12 Secret Gospel Passing Chords

Here's a little bit of theory...

"Diatonic Chords" are simply chords based on notes of the scale. If a song called for a straight AbMaj7 chord for several measures, it would be appropriate to fill in with the other Diatonic Chords. It can add a sense of dynamic motion, without disrupting the inherent harmonic integrity or simplicity of the music. In melody, you've heard of Passing Notes (notes that connect one to the next but aren't part of the chord)? These are Passing Chords.

I found GospelKeys.com to have an excellent learning system for passing chords.


TUTORIAL: 12 Secret gospel passing chords madameve

GOSPEL EXAMPLE: Passing chords: Cycling through suspensions

A great lesson of Joy To The World using so many wonderful sounding bass chords!

"Passing chords are formed by the stepwise movement of one or more of the voices from a harmony note in one chord to form an intermediate chord or chords on the way to becoming a harmony note in another chord. In other words, passing chord(s) are formed by the stepwise filling in of notes between chords. The stepwise movement may be a filling in by one step or multiple steps."


My friend, James Stevens has this to say:
"It is absolutely true that diminished and dominant 7 chords can lead to BOTH major and minor chords in the same way. But in a technical sense, we might not usually think of this as a PASSING chord. Passing chords a chords that move in between the main chords in a progression, but don't necessarily have the same strong PULL that a dominant or diminished chord may have by wanting to move up a perfect 4th or up a minor 2nd, respectively.

Here is an example of PASSING chords where each chord would represent 1 beat:

C - C - Dm7 - C/E - F. Notice the main chords are C and F. The Dm7 and C/E are just passing chords, but don't by themselves lead strongly in any direction.
Let me give you an example of a Dominant Chord being used as a passing chord. Suppose I was beginning on a C chord and heading to A7, just for fun I might insert a B7 and Bb7 on the way to A7. Even though these two are dominant 7 chords, in this setting, they would be just PASSING chords.

So whereas Dominant and Diminished chords my lead strongly to a certain chord, major or minor, passing chords are just "Passing Through" filling the space in between the main chords of a line to provide a little color."


Hope you've enjoyed adding some color to your playing!
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