Series on Passing Tones

 I received so many wonderful letters from beautiful musicians requesting more information on jazz chords, passing tones and inversions. In the weeks ahead I will try to post a series on popular requests from my readers. Let's begin with a series on...


A "Chord Tone" is a note in the melody with the same letter-name as a note in the harmonizing chord. A "non-harmonic" tone (non-chord tone) is a note in the melody between two chord tones that doesn't appear in the harmonizing chord. "Passing tones" are the non-harmonic tones (notes) that are in between two chord tones and are in the scale of the two chord tones. The chord tones and passing tones are either all ascending or descending in the same direction. A passing tone provides a smooth melodic transition from one chord tone to the next. Usually, if there is an interval of a third between two chord tones, there is one passing tone. Below is an example of Non-Chord Tones.

Former posts on passing tones:

LadyDpiano: What's A Tritone?

The tritone can be used as a passing tone in gospel and jazz movements. It's usually that dynamic sounding chord you usually hear especially in spacious ...

LadyDpiano: Learn How To Play Gospel Music

Walking basslines use a mixture of scale tones, arpeggios,chromatic runs, and passing tones to outline the chord progression of a song or tune, ...

LadyDpiano: 12 Secret Gospel Passing Chords

"Passing chords are formed by the stepwise movement of one or more of the voices from a ... Diatonic Chords, gospel chords, Passing Chords, Passing Tones ...

LadyDpiano: October 2008

Oct 1, 2008 ... Apply this knowledge and begin combining the scale tones to form chords ... Letting your fingers walk to the next chord, passing the note of ...

Three Steps To Passing Chords

Learn how to use cool Passing Tones, Turnaround Chords and Endings that Black Gospel And Jazz Music are so famous for. Any chord can be changed or altered, ...
Passing Chords
One last detail: instead of jumping down three half steps from the I to the VI chord in bars 7 and 8, we “walk down” by half step, filling in the gap between G and E chords (G13–G¯13–F13–E7˜9). You can always play chords on the half steps between two chords. The essential chord progression doesn’t really change. It’s still a I–VI movement, but embellished by the passing chords (G¯13 and F13), which simply fill in the space between the essential chords of the progression (G13 and E7˜9). Passing chords don’t really change the basic chord movement. You can ignore them when improvising. By using the same chord voicings on the first three chords, the walkdown sounds smoother.

The comping rhythm alternates between the 13th (G13 and C13 chords) and 7th (G7 and C7 chords). Both are built on the 1–7–3–5 structure.
Piano Resources:

Charlie Parker once said "Learn the changes and then forget them."
Until next time... Have a wonderful Mother's day weekend!
~ LadyD
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