Change the harmony in your songs for a fresh sound – Re-harmonize piano chords!
Today, I would like to share with you four different re-harmonization techniques that will keep you busy for a lifetime – How to re-harmonize piano chords in songs. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get these all at once because it’s taken me a lifetime to get them all down.
The first principle is for any major chord, you can substitute the relative minor chord as long as the melody will tolerate it. That is true of any chord substitution, any re-harmonization, the melody has to tolerate what you are doing if it clashes with what you are doing then you can’t use that. For any major chord, you can substitute the relative minor chord.
Now, what is the relative minor chord for C major? If you count up six degrees, one, two, three, four, five, six, that becomes the root of the relative minor. A minor is relative to C major. I can substitute A minor for C major. Listen. You see that sounds fine, too. I could have played C, but I went to A minor. That is the first principle. For any major chord, you can substitute its relative minor.
The second principle is for any dominant seventh chord, any seventh chord, like that; not a major seventh chord, but a dominant seventh chord. You can substitute a chord that is a fourth below and build a minor seventh on it. In other words, for C seventh, one, two, three, four, you can build a minor seventh chord in place of C seventh as a substitute for it. Often to what you do is then you resolve back to the original chord. Let’s take Silent Night.
Now, here is C seventh. I am going to make G minor seventh before it resolves to C seventh and then go on. The second rule is for any dominant seventh chord, you go down to the fourth and build a minor seventh. For G seventh, what would you do, go down a fourth from G and build a minor seventh; that would be D minor seventh.
The third rule of chord substitutions is to ask yourself into what other chord this note fits. In other words, if your melody is G, what other chord will G fit in? It will fit in the G chord. Everything won’t sound good, but you can try them. This is a trial and error kind of thing. What else is G in? It’s in the A minor seventh chord. What else is G in? It’s in the E five chord, like so. You can ask yourself, into what other chord will this note fit? It’s a major seventh, an A flat.
Let’s review a little bit. Our first rule was for any major chord, you can substitute a relative minor chord. The second rule was for any dominant seventh chord, you can go down to the fourth and build a minor seventh. The third rule was for any chord at all, you can ask yourself into what other chord this melody note will fit. Say your melody is E, what else will E fit in beside C? It will fit in A. It will fit in A minor. It will fit in F major seventh, F minor seventh; lots and lots of chords.
The fourth rule of chord substitution is to do a half-step slide. In other words, let’s say you are on G minor seventh going to F. You’ll just slide down and up. You see I am going by half steps. For example, if I am going from G seventh, I can do a half-step slide into C; not going up or down a half step. What’s a half step above C? D flat. I can go. Like so. Now I’m going to play Silent Night all the way so you can hear all these techniques and I’ll call them out.
Relative Minor. Ask yourself what other chord this fits. That chord should be G seventh, so I will substitute a D minor seventh for that because I will go down four notes. Then, I will go back to it. Then for C seventh I will substitute a G minor seventh. Then go up a half step, a half-step slide. I will ask myself into what other note will this fit and E minor came to me; E minor, G minor to E minor and E minor; G minor, B flat. Now, how did I get B flat? F the melody fits into B flat chord; E minor, G seventh, C. Now I could end in C, but I am going to end in A flat for variety and then D flat and C.
Now you’re going to say, “Good grief. How am I going to learn all of those?” You’re not. You’re not going to learn them for a while, but you can begin the process can’t you? It took me a whole lifetime to master those four re-harmonization techniques. Go to it and let’s review them once more. For any major chord, you can substitute its relative minor. For any dominant seventh chord, you can substitute a chord that is a fourth below a minor seventh. You can do a half-step slide and the fourth one is to ask yourself into what other chord this melody note fit. That’s it. Thanks for being with me. See you again soon.
Here is the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmG8F-hLSN8&feature=youtu.be