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Old 01-01-2007, 03:18 AM   #1
UtBDan
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Theory of the Month - Chords, and chords in a key

Theory of the Month - January - The basics of chords, and the chords in a key


Hello. Perhaps this is more than a months worth of theory, but this is what I consider some of the most important stuff to learning theory.

Note: this lesson implies a basic understanding of intervals is already there.


Triads are the basis of all chords. They are 3 notes that go together well, to form the essence of any chord. 2 notes that go together well are called doublestops, or diads.
But 3 = tri, and triad is what you have. For example, a C major triad is a C major chord, Cm triad is a Cm chord, etc.

There are 4 types of triads (atleast, 4 types of "commonly accepted in classical music" triads. There are far more than 4 outside of that, but, BASIC theory here people.)

Major triad = Root + Major Third + Perfect Fifth
Minor triad = Root + Minor Third + Perfect Fifth
Diminished triad = Root + Minor Third + Diminished Fifth
Augmented triad = Root + Major Third + Augmented Fifth


now, what I did to help me learn how to identify triads of a chord just by looking at them is what my theory teacher advised me.
This may seem stupid, too repetitive, and annoying, but it sure worked for me.
Memorize the 12 MAJOR triads for each accepted key.
They are as follows:
A C# E
Bb D F
B D# F#
C E G
C# E# G#
D F# A
Eb G Bb
E G# B
F A C
F# A# C#
G B D
G# B# D#


annnd yeah. From there, you can easily identify all triads of all chords if you have them memorized.
For example, when I see an Em chord, its easy to ID it as Em because I look at the G, and see if its sharped, and if its natural, I know its Em.


Common 7th chords are:
Major 7th chord. (Written maj7).
Root + Major 3rd + Perfect 5th + Major 7th
Dominant 7th chord. (Written 7.)
Root + Major 3rd + Perfect 5th + minor 7th
Minor 7th chord (Written as m7)
Root + Minor 3rd + Perfect 5th + minor 7th.

There are also two less common but still really accepted in classical 7th chords: the diminished and the half-diminished.
I'm doing this from classical and not jazz perspectives because hey: I know more about classical than jazz, and I'm not too keen on altered 7ths and min/maj7ths. That went over your head? Ignore it.

A diminished 7th chord is a diminished triad (Root + Minor third + Diminished 5th) with a diminished 7th on top of it. It is written as °7.
A half-diminished 7th chord is a diminished triad with a MINOR 7th on top of it. It is written as ų7. Get it? Got it? Good.



Extended chords? All 9th chords are built with a major 9th. I know, crazy, right? Even when in the key the 9th would be a minor 2nd, the major 2nd is still the right thing to add on. (A 9th is whats called a "compound interval" - an interval above the octave. Its just a 2 in disguise. Perhaps next month someone should do an interval lesson, yes?)
They are also all named after the 7th chords in which they are built.
For this reason:
Maj9 = Maj7 + Major 2nd
9 = 7 + Major 2nd
m9 = m7 + Major 2nd
annnd so forth it. I'm sure you get it.


11ths is where the extensions get crazier. When the 11ths are built off major triads (i.e., "Dominant 7" and "Major 7" chords), you augment the 11th.
In all other cases, just slap on a perfect 11th (Perfect 4th).
The reason behind this is a perfect 4th over a major third is so close together, it sounds diminished. So they augmented the 4th (even though thats the most disharmonic note from the root) to make it sound prettier.
This is written as Maj9#11, or 9#11.
For example, C9#11 would be:
C (Root)
E (Major Third)
G (Perfect Fifth)
Bb (Dominant 7th)
D (Major 9/2nd)
F# (Augmented 11th/4th)

In cases with minor triads, just slap on that perfect 4th there. Yep.

13, just as in 9ths and (I guess) 11ths, you add the major interval even if in the key it is a minor interval. In this case, the simple interval would be a major 6th.
However, you'd still write out the #11 from before if its a major triad.
i.e.
C13#11.
Unless you drop the 11... which you probably will. The rules of dropping with extensions are drop the extension before the last, than the third of the triad.
Which means in a 13th, you're probably not going to actually play the 11th.



There are 2 other common types of chords in pop (not common in classical, and although I haven't seen them in jazz I haven't seen enough jazz to say they don't really appear.)
Add, and sus.
"Sus" stands for "suspended". Sus2 = "Suspended 2". Sus4 = "Suspended 4".
...but what does this all mean?
Well, it ORIGINATES from classical. In classical, a suspension would be when you pot a non-chord in at the start, but then change it to a chord note later.
For example, if I played a C chord on piano with a certain kind of suspension (a 9-8 for those who wanted to know - ignore that if you don't understand it), on my left hand I could play C G and on my right hand I could play E and D. Then, after a beat, the D would go to a C.
That's what a suspension is in classical music. Its not a type of chord there.
In pop music, they don't do that.
In pop music, a suspension is when you replace the third with either a 2 (sus2) or a 4 (sus4).

Add, is ofcourse, when you simply add an interval on. For this reason, in C major, C E G D would be "Cadd2", while C D G would be "Csus2".
So what seperates Cadd9 from Cmaj9 or something like that? The 7. If its just the triad and then an interval smacked on, the interval smacked on is what you "add".
This is also why there is no such thing as an add7 chord.

Another nifty thing about sus2 chords is that they are sus4 chords, and vice versa. Whaaa? Yeah, lets go back to our example with C:
C D G
Csus2, right?
Look at it from the perspective of G.
G C D
Gsus4! Wowzers.
So which do you call it? Whichever's root appears right before or after in a chord progression. i.e., if I go Dm Am Csus2/Gsus4 C, its a Csus2. If I go Dm Am Csus2/Gsus4 G, its a Gsus4. If I don't go to either (or if one is before or one is after), call it what you want. I prefer to call it the sus4 chord because its easier to identify the bass in that situation, but, I mean, life's tough get a helmet.


Examples of chords:
I can't think of an example of a full-diminished chords. They use both full-diminished and half-diminished chords often in metal (particularly death metal) because it is really really disharmonic, and often times thats the sound bands go for. I'm not too keen on it, otherwise I'd be more specific.
Half-diminished chords aren't that common either. I can think of one example in populaur music and one example in classical music.
There is a Bų chord in the bridge to Tiny Dancer by Elton John. Its a neat little way of modulating back (modulation would be another good lesson to do) to the original key of the song. I can't remember if it has the 7 or not, but it plays the role of a viių7 chord.
The other example I can think of is in the Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy (I think Claude was his first name... I always just called him Debussy lol.) This is the only time I can think of where the viių chord sounds pretty. It's pretty well done, even though Debussy hated theory.
You won't have to go far to find the usage of major and minor chords, nor maj7, m7, or 7 chords, and thus I'm not going to search far for an example. Note the 7 chord has more tension than any other chord (because each interval in it wants to resolve to the I/Root chord), and only appears once within a key. For this reason, its really easy to identify the key in songs that have a 7 chord. Cause, like, omg, the 7 is the V7 chord omg.
Major7s sound happy, Frank Zappa called them the happy chord; they're in many pop songs. I like the usage of it in Under the bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers a lot, as with the usage in the first chord of Drive by Incubus. Both Emaj7 chords.
Extention's aren't really that common in pop music... nor classical suprisingly. Infact, this may be the only time I result to jazz, but, this is just my understanding of it.
9s & beyond often appear in jazz, and also help the ability to change keys within song so fluently because of the added notes. Any questions about why, I can answer it, but the more I write this the more it seems to depend on other lessons entirely. Intervals and modulation should be done, too; modulation relies on this lesson, but this lesson does rely on intervals. Ignore that rant...
In pop music, the only example of extensions I can think of is... you're gonna hate me for this but I love this song...
Waterfalls by TLC.
Waterfalls is a typical jazz progression with a hiphop feel, but it involves a lot of 9 chords. Its also in the key of Eb! high five? The 9 chords are what give it that jazzy feel, even though nothing is actually jazzy about it. Its just maj9 chords on an electric organ held for whole measures. And somehow it comes off jazzy. Thats how jazzy 9 chords sound. lol
I can't think of any "add", except that I know some add9s do appear in Waterfalls (......what a sad person I am....).
Sus appear quite a lot. Right now by Van Halen and My friends by Dave Navarro are two examples I can think of off hand (and if I remember correctly, they're both Csus chords.) There's a lot more out there, but I'm sticking to examples I can think of.


So thats chords, pretty in depthly. But chords in a key?

If you wrote out all of a key and then identified the triads, the root would be a major, the second would be a minor, third minor, fourth major fifth major sixth minor and seventh diminished triad.
I'm going to write out numerals from here on, capital means major lowercase means minor.
These are the 7th chords in a key:
Imaj7
iim7
iiim7
IVmaj7
V7
vim7
viių7



there you have it. Any questions about chords, ask away. Any questions about intervals, hopefully wait until next month. Hopefully. lol
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Old 01-01-2007, 04:41 AM   #2
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i would of liked some chord diagrams or atleast tab notation. for "visualation" purposes. unorthodox but im sure it'll help a large number of us, me included.
and mabe general applications for each chord (like diminished 5th in metal music for example).

other than that, great lesson.
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Old 01-01-2007, 07:56 AM   #3
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Good lesson Dan, only thing i would say is that some people wont know what augment and diminish mean.. it might be worth just briefly explaining that at the top..

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Old 01-01-2007, 09:47 AM   #4
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Cheers man that's going to be really helpful for me, just i agree that some chord diagrams would really help
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Old 01-01-2007, 11:37 AM   #5
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Perhaps I missed it because I'm tired but it would definitely help if you explained what a major 3rd, perfect 5th, etc. are. This is pretty much beginner's theory and you can't assume the reader has too much background knowledge.
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Old 01-01-2007, 11:46 AM   #6
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In fairness, he does say you need some knowledge of intervals. I think it's sad thing if a player doesnt know what a major 3rd and a perfect 5th are. Maybe we need to take it right back to basics?
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Old 01-01-2007, 11:48 AM   #7
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Ah see, that's what I missed. Ignore my post. I'm sleepy.

Again, I might be missing it, but a definition of triads would be nice. You can obviously pick it up along the way, but it could be a little confusing strait off.
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Old 01-01-2007, 12:28 PM   #8
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I added an explanation (although I think I did poorly there) of triads, and (I think I did well here) examples of all chords.
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Old 01-01-2007, 12:38 PM   #9
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Cheers, great lesson. Some tabs and song examples would be nice.
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Old 01-01-2007, 12:48 PM   #10
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I... I just added song examples before you posted.... ?
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Old 01-01-2007, 01:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Applehead
In fairness, he does say you need some knowledge of intervals. I think it's sad thing if a player doesnt know what a major 3rd and a perfect 5th are. Maybe we need to take it right back to basics?


Ya, I know what a major and a minor 3rd are, but not a perfect 5th.

Someone should do a lesson or something around that kind of stuff.
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Old 01-01-2007, 02:07 PM   #12
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I believe a perfect fifth is just the fifth note of a major scale. If so it is found 2 frets higher on the next highest (in pitch) string to the string you are playing the root note on i.e if root is 5th fret E string then the perfect fifth would be found at the 7th fret of the A string. Hope that helps, and if I'm wrong feel free to correct me, I'm still comparitavely new to music and bass so I don't expect to have sound knowledge on the subject. And to UtBDan that was a most excellent lesson, good work!
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Old 01-01-2007, 02:19 PM   #13
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So a perfect fith is just a fith? What would an imperfect fith be then? Would it be a flat fith?
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Old 01-01-2007, 02:38 PM   #14
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that is the name of it, because it belongs to the group of "perfect intervals", being also the perfect 4th and the octave. this is more down to the physics than music. they are the most stable because of their pitch in relation to the tonic.
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Old 01-01-2007, 06:05 PM   #15
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Quote:
9 = 7 + Major 2nd
m9 = 7 + Major 2nd

For that first one I believe you meant a flat 7th right? Also I'm surprised you didn't cover suspended chords, they're pretty simple.

I asked Inky to do a lesson and now my walking bassline lesson has been pushed to the second page

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Applehead
that is the name of it, because it belongs to the group of "perfect intervals", being also the perfect 4th and the octave. this is more down to the physics than music. they are the most stable because of their pitch in relation to the tonic.

Yep, it's the reason why instead of calling the flat fifth a minor fifth, we call it diminished, and of course augmented for it being sharpened.
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Old 01-01-2007, 06:21 PM   #16
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suspended chords dont appear in classical, thats all I did this from - its basically a summary of the chords that appear in Rameau's (or is it Rasseau? ahhhh the french) Treatise on Harmony.

and in the first one, I meant 7 (as in, a x7 or dominant 7 chord) + Major 9
the second one I meant a m7 + Major 9. The "7" there refers to the 7th chord, not to the interval.
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Old 01-01-2007, 06:23 PM   #17
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Yeah I meant to say dominant 7th for that first one, sorry if it wasn't clear.
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Old 01-01-2007, 08:27 PM   #18
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i think i'll do the theory of the month next month on intervals (unless someone else already dibsed it) seeing as its pretty simple and i've got a decent grasp of it.
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Old 01-01-2007, 08:41 PM   #19
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^I did a lesson on walking basslines and posted it yesterday (with Inky's permission) but it got deleted . I can either repost it next month or do an interval lesson.
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Old 01-01-2007, 09:10 PM   #20
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^ That was a good lesson too but it did kind of rely on this one so maybe post it next month again?
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