Advanced Harmony with Substitute Seventh Chords | Hub Guitar

Advanced Harmony with Substitute Seventh Chords

Introduction to Advanced Harmonic Concepts

Just as triads can be used to substitute chords, so can 7th chords. But the results will be considerably more complex, as now we are superimposing a 4-part structure instead of a 3-part structure, and each note will need to play a coherent role. Many of the possible combinations will prove unusable.

We will explore 3 basic chord structures on this page: major 7th, dominant 7th, minor 7th. Then, we can see what happens if we flat the fifth of the chords, or raise the fifth of the chords.

The real key here is to look at the super-imposition and decide what chord scale it best relates to. Then you can start uncovering some original harmonies and chord substitutions. And, best of all, by building chords this way, you’ll actually be throwing away some of the notes that would normally be in the chord. For instance, if you play a Cmaj7 chord with an F in the root, you’re really playing an Fmaj7♯11 chord, but with no third. The missing third will carve out a bit more room in the harmony for the ♯11, making the chord a bit less dense sounding.

Fair Warning

Some of these chord structures may sound a bit weird. Others may sound great, but only in the proper context. That means simply hearing one of these structures will not actually tell you much about how much potential they have. The only way to do that is to experiment and build real chord progressions. Other combinations may, by slipping too far away from the intended harmony, sound more like an unintended inversion of some other chord. We’re getting into some gray area here.

For each C chord structure, imagine that a new bass note (represented by the left column) is added underneath the chord. Now the meaning of each note in the chord changes considerably.

Standard diatonic chord structures

Root C Maj 7th C Dom 7th C Min 7th
C 1–3–5–7 1–3–5–♭7 1–♭3–5–♭7
C♯ 7–♭3–♭5–♭7 7–♭3–♭5–13 7–9–♭5–13
D ♭7–9–4–13 ♭7–9–11–♭13 ♭7–♭9–4–♭13
D♯ o7–♭9–3–♭13 13–♭9–3–5 6–R–3–5
E ♭13–R–♭3–5 ♭13–R–♭3–♭5 ♭6–7–♭3–♭5
F 5–7–9–♯11 5–7–9–4 5–♭7–9–4
F♯ ♯11–♭7–♭9–4 ♯11–♭7–♭9–3 ♯11–13–♭9–3
G 4–6–R–3 4–13–R–♯9 4–♭13–R–♭3
G♯ 3–♭13–7–♯9 3–♭13–7–9 3–5–7–9
A ♭3–5–♭7–9 ♭3–5–♭7–♭9 ♯9–♯11–♭7–♭9
A♯ 9–♯11–13–R 9–♯11–13–R 9–11–13–R
B ♭9–11–♭13–7 ♭9–4–♭13–7 ♭9–3–♭13–7

Flatted-Fifth Chord Structures

Root C Maj 7th (♭5) C Dom 7th (♭5) C Min 7♭5
C 1–3–♭5–7 1–3–♭5–♭7 1–♭3–♭5–♭7
C♯ 7–♭3–11–♭7 7–♭3–11–13 7–9–11–13
D ♭7–9–3–13 ♭7–9–3–♭13 ♭7–♭9–3–♭13
D♯ o7–♭9–♭3–♭13 o7–♭9–♭3–5 13–R–♭3–5
E ♭13–R–9–5 ♭13–R–9–♯11 ♭13–7–9–♯11
F 5–7–♭9–♯4 5–7–♭9–11 5–♭7–♭9–11
F♯ ♯11–♭7–R–4 ♯11–♭7–R–3 ♯11–13–R–3
G 11–13–7–3 11–13–7–♭3 11–♭13–7–♭3
G♯ 3–♭13–♭7–♯9 3–♭13–♭7–9 3–5–♭7–9
A ♭3–5–13–9 ♭3–5–13–♭9 ♭3–♯11–13–♭9
A♯ 9–♭5–♭13–♭9 9–♭5–♭13–R 9–11–♭13–R
B ♭9–11–5–R ♭9–11–5–7 ♭9–3–5–7

Raised Fifth Chord Structures

Root C Maj 7th (♯5) C Dom 7th (♯5) C Min 7 (♯5)
C 1–3–♯5–7 1–3–♯5–♭7 1–♭3–♯5–♭7
C♯ 7–♭3–5–♭7 7–♭3–5–13 7–9–5–13
D ♭7–9–♯11–13 ♭7–9–♯11–♭13 ♭7–♭9–♯11–♭13
D♯ o7–♭9–11–♭13 o7–♭9–11–5 o7–R–11–5
E ♭13–R–3–5 ♭13–R–3–11 ♭13–7–3–♯11
F 5–7–♭3–♯11 5–7–♭3–11 5–♭7–♭3–11
F♯ ♯11–♭7–9–11 ♯11–♭7–9–3 ♯11–13–9–3
G 11–13–♭9–3 11–13–♭9–♭3 11–♭13–♭9–♭3
G♯ 3–♭13–R–♯9 3–♭13–R–9 3–5–R–9
A ♭3–5–7–9 ♯9–5–7–♭9 ♭3–♯11–7–♭9
A♯ 9–♭5–♭7–♭9 9–♭5–♭7–R 9–11–♭7–R
B ♭9–11–13–R ♭9–11–13–7 ♭9–3–13–7
As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

©2018 Hub Guitar. All rights reserved.