Jazz Piano Tutorial – Passing Chords and Approach Chords

Jazz Piano
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This Jazz Piano Tutorial is about passing chords. I describe what they are, how they are used, why they are used and go through a number of examples of types of passing chords you can use.

Passing chords are literally that, chords that you pass through. They are chords that are not important to the harmony. They can be inserted at any time after the first beat of a bar, which is usually the non-passing important chord. Passing chords are often used just before a chord change.

A specific type of passing chord is called an approach chord. This is a passing chord that is either 1 or 2 semitones away from the next chord.

Below is a quick recap of the lesson:
Chord Prog – | C | Dm |
1 Tritone (of past chord) – | C Gb7 | Dm |
2 Tritone (of future chord) – | C Ab7 | Dm |
3 Diatonic – | C Em | Dm |
4 Approach #1 (semitone) – | C Db7 | Dm |
5 Approach #2 (semitone) – | C Eb7 | Dm |
6 Diminished #1 – | C Dbdim7 | Dm |
7 Diminished #2 – | C Ebdim7 | Dm |
8 Dominant – | C D7 | Dm |
9 Secondary V – | C A7 | Dm |
10 Secondary II, V – | C Em7 A7 | Dm |

As an example of a passing chord, I use the song ‘All of Me’
Basic Chord Progression
C7 | C7 | E7 | E7 | A7 | A7 | Dm7 | Dm7 |
E7 | E7 | Am7 | Am7 | D7 | D7 | Dm7 | G7 |

With Passing Chords just before each chord change
C7 | C7 Dm7 | E7 | E7 Bb7 | A7 | A7 Em7b5 A7 | Dm7 | Dm7 D#dim |
E7 | E7 Bm7b5 | Am7 | Am7 Ab7 | D7 | D7 Ab7 | Dm7 Ddim | G7 Db7 |

With Passing Chords ever half bar
C7 C#dim | Dm7 D#dim | E7 CM7 | Bm7b5 E7 | A7 Ab7 | A7 G7 | Dm7 C#dim | Dm7 D#dim |
E7 F7 | G7 G#7 | Am7 E7 | Ab7 Eb7 | D7 D#dim | D7 Em7b5 | Dm7 Ddim | G7 Db7 |

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