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Altered chords are ones that don’t naturally exist in your song’s key. If you were writing them out using musical notation you would see that an altered chord always uses accidentals – sharps or flats. An altered chord adds flavour to the basic diatonic chord palette (i.e., the seven chords that naturally exist in a key), and almost every song in popular music genres will use them. The flat-VII chord (bVII) is a great one to mix in with basic diatonic chords. Here are some ideas for how to use the bVII.
The following progressions are in C major. In that key, the bVII chord is Bb. But of course, these will work in any key.
1) The bVII on its way to IV: The bVII works nicely as a chord that next moves to a IV chord. Some examples:
- C Am Bb F
- C G Bb F
- C F Bb F
2) The bVII on its way to bVI: This makes a great descending-bass-line progression:
- C Bb Ab G
- C Bb Ab Bb
- C G Bb Ab (G)
- C Bb Eb G
- C Bb Fm/Ab G
- Modulate to D major: C Bb Asus4 A |D
- Modulate to Bb major: C Bb Db F |Bb
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