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Summary: Bite-sized articles cover a number of points about music theory.

More about chord families

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Continuing with the idea of simplifying chord substitution principals - we have talked about how chords fit into one of three main families:

The MAJOR chord type
The MINOR chord type
The DOMINANT chord type

Say we want to take a basic 'vanilla' chord sequence and jazz it up a bit. The first step is to classify each chord according to type. Lets take the chords of 'House of the Rising Sun'

Here's the 'vanilla' sequence:

Am C D F
Am C E E
Am C D F
Am E Am E

So we classify Am as MINOR
C, D and F as MAJOR
And E as DOMINANT (the fifth chord in the key is always DOMINANT)

We can then substitute chords from the same family as follows:

Am7 CMaj7 DMaj6add9 FMaj7
Am7 CMaj9 E13 E7#9
Am7 CMaj7 DM9 FMaj6
Am7 E9 Am7 E7#9

(Note: If you don't know all these chords you'll find a useful chordfinder site on our guitar teachers' utilities links page.)

This will give you a nice sleazy Jazz version of the song using chords that open up extra possibilities for walking bass lines and improvised counter-melodies.

Of course this is just one of many thousands of possible permutations. Try it out for yourself - Jazz is all about experimenting.

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