Piano Passing Chords

How to Play Passing Chords on the Piano


Passing Chords

Passing chords are related chords to the tonality that are used in music composition to create variety and continuity. We can use Secondary Dominant and Dominant Substitutes and their relative minors as passing chords. On this new piano tutorial video article we are going to concentrate on the 12 Dominant Chords of the Tonality.

The 12 Dominant Passing Chords​

We can play a dominant chord for each diatonic chord of the major scale.
C7 – D7 – E7 – F7 – G7 – A7 – B7

And we can also play a dominant chord for each of the chromatic notes (black piano keys)
Db7 – Eb7 – Gb7 – Ab7 – Bb7

That means that we have all 12 dominant chords of the chromatic scale that we can use as passing tones on the tonality. To be able to understand their use, we need to understand the function of these dominant chords and their relationship to the tonality.

The Main Dominant Chord of the Major Mode

IMaj7 – IIm7 – IIIm7 – IVMaj7 – V7 – VIm7 – VIIm7b5

The main Dominant chord forms over the 5th degree of the major scale, the principal dominant to the tonality resolves to a 5th below its root. G7 resolves to IMaj7

The Secondary Dominants

The Secondary Dominant, or dominant relatives of the tonality are the ones that form over the diatonic notes of the major scale, except the V degree G7 which is the main dominant of the tonality and the 4th degree F7 which is the Subdominant of the Blues. The Dominant Relatives, just like the main dominant, resolve to a 5th below their root.

I7 (C7) (Root of the Blues). Dominant Relative V7/IV

The I7 is the Tonic of the Blues that is used along with the F7 and the G7. But also the I7 is the Dominant Relative of the 4th degree V7/IV. In the key of C that is C7. C7 resolves to FMaj7.

II7 (D7) Dominant Relative V7/V

The II7 is the Dominant Relative of the 5th degree V7/V. D7 resolves to G7.

​III7 (E7) Dominant Relative V7/VI

The III7 is the Dominant Relative of the 6th degree V7/VI. E7 resolves to Am.

VI7 (A7) Dominant Relative V7/II

The VI7 is the Dominant Relative of the 2nd degree V7/II. A7 resolves to Dm.

​VII7 (B7) Dominant Relative V7/III

The VII7 is the Dominant relative of the 3rd degree V7/III. B7 resolves to Em.

The Dominant Substitutes

Any Dominant Chord can be substituted with another dominant a Tritone away from its root. For example, G7 can be replaced by Db7. Therefore Db7 is the Dominant Substitute of G7 Sub V7/I. The Dominant Substitutes Resolve half step down since they resolve to the same destination than their relative.

​bII7 (Db7) Dominant Substitute SubV7/I

The bII7 is the Dominant Substitute of the main dominant G7 that resolves to the root. Db7 resolves to C.

bIII7 (Eb7) Dominant Substitute SubV7/II

The bIII7 is the Dominant Substitute of the dominant A7 that resolves to the 2nd degree Dm. Eb7 resolves to Dm.

bV7 (Gb7) Dominant Substitute SubV7/IV

The bV7 is the Dominant Substitute of the dominant C7 that resolves to the 4th degree F. Gb7 resolves to FMaj7.

bVI7 (Ab7) Dominant Substitute SubV7/V

The bVI7 is the Dominant Substitute of the dominant D7 that resolves to the 5th degree G7. Ab7 resolves to G7.

bVII7 (Bb7) Dominant Substitute SubV7/VI

The bVII7 is the subdominant minor, but it can also be used as a Dominant Substitute of the dominant of the 6th degree E7. Bb7 resolves to Am.