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What The Heck Is “Anti-Gravity Voice Leading”?

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JGT contributor Zakk Jones provides a quick lesson on how to improve your chord progressions and harmonize melodies.


“What the heck is “anti-gravity voice leading” you may be asking?? Is it the movie Gravity but with George Clooners holding an L4 and playing 60 choruses of “How High The Moon”?? Well, that would be cool, but not quite! When we have typical chord progressions, like a ii-V-I-Vi, the guide tones (3rd and 7ths) tend to move in a descending pattern which forces our chord voicings to move in the same downward direction. The gravity of any given chord sequence can really influence how we play harmony, which can sometimes keep us stuck in a never ending spiral. To counteract this, I like to find ways to harmonize melodies that ascend through a progression.

In this video and notated examples, I show you exactly how I work out ascending, or “anti-gravity”, voice leading through a simple progression. A common limitation I’ll use is to stick with a melody that moves up in only stepwise motion (half steps or whole steps). This tends to force me to harmonize interesting non-chord tone notes while maintaining a very hip upward trajectory. Have fun, and don’t drift too far from the space shuttle without your tether, ok?


Anti-Gravity Voice Leading


Guitarist Zakk Jones

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