SUSPENDED Substitutions: Make Your CHORD PROGRESSIONS Sound Special

From Musical IDEAS To SECTIONS To SONG [The Number One Problem Of Songwriters]

Tommaso Zillio

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suspended chord substitutions

Do you like it when your chord progressions sound good?

(How’s that for a loaded question? Hehehe…)

If your answer is yes, I have a great trick to instantly make your chord progressions sound more lush, and brilliant and atmospheric…

… and if your answer is no, well, this will still be massively helpful as you will know exactly what not to do If you don’t want your chord progressions to sound good ;-)

This will involve sus4 chords, which, if you don’t already know, are triads built from a root, its fourth, and its fifth.

“Tommaso, I learned about sus4 chords when I was 6 years old. What kind of tip is this?”

Well, dissenting disembodied voice, hold your horses. I haven’t finished explaining yet.

This isn’t about just replacing a triad with a sus4 or something obvious like that.

This is a really interesting substitution that I’m willing to bet you haven’t seen before - and you can hear it at the very beginning of the video - so even if you don’t like it, you are losing what, 16 seconds of your life? ;-)

(Oh, and if you have seen it before, then you can write a completely earned comment about how smart you are for knowing this trick before I explained it to you, win-win!)

So, don’t wait around, and go at the link below to learn all about this awesome sus4 substitution trick that you can use in your music immediately.

Does this all sound like a bunch of nonsense? Or maybe it makes sense, but you’d like to further your understanding of chords and harmony?

If either is true, then check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course to skyrocket your knowledge of chords and harmony on guitar!

Video Transcription

Hello internet. So nice to see you today I’m going to show you what I call the suspended substitution. Basically, you’re going to take any kind of chord and any chord progression, and then put on top suspended fourth chords that work well with the chord progression you are playing and create these kinds of atmospheric effect. Now, just to be clear, what I just played came from a very simple chord progression, it came from these chord progression, which is C, G, A minor F.

Super simple chord progression, and adding the suspended substitution created the wonderful chords I played at the very beginning. So if you’re curious to see how I did it, and you want to do it with your own chord progression, follow me. And we’re gonna say it. First of all, what is a suspended fourth chord, it’s simply a chord made by a perfect fourth and a Perfect Fifth, meaning a C suspended fourth chord would be the C note, then the note a perfect fourth above an F, and the north a perfect fifth above, G.

And so it will sound this way. You want to play them on your guitar, you just need to learn those three shapes on the first three strings. And these will be enough for everything we do today, it will have the first shape the second shape, and the third shape, which could just be played an octave below. All those three shapes contain the exact same note C, F and G.

You see one of those notes is circled that’s the root of the chord we are going to use it because it’s going to help us figure out what suspended chord we are playing when we move the shape around. Now onto the substitution.

The substitution will work differently on major chord, minor chord and dominant chord as you guys know, there are only those three kinds of chords and you can see the video where I explain that on the top right, you’re gonna take these chord by chord, we’re gonna start with the minor chord because I love the sound that minor chord make.

Okay, today the A’s this on minor chord, you’re gonna play this suspended fourth chord built on the minor seventh of the chord. The minor seventh is the note that is two frets below the root. So for instance, if you had a C minor chord, the notes will be C, E flat G. The minor seven of C will be the note two frets below the root c go down to five and you’ll find a B flat.

So I have to play the C chord and B flat suspended fourth on top. Rather than playing the full C chord, I’m just gonna play the root it’s easier on the guitar to do it this way. So I’m gonna play a C note as my bass note, and I’m gonna play a B flat suspended for the B flat suspended for will have notes B flat, E flat, and F those are respectively this seventh, the minor third and fourth of the original minor chord.

So for the one of you who are overly fond of chord notes, I’m gonna play essentially a C minor 11th chord, but who cares about the names. How do I play that so I’m gonna have the low strings, I’m gonna play the C note and then on the top three strings, I’m gonna play the B flat sus four chord using the three shape before I end up with three possible playable shapes to play this chord one is these other one is these and then other one is these but they can also become these if I play this root on the fourth string, so rather than playing a standard minor chord, or we just play one of those shapes, again, I’m just playing B flat suspended fourth on top of the original C minor chord and I’m just playing the root of the original C minor chord I will let other instruments play more if some other instrument play the full C minor chord the whole thing will work together beautifully there will be no conflict between the notes.

So if I take now a typical jazzy chord progression if you want a typical thing between jazz is the biggest play for instance a minor seven B minor seven so two minor seven chord that move two frets apart and we sound this way.

Just beautiful. Let’s see what we do instead on major chords. On major chord, we use a similar strategy, we still play a suspended fourth chord on top of a major chord but this time we build a suspended chord on the major third of the major chord. So if I have a C major chord, I know it’s our C, E, G, then Major Third is E, and on top of it, I’m playing an E suspended fourth chord.

The E suspended fourth chord contains the following note E, A and B, which are respectively the third sixth and major seventh of the major chord. So for the overly fond of names people among you, this is a major seven slash six chord. But again, who cares about names. Let’s see how it sounds. Using the three shapes for the sus four chord on the first three strings and playing the C note at the base I end up with those playable shape for the substitution.

All we did was on the fourth string all beautiful playable shape. If I take a very simple chord progression made by the chord C and F that normally would sound this way.

And they use those chord shapes I’ve just seen I ended up with something beautiful.

What to do with dominant chords, we need to distinguish at this point between two subclasses of dominant chords, the ultra dominant chords and the non Ultra dominant chord. Now if you want the jazzy sounds super atmospheric always assume that the dominant is altered, but I’m providing the other version too in case the ultra dominant sound, it’s too dissonant for the song you are doing.

So let’s see first the ultra dominant sound on an ultra dominant you will play the suspended fourth chord built on the minor third of the chord so for instance on C seven that we know it’s outdated, we assume it’s outdated.

The minor third will be the E flat note so we’ll play the E flat suspended fourth E flat suspended for it is made by the notes E flat a flat B flat and those notes will be classified as the sharp nine sharp five and seven of the alternate chord the possible playable shapes for these ultra seven chords.

Or with the root on the fourth string that is quite a stretch by the way but it’s playable so you can use it if you want to. I think this voicing on the fourth with the with on the fourth string sounds absolutely beautiful since all the notes are close by if the dominant chord instead is not altered, you will build the suspended fourth chord on the major sixth of the chord.

So if you have a C seven and you expect this to be not altered, then we’ll take the major six which is a and play on top the a suspended fourth made by the notes a D and E which are respectively the major sixth the ninth and the third of the chord so you get a six nine chord so for this C seven the playable shapes will be those that’s quite a structure right there are you can have these which is an alternate shape for the same thing or you can have these are finally you can have this or even this it really depends which one sounds best for you.

So again, whenever you have a dominant chord you need to pick between the altered and non-altered version. And I would recommend you guys do it simply by ear. Just try both version and see which one you like best. No point in getting bogged down by theory when we are already doing substitutions, which you still judge by ear every time you do because after all your ear is more intelligent than any kind of mathematics you can do with music theory.

So let’s see an example template on how to use all these and let’s take a chord progression and specifically, let’s take the chord progression we had at the beginning. So the original chord progression, it’s very simple. It’s the super common pop chord progression, C major, G major, A minor, F major. Let’s identify the chord now C major is clearly a major chord, G major is not really a major chord because it’s the fifth chord of the key and so we should consider it a dominant chord. Yeah, little trickier.

If it’s the fifth chord in the key is a dominant not major, the next chord, A minor, it’s a minor chord, and last chord, F, E major chord. Fantastic. So let’s see what suspended chord we have to play on on major chords. So on C and F, I need to play the suspended fourth chord on the major third of the chord.

So C major I’m gonna play the E suspended fourth chord and on F major, the major third is a and then playing the a suspended fourth chord on eg the dominant chord, I need to decide if it’s accurate or not. And they say let’s assume it’s halted because it simply sounds more spicy. On dominant altered chords, I play the suspended fourth chord built on the minor third of the chord.

So on G, the minor third is B flat, and so I’m gonna play a B flat suspended for it on top. Finally, on a minor, I played the suspended fourth chord built on the seventh of the chord, which is G, so I’m going to play the G suspended fourth chord. Now you can use any of the ship we seen before for any of the chord one possible realization is this.

With just sounds wonderful. And if you want to go ahead like I was doing at the beginning, you can repeat the same exact position or move the position around using the different shape every time, because for instance, for the C major chord with the substitution, I can play this position.

But I can also play these other positions. And they don’t sound exactly the same, they sound slightly different. And so with that, I can create a bit of variation. So I can keep playing the same chord progression over and over by changing the position of the chord every time so that it doesn’t sound like I’m repeating the same four chord which is what I did in the beginning.

So with this trick, you can pick any chord progression and making sound absolutely amazing. This is the great word of substitution, you can take anything and transform it and make it sound amazing in different ways. And that’s just one possible trick.

There are so many more that allow you to morph your chord progression into something absolutely astounding, depending on how you want to sound if you want to know more about substitution, and how to use them on guitar and become an absolute master of these. I recommend you guys check out my course complete chord mastery, complete chord mastery.

It’s not a book. It’s a complete video course that takes you from the basics up. We do everything you need to know about harmony and chords on your guitar. All the theory is done straight on the fretboard. There is no theory for the sake of theory here. Everything is immediately practical. And everything is developed through exercises so you know how to apply these immediately on your guitar. If you have just a minute click on the link on the top right to check out complete chord mastery.

If you liked this video, smash that like button and don’t forget to subscribe and click on notification otherwise YouTube will not let you know when I put up a new video. And if you have any comments, feedback, suggestions, write them down in the comment. I enjoy reading from you and they make videos on your suggestions. This is the Tommaso Zillio of, and until next time, enjoy.

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