Lesson 21: Substitution Chords Play Piano By Ear Audio Course. Materials For This Lesson

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1 Hello, and welcome to Lesson 21. In Lesson 19 you learned Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes, using just four chords. In this lesson we ll be using substitution chords to create a more professional sounding piano arrangement from the very simple 4-chord arrangement you learned in Lesson 19. In that lesson you used the C, G7, Dm and F chords. In this lesson, we ll be using some more advanced, richer sounding chords that I had you learn way back in mini lessons 4.2 and The mini lessons were designed to prepare you for the later part of this course. Materials For This Lesson 1.) If you haven t done so already, download and print out the sheet music for this lesson, which will display the new, richer sounding chord progression to Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes. You ll also need the sheet music from Lesson ) In addition, download the MP3 Audio File, which will demonstrate the deeper, richer sound that only an advanced chord progression like this can provide. Once you listen to the MP3 of Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes, you ll hear the difference that an advanced chord progression can make. Just imagine what an advanced chord progression can do to a more intricate melody line. To be honest, it wasn t until I learned about the Circle of 5ths and Substitution Chords that I started dabbling into some of the old jazz standards from the 40 s, 50 s and 60 s. You see, I grew up on rock and roll from the 70 s and 80 s. In fact, I remember sitting around the kitchen table as a kid discussing the merits of rock and roll with my mom and dad. My dad, who was a huge fan of the Big Band Era of the 30 s and 40 s, used to say that the music he grew up listening to was the best music ever written. He didn t care too much for rock and roll. Of course, I disagreed with him at the time but now I find myself playing a lot of the music from his generation because it sounds so much better on the piano. I still listen to my music from the 70 s and 80 s, and apart from some of the more advanced Billy Joel songs from the 70 s, I tend to play and listen to my dad s music from the 30 s, 40 s and early 50 s. And if I had to be completely honest, I d have to agree with him about it being the best music ever written. However, it s taken me thirty years to finally come around to his way of thinking. Now I m not asking you to start listening to the old jazz standards, but I should warn you, because once you get just a small taste of what a more advanced, richer sounding chord progression can do to a song, even a simple one like Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes, it might be a little difficult to listen to and play the 3- and 4-chord songs that emerged in the early rock and roll era of the 50 s. 1

2 The Lesson This lesson is more of a hands-off session. I think that you ll get more out of this instruction time if you just read through this lesson sheet while following the sheet music from Lesson 19 and Lesson 21. You ll get plenty of practice with substitution chords in the 21 Master Class Play Piano By Ear Sessions. For now, just follow along as I go through the two versions of Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes, measure by measure. You ll also want a copy of the Circle of 5ths in front of you from Lesson Chord Analysis - Measure By Measure Measure 3 is where I made my first revision, substituting the Am7 for the C major chord. If you remember from Lesson 18.2, a substitution chord is a chord that is very similar in harmony to the original chord, or in other words, it has one or more notes in common. The relative minor chord is always my first choice when trying to find a substitute for a major chord. The original chord in measure 3 is the C major chord, which is C E G, and it s relative minor, the Am chord, is A C E. Both chords share the C and E, and since 2 out of the 3 notes in each chord are identical, both chords could work for the same melody. In addition, if I made the Am an Am7 chord, [A C E G], then it would sound even better because the Am7 substitution chord would contain all 3 notes from the original chord. Looking at the circle of 5ths from page 1 of Lesson 18.2, each relative minor chord is located on the inside of the circle, adjacent to its relative major chord. I make this same substitution using the relative minor 7th in measure s 11, 22, 27 and 29. Now that I have a 7 th chord, I m going to go right to my Circle of 5ths and start working counter-clockwise. The next chord moving counter-clockwise from the A chord on the circle is a D chord. And remember, from this point on you want to think of the chord symbols on the outside of the circle in general terms. You can now think of them as either dominant 7 th chords: A7, D7, G7, etc., or minor 7 th chords: Am7, Dm7, Gm7, etc. 2

3 Fortunately, the next chord in measure 4 is already some kind of a D chord, in this case it s a Dm chord, so I m going to make it a 7 th chord, and then move counter-clockwise again on the circle to the G chord. I m going to make the G a G7 and then try to match it up to a melody note that s in the G7 chord somewhere between the Dm7 and the C major chord in the next measure. Notice that the F melody note at the end of measure 4 is in the G7 chord, which is where I m going to place the G7 chord. The G7 progresses nicely to the C major chord in measure 5, and if I move counter-clockwise again, the circle of 5ths confirms that a G7 chord does in fact want to move to some kind of a C chord. Okay, that s a lot to take in, so let s take a breath before moving on. If you look down at measure 11 where I substituted the C major chord with an Am7, you ll notice that same 4-chord progression from the circle of 5ths starts all over again: Am7 Dm7 G7 C. This same progression occurs again in measures 22, 27 and th Chords Now the Dm7 in measure 4 makes sense, but you may be wondering why I placed the Dm7 with an E in the melody in measure 6. Well, I ll give you two reasons. First of all, it sets up a string of 7ths chords from the Dm7 to a G7, to a C, which follows the circle of 5ths. Because this perfect 5 th progression is so pleasing to the ear, some times you can force fit a chord with a melody note. And while it may seem like I m forcing the Dm7 with the E melody note that s not in the chord, the chart below will show you the second reason why it works. D E F G A B C D E If you go every other note using the chart above, which we did in Lesson 20, you ll see that the E is 9 notes up from the root note D, creating a Dm9 chord, which is a legitimate chord, especially in jazz music but I ve also seen it from time to time in pop music. Now you don t necessarily have to play the E in the chord for it to sound good. The combination of the Dm7 chord in the left hand played with the E in the melody is what creates, or should I say, simulates the Dm9 chord. 3

4 By going every other note on the piano, you can build major and minor triads, 7 th chords, major 7 th chords, 9 th chords, flatted 9 th chords, (which I use in measure 10) 11 th chords and 13 th chords. Once you get to the 13 th note above the root note, the notes just start to repeat themselves after that. Of course, I m using white keys only for the sake of simplicity, as you still have to account for sharps and flats, depending on the name and quality of the chord. Whether you play piano or guitar, the truth is that once you get a taste of these advanced chords, it s hard to turn back. One of my jazz instructors once told me that when I was finally able to play through a jazz composition with some degree of competency, I was ruined for simple 3- and 4-chord songs, and for me, that was a very true statement. D E F# G A B C D E You ll notice that I also set up that same Dm9 sound in measure 23 and a D9 sound in measure 30 by combining a D7 in the left hand with an E in the right-hand melody. The Flatted 9 th Chord Now I realize that not everyone will be ready for the substitution chord that I used in measure 10, but hopefully I m planting some ideas for the future when you are. Using the chart directly below, you can build a G9 chord starting on the G and going every other note until you reach the A, which is the 9 th. Therefore, a G9 in root position is: G B D F A. Remember, the 9 th is just nine notes above the root note G. Of course, we want a G7(b9) for measure 10. By the way, a 9 th chord must have the 7 th contained within it. However, if you alter the 9 th by making it a sharp or flat, then the chord would be called a 7 th chord with the 9 th in parentheses notating the change. e.g. (#9) or (b9). Therefore, a G7(b9) in root position is: G B D F Ab G A B C D E F G A If you remember from Lesson 11.2 titled, A Few More Chords To Learn, I inverted the G7(b9) and eliminated the root note. 4

5 Therefore, an inverted G7(b9) is: D F Ab B You re probably wondering how I came up with this substitution chord in the first place. After all, I must be some kind of musical genius to be able to pull an advanced chord like this one out of my musical toolbox. And while I d like everyone to think that I am a musical genius, the truth is that when I first learned this song, I learned it as a 3-chord song, using just the C, F and G7 chords and a majority of the song was mostly C s and G7 s. Okay, I m probably about to lose my master-musician status in your eyes, but all I did once I came up with the G7 chord for measure 10 was alter each note of the chord, one by one. First I lowered the D to a Db and that didn t sound good, so I raised the D to a D#, and that sounded even worse. Next, I moved to the B and tried lowering it to a Bb, and that didn t work either. I couldn t really do anything with the F because that was the melody note, which is the note that made the G7 chord fit in the first place, so I moved the root note up a half step and BINGO, I finally stumbled across something that sounded good. I know that my method is hardly the formula you d think a musical genius with a great ear for chords and melody would use, but the fact is, playing the piano by ear involves a trained ear, coupled with musical knowledge and a lot of experimentation. And that s exactly what I did to finally come up with the G7(b9) chord for measure 10. The Em7 chord, (E G B D), in measure 20 was just a substitution chord that shared two notes from the original chord of the song, which was the C major chord, (C E G). And if you remember from a previous lesson, a substitution chord is a chord that shares one or more notes with the chord that you re trying to substitute. In addition, the common notes must be in the melody. In measure 20 the melody consists of two G s, which is in the original chord and the substitution chord. Last But Not Least In the last two measures of the song I add an F major chord directly before the C major chord. I did this to suspend that finished sound that you would have gotten with the G7 progressing directly to the C major chord, which would have completed a string of 7 th chords moving in perfect 5ths. However, by going to the F chord after the G7, I delay the ending ever so slightly before ending on the C major chord. I was tempted to do the same thing at measures 15 and 16, but decided to just do it at the end of the song, making it more of a unique ending. If you want to experiment a little more with the ending, try fitting an Abmaj7 and a Dbmaj7 chord in between the F and C chords. 5

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