Loading the player...

Tom Quayle - Introducing Tri-Tone Substitution

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 14 **

Hi guys and welcome to my guitar lesson. Previously, we’ve been expanding out harmonic palette by studying the hugely important II-V-I chord progression, starting with the basic form before moving onto expanding the progression through a major key with secondary II-V-I movements. In this rhythm guitar lesson we’ll be learning another cool guitar technique for expanding our palette even further. This technique is known as ‘Tri-Tone Substitution’ and sounds a lot more complex than it actually is.

Before we continue, let me just re-iterate that nothing in music is like rocket science even though, at times, we may use fairly complex names for some of the concepts. Tri-tone substitution is no exception to this so don’t be afraid of the name, just take a deep breath and all will be revealed.

A tri-tone interval is exactly what it says - the musical distance of three tones. You can find a tri-tone interval on your guitar in a couple of ways. The first is to count up three tones from your starting note and since a tone is two frets this will give you a distance of six frets. The other, and more useful way, is to find your root note and simply go up a fret and up a string giving you something that looks like a flattened power chord (also known as a b5 interval).

Tri-tone substitution refers to the idea that we can take an existing V chord (a dominant 7th chord) and substitute another dominant 7th chord in its place up a tri-tone. Let’s look at an example and then I’ll explain why this works. In our basic II-V-I in C major (Dm7 – G7 – Cmaj7) we get a G7 for the V chord. If we go up a tri-tone from G we get the note C# or Db and can use a dominant 7th chord from this new note instead of the original G7. This would give us the progression Dm7 - Db7 - Cmaj7. Notice how the root movement is now going down in semitones giving a smoother sound to the progression.

The reason this works is due to the construction of dominant 7th chords. Our G7 chord contains a tri-tone interval already thanks to its F and B notes – the 7th and 3rd respectively. The Db7 chord also contains these two notes but they are now the 3rd and 7th of the chord instead. Only the root note has changed and it is this common tri-tone interval that glues the two chords together meaning that they can be exchanged with one another freely. The tri-tone interval within both chords acts as a leading tension that resolves when followed by the Cmaj7 chord. Try it for yourself, playing each V chord starting with the G7 and then repeat the progression with the Db7 instead.

You’ll hear that both chords lead very successfully to the Cmaj7 I chord. In the video example I use a Db9 chord to add a bit of colour to the chord but you can use almost any dominant 7th chord type as long as it includes the notes B and F leading into the Cmaj7 chord. Simply use your ears as a guide.

The technique can also be with minor II-V-I progressions in exactly the same way to produce a tri-tone substituted minor II-V-I. I’ve written some examples out for you in the Tablature so you check these sounds out immediately.

We’ll deal with how to solo over these kind of progressions at a later stage, where you’ll need to develop a more intimate knowledge of dominant 7th chords and their related scales, but for now try using tri-tone substitutions in your playing and practice slowly to make it a solid part of your repertoire.

See you next time for more harmonic madness!

Good luck,

Tom


Up Next

Tom Quayle - Developing Tri-Tone Substitutions and Endings

This Tom Quayle jazz guitar lesson gives you further ideas for using Tri-tone Substitutions to ...

Tom Quayle - Introducing Tri-Tone Substitution

What is Tri-Tone Substitution and how do I use it? Tom Quayle leads you through ...

You May Like

Andy James - Metal Edge Part 1: 10 Pentatonic Shred Licks

Andy James teaches 10 ground breaking fast pentatonic shred guitar licks in this metal guitar ...

Nick Jennison - Creating Drums On Acoustic Guitar

In this percussive acoustic guitar techniques lesson, Nick Jennison shows you how to emulate drums ...

Sam Bell - Extended Range Secrets Part 2: Seven String Guitar Approaches

Sam Bell continues our series of 7 string metal guitar lessons, stepping into the world ...

Nick Jennsion - Extended Range Secrets Part 1

Nick Jennison steps into the world of extended range guitars with this exclusive 7 string ...

Nick Jennison - An Introduction To Slide Guitar

Get started with slide guitar playing in this beginners guide to slide guitar with Nick ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 17: Englishman In New York

Learn how to play this amazing fingerstyle guitar arrangement of Englishman In New York by ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 11: Using Simple Syncopated Rhythm Parts In Arrangements

In this rhythm guitar lesson, Sam Bell shows you how to create space within your ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 18: Lullaby

Take this fingerstyle guitar lesson and learn how to play the beautiful solo classical guitar ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 16: Yesterday

Giorgio Serci teaches you how to play The Beatles classic Yesterday as a full fingerstyle ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 9: Chordal Tapping Extensions

Learn how to play the fundamentals of chordal tapping guitar techniques with this great guitar ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 15: The Lonely Man

Giorgio Serci teaches you how to play The Lonely Man for classical guitar; made famous ...

Danny Gill - Pentatonic Sequences That Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere, And On Any Song Part 3

Rejuvenate your pentatonic guitar soloing with these great guitar exercises, sequences and routines in this ...

Chris Buck - Rock & Soul Part 5: Play With Repetition Part 2

Chris Buck presents you with more reasons to use repetition in your guitar solos as ...

Danny Gill - Pentatonic Sequences That Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere, And On Any Song Part 2

Uncover some game changing pentatonic sequences and guitar licks with the help of Danny Gill ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 14 - Momentum (aka Matteo)

Giorgio Serci takes you through his fingerstyle guitar composition Momentum in this creative acoustic guitar ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 8: Using Triads To Create Melodic Movement Within A Part

Add a sense of melody and movement to your rhythm guitar parts using triads. In ...

Danny Gill - Pentatonic Sequences That Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere, And On Any Song Part 1

Play more interesting pentatonic guitar licks and runs with the power of scale sequences. Danny ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 13: A Walk In The Park

The jazz influenced fingerstyle solo guitar piece A Walk In The Park is taught by ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 7: Spread Triads

Sam Bell gives you an insight into modern guitar chord voicings using spread triads to ...

1 2 3 18
Top magnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram