More specifically, is it harmful? From the ii-V-I I could backtrack from the I and suss out the flatVImaj7 and the IIImaj7, but what about:

Bar 1 ii-up a half step to a dominant -

Bar2 down a fourth to a maj7 - up a minor third to a dominant -

Bar 3 down a fourth to a maj7 - up a minor third to a dominant - <-- this is the original V

Bar 4 I

1 Answer 1


That's a rule of thumb for copying them. If you want to THINK about them, understand two things.

That you can jump to just about ANY chord and start a ii, V, I pattern. And if you jump to one (say) a major third away, then, having completed that sequence jump another major third, you're building a pattern, and patterns are very powerful things in music! When you do something 'wrong' three times over, it starts sounding 'right'!

And the idea of b5 (or 'tritone') substitutions for a chord that has a dominant function.

  • Yes, I understand that. I'm just focusing on this one pattern this month. Don't see a "them" here. I started looking at "Countdown" (played at amateur guitar player speed) and have been drilling this substitution in all 12 keys and all the positions I can find. Feb 13, 2018 at 20:50
  • @GlueWrangler -- "Don't see a 'them' here." Multiple chord substitutions, and the fact that these seem to be called "Coltrane changes" more often than "Coltrane substitution" (though I have also seen "Coltrane substitutions") suggests that "them" is appropriate.
    – user39614
    Feb 14, 2018 at 18:40
  • I'm talking about one particular pattern which I spelled out so there's no "them". ii-V-I is also not a "them". Do you think this is a helpful way of thinking about it or harmful, as opposed to reverse engineering the flatVI and the III? Feb 14, 2018 at 23:28

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