Chords that sing

I’m always playing around with different chords. Whether it’s chord substitutions, inversions, or voicings I get inspired by the sound they create. Here are a few of my favorites

Voicing

I love 7/9 chords. I end up using them everywhere. If you don’t know 7/9 chords they are super easy and, properly used, can give a ton of character to the chord. You can make the 7 or the 9 of the chord sharp or flat depending on the key or the progression to the next chord.

Here is a guitar version

C79Chord-Gtr

And here is a piano version

C79chord-Piano

I used 7/9 chords all the time.  The song “From the Mountain” uses them everywhere!!!

Inversions

Taking a simple 7/9 chord and inverting the chord is a transformation that adds complexity, depth and tension.    Once you start to invert the chord you can also start to consider dropping one of the voicings.   I will generally try to drop the root and play the third inversion.   So instead of the chord starting on the 1 or root of the chord, I start on the 5 of the chord.   With a C chord that would mean inverting to have the G note in the bottom of the chord

Here is the C7/9 with 3rd inversion

C79chord-piano-3rd inversion

Substitutions

Lastly, I will try chord substitutions throughout a new song for inspiration.   A chord substitution simply uses one note that is in the key of the song and playing a chord from a different key that also has that same note

Let say we are in the key of G and playing a G major chord.  The melody line is centered on the B note.

CMaj 1st inversion

While the melody note is still on B, you can substitute the B major chord for a dramatic change.

BMay 1st inversion

Then you can quickly invert the B chord to the 3rd inversion to add tension

BMay 3rd inversion

This chord will very nicely resolve to E minor or even E major to completely change the key of the song.   I like to use chord substitutions in the bridge of a song.   Check out an example of this on the song “Februarys Moon” at 1:30.  I go from a B minor chord to an E major (instead of E minor).