Sophisticate Your Chordal Arsenal With These Passing Chords In The Key Of E

You arrived at this page because you want to sophisticate your chordal arsenal with passing chords.

We’ll be learning passing chords in this lesson in the key of E major:

…which is one of the keys that a vast majority of keyboardists shy away from because of this technical and mechanical difficulties.

So, if you’re interested in beefing up your chordal arsenal in the key of E major, this is your chance.

Quick Insights In The Key Of E Major

The Note and Key “E” – Explained

The note E:

…is the first tone (aka – “tonic) in the key of E major:

There are four sharps in key of E major:

F#
G#
C#
D#

…and they occur on the second, third, sixth, and seventh degrees of the scale.

Scale Degree Seventh Chords

Chords that are founded on the respective degrees of the scale are known as scale-degree chords.

Before we proceed, let’s take a look at the scale degree seventh chords in the key of E major:

The E major seventh chord:

…is chord 1.

The F# minor seventh chord:

…is chord 2.

The G# minor seventh chord:

…is chord 3.

The A major seventh chord:

…is chord 4.

The B dominant seventh chord:

…is chord 5.

The C# minor seventh chord:

…is chord 6.

The D# half-diminished seventh chord:

…is chord 7.

Although a variety of songs can be played using these scale-degree seventh chords, however, the use of passing chords in-between these scale degree chords is common among gospel and jazz musicians.

Let’s explore some of these passing chords.

Passing Chords In The Key Of E Major

You’ll be learning how to play two passing chords for each scale degree in this lesson. However, before we proceed into learning these passing chords, let’s review the concept of passing chords.

A Short Note On Passing Chords

Chords that are foreign to the prevalent key are considered as passing chords when they are used to connect two scale-degree chords.

Most passing chords are usually dominant chords. Dominant chord are used as passing chords to scale degree chords that are a fifth lower than their root.

So, if the G# dominant seventh chord is played:

…it’s most likely to resolve to the C# minor seventh chord:

…because a fifth below G#:

…is C#:

Passing Chords To Chord 1

The B dominant seventh (add ninth) chord:

The B dominant seventh (flat ninth) chord:

Passing Chords To Chord 2

The C# altered chord:

The C# dominant seventh (flat ninth):

Passing Chords To Chord 3

The D# altered chord:

The D# dominant seventh (flat ninth):

Passing Chords To Chord 4

The E dominant seventh (add ninth) chord:

The E dominant seventh (flat ninth) chord:

Passing Chords To Chord 5

The F# dominant seventh (add ninth) chord:

The F# dominant seventh (flat ninth) chord:

Passing Chords To Chord 6

The G# altered chord:

The G# dominant seventh (flat ninth):

Final Words

Congratulations!

I’m doubly sure that if you can apply 60% of what we learned in this lesson, you’ll be able to play comfortably in other keys.

In subsequent lessons, we’ll explore other keys like A, B, D, etc., as well.

Thank you for your time!

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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.

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