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Author Topic: Chord substitutions  (Read 2605 times)

SeilerBird

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Chord substitutions
« on: July 20, 2013, 06:20:40 AM »
Here is some info you may or may not know. If you know it already then just ignore it.

Do you understand how chord substitution works? Let's say there is a chord that you simply cannot play because it is too hard and your fingers just won't get there. Let's say this chord is a C7. The notes of a C7 are C-E-G-Bb. So instead of trying to play a chord you can't play it is easier just to play a C chord and forget about the 7th. A C chord has C-E-G which are all contained in the C7 so every note you play will be correct and in a group no one would notice that you were playing a C instead of a C7. Even if you did it playing solo 99% of the people would not know or care that the Bb was missing.

Now what you could not do is substitute a C for Cm. A Cm contains C-Eb-G so the E in a C chord would be wrong.
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Tom

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2013, 06:40:53 AM »
Aye, thanks Tom. Understand chord substitutions, but don't always remember them on the fly. l'm not thinking of the notes that make up a chord while strumming the chord; I'm mechanically thinking of fingering, and increasingly relying on muscle memory.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2013, 06:48:17 AM »
Chord substitution would not be done on the fly while you are playing, it would be done when you are learning how to play the song.

Muscle memory is the key to playing a musical instrument. If you practice a song enough times you will play it automatically and you can balance your checkbook in your mind while you are playing. You should never have to think of what you are doing while you are playing. But it takes some time to get to that level.

Do you practice scales at all?
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Tom

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2013, 08:10:28 AM »
Quote
Do you practice scales at all?

No; I don't do any note picking, but I sure enjoy watching & listening to uke players that do.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2013, 08:36:04 AM »
Well you really should be spending a minimum of 15 minutes a day doing scales whether you pick or not. The reason you don't pick is because you have never done scales. Once you do scales then picking becomes easy.

There are other reasons for learning scales. Developing your ear. Understanding Roman numerals, scale positions and note names are critical. For example sometimes when doing scales you are thinking in your mind I II III IV V VI VII VIII. Other times it is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, or C D E F G A B C. Once you know the names of all the notes on the fret board it opens up whole new worlds.

It is a lot of fun to play chords and it is a lot of fun to pick so why limit yourself?
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Tom

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2013, 09:08:28 AM »
It's all too clever for my simple mind. Meanwhile, I have another musical distraction.
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Desertfront

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2014, 06:50:46 PM »
I agree with seilerbird, learning scales helps to understand chords and finding chords as well. I am so glad that I did on my guitar. 

Jammer

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2014, 02:30:02 PM »
Here is some info you may or may not know. If you know it already then just ignore it.

Do you understand how chord substitution works? Let's say there is a chord that you simply cannot play because it is too hard and your fingers just won't get there. Let's say this chord is a C7. The notes of a C7 are C-E-G-Bb. So instead of trying to play a chord you can't play it is easier just to play a C chord and forget about the 7th. A C chord has C-E-G which are all contained in the C7 so every note you play will be correct and in a group no one would notice that you were playing a C instead of a C7. Even if you did it playing solo 99% of the people would not know or care that the Bb was missing.

I guess I'm in the 1% ;)

Quote
Now what you could not do is substitute a C for Cm. A Cm contains C-Eb-G so the E in a C chord would be wrong.

You could mute the 3rd so that you end up with a "power chord."  In many cases you can also substitute a Cm7 for a C.  Occasionally the minor 7th chord falls under the hand better.

Another fact to consider is that the 5th is the least important note of the triad and can be left out in many cases without much effect on the harmony.

Everyone has their own stylistic language but I tend to work suspended 4ths, 6ths, 7ths, and 9ths into my chords in some of the songs so that each song has its own identity.  A common mistake is to fall in love with a few chords and use them in every song.

Another important substitution is to replace a chord with its inversion, so you play a G6 where a C would usually go.  Sometimes this is written as C/G or C(G bass) which means the same thing.

I work with a mandolin and a uke player and they can be counted upon to provide the 3rd and the 5th but it takes a good deal of persuasion to get them to branch out from that.  It usually works OK, I add  the 7th when it makes sense and switch the bass around, the only problem being that they clash with me when I play a suspended 4th.  So I have to coordinate those substitutions with them.  It's like pulling teeth, unfortunately.

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Jammer

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2014, 02:35:08 PM »
Chord substitution would not be done on the fly while you are playing, it would be done when you are learning how to play the song.

It depends.  There are players of all capabilities.

Like anything else if you practice substituting on the fly you get good at it.  Kinda like capoing up to 7th in a jam session and transposing all the chords.

Quote
Muscle memory is the key to playing a musical instrument. If you practice a song enough times you will play it automatically and you can balance your checkbook in your mind while you are playing. You should never have to think of what you are doing while you are playing. But it takes some time to get to that level.

It's important to stay mentally present in the music albeit at a higher level.  I have to concentrate to remember where we are in a song, which verse, when to add breaks, fills, etc.  And pay attention to others, well the soprano just skipped a verse, is she going to back up and sing the one she skipped in the wrong order or just go on, that kind of thing.  My biggest challenge in performing is to divide my attention between my playing, the audience, and the stage show.
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Tom

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2014, 08:13:22 PM »
Quote
Well you really should be spending a minimum of 15 minutes a day doing scales whether you pick or not.

OK, I finally got to start practicing scales daily. I also recently re-started the online Music Theory class, after the browser plugin got fixed.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Chord substitutions
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2014, 05:56:41 AM »
OK, I finally got to start practicing scales daily. I also recently re-started the online Music Theory class, after the browser plugin got fixed.
Congrats! You will be amazed at how fluid your fingers will become very quickly. Notice I did not recommend any scales in particular since it really doesn't matter which ones you practice, the important thing is just to practice. Keep the fingers moving.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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