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Creative Horizontal Chord Movement

Rating: 1 user(s) have rated this lesson Average rating: 5.0 Posted by: stephen.shelton, on Oct 15,2010, in category Improvisation/Soloing Views: this lesson has been read 2436 times
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Welcome to this lesson which is “How to enhance an existing chord progression” In this lesson we will determine what techniques we need to utilize - in order to achieve some ability to, Improvise chords along chord changes, and re-harmonize the existing melody.

If one considers the diatonic key centers of a Major key & its relative harmonic minor key with a raised “leading tone”, A graph can be made which details the color of each chord ie: maj, min, dim and there distances from each other. Whole step, half, etc, and from this information one can observe the most consonant (pleasing). Interval jumps as defined by the key center  itself.

Major = W, W, h, W, W, W, h
Key of CMaj would be
CMaj, Dmin, Emin, FMaj, GMaj, Amin, Bdim
(! Note! Triads not 7th Chords)
Harmonic Minor = W, h, W, W, h, minor 3rd, h
Key of A min (raised G to G# ) will be
A min, B dim, C augmented, D min, E Maj, F Maj, G# Dim

Here is a chart of all the best ascending movements
( W = whole step ) - ( h = half step )
M = MAJOR, m = minor, Dim = diminished, Aug = augmented (triads)
Remember the movements below are relative to the root of the M or m, and Dim chord (every note is a different root of a diminished chord).

M-M=W, h
m-M=W, h


The above are the most significant combinations. We will be placing dim triads between the existing chord changes. Because the dim is a substitute for a V7 chord and repeats every four Frets in a different inversion, one can create denser horizontal movement. So a I VI II V progression will yield I-DIM-VI-DIM-II-DIM-V. Which is the same as I-(five of one)-VI-(five of six)-II-(five of two)-V The dim substitute for V is = #Vdim

In the Chart below is listed, in several three string configurations, all the maj & minor triads and each inversion for each set of three strings.
(ie:1st, 2nd, & 3rd inversions of any minor chord on the second third and fourth strings etc.)
One needs to know all these inversions then one can plug in the whole business of this lesson which is this in a “NUT SHELL”

Let’s say the changes are I, VI, II ,V. Then;
[In a maj key I and IV, V are Maj and II, III, & VI are minor remember! We’re using (Triads)]
Let’s say you’re on the VI chord -then you'll be moving horizontally through all the VI chord inversions via Diminished triads placed between inversions. These diminished triads will resolve to each inversion of the VI chord by, a half step ascending and a whole-step descending. The Same principal applies to all the other changes!! This process opens up options for “extra” harmonic movement that can be created on the spot. Basically you’re making every chord a “pseudo tonic” chord by playing its V in the form of a dim substitute between every chord that is written in the changes. If you wish to insert the V7 chord substitute of the original key center place the dim as follows (maj key)

Build the diminished on flat I(Tonic) and it will yield as substitute, for V7 and III7
Built on I (Tonic) it will yield as substitute, II7, IV7, & VII7
Built on sharp I (Tonic), ) it will yield as substitute I7, & VI7, and move one more fret up and the whole scenario starts all over again!

All of these substitutes can also be embellished, by an occasional Smattering of some “Quartel” harmony , ie: -fourths in place of some of the maj and min triads-!”

Here is a sample of “Summertime” using the techniques from this lesson!

All the major triad inversions in three string clusters ie: 123rd-string, 234th-string etc..;

All the major triad inversions in three string clusters


All the minor triad inversions marked off in three string clusters;

All the minor triad inversions imarked off in three string clusters


One of three of all the diminished notes-to achieve the other two patterns just move this same pattern up or down;

All the diminished patterns on fretboard

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