Chromatic Guitar Chords

chord theory series: how to learn guitar chords - beginner to advanced chords free download: chords with color modal mixture music theory song learning songwriting / composing Feb 23, 2021

This week’s lesson is on chromatic guitar chords. What do the songs Blackbird, On the Road Again, and Creep all have in common? They all use chromatic chords called secondary dominant chords!

Weekly Lesson #63

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Lesson Description

What do the chord progressions of Blackbird by The Beatles, On The Road Again by Willie Nelson, Creep by Radiohead, Something by The Beatles, and the classic jazz standard All of Me have in common? 

They all include chromatic chords! These are chords outside the key (non-diatonic chords). 

Millions of songs use a chromatic chord progression as an alluring harmonic compositional device. 

This device multiplies the amount of chords available to songwriters. 

Known as chromatic harmony or chromatic chords or non diatonic chords, this tool offers composers more emotional leverage to draw us in with. 

In this week's lesson I explain two of the most common types of chromatic chords and I show how each of the songs listed above use them. 

The two types are modal mixture chords and applied chords (or secondary chords) such as secondary dominants. 


Video Lesson Content Outline with Links:

0:00​ - Blackbird Intro / About this lesson
0:32​ - What are chromatic chords
1:43​ - Two types of chromatic chords
2:01​ - Secondary Dominant Chords 
4:42​ - Secondary dominant exercise 
5:31​ - Applied chord in On the Road Again by Willie Nelson
6:26​ - Secondary dominants in All of Me (jazz standard)
7:10​ - Applied chords with diminished 7
8:06​ - Secondary dominants in Something by The Beatles 
8:49​ - What is modal mixture 
10:17​ - Modal mixture in Something by The Beatles
10:42​ - Chromatic chords in Creep by Radiohead
11:03​ - Chromatic chords in Blackbird by The Beatles
12:20​ - Chromatic chord progression assignment / Outro


Links Mentioned in this Lesson


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Final Thoughts

Chromatic guitar chords are such an awesome harmonic composing device for guitarists and songwriters. Some of the coolest chord progressions of all time are chromatic chord progressions that use either applied chords like secondary dominant chords or modal mixture. Music theory knowledge of these non diatonic chords can open doors to new possibilities for your songwriting or your understanding of what’s happening in the songs you love. 

I hope you enjoyed this lesson and found it beneficial. Let me know what you thought. 

Thanks! :) 

- Jared

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