Hybrid Chords as Passing Chords in Rock Music.
Hybrid chords are chords that are written as “letter/letter”.
The first letter is the chord, the 2nd letter is a bass note.
As an example:
C/D is a C chord with a D bass note underneath the C chord.
Many guitar players, when they see or hear hybrid chords, immediately associate the sound of those chords with jazz.
However: hybrid chords are greatly used in rock music as well. This is especially the case in rock or pop songs that are written on piano or by piano players.
After all: the piano lends itself well to playing chords in the right hand with varying bass motions in the left hand.
If you always wondered about those odd-sounding hybrid chords, or if you would like to create a more pianistic approach to your guitar accompaniments: this blog will cover a ton of great examples showing what you can do with these chords.
The new chords and chord progressions you’ll learn here might (and probably will) inspire you to come up with new melodies or songs.
The more songwriting tools you have in your bag of tricks, the better your songs are going to get.
On another note: this is not only going to improve or enrich your songwriting.
Learning these chord progressions and putting them to memory, will make you a better performer as well.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say that one of your friends wrote a song and he asks you to accompany him on guitar.
He doesn’t want to play: he just wants to sing and wants you to play guitar.
He gives you the chord chart, and you see:
||: D | Bm | Am | F :||
You could play the chords as written… or, you could enrich it by playing this instead:
||: D D/C# | Bm | Am | F :||
||: D | Bm | Am Am/G | F :||
||: D D/C# | Bm | Am Am/G | F :||
Knowing about all these possibilities, tremendously enriches your performance capabilities.
More than likely: when you throw in those passing chords, your friend’s eyes will light up in surprise or disbelief (“disbelief” because he/she cannot believe how much better the song sounds when you play it. “Disbelief” because it seems like you just “rewrote” the whole chord progression on the spot).
Not only do the extra chords make the song more colorful (more chords = more color in the song): they also create a sense of forward motion, momentum and direction. Hence: these chords give more structure and direction to your chord progression.
That sense of momentum and direction is the result of the scalar stepwise motion in the bass. (D C# B and A G F in the above examples)
Notice how the bass moves alphabetically, by step.
That heightened sense of direction and momentum this stepwise bass motion creates, enhances the story-telling of the song.
People love it when a story goes somewhere or when it at least “feels” like a story is going somewhere.
One could even argue that there is also a bit of an element of “suspense” or “wonder” introduced into the song when you use these chords. After all: the enhanced sense of direction that these chords establish, also automatically creates some sense of wonder where the song is going to lead to next.
Accomplished songwriters and performers know all of this: which is of course why they use those chords.
Let’s bring your songwriting and performance skills up to the next level today!
Following songs all have hybrid chords, used as passing chords.
All the chord diagrams follow further down the page.
(Apologies for the chords not perfectly lining up with the lyrics in the below examples. I can’t figure out what the HTML code is to place my chords right where I want them above the lyrics. This is where you will need to use your ear and change the chord when you hear it change in the song. All chords are on the right line, just not above the right word/syllable in that line.)
- Hey Jude (The Beatles)
F | Bb Bb/A | Gm (F)
And any time you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
F | C | F | F7 |
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulder
Bb Bb/A Gm
For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
F C F
By making his world a little colder
F C C7
Na na na na na, na na na na
- Someone Like You (Adele)
I heard that you’re settled down
That you found a girl
And you’re married now
I heard that your dreams came true
Guess she gave you things
I didn’t give to you
Old friend why are you so shy
It ain’t like you to hold back
Or hide from life
- Wonderful Tonight (Eric Clapton)
G D C D
It’s late in the evening, she’s wondering what clothes to wear
G D C D
She puts on her make-up and brushes her long blonde hair
C D G G/F# Em
And then she’d ask me, “Do I look alright?”
C D | G | D | C | D
And I say “Yes, you look wonderful tonight”
- Always A Woman
She can lead you to love
She can take you or leave you
She can ask for the truth
But she’ll never believe
A7 D A7 F#
And shell take what you give her, as long as its free
She steals like a thief
G A7 D | Dsus4 | D | A7 |
But shes always a woman to me
Bm Bm/A E E7 A A/G# F#m
Ohhh.. she takes care of herself
D G G/F# Em
She can wait if she wants
A7 D | Dsus4 | D | A7
Shes ahead of her time
Dm7 Dm/C G7 C | C/B | Am
Ohhh… And she never gives out
F7 Bb Bb/A E
And she never gives in
E7 A A7
She just changes her mind
- Instant Karma
A A/G# | F#m
Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
F G | A
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead
D D/C# | Bm
What in the world you thinking of?
Laughing in the face of love
C C/B | Am G
What on earth you tryin’ to do?
D | E
It’s up to you, yeah you
- I Am The Walrus (The Beatles)
I am he as you are he
C D A A/G
As you are me and we are all together.
See how they run like pigs from a gun,
See how they fly, I’m crying.
A A/G Dadd9/F#
Sitting on a cornflake,
F G A A/G
Waiting for the van to come.
Corporation T-shirt stupid bloody Tuesday,
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
- Sunny Afternoon (The Kinks)
Dm C F C
The taxman’s taken all my dough, left me in my stately home
A A/G A/F A/E Dm
Lazin’ on a Sunny Afternoon
Dm C F C
And I cant sail my yacht, he’s taken everything I’ve got
A A/G A/F A/E Dm
All I’ve got’s this sunny afternoon
- All The Young Dudes (David Bowie)
Well Billy rapped all night about his suicide
How he’d kick it in the head when he was twenty-five.
Speed jive don’t want to stay alive when your twenty five.
Wendy’s stealing clothes from Marks and Sparks,
Bm Bm/A F#m
And Freddy’s got spots from ripping of the scars from his face
Funky little boat race
The television man is crazy
F# Bm Bm/A
Sayin we’re juvenile delinquent wrecks
G D A
Oh Man I need a tv when I’ve got T. Rex
D D/C# Bm Bm/A Am
All the young dudes carry the news
Am/G F C/E | G C A
Boogaloo dudes carry the news.
The following pages show all the above hybrid chords and their fingerings.
In closing, it is important that I mention, that all the examples you learned here, can also be played in the opposite direction.
Meaning: the ascending chord progressions can be played descending, and vice versa.
As an example:
You could walk down from a D to a Bm chord playing D D/C# Bm, but you can also walk up from Bm to a D chord.
In that case you’d play Bm D/C# D
With that in mind, all following 13 chord progressions can be played from left to right as well.
Here’s the video where you can hear all the above chord progressions:
Hit me up anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like me to send you backing tracks for any of the above chord progressions, if you have any questions, or if you would like to book a lesson.
You’re on your way to becoming a great guitar player.
Have fun! 🙂
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