Tag Archives: functional harmony

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.


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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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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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.


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!

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

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!

5 Types of Chord Progressions You Need To Recognize and Be Able To Play – Harmonic Analysis

Analyzing Chord progressions is something we all do as Jazz Guitar players. We need to understand Jazz Harmony in order to play good solos and to improve our Jazz Comping.

Here’s what most people seem to get wrong: Understanding the chords in the context of the song and not just looking at what type of chord it is.

The way we apply Music Theory to our harmonic analysis of a song decides how well we understand the chord progression and helps us play better solos.

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.


0:02 What we use Music Theory for in jazz

0:23 The II V I problem

1:21 What I want from Music Theory

2:08 Examples of why you want to think beyond “it’s a II V I”

2:13 The III VI7 II V I

2:34 Cmaj7 and Em7 both Tonic

3:26 Why Modes fail in Jazz: Phrygian

3:46 IV IVm I and IV bVII I

4:25 Why group in functions?

4:53 V I and II V I progressions

5:36 “Turnaround” the II V I

6:19 Secondary Dom7th and Cadences

8:15 IVm progressions

9:01 Common IVm chords

9:28 The two uses of IVm chords

10:56 The #IV Progressions – The basics

11:31 How #IV progressions are treated in Jazz

11:58 The #IV resolving to a Tonic

13:29 The #IV resolving to IV or IVm

14:47 No Modulations?

15:09 Modulations!

16:03 Examples of songs that modulate

17:10 The point of this way of thinking

Vlog: 30+ Chords in C major?

How many chords are there in the key of C major?

If you are writing a chord progression or making reharmonization then you want to check out what options you have available in jazz harmony. This video is going through 60 chords and talk about how they are related to C major key and show jazz chord progressions that contain them.

I am also referencing chord progressions of jazz standards very often.

The chords that we find in a chord progression in almost any genre will more often than not contain chords that are not diatonic to the scale of the key. So the amount of chords in a key is bigger than the diatonic chords found in the scale, but how big?

Turns out that is a very tricky question!

Jazz Guitar Q&A #10 – Jazz Chords in Metal, Tetrachords, Relative Modes

My 10th Q&A video already!

I am quite proud to have managed to make 10 weekly Q&A videos!

Besides having a discussion with the IRS I am in this video talking about Tetra Chords, Dom7th chord cycles, Relative Modes, and Jazz Chords in Metal.

Remember that if you have any questions on guitars, effects, improvisation, technique or improvisation then leave a comment on my video or send me a message on Facebook or Instagram.

In this weeks Q&A I am covering quesions on:

  • Dom7th chord cycles
  • Jazz Chords in Metal
  • Relative Modes
  • Tetrachords


Contents with links:

0:10 Intro
1:22 Dom7th chord cycles
15:26 Jazz Chords in Metal
24:42 Relative Modes
33:30 Tetrachords
40:43 Outro

IV minor chords in a major key

In this lesson, I want to explain what I see(or in fact hear) as the IV minor group of chords. I also want to give some examples of how they are used or can be used to reharmonize songs or create new progressions.

Understanding and hearing the key

To me the biggest advantage of learning to understand harmony in terms of a key is that you can group different chords together by how they sound, which is much more useful than having them grouped together by the type of chord. In a major key the IV minor group is one of those groups that contains quite a few different chords but they are closely related and recognizing that they are in this group makes it easier for me to immediately hear what they sound like and how to play over them.

Minor subdominant chords

The Minor subdominant chords are an important part of the colors found in the major keys when you play standards. Let us take the key of C major as an example we. I think you probably know this kind of chord progression. C F Fm C, where the 3rd(A) of F is descending to the 5th(G) of C via the Ab creating an Fm chord. If we list all the subdominant chords in C minor we get something like this:

IV minor chords ex 1

Dm7b5, Fm6, Fm7, FmMaj7, Abmaj7, Bb7. The last one, Dbmaj7 you get by also lowering the D to a Db in Dm7b5. The DbMaj7 is often referred to as a Neapolitan Subdominant you can look it up if you want more information.

IV minor chords ex 2

Scale choices

Since they are grouped together as subdominant chords I tend to relate them to a subdominant scale, so in this case, that would be an F minor scale. In the end, the scale choices are depending on what sort of chord it is, but they are all contained in some sort of F minor scale. The two I end up using the most is F melodic minor and F Dorian (which is also C minor). They contain all of them except the Dbmaj7 which I play as a Db Lydian chord (which is incidentally also F natural minor). Some people use the C harmonic major too, but I have never found that too useful because the B is less consonant on the chord than the Bb to me, but that is mostly a question of taste.

 IV minor progressions

The examples that I present here are both the progression and a line played over the progression to give an idea of the kind of stuff I might play over these progressions.

It is important to note that you should recognize these progressions in the standards you know and consider using these progressions if you want to reharmonize a standard that you play. The lines are kept fairly basic because the changes themselves are interesting it is often enough to just play basic solid lines to get an interesting cadence.

The first example is using the Minor Cadence bu resolving to major. Check out a song like “I Love You”  by Cole Porter to hear it used. In general, I find that when I use a minor subdominant chord in a cadence then it works better to also play a dominant from the minor key (so using harmonic minor or what is sometimes called Phrygian dominant)

IV minor chords ex 3

The line I play over this example is not that complicated, the Dm7b5 consists of an AbMaj7 shell voicing and a scale fragment. The G7 line is buil around the Fm7b5 arpeggio that is a good arpeggio to use over the G7(b9b13) chord. You might have to look twice to spot how the frame of the line is that arpeggio 🙂

IV minor chords ex 4

The 2nd example is again using the chord as a substitute for the II chord in a cadence. You’ll find this cadence in another Cole Porter song: “Night and Day”. This progression works well if you have the 11 and the 3rd in melody over the II chord.

In the line, I am making a melody over the AbMaj7 chord with only arpeggio notes. The line over the G7 is a base around the B diminished arpeggio that resolves to the 3rd(E) of CMaj7.

IV minor chords ex 5

The 3rd progression shows how you might come across a IV minor chord (in this case a DbMaj7, but an Fm7 or Bb7 would also work well) in a place where you might expect the V chord. It can be a good way to get a bit of variation by not having only II V cadences all the time in a song, but it has to fit the melody of course.

The line over this progression uses the F major arpeggio and a pentatonic fragment over the Dm7 chord and the DbMaj7 arpeggio and another scale fragment over the DbMaj7 chord before resolving to the 5th(G) of C.

IV minor chords ex 6

The last example is a very common way for a jazz standard to move from subdominant back to the tonic via the IV minor. In that way, it is the jazz version of Example 1.

IV minor chords ex 6

You can find many examples of this progression, most use a Bb7, Fm6, or an Fm7 Bb7 as minor subdominant to go back to C. Check out standards like “There will never be another you” or “It could happen to you”. If you know enough songs you might realize that it is often found in the same spot in a lot of songs. So much that if you ask me to guess what chord is found in bar 10 of a 32 bar standard I am likely to reply bVII dominant.

The line I play consists of an A minor pentatonic fragment followed by an FMaj7 arpeggio in inversion. On the Bb7 it is first n Fm triad arpeggio followed by a Bb major pentatonic fragment before it resolves to the 3rd of CMaj7.

I hope that you can use the material I presented hear in your own arrangements and in understanding the construction of tonal songs like standards.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

IV minor chords

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.