#1
I've been studying the inner workings of chord functionality as of late--you may have seen my post on leading/tendency tones a few days ago--and it has lead me to learn about some interesting stuff; I wanted to share some of this with you all. Today I'll be talking about chromatic chords to give some flavor to your progressions.

We've all seen the basic functional chord progressions over and over again. Your I - IV - V, ii - V - I, VI - VII - i, IV - vii*- I, etc. I'm not going to say they're boring, but let's see what we can do with them. When I write a chord progression, I usually find what sounds good by experimenting with functions and use voice leading to get directly from chord A to chord B. This thread is about creating longer voice-lead lines to more indirectly move from A to B, hopefully with the progression sounding more interesting as a whole.

I'll start with two chords for a demonstration. Nothing crazy, I'm thinking strictly functionally at this point. I - V7 in Bb, or Bb - F7. Normally, I'd take the direct route:

F - Eb
D - C
Bb- A
Bb- F

And of course, we'd move right back for the resolution. But now, I'll enter some voice leading to create a new chord to approach the V7:

F - F - Eb
D - Db- C
Bb- Bb- A
Bb- Bb- F


Where you end up with Bb, Bbm, F7. I only changed one note, but came up with a variation on a tried-and-true standard.

Those familiar with voice leading know that the shorter the distance between two notes is usually the best move (the bass voice gets a lot more leeway with leaping great distances); carrying over a note from one chord to the next is preferable when possible. Chromatic notes are often inserted into melodies in order to get a driving approach to a certain note. In my experience, they are most often seen in a straight line of semitones to arrive at their destination. Let's combine these two ideas to "close the gap" to the next chord, giving our transition color while making it as smooth as possible. We'll set up our "goals"--the main functional chords--first. How about I - vi - IV - V? A pretty standard chord progression: let's say E major. From there we'll move from these main chords through voice leading to come up with some fresher harmony.

E - C#m - A - B

*Cracks knuckles and puts on shades* "It's time for voice leading..."


E - E - E - E - F - F#- F#
B - C - C#- C#- D - D - D#
G#- G#- G#- A - Bb- B - B
E - E - E - E - F - F#- F#


So, we ended up with E - C+/E - C#m/E - A/E - Bb/F - Bm/F# - B/F#. It's got a little bit more going on than the chord progression we started with.

This post has obviously been aimed at the more intermediate crowd: why don't you guys give it a shot? At the very least, you might come out with a new idea. I'll leave you on one I did earlier in G. It started as a I - iii - IV - V.


D - D - D - E - Eb- D
B - B - B - C - C - C
G - F#- F - G - Ab- A


G - Bm/F# - B*/F - C/G - Ab - D7(no 3rd)/A
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#2
Quote by soviet_ska
....

F - Eb
D - C
Bb- A
Bb- F

..
F - F - Eb
D - Db- C
Bb- Bb- A
Bb- Bb- F

...



I'm not clear on this notation.

I believe you are typing Bb where you meant to type Eb. But, also -- what does this row


D - Db - C 
mean?

This is the top note of the chords?

If so -- why is the bottom row
 Bb - Bb - F 
?

And, if you are going from F to Bb why is it backwards?

Would it be:

F A C -> Bb D F ?
#3
Quote by Zen Skin
I'm not clear on this notation.


I'm denoting the voice leading pattern. Each row represents a different note in the chord; it's to show the interplay of voices rather than just saying Bb - Bbm - F and not showing you where I came up with it.

Quote by Zen Skin

And, if you are going from F to Bb why is it backwards?

Would it be:

F A C -> Bb D F ?


My post clearly states Bb - F just before I write out the progression. I'm leaving the V - I resolution implied as the I chord would just be a repeat, which I don't feel is necessary to type.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#4
Cool stuff, this sort of thing is where Augmented 6ths arose from, adding chromatic passing notes between two chords.

In C:


F    (F#)   G
C     C     D
C     C     B
A    (Ab)   G