Big Chords with Astounding Tritone Substitutions for Blues Piano

Posted by: Willie Myette on September 21, 2021

In this episode of the Confident Improviser podcast, we'll be discussing huge chord blues piano tritone substitutions. I'll be explaining how to create a tritone substitution with these big chords while also suggesting a couple of lessons on tritone substitutions to check out if you need more guidance.

Understanding the C7 Voicing

Let's start with the left hand C7 rootless chord voicing. Jazz musicians typically write this chord as C7 but may add in the 9 and 13 to the voicing. In the right hand, I'm playing bell chords, which can vary in note selection to create different sounds.

Creating the Gb7, Db7, and Ab7 Chords

Moving on to the Gb7 chord, I explain the importance of anticipating the chord and showcase a different bell chord pattern. The same applies to the Db7 chord, where I play the rootless chord with 913 and 9 in the right hand. Finally, the Ab7 chord is created by maintaining the same structure as the G7 chord but moving down by a half step.

Tritone Substitution - What is it?

A tritone substitution is a popular technique in jazz music where a dominant seventh chord is replaced by another dominant seventh chord that is a tritone (three whole steps) away. For example, the G7 chord can be substituted with the Db7 chord because they share the same tritone interval of B and F. This creates a new harmonic color and adds tension and interest to the music. Tritone substitutions can be applied to the chords in a blues progression to create a more sophisticated and exciting sound.

Practice Routine and Playing Along with the Band

To practice these chords, I suggest going through the routine of playing them all the way up to F and adding in a grace note for a cool sound. Finally, we'll play along with the band at 100 beats per minute and 120 beats per minute.

Tritone Substitution Practice

To practice tritone substitutions, start by becoming familiar with the dominant seventh chords in a standard blues progression. Next, identify the tritone interval in each chord and substitute it with a dominant seventh chord a tritone away. Practice playing the substituted chords and incorporating them into your blues improvisation. You can also practice playing the substitutions in different keys and tempos to improve your proficiency. Additionally, check out our recommended jazz piano lessons that cover tritone substitutions to the right.


Creating huge chord blues piano tritone substitutions may seem overwhelming, but with practice and dedication, you can master them. Don't be afraid to start with one hand and work your way up, and remember to experiment with different note selections to create your desired sound.

  • In episode 48 of the Confident Improviser podcast, Willie Myette talks about creating big chords using tritone substitutions in the blues.
  • Myette suggests watching Jazz Piano Daily lessons number 3 and 34 for more in-depth explanation and practice.
  • He demonstrates how to create big chords for C7, Gb7, Db7, and Ab7 chords, along with their respective Bell tones in the right hand.
  • Myette provides tips on how to practice and vary the chords, including adding grace notes and experimenting with different voicings.
  • He emphasizes the importance of starting with one hand and getting the rhythm down before practicing with both hands, and provides a link for viewers to access the sheet music for the chords.
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