Chromatic approach chords (or approach chords) are the chords located one semitone above or below the chord to be resolved, having the same structure.

For example, in the sequence Dbm7 – Dm7, the Dbm7 chord has the chromatic approach function. This type of chord usually has a short duration in the bar, serving only as a “passage” to the next chord. See the following progression:

| Dm7 G7 | Em7 A7 | Dm7 Db7 | Cmaj7 |

Adding chromatic approach chords, this progression could be:

| Dm7 Ab7 G7 Fm7 | Em7 G#7 A7 Ebm7 | Dm7 D7 Db7 Bmaj7 | Cmaj7 |

We haven’t talked about the subV7 chord (fifth degree substitute) yet, but it is worth noting here that it can be seen as a chromatic approach chord (when the chord that comes after it has the same format, for example: G#7 – A7).

However, the subV7 chord should not be seen only as a approach chord in these situations, after all it is a dominant chord that serves as a substitute for the fifth degree (V7), for the reasons that we will demonstrate in another topic. To say that it has only a chromatic function would be to limit its real meaning.

Go to: Diminished chord

Back to: Module 9