Changing Chord Quality in Chord Melody

Question by Larry
(Burlington, NC)

When playing chord melody, how much liberty can you take with changing the chord quality in the form?

For example, in the 3rd measure of “All the Things You Are,” where the written chord is Eb7, is it ok to start from EbM7 to Eb7 to Eb6 and back to Eb7? Or do we need to stick with the dominant 7 quality of the chord and stay away from the Major 7 sound.

Of course, I’m not referring only to this tune, but just using this as an example.


M-A’s Answer:
Hello Larry,

That is a good (and really hard) question! I will try to answer as simply as I can:

Yes, but it’s always a matter of context. If you want to stay within boudaries of the harmony dictacted by the tune, you can certainly change the quality for a little and “bring it back” to create a certain effect.

If you want to stretch out more, it possible to harmonize any melody with almost ANY kind of chord or counterpoint.

I know this can be somewhat vague, but this is it! It always depends on the context, the effect you want to create, the tempo, you virtuosity (or lack thereof), etc.

I hope this helps,

Marc-Andre Seguin


I want to add: as long as you know what you’re doing, it’s ok (but know the rules before you break ’em!)

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