bluesifying / gospelizing diatonic progressions

Other Elements Used in Gospel Music

Extended Chords: Use extended chords commonly found in jazz, like 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th chords. These chords add complexity and richness to the harmony. For instance, instead of a simple C major chord, you could use a Cmaj7 or C9.

Original: | C | F | G | C |
Modified: | Cmaj7 | F9 | G13 | Cmaj9 |
Explanation: The major 7th (Cmaj7), dominant 9th (F9), and dominant 13th (G13) chords add jazz flavor. The Cmaj9 in the end gives a richer resolution.

Chromaticism: Introduce chromatic notes and chords. This is a hallmark of blues and jazz. You can add chromatic passing chords between diatonic chords or use chromatic approach notes in your melodies.

Original: C | F | G7 | C
Modified: | C  E7#9 | F  F#dim7 | G7 | C |
Explanation: E7#9 acts as a chromatic passing chord leading into F.  F#dim leads to G7.

Blue Notes: Incorporate blues notes or “blue notes” — typically the flattened third, fifth, and seventh notes of the scale. These notes give a distinct bluesy feel and are often used in gospel music to add emotional expressiveness.

Original: |C | F | G | C |
Modified: Use a melody line that includes blue notes, like flat 3rd, flat 5th, and flat 7th relative to the key of C (Eb, Gb, Bb).
Explanation: While the chords remain the same, the melody incorporates blue notes, giving a bluesy feel over the standard progression.

Dominant Chord Substitutions: In jazz and blues, dominant chord substitutions, like tritone substitutions, can be used to add tension and release, which is a powerful tool in gospel music.

Original: | C | F | G | C |
Modified: | C | F | G7 Db7 | C |
Explanation: The Db7 is a tritone substitution for G7, creating a surprising shift before resolving back to C.

Modal Mixture: Borrow chords from parallel modes, like mixing chords from the major and minor scales. This is common in soul music and can add an unexpected twist to your progression.

Original: | C | F | G | C |
Modified: | C | Fm | G | C |
Explanation: Replacing the F major with F minor (borrowed from the parallel minor scale, C minor) adds a soulful twist to the progression.

Gospel Voicings: Use specific voicings for your chords that are common in gospel music. These often involve wide voicings with added 2nds and 9ths, and sometimes omitting the 5th.

Original: | C | F | G | C |
Modified: Use wide voicings like:
C (add2): E – G – C – D
F (add9): A – C – F – G
G (sus4): G – C – D
C (add9): G – C – E – D
Explanation: These wide voicings with added 2nds and suspended 4ths are typical in gospel music and provide a more expansive sound.

Improvisation: Allow room for improvisation, both in instrumental solos and vocal ad-libs. This is a key element in jazz and blues and can add a spontaneous, emotional quality to gospel music.

Rhythmic Feel: Adopt the rhythmic feel of R&B and soul. This might involve grooves and beats that are more syncopated and less straightforward than traditional gospel rhythms.

Swing Rhythm and Syncopation: R&B, jazz, and soul often use swing rhythms and syncopation. These can be introduced into your rhythm section to give a more laid-back, groovy feel to the progression.

Vocal Techniques: Use vocal techniques common in these genres, such as melisma (singing multiple notes over a single syllable), vocal runs, and a soulful, expressive delivery. These techniques are very effective in gospel music.