Chord substitution

Chord substitution is the term used to describe the procedure to replace, add or change a chord in a chord progression.

  • Chord substitution is used to change an existing chord progression to create a new or different harmony.
  • A basic rule of thumb when substituting chords is that a chord can be substituted for another if the chords has at least two notes in common.
  • Chord substitution rules and techniques exists to make it easier when writing and harmonizing a song. But of course it’s your ears that decide what sounds good and what doesn’t.

Chord substitution techniques

Below follows a list of chord substitution techniques.

  • Chord quality change
  • Relative major/minor
  • IIm-V
  • Inversions
  • Backcycling
  • Diminished seventh
  • Dominant seventh
  • Embellishment
  • Half-step
  • Mediant
  • Scalewise
  • Tritone
  • Bass line movement
    • Cyclical
    • Chromatic
    • Diatonic
    • Pedal points
    • Tritone