Worship Passing chords |Types|Usage|Gmeedia

Worship passing chords are used to make a chord progressions more interesting i.e. they give more harmonic rhythm it. In this post we will be covering what are passing chords? features of passing chords, factors affecting choice of passing chords, when to use passing chords ,Types ,analysis and application of passing chords etc.

What are worship passing chords ?

They are chords used as a quick intermediary between two chords in a chord progression to make it more interesting i.e. more harmonic rhythm. Generally, passing chords are played quite briefly, rather than being sustained for a whole bar. They can be almost any chord you like because they are not harmonically important. Worship passing chords can make a chord progression more interesting because they speed up the rate at which chords change (called Harmonic Rhythm) and make a chord progression more harmonically interesting. More specifically, I like to think of passing chords as a means of getting me to a particular place — so, I have passing chords that I know will move me to the chord of Em, for example. Try to think of them in this way. There are literally hundreds of combinations of passing chords, and as I discover them, I write them all down to keep track of what works.

Features of passing chord

worship passing chords generally have various features and some of these features includes;

  • They last for a very short period of time (1/4 or 1/2 a bar). You never sit on them for long.
  • They are inserted between two harmonically important chords
  • They can be diatonic i.e a chord from the key that you are playing in or non-diatonic a chord NOT from the key that you are playing in
  • They can be consonant or dissonant.
  • They are harmonically not important

Factors That Affect Passing Chord Choice

Timing/Tempo
Timing is how much time or beat/bar it takes to get from one point to another in a musical piece or progression While tempo simply describes how fast to you need to get to that point. Since passing chords are bridges between two chords in a progression, it is very important to pay attention to the timing and tempo.

Melody/Tune
melody/Tune is the collection of musical notes that is sonically pleasing i.e the combination of selected scale tones that are pleasing to the ears. Since passing chord is a bridge between two chords in a tune then the melody(tune) determines our choice.

Destination Chord
Passing chords choices are largely dependent on the destination chord i.e the chord you want to move to in a chord progession. Therefore, the chords selected must at least be theoretically related to enable a smooth and non distorted movement to our destination chord.

Passing Chords and its usage

It’s one thing to know worship passing chords and it’s another to know how and when to use it. In music, any chord can be used as a passing chord to another and they are commonly used according to the circle of fifths and fourths. Let us now consider how and when to use some of them.

Using Minor chords In-Between Two major chords
Passing chords can be used as minor chords in-between two major chords in a progression to make it more interesting. In music, generally, Minor chords are the second chords one would get familiarized with after major chords but apparently many do not even know a bit about this chord let alone its usage.
Lets get back to the basics a bit, the formula for forming a basic MAJOR triad chord is 1 3 5, otherwise known as do mi sol(d m s). while, the formula for building a Minor triad chord is 1 b3 5 (d mo sol) taking Key C as reference point. The “b” in front of the 3 means flat i.e. to move down by an half step.
Here is the trick: On the major scale, the1st chord is Major, 2nd chord is Minor, 3rd chord is Minor, 4th chord is Major, 5th is Major, 6th is Minor, 7th is half diminished
Now we have a good understanding of what are major chords and minor chords lets jump to a quick illustration of how minor chords are used as passing chords in between two major chords.

Example 1
Lets say we have a progression on the key C that is going from the 1 to the 5 chord that is Do -Fa, we could add a minor chord as a passing chord between the 1 and the 5 as a 2minor (Re) chord which result to this 1-2-5 (Do-Re-So). This sounds better and you can add more color by adding the 6minor (La) before the 2minor(Re) and 5major(So). So now, instead of a 1-5 or 1-2-5 progression, it is 1-6-2-5 (Do-La-Re-So) and this sounds far better. Anyway in this case, you have to be faster and smarter cause like we said time is a major factor to be considered when using passing chords.

Using Minor Chords In-Between a Major and Minor Chord
if you have a progression going from a major chord to a minor chord you could add a minor chord in-between to give it more harmonic rhythm.

Example 2
Lets say we have a progression from 1maj (Do) to 3minor(Mi), you could add the 2minor (Re) in between to give the progression more harmonic rhythm. Therefore, the progression becomes 1-2-3 (Do-Re-Mi).

NB: when using the circle of fifths, your 2 minor serves as a passing chord to 5; 3minor to 6minor ; and 6minor to 2. CLICK HERE to read more about circle of fifths.

Using Diminished chords in-between two chords
Diminished chords are awesome for passing chords i.e. they resolve to a semitone before or after them. They are good as passing chords naturally because they have a strong pull and wants to resolve to a chord semitone before or after it. For example, Bdim strongly wants to resolve to a C chord or A chord.
The formula for constructing a diminished chord is 1 b3 b5 for example, Bdim is B D F and Cdim is C Eb GB etc.

Example 3
Lets say we have a progression going from 1-4-1-5 (Do -Fa-Do-So) in the key of C, you can incorporate Fdim triad(F# A C) chord as a passing chord in between the 1 and 5 to make it 1-4-1-5b- 5 (Do -Fa -Do -Fi -So)
Also, in the progression going to the 4maj chord, you can add a 3dim triad(E G Bb) as a passing chord to the 4maj. Lastly, in a movement to a 6minor chord, you can use a b6 dim(Ab B D) or b7dim(Bb Db E) depending on the song melody and other factors.

CLICK HERE to read more about diminished chord

Using Augmented Chords In-Between Two Chords
Augmented chords are also awesome chords when used as worship passing chords and the formula is 1 3 #5 i.e. C E G# (Do Mi Se) using Cmaj as a reference key. Naturally, like diminished chords, augmented chords always want to resolve and the most popular use of augmented chords as passing chords involves adding it in-between the root and the sixth chord(relative minor).

Example 4
Lets say we are in key C and we are moving from 1maj to 6minor, an Aug chord can be added in between so, it becomes C E GC E G#(C Augmented chord) – C E A ( A minor chord in 1st inversion).
If you noticed, the G# wants to resolve to A because it is an accidental note that’s is why we used the first inversion(C E A) instead of first or second inversion. Also G Augmented(G B D#) can pass to Eminor (G B E) etc.

Using Dominant Seventh In Between Two chords.
The Dominant seventh belongs to a group of chords named seventh chords and the formula is 1 3 5 b7 i.e C E G Bb on Cmaj. These chords are used a lot in Jazz and are mostly used according to the circle of fifths. For Example, in the key of C, Cdom7(CEGBb) can pass to 4maj, Ddom7(D Gb A C) can pass to 5maj.

It also resolves to a major or minor chord above or below it but preferred above by most people. For example, still in the same key of C F#dom7 can be used as a passing chord to a G major chord ,C#dom7 can be used to pass to D minor and so on.

Example 5
Lets say we have a 1 6 4 5 progression on the key of C, you can use the 2 dom7(D Gb A C) as a passing chord to the 5 chord. Therefore the progression becomes 1-6-4-2dom7- 5 and it resolves well. Also Edom7 can pass to the 6minor and so on

TYPES, ANAYLSIS AND APPLICATION OF WORSHIP PASSING CHORDS

There are different types of worship passing chords in which the chord quality and the melody in a song progression determines its usage. Some of the popular passing chords that resolves to a major chord includes;

  • The dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord
  • The dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord
  • The dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord
  • The dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord
  • The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord
Dominant Thirteenth Suspended Fourth (Dom13sus4) Chord

The dominant thirteenth chord is made up of the root, third, fifth, flattened seventh ,nineth, 11th and 13th. For example using key C as the root, dominant 13th sus 4 chord can be voiced as lh-C F G Rh- Bb D A

Analysis of Dominant Thirteenth suspended fourth Chord

The dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord can be voiced by playing a major seventh chord a whole step below a given root note. For example C dominant thirteenth chord can be voiced by playing the Bb major which is a whole tone below the root over C (on the bass)

Application of Dominant Thirteenth suspended fourth Chord

The dominant thirteenth chord is one of those worship passing chords that resolve to major chords i.e it resolves to a major chord that is fourth above or fifth below its root. For example, the C dominant thirteenth resolves to a F major chord that’s a fourth above its root.
C dominant thirteenth suspended fourth resolves to any F major chord, which may include any of the follow; F major triad(FAC), F major seventh(FACE) and F major ninth(FACEG).

N:B Every other dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord on the keyboard can be resolved with the same procedure.

Dominant Seventh Flat Ninth (Dom7b9) Chord

The dominant seventh flat ninth chord is made up of the root, third, fifth, flattened seventh and flattened ninth. For example using key C as the root, dominant seventh flat ninth chord can be voiced as Lh-C E Rh- G Bb Db

Analysis of the Dominant Seventh Flat Ninth Chord
The dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord can be voiced by playing a diminished seventh chord a whole step below a given root note. For example C dominant seventh flat ninth chord can be voiced by playing Bb diminished which happens to a whole step below the root over C.

Application of dominant seventh flat Ninth Chord.
The dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord can easily be applied as a passing chord to a major chord that is a fourth above (or a fifth below) its root i.e a C dominant seventh flat Ninth Chord would resolve to any Fmajor chords(fmaj, famj seventh, fmaj ninth).

Dominant Thirteenth [Flat Ninth] (Dom13b9) Chord
The dominant thirteenth flat ninth chord is made up of the root, third, fifth, flattened seventh, flattened ninth and thirteenth. For example using key C as the root, dominant thirteenth flat ninth chord can be voiced as Lh-C E G Rh- Bb Db A

Analysis of the Dominant thirteenth flat ninth chord
The dominant thirteenth flat ninth chord which is a basically a dominant thirteenth with flattened ninth and omitted eleventh can be voiced by playing a diminished major seventh chord that is a whole step below a given root note. For example C dominant thirteenth flat ninth chord can be voiced by playing Bb diminished major seventh chord which is a whole tone below the root over C (bass)

NB: The eleventh tone of the dominant thirteenth flat ninth chord is usually omitted. In the case of the C dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord the Eleventh(F) is omitted.

Application Of dominant Thirteenth flat ninth chord
The dominant thirteenth flat ninth chord resolves to a major chord that is a fourth above (or a fifth below) its root. For example C dominant thirteenth flat ninth chord would resolve to any F major chord.

The dominant thirteenth added ninth (Dom13add9) chord

The dominant thirteenth add ninth chord is made up of the root, third, fifth, flattened seventh, ninth and thirteenth. For example using key C as the root, dominant thirteenth flat added ninth chord can be voiced as Lh-C Rh- Bb D E A

Analysis Of Dominant thirteenth Added Ninth Voicing
The dominant thirteenth added ninth chord can be voiced by playing a major seventh flat fifth that is a whole step below a given root note. For example C dominant thirteenth added ninth can be voiced by playing Bb major seventh flat fifth which is a whole tone below the root over C (bass)

Application Of The Dominant Thirteenth Add Ninth Chord
The dominant thirteenth add ninth resolves to a major chord that is a fourth above (or a fifth below) its root. Therefore, the C dominant thirteenth add ninth chord resolves to a major chord that is a fifth below its root which is F major.

Dominant Thirteenth Sharp Eleventh (Dom13#11) Chord
The dominant thirteenth sharp eleventh chord is made up of the root, third, fifth, flattened seventh, ninth, sharp eleventh and thirteenth. For example using key C as the root, dominant thirteenth sharp eleventh chord can be voiced as Lh-C E G Rh- Bb D F# A

Analysis Of Dominant Thirteenth Sharp Eleventh Chord Voicing
The dominant thirteenth sharp eleventh chord can be voiced by playing an augmented major seventh chord a whole step below a given root note. For example, C dominant thirteenth sharp eleventh chord can be voiced by playing Bb augmented major seventh chord that’s a whole step below the root C.

Application Of The Dominant Thirteenth Sharp Eleventh Chord
The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord resolves to a major chord that’s a fourth above or fifth below its root. For example, the C dominant thirteenth sharp eleventh chord resolves to a F major chord that’s a fourth above its root.

For more information on passing chord click here and also watch the video tutorial below

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