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Tri Tone Subs

Discussion in 'Ask David Overthrow' started by bluesbass99, Apr 30, 2010.


  1. bluesbass99

    bluesbass99

    Jun 14, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Can anyone explain exactly what a tri-tone sub and when it would be appropriate to use it? Everything I have read has been somewhat confusing to me. Thanks.
     
  2. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    A tritone substitution is the substitution of one chord with another chord whose root is a tritone (i.e., three whole steps) away from the root of the original chord.

    For example, if you have a C7 chord (C E G Bb), a tritone substitute could be a Gb7 chord (Gb Bb Db Fb).

    One of the reasons that tritone substitutes can be effective is that they share two common notes. The third and seventh of the C7 chord are E and Bb. Those same notes are the seventh and third of the Gb7 chord.

    Tritone substitutions can provide nice chromatic movement. For example, look at a typical I-vi7-ii7-V7 progression:

    CMaj7 | Amin7 | Dmin7 | G7 | CMaj7

    If you use a tritone substitute for the V7 chord, you get the following progression:

    CMaj7 | Amin7 | Dmin7 | Db7 | CMaj7

    I'm sure that others can provide a more thorough explanation, but I hope this helps.
     
  3. bluesbass99

    bluesbass99

    Jun 14, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Perfect explanation. Thank you Febs.
     
  4. Looks like this is covered. I would just add that tritone subs only involve dominant chords (because they are the only chord with a tritone interval between the 3rd and 7th) and it's called a tritone sub because each chord contains the same tritone interval (formed by the 3rd and 7th of each chord).

    Once you start adding the relative two chords before the tritone subs it gets even better.

    For example

    C A7 D7 G7
    C A7 Ab7 G7 - This is with one tritone sub

    C Em7 A7 Ebm7 Ab7 D-7 G7 With relative ii chords of each dom.7


    Best,
    -D
     
  5. bluesbass99

    bluesbass99

    Jun 14, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks Dave. Now it is even clearer. BTW, I have several of your instructional books. Great books. I like the way you approach things.
     
  6. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
  7. Arch1medes

    Arch1medes

    Nov 14, 2009
    Can somebody provide a example or link to a video/audio sample of a tri-tone sub being used musically? I get the theory but I'm struggling with the application...

    Thanks
     
  8. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Measure 6 of Satin Doll. ("Out cattin', that satin doll.")
     

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