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Personal Piano Professor, Issue#017 --Tritone Substitutions and Misty
June 01, 2013
Hello again!!

Tritone Substitutions and Play "Misty"

Hi every one.

Once again , thank you for your interest in these free online lessons. I sincerely hope that you are experiencing all the great benefits learning to play keyboards has to offer.

Special thanks to all of you who have taken the time to write in and ask questions and offer suggestions.

Tritone substitution

Tritone substitution is not difficult to understand and once you begin to use this harmonic device it adds a lot of options to your musical pallet.

I was using tritone substitutions long before I ever heard the term or understood what they were.

Playing general business gigs for a lot of years I read a lot of chord charts and we had to come up with interesting endings to songs on the fly.

I quickly learned that at the end of a song to make things interesting I could land on the bII7 chord for a bit before resolving to the Tonic or 1 chord.

In the key of C, I would play a Db7 (C#7) chord before playing the final C chord.

Quite often in a C blues jam a Db7 or Ab7 chord would be used for a measure to resolve to the 1 or V7 chord.

If you have ever done either of those things, congratulations! you are a hip jazz musician using tritone substitutions!

What is a Tritone?

Play any note and the note three whole steps away and you will be playing a tritone,( tri= 3).

The interval created by these two notes is a flatted 5th or b5 interval.

You may often hear this interval refered to as a "diminished" (to make smaller) 5th as well as an augmented 4th.

Every dominant 7th chord has a tritone!

The tritone is the interval between the 3rd and 7th of any dominant 7th chord

Once you understand this, tritone substitution is easy.

It basically says that you can substitute the chord a tritone away for the chord you’re currently on. It works best with dominant chords but you can mess around with it on major and minor seventh chords as well.

For a more detailed explanation and video demonstration at the keyboard of tritones and tritone substitutions click on the link below for the entire lesson.

Tritone Substitution

Play "Misty" using tritone substitions.


In response to his request and keeping with our current lessons on tritone substitutions I created a lesson using The Errol Garner song "Misty" made famous by Johnny Mathis.

Why Learn to play Misty on piano?

The song is in the Key of Eb which I find to be a great key for fingering and common to many Jazz Standards.

Its filled with lots of opportunity to use your knowledge and skills from the on site lessons covering jazz chord progressions, chord extensions, and tritone substitutions.

Click on the link below to see the lesson on adding tritone substitutions to this classic song

Play Misty on Piano

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I want to remind you that many of the ideas for lessons come from those of you who contact me with questions. I encourage you to let me know what you need.

Also you can find a contact form on the site and suggest a song for a future lesson. Don't be shy. Let me know how i can help!!

I am grateful for all of you, and wish you the best success in your playing!!

Thanks, Greg

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