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Lesson 138: Mediant and Submediant Chords

Mediant Chords

The mediant chord of a given chord is a chord on the third scale degree. That means that the mediant chord of a C chord can be

  • Em7 from C major or Lydian
  • Em7b5 from C Mixolydian
  • Ebmaj7 from C natural minor or Dorian
  • Ebmaj7#5 from C harmonic or melodic minor
  • Eb7 from C Phrygian
  • Ebm7 from C Locrian

Submediant Chords

The submediant chord of a given chord is a chord on the sixth scale degree. That means that the submediant chord of a C chord can be

  • Am7 from C major or Lydian or Mixolydian
  • Abmaj7 from C natural or harmonic minor or Phrygian
  • Am7b5 from C melodic minor or Dorian
  • Ab7 from C Locrian
  • Abmaj7#5 from C harmonic major

Using Mediant and Submediant Chords

Mediant and submediant chords have many common tones with the original chord. The idea is that you replace the original chord with a mediant or a submediant chord.

The cadence F - G7 - C which is very common in classical music has become Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 in jazz ( Dm7 is the submediant chord of F)

Mediant and submediant chords are often used in deceptive cadences, for example:

  • Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 can be changed to Dm7 - G7 - Em7 ( a mediant chord)
  • Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 can be changed to Dm7 - G7 - Am7 ( a submediant chord)

Below you can see a nice ending to Fly Me to the Moon by Bart Howard, using a deceptive cadence. The final melody note is c, so you can change the cadence Dm7 - G7 - C to Dm7 - G7 - Abmaj7 ( a submediant chord).

Examples from My Composition Blue Tango

The B section of my composition Blue Tango has the following changes:

Fmaj7 - Fmaj7#11 - Em7 ( Fmaj7 is the mediant chord of Dm7 and Em7 is the mediant chord of Cmaj7, so this can be looked at as a reharmonization of Dm7 - Dm6 - Cmaj7, which in turn is a reharmonization of Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7)

Gm7 - Gm6 - Fmaj7#11/A ( Fmaj7#11/A, if looked at as an Am chord, is the mediant chord of Fmaj7, so this can be looked at as a reharmonization of Gm7 - Gm6 - Fmaj7, which in turn is a reharmonization of Gm7 - C7 - Fmaj7)

The lead sheet can be found here.

2015 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.