A Lesson On Essential Passing Chord Types That Resolve To Major Chords

In this lesson, we’ll be learning some passing chord types that are succeeded by major chords in a chord progression. Here you are:

  • The dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord
  • The dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord
  • The dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord
  • The dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord
  • The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord

Let’s explore these chord types.

Dominant Thirteenth [Suspended Fourth] Chord

One of the passing chords that resolve to major chords is the dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord.

The C dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

…can be voiced using the Bb major seventh chord:

Playing the Bb major seventh chord:

…over C (on the bass):

…produces the C dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

“Analysis Of The Voicing…”

The dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord can be voiced by playing a major seventh chord a whole step below a given root note.

For example, the D dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord can be voiced by playing a major seventh chord that’s a whole step below the root (D):

….(which is the C major seventh chord):

The C major seventh chord:

…over D (on the bass):

…produces the D dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

“Application Of The Dominant Thirteenth [Suspended Fourth] Chord…”

The dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord resolves to a major chord that’s a fourth above (or fifth below) its root. For example, the C dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

…resolves to a major chord that’s a fourth above its root. A fourth above C:

…is F:

Consequently, the C dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

…resolves to any F major chord, which may include any of the following:

F major triad:

F major seventh:

F major ninth:

Every other dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord on the keyboard can be resolved following the procedure above.

“Check Out All The Dominant Thirteenth [Suspended Fourth] Chords On The Keyboard…”

C dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

Db dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

D dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

Eb dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

E dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

F dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

F# dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

G dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

Ab dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

A dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

Bb dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

B dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

Dominant Seventh [Flat Ninth] Chord

The dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord is an amazing passing chord type that every serious pianist must know. Here’s a classic example: the C dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:


In the key of C major:

…a ninth above C:

…is D:

…and that’s because from C to D:

…encompasses nine scale degrees.

Lowering the ninth tone of the C dominant ninth chord:

…which is D:

…by a half-step to Db:

…produces the C dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

“Analysis Of The Voicing…”

The dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord can be voiced by playing a diminished seventh chord a whole step below a given root note.

The Eb dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord can be voiced by playing a diminished seventh chord that is a whole step below the root note (Eb):

….(which is the C# diminished seventh chord):

The C# diminished seventh chord:

…over Eb (on the bass):

…produces the Eb dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

“Application Of The Dominant Seventh [Flat Ninth] Chord…”

The dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord can easily be applied as a passing chord to a major chord that is a fourth above (or a fifth below) its root.

The G dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

…can be applied as a passing chord to a major chord that’s a fourth above (or a fifth below) its root.

A fifth below G:

…is C:

Therefore, the G dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

…can be applied as a passing chord to C major chords like the C major triad:

…C major seventh chord:

…C major ninth chord:

…etc.

“Check Out All The Dominant Seventh [Flat Ninth] Chords On The Keyboard…”
C dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

Db dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

D dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

Eb dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

E dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

F dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

F# dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

G dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

Ab dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

A dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

Bb dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

B dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

Dominant Thirteenth [Flat Ninth] Chord

If you love the dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord, here’s another flat nine chord: the dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord.

The C dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

…is a classic example of the dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord, which is basically a dominant thirteenth chord with a flat ninth tone.

The eleventh tone of the dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord is usually omitted. In the case of the C dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

…its eleventh (which is F):

…is omitted.

“Analysis Of The Voicing…”

The dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord can be voiced by playing a diminished [major seventh chord] that is a whole step below a given root note.

Let’s say you want to form the A dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

…all you need to do is to go below the given root note (which is A):

…by a whole step (to G):

…and play the G diminished [major seventh chord]:

So, the G diminished [major seventh chord]:

…played over A on the bass:

…produces the A dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

“Application Of The Dominant Thirteenth [Flat Ninth] Chord…”

The application of the dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord is similar to that of the passing chords we covered earlier.

It resolves to a major chord that is a fourth above (or a fifth below) its root.

So the B dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

…resolves to a major chord that is a fifth below its root (which is B):

A fifth below B:

…is E:

Consequently, the B dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

…resolves to E major chords like the E major triad:

…E major seventh chord:

…E major ninth chord:

…etc.

“Check Out All The Dominant Thirteenth [Flat Ninth] Chords On The Keyboard…”

C dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

Db dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

D dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

Eb dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

E dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

F dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

F# dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

G dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

Ab dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

A dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

Bb dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

B dominant thirteenth [flat ninth] chord:

Dominant Thirteenth [Add Ninth] Chord

The dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord is another essential passing chord every serious pianist should know.

The C dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

…is a classic example of the dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord.

“Analysis Of The Voicing…”

The dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord can be voiced by playing a major seventh [flat fifth] that is a whole step below a given root note.

Let’s say you want to form the F dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord, all you need to do is to go below the given root note (which is F):

…by a whole step (to Eb):

…and play the Eb major seventh [flat fifth] chord:

So, the Eb major seventh [flat fifth] chord:

…played over F on the bass:

…produces the F dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

Any other dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord can be formed in the same manner.

“Application Of The Dominant Thirteenth [Add Ninth] Chord…”

The dominant thirteenth [add ninth] resolves to a major chord that is a fourth above (or a fifth below) its root. Therefore, the Ab dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

…resolves to a major chord that is a fifth below its root (which is Ab):

A fifth below Ab:

…is Db:

Consequently, the Ab dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

…resolves to Db major chords like the Db major triad:

…Db major seventh chord:

…Db major ninth chord:

…etc.

“Check Out All The Dominant Thirteenth [Add Ninth] Chords On The Keyboard…”

C dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

Db dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

D dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

Eb dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

E dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

F dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

F# dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

G dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

Ab dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

A dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

Bb dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

B dominant thirteenth [add ninth] chord:

Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord

The last passing chord type we’re studying in this lesson is the dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord.

The C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

…can be voiced using the Bb augmented major seventh chord:

Playing the Bb augmented major seventh chord:

…over C (on the bass):

…produces the C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

“Analysis Of The Voicing…”

The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord can be voiced by playing an augmented major seventh chord a whole step below a given root note.

For example, the Bb dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord can be voiced by playing an augmented major seventh chord that’s a whole step below the root (Bb):

….(which is the Ab augmented major seventh chord):

The Ab augmented major seventh chord:

…over Bb (on the bass):

…produces the Bb dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

“Application Of The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chord…”

The dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord resolves to a major chord that’s a fourth above (or fifth below) its root. For example, the E dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

…resolves to a major chord that’s a fourth above its root. A fourth above E:

…is A:

Consequently, the E dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

…resolves to any A major chord, which may include any of the following:

A major triad:

A major seventh:

A major ninth:

Every other dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord on the keyboard can be resolved following the procedure above.

“Check Out All The Dominant Thirteenth [Sharp Eleventh] Chords On The Keyboard…”

C dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

Db dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

D dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

Eb dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

E dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

F dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

F# dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

G dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

Ab dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

A dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

Bb dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

B dominant thirteenth [sharp eleventh] chord:

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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.