Functional Harmony (& Chord Substitutions)

chord theory series: how to learn guitar chords - beginner to advanced chords free download: chords with color music theory scales songwriting / composing Mar 30, 2021

This video is all about functional harmony and chord substitutions. I explain functional harmony in general and then show how songwriters can use it to find chord substitutions.

Weekly Lesson #68

โžก Get my FREE chord substitution chart โžก


Lesson Description

This week's lesson is all about functional harmony. What it is, how it works, and how we can use it. Learning functional harmony is super useful for finding chord substitutions when writing progressions or jamming. And I know studying music can feel a little dry and academic at times, so I included a little humor that anyone who's tried writing lyrics might relate to. In this lesson I write a song with a basic chord progression and then use functional harmony to replace each chord with a chord substitution. 


Video Lesson Content Outline with Links:

0:00โ€‹ - About this lesson and channel 
0:59โ€‹ - Definition of functional harmony
1:36โ€‹ - The 3 main functions in functional harmony
2:49โ€‹ - How chord substitutions work in functional harmony 
3:31โ€‹ - Theory of tonic functioning chords  
4:10โ€‹ - Theory of dominant functioning chords  
4:34โ€‹ - Theory of subdominant functioning chords  
5:02โ€‹ - Example of chord substitution in songwriting 
5:38โ€‹ - Lyric writing skit
6:29โ€‹ - Lyrics & melody with initial chord progression
6:46โ€‹ - Swapping the chords with substitutions
8:28โ€‹ - Full song idea with the new chord substitutions
9:02โ€‹ - Conclusion: When to think in terms of function 
11:04โ€‹ - Free chord substitution chart:โ€‹
11:50โ€‹ - Next lesson / Outro 


Links Mentioned in this Lesson


Check out related lessons I've made on similar topics with these tags


Final Thoughts

Even though functional harmony isn’t the prevailing method for creating music these days, it’s still helpful to know about and understand, especially for seeing how chords overlap and behave similarly so we can find chord substitutions when songwriting or jamming. 

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

Thanks! :) 

- Jared

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