Exotic Chord Substitution For An A Minor Chord

in Bass Lessons/Bass Technique/Learning Concepts/Musical Vocabulary

This concept offers a simple method for creating tension and release during your bass solos or while walking bass. It also creates a logical structure for adding chromaticism to your bass playing.

This concept is really easy to grasp and will get you playing outside notes quickly.

It requires minimal thinking and you’ll sound awesome every singe time.

Know Your Target Notes

For this bass lesson, we will explore a chord substitution for an A minor chord and expand on a single concept to create some really exotic sounds.

A basic chord substitution that sounds great over an A minor chord is the sound of a C major chord.

The notes of a C major chord are C, E, G, and B.

As long as you are creating a C major chord sound (using the notes C, E, G, and B as target notes), then any other note will sound good.

First, listen to a basic example of a bass solo, using a C major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B).

Notice how natural the notes sound. Notice the natural tension created by this basic scale.

Now, let’s explore this A minor chord by altering our C major scale.

For this example, we will flat the 2 of the C major scale, giving you these notes: C, Db, E, F, G, A, B.

The same bass solo will be played. The only difference is that all notes that are D will be replaced by Db.

When played over an A minor chord, the Db (or C#) is a major third. Notice that even though a “wrong note” is being played, it still sounds good.

This next example, adds another alteration to the same scale, by flatting the 6.

These are the notes being played in this bass solo: C, Db, E, F, G, Ab, B.

When this scale is played over an A minor chord, Ab (or G#) is the major seventh. This note creates strong tension that wants to resolve to the tonic note A.

Instead of flatting notes, let’s hear what happens when we raise notes.

Using the C major scale, we will raise the 2nd and get these notes: C, D#, E, F, G, A, B.

The D# creates an almost diminished sound when played over the A minor chord.

Let’s expand on this further and raise the 4th. These are the notes we will explore: C, D#, E, F#, G, A, B.

The F# creates a minor add6 sound to the A minor chord.

To make things more interesting, we’ll raise notes and flat notes. Listen to how these notes (C, D#, E, F#, G, Ab, B) interact with an A minor chord.

Explore every possible option for this concept to expand your melodic freedom on the bass.

Remember, a basic major chord sound (starting on the b3 of your minor chord) is a good substitution for your minor chords.

To satisfy a major chord sound,you have to focus your melodies on 1, 3, 5, and 7 of your major chord.

Any note between 1, 3, 5, and 7 of your chord substitution can be played! Just don’t alter your 1, 3, 5, and 7.


If you’re fascinated by chord substitutions, then you might be interested in this:

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