Leading Tones In Gospel Music
In this lesson we study leading tones and how they are used to create smooth connections between chords and also to guide the vocalist, other musicians, the choir, or even the whole congregation.
In the final lesson of this course we will accompany a gospel singer live in the studio and we will further demonstrate the importance of leading tones to guide the singer through the chord changes.
“Jesus Loves Me” in Eb Major
For this lesson we will demonstrate leading tones using the tune “Jesus Loves Me” in the key of Eb Major.
Leading tones lead the congregation through the chord changes of a song or church hymn. In particular, notice how the leading tones are chromatic lines that occur just before the core chord changes of the tune.
The leading tones can be placed at the top of the chord, ie the melody, the can be placed in the middle of the chord as an inner voice movement, and they can also be seen at bottom of the chord, usually appearing as slash chords which indicate a specific bass note or bass line movement between the chord changes.
Notice the use of slash chord during the performances and demonstrations. The chords are often voiced with the 3rd as the bass note for example Ab/C and Bb/D which would lead up to the root position Eb Major Chord; the tonic of the key.
Another example is Fm7 moving up a half step to F#dim7 and then up another half step to Eb/G which is the tonic over a G bass note.
This type of bass note voice leading opens up many possibilities to connect our chords with smooth half step intervals in the bass.
“Jesus Loves Me” – Solo Piano Performance File Type: pdf
“Jesus Loves Me” – Transcription with Lyrics File Type: pdf
A common leading tone passage uses the altered tones of the chord for example an Ab Major triad where the 5th moves up to the #5th, the 6th, b7th, and then into G, the 3rd of Eb Major.
When connecting the 1, 4 and 5 chords in the church songs and hymns, experiment with slash chords, particularly the 3rd in the bass which can be used to create step wise bass lines.
If you are new to the concept of slash chords, check out the related lesson above.
Check out the final lesson in this course where we discuss and analyse the role of leading tones when accompanying a gospel singer in a duo setting.