Chord Spices for Songwriters

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Are you bored with the same chords you’re playing? Stuck in a rut? Do you hear other chords but can’t find them for a new song? Let’s explore some ways to spice up your chord life.
Many people are scared by the concept of re-harmonization. Firstly it’s a big word and who wants to deal with that? It could also venture into jazz theory and that frightens people who may not be into jazz. But it can be used in many other ways then jazz.
The first thing to remember is the melody line is master. It’s the Chihuahua that bosses around the Great Dane. Once we realize the melody line is calling the shots it’s actually quite liberating. We’re more free to move around chords then we realize.
Let’s think of each note of the melody line being a part of a chord. Most often it’s either the root, 3rd or 5th of a chord we’re playing. Let’s say you’re singing a C note and have to decide what chord to play. The most obvious choice is a C chord because they both share the C note.
What other chords start with C?
C minor (C Eb G)
C diminished (C Eb Gb).
Perhaps we would like to try some chords where C is the 3rd.
A minor (A C E)
A diminished (A C Eb)
Ab (Ab C Eb).
Chords where C is the 5th.
F (F A C)
F minor (F Ab C)
F diminished (F# A C).
Look at that, now we have 9 options to play while singing a C note. I learned this from playing the White Album backwards. #9, #9, #9 Ok, that’s not really what Lennon was talking about.
I wrote and recorded a very simple melody line to which I’ll show some ideas for substitutions. Look in the next post for the audio accompaniment. You can listen to each of the examples. Here are the visuals:

Example 1 of Chord Spice

Example 2 of Chord Spices

Now you’re actually beginning to think about “chord substitution” GASP!! Don’t worry if you notice any symptoms of Jazz Delirium setting in take one dose of “Back in Black”. Common symptoms are yelling at the drummer to stop playing the backbeat and failure to commit to any chord progression.
This is just the tip of the ice burg. As you progress your understanding of re-harmonization you’ll be able to venture into more use of “parallel keys”. Let’s grasp the basics first.
You can start to see how some knowledge of jazz could help even the most pop, indie, rock or country of artists.

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Guitarist Mark Marshall located at 51 Macdougal St #264 , New York, NY . Reviewed by 11 customers rated: 4.9 / 5
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