Chromatic Harmony: Advanced Chord Progressions

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Chromatic Harmony: Add Some Flava to Your Music

Chromatic harmony is how you can take your music to the next level.

If you are a music creator (producer, artist, composer, songwriter), and you already know how to craft melodies and build chord progressions in a key, but you want to add more flava, color, interest, just something more to your harmonies, then chromatic harmony is the next skill for you to explore.

What is Chromatic Harmony?

Chromatic harmony refers to chords that come from outside the key a passage of music is in. These come in different varieties: modal mixture, borrowed chords, secondary chords, pivot chords, and many more. Maybe you’ve even heard these terms and want to know what they mean.

Changing keys also falls under the umbrella of chromatic harmony, and there’s more than one way to change keys, all with different expressive effects!

You’ll Take Your Music to the Next Level

In the Chromatic Harmony: Advanced Chord Progressions ebook, you’ll not only learn advanced music theory concepts, you’ll also learn the emotional impact these concepts have on your listeners.

For instance:

What is the Difference in Emotional Impact Between a Common-Tone Modulation and a Pivot Chord Modulation?

Pivot chord modulations tend to be subtler, smoother ways to change keys, whereas common-tone modulations are dramatic and abrupt. They’re meant to signal a clear break in the music.

Often, they occur where a new section of the music is about to begin like a bridge or a B section.

Chromatic Harmony Can Be Confusing to Learn Without Context

That’s why I’ve put it all together for you in this ebook.

You’ll be able to compare four different ways of changing keys and explore the different effects of each, so you can pick the best one for your music.

You’ll see how making some chords stronger (tonicization) can give your music a sense of forward momentum.

You’ll have prompts to explore each concept in practice.

Chromatic Harmony is for You If You:

  • Are a music lover who knows how to build chords and create basic chord progressions (Tonic, Pre-Dominant, Dominant, Tonic). If not, catch up with Chord Progressions: Cadences to Key Changes
  • Can read sheet music or piano rolls easily
  • Are an explorer. You’re up for a challenge, especially if it means you can connect with more people musically!

What's Inside?

Table of Contents:

Introduction 1

What, Exactly, is Chromaticism? 1

Roman Numeral and Figured Bass Review 2

Functional Harmony Review 2
Figured Bass 4
The Basic Phrase Model 6
Pre-Dominant Function 7
The Circle of Fifths 8
Chromatic Harmony 9

Section 1: Secondary Chords 10

Secondary Functions and Tonicizations 10
Tonicization Versus Modulation 10
Secondary Dominants 12
Secondary Dominants in F Major and F Minor 13
Secondary Dominants in Context 14
How to Create Secondary Dominant Chords 15
Leading into Secondary Dominant Chords 16
Practice Creating Secondary Dominant Chords 17
Secondary Leading Tone Chords 19
Secondary Leading Tone Chords in E Major and Minor 19
Secondary Leading Tone Chords in Context 20
How to Create Secondary Leading Tone Chords 21
Practice Creating Secondary Leading Tone Chords 21
Sequences With Secondary Chords 23
The Circle of Fifths Sequence With Secondary Chords 23
Descending Third Sequence 26
Ascending Second Sequence 28
Closely Related Keys 30

Section 2: Modulation I 30

Modulation Versus Tonicization 30
Diatonic and Chromatic Modulation 30
Diatonic Pivot Chord (Common-Chord) Modulation 32
Analysis and Notation 32
Diatonic Pivot Chord Modulation in Context 33
Practice Creating Diatonic Pivot Chord Modulations 36
How to Create a Diatonic Pivot Chord Modulation 36
Common-Tone Modulation 38
Common-Tone Modulation in Context 39
Analysis and Notation 39
How to Create Common-Tone Modulations 40
Practice Creating Common-Tone Modulation 41

Section 3: Modal Mixture 42

Forming Borrowed Chords 42
Melodic Versus Harmonic Mixture 42
Chords Formed from ♭6 44
vii°7 44
ii(Ø7) 45
iv 46
i 48
Chords Formed from ♭3 48
♭VI 49
♭III 50
Chords Formed from ♭7 50
♭VII 51
Augmented Chromatic Chords 52
Picardy Third 54
Practice Modal Mixture 55

Section 4: Modulation II 56

Chromatic Pivot-Chord Modulation 57
Secondary Pivot-Chord Modulation 57
Borrowed Pivot-Chord Modulation 61
Pivot Areas 62
Sequential Modulation 63
Direct Modulation 66
Up by Step, “Sequential” Modulation 66

Section 5: Other Important Chromatic Chords 71

The Neapolitan Chord 72
Common Ways to Use Neapolitans 72
Neapolitan Chords in Context 73
Neapolitan Common Chord Modulation 74
Expanding the Neapolitan 75
Other Uses of the Neapolitan Chord 76
Practice Neapolitan Chords 77
The Augmented 6th Chord 78
Italian Augmented 6th Chord 79
German Augmented 6th Chord 80
French Augmented 6th Chord 82
The Augmented 6th as a Pivot Chord 83
Practice with Augmented 6th Chords 85

Where to Go from Here 86

Acknowledgments 87

Examples of Possible Answers for Practice Exercises 88

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