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
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.
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
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.
While the melody note is still on B, you can substitute the B major chord for a dramatic change.
Then you can quickly invert the B chord to the 3rd inversion to add tension
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).
You can check out Soul Pigeon on any major streaming platform. Our friends over at Pandora have just placed us on several of their recommendation algorithms and we wanted to thank them for that!!! Great results so far.
Think of your favorite song and I promise you it has some dissonance. Dissonance is a somewhat “off-putting” feeling or sound that you experience in a song. The only way dissonance works is that it resolves to something non-dissonant. Music is just like life, it just simply can’t be all smooth and perfect.
There is nothing better than tension in a song. Properly paired with words, a dissonant tension can really grab you and make you feel connected with the song.
Here are some examples of dissonance in a few songs.
Neil Youngs “Old Man”. The tune starts off this the dissonance before resolving to the D (I chord).
The Doors “Not to Touch the Earth”. Each verse is dissonant. Listen to the first 45 seconds of the song before the dissonance resolves into the refrain
Soul Pigeons “From the Mountain”. The main riff of our song has a flat 7th note as it descends and resolves back to the riff
Soul Pigeons “Bound” features a fully dissonant 6 second section that starts at 1:25
The most common places to use dissonances is in a bridge or musical transition into a lead. For example, a V7 chord is a chord that naturally wants to resolve to the I chord. By substituting a diminished chord for the V7 you instantly create a very displeasing tension that begs resolution.
I would wager that every one of your favorite songs are using V7 chords that resolve to the 1 chord!
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Writing and recording an album is a laborious process. While the technology has certainly become better, easier to use, and very reasonably priced; the reality is the artist still needs to”do the work”.
Write good songs. A song can come in a flash of inspiration or it might take weeks and months to finish. But let’s just use an average of one song per week. If you intend to have ten songs on the album then you have ten weeks of just writing.
Choose style and write arrangements. Each song will have it’s own arrangement and style. One might be sparsely arranged with just a guitar and voice while another might require a horn section and multiple voices. We will take an average of 2 days for each song to complete an arrangement.
Record the songs. If the artist has written the arrangements ahead of the recording date the recording process will only be focused on capturing great performances. Two parts to this: Musicians: well rehearsed musicians focusing on playing with inspiration and passion. Engineer: expert audio engineer who knows what mics to use, how to use their DAW (digital audio workstation) and focuses on taking amazing “audio pictures” of the performances. This process can take 4 days per song.
It should be noted here that many artists like to combine steps two and three. In general, that usually takes longer but can feel and result in a more organic, natural arrangement.
Mix and master. This is where your audio engineer really shines. Each song needs to be surgically taken apart, analyzes, balanced, and made to sound “alive”. It’s really music under a microscope. This process can take a week or more per song.
Album cover and liner notes. Artists then must pay specific attention to the look of the album and partner with a graphic designer that can compliment the mood of the music and the artist. This requires, in many cases, lots of different layout options and sometimes custom photo shoots. The average time would be a minimum of 1 week for the cover.
Putting it all together for a ten song album
Writing songs: 10 weeks
Arranging : 2 weeks
Recording: 8 weeks
Mix / Master: 10 weeks
Album cover: 1 week
Total: 31 weeks
And for that time and investment the artist will get $.0006 for each play on Spotify! Consider buying the music from your favorite artists.
I listen to music everywhere but one of my favorite places to relax and listen to some tunes is on the beach.
Here are three key things to having a great beach experience
Get a portable speaker. The beach is loud so you need a speaker that can cut through the noiseHave a cooler full of cold adult beverages. While it’s always a good experience to be oceanside, a few adult beverages makes it that much betterPlay your favorite summer jams. I tend to listen to Marley, Jack Johnson, Buffett, etc. Click here for my Spotify playlist
Now you can sit back and groove……. just don’t get a sunburn!