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"Tritone substitutes" for minor chords?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by phxlbrmpf, Apr 21, 2006.

  1. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    Does tritone substitution really work with minor chords as well?

    I'm not the best "Jazz cat" out there (I can play Autumn Leaves :p ), but I've always been interested in how Jazz works and how I can use jazzy elements to spice up the stuff I write. I just came across this site:


    Is this true? I thought you could only do it with dominant seventh chords.
  2. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    diminished 7th chord can be used as 'transition' to any minor or major triad.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    If it sounds 'good'...anything works.
  4. olie


    Dec 16, 2002
    San Jose, CA
    I've always thought the relative minor/major thing was sort of like the tri tone substituion... of course it's very different...

  5. Hello phxlbrmp. Read what I wrote:
    Not just any minor chords, but those used as ii chords in ii-V-I progressions.

    Looks like you guys have a great forum going here. I'll have to drop in from time to time!

  6. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I wasn't talking about transitions, what I meant was: apparently, you can create more interesting-sounding (Jazz) chord progressions by substituting (say we're in C Major) G7 with Db7. If I substitute Dm7 with Abm7 (as that site suggests), will it still sound good?
  7. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Whether or not it sounds good depends on the context. You can probably make it sound pretty hip. However, you can't really make a tritone substition for a chord that doesn't have a tritone in it to begin with. What you're thinking of is really only done with dominant chords. Just creating a chord of the same quality as the previous one a tritone up does not a tritone substitution make. Kiwi Kid also mentioned diminished chords, which are great approach chords. For instance you can have Cmaj7 and D-7, and put a C#dim7 in between to have a great ascending resolution.

    Case in point for tritone subs: bridge to rhythm changes in key of Bb:

    normally: D7 G7 C7 F7

    Can become: D7 Db7 C7 B7

    You can apply the same thing to the I VI II V turnaround.
  8. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Try it. If you like it, keep it.
    To my ear, whether to use the tritone sub depends more on the resolution rather than the chord itself. Also, you can really over-do this effect pretty fast, less it probably better.
  9. True, but I think the link provided by the OP might have been getting something like this:

    For, say, a G7, you can often substitute Dm7-G7.

    The tritone sub for G7 would be Db7.

    If you perform the same "tritone operation" not on the G7 but on the Dm7-G7 sequence as a whole, you get Abm7-Db7. IMO it isn't so much that you're doing the tritone sub on the Dm7 as that you're doing the sub on both chords as a unit. You could maybe see the verse of Satin Doll as an example of this.

    This is a possibility that people sometimes use, but as you and others have said, whether it works in a given case depends on context and how you're hearing it. I agree with Basschuck that it's definitely possible to go to the well too often on this one.
  10. steveb98

    steveb98 [acct disabled - multiple aliases]

    Mar 15, 2006
    Venice, CA
    Tritone sub for 7th chords work because the tritone created by the third and seventh can be the third or seventh of either chord. No tritone in a minor 7th chord. So in general the answer to your question is no.

    A common sub for a minor7 is to replace it with a dominant 7th with same root. You hear it a lot in Blues/Gospel tunes. Play with that sound.
  11. Agreed. It's not really a substitution thing, but more of something that you would pre-arrange. Usually players can quickly catch on to tritone subs on dominant chords, but tritone subs of other chord types doesn't really make sense from a substitution perspective.
  12. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    It's called "the Tadd Dameron turnaround"(so named in Mark Levine's Jazz Theory).

    I-VI-II-V, say, G-E-A-D becomes G-Bb-Eb-Ab

    G = G
    Bb is the tritone of E
    Eb is the tritone of A
    Ab is the tritone of D
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Theory is cool stuff...sometimes it's all in the voicing of the chord-
    A chord with no Root, maybe using upper extensions with a well placed bass note, may create some needed interest/tension.
  14. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Okay, I didn't look at the link. That's just related II's to the 7 chords then.

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