Good Chord Books

Maybe one day I'll write my own big book of chords, but chords are much harder than scales so until that day I thought it might be useful to make a list of useful things that are out there.

A Quick Bitonal Trick

Here's a kind of cheap trick using coscales, because sometimes you just want a good sound without having to work through reams of stuff to get it.

What Does "Building New Harmonic Vocabulary" Mean?

For a while here I've been publishing page after page of chords, which is something I hardly ever used to do. It's probably time for an explanation.

Scriabin's "Extase" Chord and Some Relatives

Early twentieth century harmony was characterised by (among other things) the whole-tone scale. Here I consider one idea, from Alexander Scriabin's Poem of Ecstacy, involving some chords that will be familiar to jazz musicians but in a somewhat different context, and of course expanding the idea to see where it takes us.

Chords from Sucharitra

I haven't played much with Sucharitra but today I worked out a few basic harmonizations -- in thirds, fourths and seconds, basically -- and I liked the sounds.

Some Messiaen-like Chords

I've always enjoyed Messiaen's chords without really knowing what's going on with them, so today I looked at an article about them and cooked up some chords of my own inspired by it.

The "Minor Up A Minor Third" Trick

OK it's not really a "trick" but I've been using this a lot lately so I thought it was worth a note. The idea is that on a C minor you can pivot to Eb minor, and in general substituting "the minor up the minor third" sounds nice and unexpected.

Derek Bailey Style Chords with Harmonics

I've been revisiting some Derek Bailey recordings lately and realised I never really worked on one of his most distinctive sounds: combining normal fretted notes with natural harmonics. These fascinating effects can be harsh, percussive or shimmeringly beautiful, and the technique can be applied outside Bailey's own very idiosyncratic style.

Learning the Maj 7 b5 and Maj 7 #5 Arpeggios

These are two chord/arpeggio structures that come up pretty often once you stray far from the major scale. They also sound great, so they're well worth committing to memory.

"Star Eyes" Harmonic Major Reharm

Yes, I'm on a reharmonization theme at the moment. Here's one using the Harmonic Major subs suggested in this post. In each case the original chord is subbed with one or two chords made from the appropriate Harmonic Major mode using the ones in the mode that aren't in the original chord.