How To Work With Chord Progressions: Leading Voices

There are many things we can do with chord progressions as guitar players - we can play them, we can improvise over them, we can write melodies on them...

...and all of these things become an order of magnitude easier if we really understand how the chord progression works and what are our options at each chord change.

Suppose for instance that you are improvising over a chord progression. How many times has it happened to you that:

  • You forget what are the chords in the progression
  • You forget on what chord you are soloing right now
  • You forget the notes in the chord
  • You don't know immediately how to 'tie together' one chord to the next with your melodic line

Or, how many times you are playing the chord progression as a rhythm guitar player, and you do not see how each chords connects to the previous one and the next one, or how to play a partial chord, or simply do not understand WHY one chord follows the other.

These seems all unrelated problems but they are solved by the same tool: voice leading. This is something that sounds scary to most people who don't know it, but as you will see in the video, it will make your life a hundred times easier:

If you want to see more about this tool in action, watch this video and see how leading the voice shows clearly why these chords work in this context, what exactly connects them, and even how to play them on your guitar:

Have fun!

Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock/metal guitarist and composer based in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Tommaso is currently working on an instrumental CD, and an instructional series on fretboard visualization and exotic scales. He is your go-to guy for any and all music theory-related questions.

Tommaso Zillio