Playing The Changes
In this series of videos, we look at how to play the changes to a song and be able to play melodic lines that smoothly flow over changing chords.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
I7 to IV7
In this video, we look at how to play through a more difficult chord change.
Discuss this tutorial here.
timestamp 0:07  To play over a C7-F7 change, the second chord has a different tonic and we have to consider what the second chord will sound like relative to the first chord.

In the previous videos, because we were always playing C chords, the weak chord tones were not so important since they didn't give the listener any clue as to what type (major/minor/dominant) of C chord was being played but now they become more important since they help establish that we have changed from a C chord to an F chord. The strong chord tones still help establish the type of chord.

To determine ways to transition from one chord to another:
  • timestamp 1:42  Highlight the chord tones for each chord.
  • timestamp 2:10  Look for chord tones that are shared between the two chords - they provide a common anchor point.
  • timestamp 2:40  Look for semi-tone transitions - they give a smooth transition from the first chord to the second.
  • timestamp 3:06  Look for whole-tone transitions - passing tones can be inserted in-between to give a smoother transition.

timestamp 3:32  We also want to highlight that the chord has changed. Emphasizing notes in the second chord that are "outside" in the first chord are a good way to do this.

timestamp 4:10  Cmin7, Fdom7 and Bbmaj7 have the same notes but the strong and weak chord tones are arranged differently. By emphasizing these different notes at different times, we can convey the distinctive sound of each type of chord.
timestamp 5:28  A good approach for practising anything is:
  • slow it down: get it right first, then try to do it fast
  • break it down: divide things into smaller tasks, then put them all together

In this series of videos

  • We first looked at how to make sound of each individual chord.
  • Then we looked at transitioning from one chord to another, emphasizing the different sound of each chord.
  • Then we looked at how to make this transition more smoothly.

Chord changes are the building blocks of songs. If you can master the most common ones in all 12 keys, you'll be able to starting thinking and playing in terms of musical ideas, rather than specific notes and chords.