The Neapolitan chord has been used for hundreds of years now, however, many musicians do not know what it is and how it functions. After reading this you can impress your friends and possibly even some of your music teachers!
In order to understand how we can use this chord to the best of our abilities, we must first understand some basic concepts about chords and chord functions in a key.
1) Know how to construct a major scale and minor scale
2) Know how to build diatonic chords of each of these notes.
3) Know how the I and the V chord function.
If you don't know these three steps, take some serious time to review before continuing.
THE THEORY: Part 1
The Neapolitan chord is a flat two major chord that usually prepares the dominant chord. For example, a progression that some classical composers use is a i, V7, i progression. (A minor, E7, A minor) This progression can get stale and old after a while. Good news! There is a solution!
Instead of playing the V7 chord after we play the i chord lets insert a flat two major chord in between them. The progression would then look like this.
i, N, V7, i. (A minor, Bb, E7, A minor) Interesting and different sounding right? It helps prepare the E7 chord so when we do play it, it does not sound so jarring.
Lets try another example in a major key.
Take the progression I, V7, I. In the key of C, this progression would be C, G7, C. Now lets put a Neapolitan chord in between the C and the G7. The progression now becomes I, N, V7, I. In other words C, Db, G7, C.
The Neapolitan chord is found more often in a minor key than a major key, however, you can use this chord in both if you like it.
-Lets see what you have learned!
1) Q: What is a Neapolitan chord?
A: A Neapolitan chord is a flat two major chord.
2) Q: How does a Neapolitan chord function and how do I use it?
A: A Neapolitan chord helps prepare the dominant chord. I can use this chord anytime before I play the V or V7 chord. This chord colors my music and is helpful to avoid cliche i, V7 progressions.
3) Q: Can I use a Neapolitan chord only in a minor key?
A: No! You can use this progression in both major and minor keys!