I know the notes that constitute the given chord sound well simultaneous to the chord, but which other notes can you play over a certain chord to create a melody and a meaning with good sound? Are these notes that are also in the next chord?

  • If there was a rule, then there would only be one tune. Many notes can be used, depending on what has come before and where you go next, the mood of the composer, style of music etc. The question jj linked to should answer this for you. – Doktor Mayhem Aug 11 '13 at 9:09
  • I don't think this is a duplicate of the other question. This question can relate to harmonies, colour tones or even doubling whereas the other one is more of a question about why to learn the individual notes. – Alexander Troup Aug 13 '13 at 16:57
  • This is a broad scoped question, but the answer I have in mind Is a completely appropriate to this question but inappropriate to the other. – Alexander Troup Aug 13 '13 at 16:59
  • This question is similar and might be of help: Comfortable notes in a key – Ulf Åkerstedt Aug 17 '13 at 13:46
  • For starters see the wikipedia page on "avoid notes": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoid_note – Michael Martinez Aug 28 '13 at 18:36

This is a hugely complicated question based on the style, the instrument, and voicing among other things.

Generally chords that have more common tones with the chord in the progression makes for a more harmonious sound. For example C major = CEG, E min = EGB, and Amin = ACE, so the shared notes make a harmonious sound happen if you play notes of E minor over C major.

This is of course generalising massively but it might be a good starting point.

For a better answer I suggest you specify style, instrument, and an example of the type of progression that you want to work over and that'll give us a better grounding on which to give advice!

Jazz books will give you a very thorough analysis of chords, substitutions, and chord tones.

If you're a guitarist, you can do worse than Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry. There's an entire chapter on chord substitution and enough chord knowledge to last you a lifetime. For example, one guideline is that any basic triad can theoretically be substituted for an extension, though some work better than others. So over the C major example you could use the notes of C6, Cadd9, or C13 etc.

Ultimately your best advisers are the ones on each side of your head. If they like the notes you play, work out why and repeat in other places :)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.