Mediant and Relative Major/Minor Substitution

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Mediant and Relative Major/Minor Substitution

Mediant

Replacing the “IIIm” for the “I” chord, or vice versa, is referred to as a mediant substitution. For example, the “C” (C-E-G) can be replaced with the “Em” (E-G-D) chord. Conversely, the “Em” can be substituted for the “C” chord. The example below shows how a rock and roll progression can be transformed into a rock ballad progression by applying this type of substitution.


Original Progression

C / / // / / / F / / / G7 / / /

Substitute Progression (Mediant)

C / / /Em / / / F / / / G7 / / /


Relative Major/Minor

Replacing a major chord by its relative minor, or vice versa, is referred to as a relative major/minor (or submediant) substitution. For example, the “C” (C-E-G) can be replaced the “Am” (A-C-E) chord. Conversely, the “Am” (“VIm”) can be substituted for the “C” (“I”) chord. The example below shows how a doo-wop progression can be transformed into a standard progression by applying this type of substitution. (Excerpt from Chord Progressions For Songwriters)

Original Progression

C / / /Am / / / F / / / G7 / / /

Substitute Progression (Relative Minor/Major)

C / / /Am / / / Dm / / / G7 / / /


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