Gospelizing Your Progressions – Infusing Blues, Jazz, R&B, and Soul into your progressions

Today, we’re diving into the exciting world of gospel guitar playing by blending elements of blues, jazz, R&B, and soul into your chord progressions. This approach can transform a simple diatonic progression into a rich, soulful experience. Let’s start with a basic progression in C Major – C, F, G, C (I-IV-V-I) – and ‘gospelize’ it with specific examples.

1. Extended Chords:

Turn ordinary major and dominant chords into extended chords to add a jazz flavor. Instead of C, F, and G, play Cmaj7, F9, and G13. This simple alteration adds depth and complexity. For instance, a Cmaj7 (C, E, G, B) sounds much richer than a plain C major.

2. Chromaticism:

Chromatic passing chords create smooth transitions and unexpected twists. Insert an E7#9 between C and F, and a Db7 (a tritone substitution for G7) between F and G. These chords add a sense of tension and release that’s characteristic of blues and jazz.

3. Blue Notes:

Incorporate blue notes in your melodies or solos. Over a C chord, play melodies including Eb, Gb, and Bb. These notes, typical in blues scales, add an emotional, soulful quality to your playing.

6. Dominant Chord Substitutions:

Use tritone substitutions for a jazz touch. Replace the G7 with a Db7 before resolving back to C. This substitution creates a sophisticated sound, typical in jazz harmonies.

7. Modal Mixture:

Borrow chords from parallel modes for a soulful effect. Swap the F major for an F minor (borrowed from C minor). This minor IV chord in a major key adds a poignant, soulful feel.

9. sus2 and sus4 voicings:

Use wide voicings with added 2nds and suspended 4ths. For example, instead of a standard C chord, play E-G-C-D (a Cadd2), for a fuller sound.  Another example is playing Gsus4 then G over what was just the G chord, which can add more tension and resolution to regular chord progressions.

By integrating these techniques into your guitar playing, you can achieve a ‘gospelized’ sound that brings together the best of blues, jazz, R&B, and soul. At Guitar Lessons Ithaca, we encourage you to experiment with these ideas and find your unique voice within this rich musical tradition. Remember, gospel music is not just about the chords and techniques; it’s about the emotion and soul you put into every note!

Happy playing, and stay tuned for more insights and lessons from Guitar Lessons Ithaca! 🎸🎶

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