Gospel Passing Chords & Substitutions
Welcome to lesson 2 in this masterclass course on the gospel blues.
In the first lesson of this course we explored the basic 1-4-5 progression in the key of F. In this lesson we will broaden the harmony by introducing some alternate chord changes, reharmonisations, and gospel passing chords.
Substituting Chords in 1-4-5 Progressions
The 1-4-5 progression is the ‘skeleton’ of the gospel blues and there are many ways that we can embellish this basic chord progression with reharmonisations and alternate harmonies.
What Are Passing Chords In Gospel Piano?
Passing chords are additional chords that we put into the gospel blues progression to add more harmonic movement and interest. Passing chords are often added before the main chord changes to create a greater sense of tension and resolution in the progression.
Passing chords in gospel music can be seen as ‘temporary stepping stones’ between the core chord changes 1, 4, and 5, and they are used to enhance and decorate the simple 145 gospel blues progression.
In this lesson we cover 4 types of gospel passing chords:
Chromatic Passing Chords
We start with a chromatic walk up to the IV chord. For this gospel walk up we play 2 chromatic passing chords which are both voiced as dominant 7 voicings with the 5th on top:
We voice the Ab7 with the 9th (Bb) to add some colour to the chord, and the A7 is voiced as a basic inverted 7th chord with octave bass. Study the demonstration in the video to understand the left hand accents.
Suspended Passing Chords
Suspensions are very commonly played in gospel music. In the example above, we play a Bb9sus after approaching the IV chord with a chromatic walk up.
Suspended passing chords are particularly effective on the IV chord in the 3rd bar of the form but can be used on any dominant chord to create additional suspense and tension.
Diatonic Passing Chords
We can enhance the basic 1 to 5 movement with a 1625 progression. The 1625 progression uses the diatonic chords from the F Major Scale but with some slight tweaks. The VI chord, D-7 is voiced as a D7 and most often includes chord alterations such as the b9, #9, and #5:
Adding chord alterations to passing chords creates even more tension and a harmonically rich and interesting progression.
This movement can be further enhanced with a chromatic passing chord into D7, which would be an E7 chord. The D7 can also be voices as a D7sus chord as discussed above.
Diminished Passing Chords
Diminished passing chords can be used to achieve smooth, step-wise bass line movement in the gospel blues progression. For example we use a Bdim7 chord in bar 4 to connect Bb7 and the F/C chord in bar 5.
Diminished chord are often used in the turnaround as demonstrated in the lesson, for example: F7, F7/A, Bb, Bbdim7 –> to C7 which creates a step wise bass line leading to the V chord C7 which sets us up for the next chorus.
Gospel Passing Chords Transcription File Type: pdf
145 Progression Reharmonisations File Type: pdf
Passing Chord Examples From Lesson File Type: pdf