Passing chord

Passing chord in B from across the circle of fifths (tritone, see also tritone substitution): B7  Play .[1]
The circle of fifths drawn within the chromatic circle as a star dodecagon.[2]

In music, a passing chord is a nondiatonic chord that connects, or passes between, the notes of two diatonic chords.[3] "Any chord that moves between one diatonic chord and another one nearby may be loosely termed a passing chord. A diatonic passing chord may be inserted into a pre-existing progression that moves by a major or minor third in order to create more movement."[4] "'Inbetween chords' that help you get from one chord to another are called passing chords."[5]

For example in the chord progression:[4]

|Cmaj7     |Em7      |Dm7    |G7   |

the diatonic passing chord (Dm7) may be inserted:

|Cmaj7 Dm7 |Em7      |Dm7    |G7   |

or the chromatic passing chord (Ebm7) may be inserted:

|Cmaj7     |Em7 Ebm7 |Dm7    |G7   |

A chromatic passing chord is, "a chord that is not in the harmonized scale".[6]

Passing chords may be consonant or dissonant[7] and may include flat fifth substitution, scalewise substitution, dominant minor substitution, approach chords, and bass-line-directed substitution.[5]

See also

Further reading


  1. Shanaphy and Knowlton (1990). The Do It Yourself Handbook for Keyboard Playing, p.68. ISBN 0-943748-00-3.
  2. McCartin, Brian J. (1998). "Prelude to Musical Geometry", p. 364. The College Mathematics Journal 29, no. 5 (November): 354–70. (abstract) (JSTOR).
  3. Wyatt and Schroeder (2002). Hal Leonard Pocket Music Theory: A Comprehensive and Convenient Source for All Musicians, p.144. ISBN 0-634-04771-X.
  4. 1 2 Rawlins and Bahha (2005). Jazzology: The Encyclopedia of Jazz Theory for All Musicians, p.104. ISBN 0-634-08678-2.
  5. 1 2 Sokolow, Fred (2002). Jazzing It Up, p.9. ISBN 0-7935-9112-0.
  6. Berle, Arnie (1995). Understanding Chord Progressions for Guitar: Compact Music Guides Series, p.34. ISBN 0-8256-1488-0.
  7. Alfred White, William (1911). Harmony and Ear-Training, p.158. Silver, Burdett & Company.

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