Chord Substitution Crash Course for Songwriters

Chord substitution

Hey there, songwriter! If you’re looking to spice up your music and give your chord progressions a fresh twist, chord substitution is the technique for you. It’s like adding a pinch of flavor to your favorite dish!

So, what exactly is chord substitution? Well, it’s when you swap out one chord in a progression with another chord that serves a similar function. The magic happens when the new chord brings a different vibe and color to your music.

Let’s dive into some types of chord substitutions you can experiment with, each adding its own unique touch to your songs:

Diatonic Substitution

Here, you replace a chord with another chord from the same key. For example, switch out a G chord with an Em chord in the key of C major.

Relative Minor Substitution

This one involves using chords from the relative minor key of your major key. For instance, if you’re in C major, you can borrow chords from A minor as a substitute.

Tritone Substitution

Prepare for some cool jazz vibes! Swap out a dominant chord with another dominant chord that’s a tritone (three whole steps) away. Instead of G7, try a Db7 chord and see how it spices up your progression.

Chromatic Chord Substitution

Get a little adventurous by replacing a chord with one that shares some notes but isn’t from the key you’re in. Switch a G chord with a G# chord in the key of C major, and see where it takes you!

Modal Interchange

Here, you borrow chords from a parallel mode, either the parallel major or minor key. For example, if you’re in C major, grab the iv chord (Fm) from the parallel minor key of C minor.

Ready to dive in? Start by taking a basic chord progression and substitute one chord at a time. Notice how each substitution changes the overall sound and vibe of your music. It’s like adding a splash of color to a blank canvas!

Remember, a chord substitution is a powerful tool that can bring new life to your music. Experiment with them, but also keep the overall mood and emotion of your song in mind. Have fun exploring, and let your creativity soar!

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