Negative harmony

I’ve been watching some other stuff on YouTube and have got myself very confused regarding some of the other different approaches to jazz harmony from the usual 2-5-1 and tritone substitutions
In particular could someone explain the following:
Negative harmony
Back door 2-5-1
Secondary dominants

A tutorial on these would be great and I suspect they may be explained somewhere on Pianogroove tutorials but at the moment I can’t find them

Any help/advice/links appreciated!

Many thanks


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Hey john,

This video on secondary dominants by @Tuomo might help.

I’ve never heard of Negative harmony myself but I’ve heard @Hayden and/or tuomo mention backdoor 251s in the past so might be able to provide more insight here

Thank you. Not sure how I missed the secondary dominant stuff!

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I hadn’t heard of negative harmony before, but looked it up—it sounds complicated and not so useful, but maybe I just need to think about it some more!

A back door 2-5-1 is a useful tool; I think about it in two related ways:

  1. Start with a minor 4 chord (a very common resolution in classical music, e.g. Fm to CMaj. For the back door 2-5,-1, use the minor 4 as the 2 chord of a 2-5, e.g. Fm7 - Bb7 - CMaj.

  2. Ascend in 2 whole steps to the tonic, e.g. AbMaj - BbMaj - CMaj. That’s closely related (nearly identical) to the first approach.

Hope this helps.


Thanks Greg, very helpful.
I think I’d got this but then went down the rabbit hole of negative harmony having watched a YouTube video with Jacob Collier and got totally flummoxed! If I’ve got it right, a negative harmony approach would result in Bflatm6 - Fmin6 - Cmaj7 which is kind of the opposite of the back door 2-5-1.
Hence why I was struggling. Also I don’t understand the theory behind the back door approach - why does it work?

I think I’ll leave the negative harmony stuff now
Thanks again


Hi John,

here’s a tutorial on the subject of Backdoor Cadence:

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Thanks Tuomo, I’m clearly not searching properly! Much appreciated.