Nov 16, 2023

Are these the best substitutes for the V chord?

These are the most powerful and intense substitutes for the V chord...

Are these the best substitutes for the V chord?

And they're easy to use!

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Find all my chord related posts here: Chord Tips and Tricks

Related Lessons:

I reference here some things from these previous lessons.
  1. Learn how to harmonize a scale with chords: Where so Chord Progressions Come From (with Video) 
  2. Reharmonizing with Jazz Chords: How to 'Jazz up' any progression (with video)
  3. Any Chord can be A Dominant: Chord Substitution Tricks: Any Chord can be a Dominant (with video)
  4. Tritone Subs: Chord Substitution Tricks: How to use the Tritone Substitute - Super easy and they sound amazing! (with video)
  5. 5 Ways to use Diminished chords: Create Drama and Suspense with these Amazing Chords

We learned about some really wild chords in my Spookiest Creepiest Chords lesson and many of those chords aren't just spooky creepy chords - they're very usable and very popular - all can be found frequently in jazz and popular music!

The creepiness' is because they are dissonant - and dissonant chords are a powerful tool you can use to set the mood and create tension in music.

Our sub's here are embellished (extended) versions of the original chord.

Here we're going to talk about some of my favorites - these are the most powerful and intense substitutes for the V chord - the b9 (flat 9) and the b9b5 (flat 9 flat 5).

The most intense pull to the I chord comes from the b9.

Dominant 7b9

First we look at the dominant 7b9 - If you take any dominant 9 chord and lower the 9th tone you get a dominant 7b9. You'll notice the form you get when you do this is is the diminished 7 chord form!

Take a look at your dominant 9's:
Are these the best substitutes for the V chord?
Now look what happens when we flatten each 9th (lower it 1/2 step):
Are these the best substitutes for the V chord?
GRAB YOUR (PDF) DOMINANT 7b9 CHORD CHARTS HERE (Charts show DOMINANT 7b9 chords all the way up the neck).

Look at that!
Every chord shares the exact same shape - just like the diminished 7 chords  - and the same shape too!

These are considered altered dominant chords (because we've flattened the 9th tone). The rules for substitution are a little different - we learned before that any chord can be a dominant, this is not considered a dominant it's an altered dominant, typically altered dominants are not used for the I chord although exceptions can be found in popular music. Usually an altered dominant can be used for a I chord if it's preceded by an unaltered dominant.

Let's take a look at this in a progression.

Here's our progression: Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 

First - We'll spice it up with some chords we've looked at before. We'll use a Dm11 for the ii chord (the Dm7) - The minor 11 is one of the best subs for minor chord, often overlooked, it's one of the most beautiful minor sub's. We'll use a  Cmaj9 for the I chord (the Cmaj7). And then we'll use the 7b9 for the V chord (the G7).

Here we go...
Are these the best substitutes for the V chord?
Notice how the b9 (flat 9) creates an intense pull to the I chord.

Use the 7b9 as a sub for the V chord any time (as long as the b9 dose not clash with the melody (vocal part) of the song)

Dominant 7b5b9

Even more intense with a b5 and a b9 - the 7b5b9...

Now if we take our 7b9 chord and flatten the 5th (lower it 1/2 step) we get our 7b5b9  chord - you'll notice these are the same shapes as our dominant 7 chords...

No new shapes here to learn at all - just re-purposing some shapes you already know! 
Are these the best substitutes for the V chord?

GRAB YOUR (PDF) DOMINANT 7b5b9 CHORD CHARTS HERE (Charts show DOMINANT 7b5b9 chords all the way up the neck).

When you use a 7b5b9 for the V chord (G7b5b9) you get exactly the same chord as the TRITONE SUB (Db7  is the TRITONE SUB of G7)!

A G7b5b9 is the same chord shape and has the same notes as the Db7 -  which is the TRITONE SUB of G7
As you know from my lesson on TRITONE SUBS - they are very in tense, wild and different.

An entirely different flavor than many other subs (or embellishments).

If you want a SUB from the wild side this is it - sub any V chord with a 7b5b9 and you'll know their socks off!

Check it out:
Are these the best substitutes for the V chord?
Honorable mention here would be the dominant 7b5 - dissonant but not quite as intense as what we've talked about here with the b9's. That might be something else you'd like to try too...

GRAB YOUR (PDF) DOMINANT 7b5 CHORD CHARTS HERE (Charts show DOMINANT 7b5 chords all the way up the neck).

Have fun - try these with some V chords...


Learn more about how to simplify chords here with my book "Ukulele Chord Tricks: Simplify Any Chord"

To learn how to create beautiful chord progressions in any key - get my "Secrets of the Chord Chain" books.

FREE PDF's - Chord book and all scales harmonized with chords (with related articles):

Drop a comment to let me know what you think or how you're using these.

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