Using Connecting Tones to Create New Chord Progressions

I'm going to share with you a simple but effective technique to spice up your chord progressions: using connecting tones.

What are connecting tones?

Connecting tones are notes that link two chords together by creating a smooth transition between them. They can be either chord tones (the root, 3rd or 5th of a chord) or non-chord tones (any other note that is not part of the chord).

Why use connecting tones?

Connecting tones can make your chord progressions sound more interesting, melodic and coherent. They can also help you avoid awkward jumps or gaps between chords and create a sense of direction and movement in your harmony.

How to use connecting tones?

There are many ways to use connecting tones, but one of the most common and easy methods is to follow these steps:

1. Choose a chord progression that you want to work on. It can be any progression that you like or are familiar with, such as a I-IV-V-I or a ii-V-I.
2. Identify the highest note of each chord in your progression. This will be your melody note for each chord.
3. Find a way to connect each melody note with the next one by using either a stepwise motion (moving up or down by one scale degree) or a chromatic motion (moving up or down by one semitone).
4. Adjust the other notes of each chord accordingly to maintain the quality and function of each chord.

Let's see an example:

Let's say we use connecting tones on this basic chord progression in C major: C-F-G-C.

The highest note of each chord is:

C: G
F: C
G: D
C: G

To connect these notes smoothly, we can use stepwise motion like this:

C: G
F: A
G: B
C: C

Notice how we changed the highest note of F from C to A, and the highest note of G from D to B. This creates a nice ascending line from G to C.

Now we have to adjust the other notes of each chord accordingly:

C: C E G
F: F A C
G: G B D
C: C E G

We have created new chords by using connecting tones:

Cmaj7: C E G B
Fmaj7/A: F A C E
G7/B: G B D F

These chords are more colorful and expressive than the original ones and still preserve their function and quality.

You can also use chromatic motion instead of stepwise motion, like this:

C: G
F: Ab
G: A
C: Bb

This creates a different kind of ascending line from G to Bb.

We have to adjust the other notes again:

C: C E G
Fm/Ab : Ab C Eb 
G/A : A D F#
Bb/C : Bb D F 

We have created another set of new chords by using connecting tones:

C6/9 : C E A D 
Fm/Ab : Ab C Eb 
D7/A : A D F# 
Bb/C : Bb D F 

These chords are more adventurous and surprising than the original ones, and they still preserve their function and quality.

Using connecting tones is a great way to create new chord progressions from existing ones. You can experiment with different types of motion (stepwise or chromatic), different directions (ascending or descending), different registers (high or low) and different combinations of chords.

The possibilities are endless!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned something new today. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

Happy music-making!


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