for a song you are learning, you want to be able to come up with chord progressions that sound great, natural, and are not too boring, and messing around with harmony to make beautiful chord progressions is one of the most fun and creative things to do in music.

That is what I am going to talk about in this lesson.

Creating 4-chord Vamps with Subdominant Chords

The chords are supposed to loop, so we can start by choosing two chords and then fill in more chords between them.

For most of this video, I will focus on progressions going from a I or tonic chord, to a IV or subdominant chord.

Mostly because there is more variation possible and they are a little overlooked. Then we can take the basic 2-chord vamps and look at different ways to add chords and get more movement.

So let’s first check out these 2-chord options that already sound great and then turn some of those into more complicated vamps. Already here you might get some good ideas, but you can go a lot further.

#1 Cmaj7 Fm6 – IVm

#2 Cmaj7 Bb7 – bVII backdoor dominant

#3 Cmaj7 Dbmaj7 – bII Neapolitan Subdominant

#4 Cmaj7 Abmaj7 – bVImaj7

#5 Cmaj7 F#dim/C #IVdim

#6 Cmaj7 Ab7 – #IV double diminished – German Augmented 6th chord

 

 

These already sound great, so the next thing is to add a little more movement to them to make them more like a story in different phases.

Making More Interesting Chord Progressions

The trick to creating these progressions is to get them to make sense by adding chords that move in a logical way. I am not using any exact science or strict rules, so you can use any type of system that sounds natural to you. Most of the time you will see me add chords based on common progressions like a standard I VI II V turnaround, step-wise movement or moving in 4ths.

Diatonic Chords

When I am making the chord progressions I keep in mind this is in the key of C major, so I am in general pulling from C major and C minor, which gives me these diatonic chords to use:

Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 Bø

Cm7 Dø Ebmaj7 Fm7 Gm7 Abmaj7 Bb7

CmMaj7 Dø Ebmaj7(#5) Fm7 G7 Abmaj7 Bdim

CmMaj7 Dm7 Ebmaj7(#5) F7 G7 Aø Bø

And besides that you can add secondary dominants everywhere you want, so if you have a Dm7 you can add an A7(b9) to lead to it, but also an Eb7 before an Abmaj7 (the bVI in minor).

You can check out more about secondary in the video I am linking in the description.

Turnaround with some step-wise surprises

#1 Cmaj7 Fm6 → Cmaj7 Am7 G7sus4 Fm6

Going to Am7 is coming out of a standard turnaround, and from there it is step-wise movement. You might want to notice that G7sus4 is F/G Which makes it very close to F Fm, so IV to IVm in C but with a different bass note. That is really just helping it make sense on another level.

Backdoor dominant and a secondary dominant

#2 Cmaj7 Bb7 →Cmaj7 C7/E Fm7 Bb7

With a dominant chord, you can often add a II chord in front of it to make it a II V. In this case with the Fm7, that also gives you the option of having a secondary dominant which is C7/E.

Another nice way to tie everything together is to have a pedal-point in the harmony, so a note that stays the same through all the chords. In this example, I have a G in the melody of all the chords to get that effect.

bVImaj7 is underrated

#3a Cmaj7 Abmaj7 → Cmaj7 Bb7 Am7 Abmaj7

In this example, I am using step-wise motion to go from Cmaj7 to Abmaj7. You can do this in a few ways, but this one was the nicest with the Bb7.

Instead of using stepwise motion, you can also turn it into a row of secondary dominants like this:

#3b Cmaj7 Abmaj7 → Cmaj7 Bb7 Eb7 Abmaj7

Which is a pretty different sound but certainly works as a progression that moves forward.

Composing With Chord Progressions

Coming up with chord progressions is about composing and improvising with chords so the best way to do this is to just mess around a lot and try to find new ways. There are many ways to get inspiration, but probably one of the strongest is to know and analyze a lot of songs. The advantage here is that if you learn songs you not only know the progression but also really have an idea about how it sounds, and you can always mess around with it.

Another great exercise is to harmonize or re-harmonize melodies to explore what is possible with the chords and how you can use different chords to go from A to B.

 

#IVdim: Neutral and spicy

The #IV is an uncomfortable chord for a lot of people, but it is a really beautiful sound. Here are two examples that work really well and also both use a C pedal point. The second one is a bit out and dark, but also beautiful.

#4a Cmaj7 F#dim/C → Cmaj7 C7 F/C F#dim/C

This is really just a basic C C7 F F#dim “gospel or country” progression with a C in the bass, but it certainly works. A great example of what you learn from checking out songs like St Thomas or Rhythm Changes.

The next one is a bit weird,

#4b Cmaj7 F#dim/C → Cmaj7 Eb7/C Abmaj7/C F#dim/C

Folk inspired Minor Chords (and a double diminished inversion)

The IVm and Vm chords together have a real folk sound which can be really beautiful and it works great here in combination with the Ab7 which has the heaviest name: (Hans Groiner).

You will also see the double diminished #IV chord referred to as the German Augmented Sixth chord.

#5 Cmaj7 Ab7 → Cmaj7 Fm7 Gm7 Ab7

To me calling it a double dim #IV tells me how it sounds, that’s why I use that. I don’t really have any association with that with German augmented chord, but that is most likely just me.

Another reason for using Subdominant chords

The progressions in this video are pretty natural sounding and will loop very well. If you plan to make songs with the same chords looping for a longer period of time, then it makes sense to not be too specific about the key. Being vague becomes a way to make it not too predictable. This is actually something you can see in a lot of pop music where you even have long discussions and articles about the key of pieces.

Using the subdominant chords makes these progressions less “predictable” and clear than a standard V I. Similar to the effect you have in Radiohead’s Creep, which is almost example 1. Another way to keep it a little more vague is to play fewer notes, so sticking to triads can be useful too.

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Make Your Minor Chord Progressions More Interesting

The minor key has a lot of interesting options, and also quite a few that you don’t have in Major. This video goes over some of the beautiful progressions that you can create in minor when reharmonizing a basic II V I, and you can go pretty far.

This video will give you a lot of examples and concepts to add to your repertoire!

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https://www.patreon.com/posts/make-your-minor-44726274

Content:

00:00 Intro

00:47 The Tritone substitute That We All Know

02:07 Minor Ladybird Turnaround

02:50 Making it all II Vs like Wes

03:48 Making it all II Vs But Then A Little Weird

04:17 The Amazing Amount Of Diatonic Chords In Minor

05:27 The Most Beautiful Altered Dominant Is A Minor Chord

06:20 Pretending To Be Go To Another Degree0

06:59 The Neapolitan Subdominant

07:53 A Little Like Coltrane But In Minor

09:37 Another Great Sounding Substitution for the V

09:46 Why You Want To Think in Functional Harmony

09:54 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

 

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Secondary Dominants – What You Want To Know

Understanding what a secondary dominant is and being able to recognize or find them for chords is a powerful tool you can use in your playing and compositions. This video will show you how to use them, understand them and improvise over them

And actually, it is pretty simple if you know your basic scales.

Get the PDF on Patreon:

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https://www.patreon.com/posts/secondary-what-43407629

Content:

00:00 Intro

00:22 What is a Secondary Dominant

01:52 Not Just Theory

03:25 Finding Them In A Song

05:39 Scale Choices and Extensions- The Two main types

06:36 Examples in the song

07:15 The V of V in major – A special rule

08:05 Secondary Dominants in Comping – Moving Progressions

09:30 Secondary Dominants in Comping – Static Chords

10:22 Adding Them To Solo As Embellishments

11:23 Why You Want To Think in Functional Harmony

11:34 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Make Your Chord Progressions More Interesting

There are many ways you can reharmonize chord progressions. In this video, I am going over a method that is simple and easy to use. I am using basic functional harmony to show you how you can create amazing jazz chord progressions yourself and really change the color of the songs you play.

Get the PDF on Patreon:

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https://www.patreon.com/posts/make-your-chord-40760818

Content:

00:00 Intro

00:52 Basic II V I and The Power of Chord Functions

01:23 The Advantage of Functional Harmony

02:14 Chord Progressions Have To Make Sense Too

02:39 Subdominant chords and lots of options

02:45 3 Basic major subdominants

03:10 Is VI a subdominant?

03:41 7 useful minor subdominants

05:00 4 exotic #IV subdominants

06:15 Progressions Using Other Subdominants

07:07 Dominant Chords

08:02 Progressions Using Other Dominants

08:53 Tonic Chords and Suspensions

10:20 Changing functions – From II V I to Neo-soul

12:00 Functional Harmony – A Powerful Tool

12:16 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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How To Create Beautiful Chord Progressions

Functional Harmony is almost a secret weapon when it comes to reharmonizing or creating great sounding chord progressions. In Jazz, we sometimes forget that just understanding basic harmony is a very strong tool for creating new sounds, and in this video, I will show you how you can mess around with a simple II V I and get some fantastic results.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

01:07 Diatonic Chords in major

02:14 Progression #1 – bVImaj7

02:49 Minor diatonic chords and Modal Interchange

05:00 Progression #2 – Tritone substitution

06:12 Don’t limit yourself to substitutions

07:03 Progression #3 – Ending in the Wrong Key

09:00 Understanding Modulation a Pivot Chords

09:34 Progression #4 – Another Dominant Alternative

11:20 Reharmonization with only Maj7 chords

11:34 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page.

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How To Analyze Songs – Music Theory and Functional Harmony

Music Theory and Harmonic Analysis can be great tools when you want to learn jazz and figure out how to improvise over a chord progression. These videos help you get started understanding how to do that, understanding functional harmony, tonal centers, and the rich harmonic language found in Jazz standards.

The videos will give you examples of how to analyze songs and also how to choose scales from that analysis. You will learn a lot from analyzing the songs that you play.

Remember that it is more important to hear the changes and recognize the sound of the theory as it is to know the name, so working on the songs you already know well will really help you. A fancy name probably won’t.

Analyzing Jazz Standards – Understand what you play!

How To Analyze Chords and Progressions – This video uses the song There Will Never Be Another You as an example and discusses the progressions found in there.

All The Things You Are – Harmonic Analysis – All The Things You Are is a great Jazz standard that we all need to have in our repertoire. In this video I am going to go over a thorough All The Things You Are Harmonic Analysis.

Analyzing a Standard: All Of Me – This song is a great example of IV minor chords and secondary dominants

Analyzing a Standard – Stella By Starlight – Functional Harmony in Jazz – I guess Stella by Starlight is in many ways one of the most mysterious chord progressions among the jazz standards. At the same time, it is so beautiful that everybody just keeps at it until they can play it

General videos on Music Theory and Analysis

Secondary Dominants – What You Want To Know Understanding what a secondary dominant is and being able to recognize or find them for chords is a powerful tool you can use in your playing and compositions. This video will show you how to use them, understand them and improvise over them

And actually, it is pretty simple if you know your basic scales.

Jazz Scales! The 3 You Need to practice and How You apply them to Jazz Chords – Jazz Scales can seem like a million options that you all need to learn in all positions and all chords, but there is a way to approach this that is a little easier than trying to learn all jazz scales in all modes. After all the Dorian mode is not as important as the Major or Minor key.

This video has a PDF download of the overview of the analysis – Click Here 

5 Types of Chord Progressions You Need To Recognize and Be Able To Play – Harmonic Analysis – In this video, I will go over 5 types of progressions that if you can use to better understand the functional harmony that you find in a jazz standard.

Music Theory Is The Effective Way For You To Learn Faster – If you know you basic Music Theory well then you can easily start to add another level to how you analyze melodies and chord progressions which will help you work more focused and learn faster when you practice.

 

You can also go through the playlistson YouTube:

Analyzing a Jazz Standard – Harmonic analysis of Jazz Pieces

 

 

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How To Make Chord Progressions More Simple

Some of the most common ways people tell you to reduce chord progressions are very likely to work against what you hear and the music you are trying to play. You need to apply the right type of harmonic analysis to not end up with complete gibberish when you reduce jazz chord progressions.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the places you can reduce the number of chords and talk about when that is possible.

Check out more Essential Music Theory for Jazz

Jazz Scales! The 3 You Need to practice and How You apply them to Jazz Chords

Why You Want To Think in Functional Harmony

The 10 Types Of Difficult Chords In A Jazz Standard

Content:

0:00 Intro – Using the Rules wrong.

0:28 Not only to make it simple but also to add possibilities

0:41 The II V I rule – A little theory goes a long way

1:15 #1 The Turnaround (almost a lesson on Rhythm Changes)

2:05 Functions AND chords

3:23 Listen to the reduced progression

3:40 Applying this to a Solo – Charlie Parker

4:22 #2 The II V Rule – When It doesn’t work and why

4:39 II chord or I chord? Wes Montgomery

5:33 III VI II V troubles

6:40 You want to end up with a logical progression

6:55 #3 Confirmation of a Parker Bles – Gone Slightly Wrong

7:45 When it is a little better..

8:35 #4 Tempo and Harmonic Rhythm

9:02 Ballads and Slow changes

9:41 #5 Other Progressions to Reduce

10:04 Embellished I [V]

10:52 Tonic chord filler

11:50 Did I forget some progressions?

12:05 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Why You Want To Think in Functional Harmony

Functional Harmony is a great tool if you want to understand how chord progressions flow and use that information to help you improvise better solos and spell out the harmony.

To me, Music theory is something that I can use to tell me how chords sound and how they move in the jazz standards and tonal songs that I play.

This video discusses why this approach to understanding music is very useful for playing Jazz.

If you have seen any of my videos or maybe also some my Instagram posts were on analyzing chord progressions and small melodic fragments then you’ve seen me reduce the progression for the melodies down to Simple functions so a row with several chords I will often reduce to one or two maybe three functions. It is a way to understand how the progression works.

Content:

0:00 Intro – How I use Music Theory

0:38 Music Theory describes how music sounds and works

0:54 #1 Chords Grouped By Sound

1:15 Diatonic Major Chords and Their Function

2:04 Chords with the same function – Tonic and Subdominant

2:41 Minor Subdominant Chords – A shortlist

3:34 Exchanging Subdominant Chords

4:11 12tone and a good breakdown of Tonal Harmony

4:30 #2 It Helps You Think Ahead and Play More Logical Melodies

5:21 #3 Which Chords Are Important and Which To Ignore

5:54 Reducing a Turnaround

6:34 The II V trap (watch out 😉 )

7:35 #4 Easier To Solo

8:28 IV IVm I examples

9:40 Same Lick – Different IV IVm Chord Progressions

10:13 #5 More Options over each Chord

10:50 Embellishing and interchanging progressions

11:44 Line using embellished progression

11:57 #6 Hearing Functions instead of Chords

12:35 How Do You Think About Chords and Harmony?

12:54 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

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5 Common Mistakes When You Learn Jazz

Learning Jazz is difficult and you want to get it right the first time around so you don’t waste any time. When you learn Jazz Guitar then there are some things that you can keep in mind in terms of how you practice jazz, the type of music or jazz theory that you learn and also what you focus on with your jazz practice.

In this video, I am going to go over 5 mistakes that I see many students make and talk about how to approach learning jazz and practicing in a more efficient and useful way.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Be Efficient with your Practice

0:33 You can fix it by thinking differently

0:45 #1 Modes

1:00 Most Jazz Repertoire is Tonal, not modal

1:26 Breaking down Modal vs Tonal Analysis

2:04 Chords are in a context – use your ears

2:37 Play the movement

3:11 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 vs Dbmaj7 E7 CmMaj7

4:06 Understanding and stripping down Chord Progressions

4:29 #2 Learn Songs

4:30 it’s not all exercises.

4:49 Just Listen to Scofield!

5:21 #3 Listen To Jazz

6:02 What Jazz Do You Like?

6:13 Jazz is not a Skill, it is a type of music….

6:58 #4 Learn Vocabulary

7:30 What is having Vocabulary?

7:48 How To Learn and Develop Vocabulary

8:15 #5 Practice the Right Techniques and Exercises

8:32 Arpeggios and how they appear in a Jazz Solo

9:31 Keep in mind that you need to improvise

9:54 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Modal Interchange – Chord Progressions with Beautiful IVm ideas

Modal Interchange is a great way to make your Chord Progressions more interesting and surprising. With Modal interchange chord progressions can borrow colors from the minor key that are surprising but still make sense to the ear and have a natural place in the harmony as you can see in the examples I reference from both Pop, Rock and Jazz like Radiohead and Deep Purple.

One especially interesting and beautiful version of this is using IVm or minor subdominant, which is the topic of this video. I will go over 5 types of minor subdominant or IVm chords and use examples from songs so you can hear how they sound and in that way get a better impression than just the theory.

Content of the video:

0:00 Intro

0:47 The basic IVm and that one important note

1:00 How a IVm chord works in a major key

1:37 #1 Basic IVm chord progressions as a transition and independent chord

2:14 IVm Example 1 – Radiohead

2:52 IVm Example 2 – Radiohead

3:09 IVm in Jazz, extensions and scales

4:28 #2 bVII – Backdoor dominant

5:55 bVII Example and Scale choice: There Will Never Be Another You

6:39 #3 IIø or IIm7b5 – How it works

7:25 IIø Example: I Love You

7:55 #4 bVImaj7

8:30 bVI Example in a cadence: Night and Day

9:07 bVI Example as an independent chord: Triste

9:43 #5 bIImaj7 – Neapolitan Subdominant

10:44 bII Example: You Stepped Out of A Dream

10:57 bII Example: Suspending the Tonic chord

11:40 bii Example: Deep Purple

12:29 Working with modal interchange and learning to use these chords

12:51 Do you have great clear examples of IVm chords? Leave a comment!

13:26 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!