What chords to play over consecutive bars of major chord while solo piano

Sometimes I’ll come across a tune where there are consecutive measures of the same major chord.

If it were a minor chord I may use So What options to add interest. Or if it were a dominant chord I would consider various reharms (tritone, move around in diminished harmony etc).

But for major chords I don’t know what my options are.

I’m particularly thinking about this section of My Way. That 3rd bar of Fmaj7.

What is a good way to add harmonic interest there?

Thanks in advance!

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Great question here @nickedwards and welcome to the community area.

I have recorded a few different takes on this section showing some possibilities to add harmonic interest using inner voice movement, and passing chords.

Take a listen to the recordings and read the explanation and try to follow along by listening to the recordings I have made. This will be a nice listening exercise. If you’d like I can also notate these for you but try listening and working them out with your ears first :wink:

Also check out the related lesson and seminar links.

Inner Voice Movement

The device is very simple but also very effective - Inner Voices:

More specifically, I am simply moving the 5th to the #5 in the first bar of F (just a half step movement but it adds a lot of interest), and then in the 2nd bar I play 5 to #5 to 7 to 6. I also play these inner voices with both hands to create a bigger sound.

Learn more about inner voice movement in the following lessons and seminars:

Passing Chords

This is quite a big area of study, and so I have recorded 3 variations here, from simple to advanced. I also combine the passing chords with inner voice movement so remember that these devices do not exist in isolation.

Here is the first example:

Here I move to the V7 chord of F major which is C7, so instead of just 2 bars of Fmaj7, we now have a quick transition to the V7 chord and back to F:

  • Fmaj7 - C7b9 / Fmaj7 (with inner voices)

then I add the E bass note which leads to the D-7 in the next bar.

Think what is coming next…

If we think of the next bar (D-7) which is cut off on your screenshot, we can add some approach chords to the D-7, so now instead of 2 bars of F we have:

  • Fmaj7 / E-11b5 - A7b9 (the 25 of D-) here is how it sounds:

Finally to take this a step further, we can harmonise the melody notes in the 2nd bar of F which lead us to D minor:

In this example I play the following chords: |

  • Fmaj7 (with inner voices) / E-7b5 - A7 - Fdim7 - Eb13#11

The Eb13#11 has a strong pull into D-7 (dominant passing chord a half step above). This is an upper structure triad voicing (F triad over Eb7) and this harmonises the C in the melody.

The chord before I play a diminished chord which we can also view as a rootless E7b9, which creates a stack of dominant chords leading to D-7 in the next bar.

Check out the following lessons and seminars on passing chords:


Hayden thank you! This is gold! Much appreciated!

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