Reharmonizing “Chi Chi”…
My last column featured how to play the Charlie Parker tune “Chi Chi” in the first position on the six-string bass. In this edition, I would like to show you how to re-harmonize the progression with chord substitutions.
What is a chord substitution?
A chord substitution is the procedure of using a chord in place of another in a chord progression and the new chord is made to function like the original. Usually, substituted chords possess two pitches in common with the triad that they are replacing.
If you haven’t already, I would print out the last columns sheet and this one as well below:
As you can see in the last column, I have the melody on top and a simple bass line on the second page. In the latest column, we have the bass line from the last issue on top and a reharmonized version on page 2.
It is helpful to know the functions of the chords in order to make successful chord substitutions. The diatonic structure consists of three families of chords: tonic, subdominant, and dominant.
The tonic family expresses the tonal foundation of a key. The subdominant family expresses movement away from the foundation. And the dominant family expresses harmonic tension. This tension is released with chords that move the harmony back to the tonic. Chords belonging to the same family can often be substituted for each other.
Take a look at bar 2 of the original. We have a Bb-7 for 2 beats going to an Eb7 for two beats. This is a typical ii-V chord sequence. And this ii-V chord sequence leads us back to the I chord.
Think of the I chord as the resting place, where things feel settled. The dominant (V) is where the tension happens and promotes the feeling of a need for resolution and the sub-dominant (IV) is the chord that leads us to the dominant.
I know you must be thinking; “But David, what is this about the IV chord and the V chord? I thought we were talking about the ii chord?”
Ah yes, the ii chord. If you spell the IV chord you get Db-F-Ab-Cb and if you spell the ii chord you get Bb-Db-Eb-Ab.
You can see that both chords have two notes in common: Db & Ab.
What about the V chord…the Eb7? Well, the two beats of that V will bring us back to the I chord. This is a typical Jazz cadence.
What I have done is take the ii-v that was originally written and substituted the IV chord. This way the first 4 bars of the tune remain on the Ab7. This brings the tune more into a blues versus a Jazz blues.
Bar 6 is where I change things up again. Written is the Db-7 for two beats going to a Gb7.
Another common substitution is going from the IV chord up a half step to the D diminished. Why does this work. Well, take a look at the notes in a Db7:
Now take a look at the D diminished. 3 of the 4 notes are the same. SO this substitution takes on 2 possible roles, 1 it becomes a D diminished or you could call it a Db(b9) with the (b9) in the bass.
Either way you look at it, it is still the same notes.
Now go to bar 11 of the original. You have 2 beats of C-7 and 2 beats of Ab7. I decided to have a full bar of Ab7. Again, it gives a more bluesy versus jazz bluesy sound.
Why the Ab7? As previously notes, the III- is part of the same family as the Ab-tonic. Moreover, there are two notes common to both chords:
That about wraps it up. My suggestion would be to play both versions and see which one you like best.
Also, if you go to my website www.thebassguitarchannel.com or Facebook page, I will have a link to a video of both columns.
Enjoy, stay safe and healthy!
David C Gross has been a bassist for a lot of people, and is the author of 11 bass instructional books, 3 instructional videos and has a band named Theorcolus. You can contact him online at: thebassguitarchannel.com