Some reharmonization ideas from Greg Howlett

July 31 · 5 mins read

Greg Howlett is a Christian concert pianist and recording artist. I found him while searching for free sheet music online in 2010 or 2011 (I think).

I consider Greg’s lessons and blog posts on music as gems for self-taught hymn playing pianists like me. I have always wondered how musicians create good sounding music, and here he is teaching, using simple and easy to understand words, how to make beautiful music.

I have watched many of his free video lessons and blog posts on reharmonization since the time I found his blog, and I started experimenting with the reharmonization ideas I learned, but I stopped about five years ago when I started working away from home where I do not have an access to a piano. :disappointed:

But I’m going to start again this time. I hope… :grin:

Listed below are some of the reharmonization ideas I got from him.

1. A ii chord substitues for a V chord (and a IV chord).

2. A iii chord substitutes for a I chord.

3. A vi chord substitues for a I chord or a IV chord.

4. Change V-I cadences into ii-V-I cadences.

5. Insert a minor 5 (v) and dominant 1 (I7) in front of a 4 (IV) chord

6. A dominant chord (V7) usually resolves down a fifth (to a I chord) or sometimes a half step.

7. Very often, if a progression is moving with the circle of fifths, you can change one of the normal minor chords to major (making it a secondary dominant).

8. Add a flat 9th to secondary dominants if resolving to a minor chord.

9. minor 7 chords likes to resolve down a fifth or in diatonic steps.

10. You can insert a diminished chord betweet 4 and 5 chords.

11. You can substitue a #4 dim - minor4 6th - minor 3 - flat3 dim - ii7 - V7 -I for a V-I cadence.

12. Which color note belong to each chord?

Major/Major 7th 9, #11, 13 (9 is the most common)

Minor 7th 9, 11, 13 (9 is the most common)

Dominant b9, 9, #9, #11, b13, 13 (All are widely used. However, you are most likely to use b9, 9, b13, and 13.)

13. Tritone substitution - ex. substitute a F#7 for a C7

  • Learn about that here

14. Substitute I - IVm6 - iii for I - IV - I

“Any time you see a IV chord, a minor IV will likely sound great. The big exception? If the melody note is the third of the IV, it will sound horrible.”

Here is a sample of his free video lessons: “Relating harmony to melody”