Tri – Tone Chord Substitution

Tri – Tone Chord Substitution

Tri – Tone Chord Substitution is one of the 3 main pillars of jazz re-harmonization. The basic idea is that for every dominant chord, there is another dominant chord which has the same major 3rd and lowered 7th tones. We know from our basic jazz theory that the 3rd and 7th of the chord determines its function and are the most important notes that define a particular chords sound. So it would only makes sense that if 2 chords have the same 3rd and 7th, then they can function in the same way.

Here is a simple and practical look at Tri – Tone Substitution. In the chord C7, the major 3rd is ” E ” and the lowered 7th is ” Bb “. In the chord Gb7, the major 3rd is ” Bb ” and the lowered 7th is ” E “.
So as you can see, each of these chords has the same 3rd and 7th, just in reversed order.

Therefore, in any song/leadsheet that indicates a C7, you can try and substitute C7 with a Gb7. There are a few melody notes that will preclude you from substitution but for the most part this Tri – Tone Chord Substitution will not only work fine but will give a really unique/ colorful sound. For example, let’s say the original chord is C7 and the melody is a ” C”. By substituting Gb7 , now the melody note is a de facto ” 11+” of the new chord Gb7. So when the chord was C7 and the melody was C , the melody was a very plain/vanilla root of the chord. But as the melody , or top note of a Gb7, the ” plain/vanilla ” C melody note is now a very jazzy/ colorful ” 11+” tone.

A good practical exercise is to go through a song and pencil in the Tri-Tone Substitution Chord above the original dominant chord. Then go back and try playing the ” new ” chord and see how you like it. By the way, this technique only works for dominant chords. Have fun !

Jazz Piano Arranging

Jazz Piano Arranging

In this weeks blog I want to talk about Jazz Piano Arranging. I have written over 3200 jazz piano arrangements for my students worldwide. From Misty with Triads to Misty with 7th’s to Misty with Block and or Rootless Voicings.

Basically I’ve written 10 different levels of arrangements for about 300 unique song titles. To take a song from a basic level all the way through a professional level is what Jazz Piano Arranging is all about. Nothing is more rewarding than to discover a new chord or a new chord voicing that ” really fits”.

One of the areas that I want to expand my teaching is in the realm of Jazz Piano Arranging. I find that many players can play a professional level arrangement but few know how to take a fake book arrangement and really ” soup it up “. In other words they have been given a ” fish ” but they don’t really know how to ” fish ” .

Some Jazz Piano Arranging techniques that I teach are very unique, they include: a half dozen or so rootless voicings that I have not seen in any jazz method books. These voicings come from 30 years of experimenting with chord voicings.

Lastly, I teach a lot of classical teachers and they particularly like to learn how to arrange. They are so used to playing exactly the written note or chord on the page, that when I show them some options they are very inspired.