#1
I'll try to keep my question(s) short. For starters, I've been tirelessly reseaching theory for months now. I know a great deal in some areas. But in others (probably the more important areas) I have a very fragmented knowledge.

My main issue thus far is my awful inability to identify chords by ear. I have NO idea how to go about figuring out what types of chords I'm hearing. I have a very basic idea of what I'm hearing, but I can't pinpoint it for the life of me. What is a good way to identify chords by ear?

Secondly, when one says to use a certain chord over a scale, what does this mean? I know that it means it's in key with the scale, but why, for instance, does an Fmaj7#11 go well with an F Lydian? How can you tell what types of chords complement scales?

Lastly, how do scales lead into each other? I know that most songs don't stick to a single key, so how does the transition occur? Any principles to abide for this concept?

Thanks SO much to anyone who can answer. This has been really impeding my progress for a while now. I want to write rich songs with a good flavor using chords, but thus far, I have no idea how to use them. I must know over 200 by now, but haven't the slightest how to use them. >_< I guess the best way to state my predicament is a vast amount of theoretical knowledge, but little knowledge of how to apply it all. So far, I've been completely self-taught from the internet, so I've learned a lot of things backwards, so needless to say, I'm a bit discouraged.

Also, please provide examples for each question! I learn far better by example! Thanks. (Any tips for memorization/practice would be much appreciate as well)
Last edited by vermanubis at Sep 17, 2010,
#2
Well to hear what types of chords you just need a lot of experience for it. A major and a minor chord aren`t that difficult to hear, a '7' isn`t also a huge problem but then you go to chords like minor6 and it starts to get harder, but just play it alot and practise it.

F Lydian uses the notes F - G - A - B - C - D - E so an Fmaj7#11 has an F, A, C, E, and a B so yeah it fits nice in it.

To be honest i`m to tired to answer your last question.
#3
the use of secondary dominants is common when changing keys
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#4
First, the best way to get to know chords is by exposure. Play them over and over, find new ones, etc. Also, you should get to know what makes chord shapes based off parts of scales.

Second, chords complement scales by being made up of parts of that scale. The Fmaj7#11 works well with F Lydian because some of the notes in F Lydian are being used in the chord. For example, the Fmaj7#11 chord would have the #11 of the Lydian scale, or the #2. I think...

Third, I'm not a huge expert on this. I'm just going to make an assumption here, and someone else can correct me if need be. But you can likely link scales together with their common notes. If F minor and F major are the two scales, they would share the notes F, G, and B flat. You could use any of those 3 notes to link the two scales together.

But the best way to learn this stuff is by experimenting with chords, finding songs to play along with in the scales, etc.

Good luck! I hope this helped and that I wasn't too far off the mark.
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#5
That's fine, man. I don't expect the answers all in one sitting. Anything is much appreciated.
#6
Haha, these 3 replies are more informative and concrete than the past two months of internet theory cramming lol.

Thanks so much, guys.

Edit: Also, one final question if anybody is willing to answer: how can you know which chords resolve into each other or go well?
Last edited by vermanubis at Sep 17, 2010,
#7
Quote by vermanubis
What is a good way to identify chords by ear?

Well, try some ear training. There is a nice ear training practice at http://www.musictheory.net/
Trying to pick up on the qualities of each chord as you play them helps. Try to hear the similarities between chords of the same type, and dfferences between others. Play a G7 and a G major for example. You should notice a definite difference in sound. If you have a guitar teacher try to work on that. Unfortunately it's difficult to practice on your own by playing different chords and trying to say what quality it is. Just listen, and be aware. and ear training is good.

Quote by vermanubis

Secondly, when one says to use a certain chord over a scale, what does this mean? I know that it means it's in key with the scale, but why, for instance, does an Fmaj7#11 go well with an F Lydian? How can you tell what types of chords complement scales?

Using your example, the #11 is the same as a #4. The Lydian mode gets it's unique sound by utilizing the raised fourth degree.
Fmaj7#11 consists of these notes: F A C E B. B is the #11.
The F Lydian mode consists of these notes: F G A B C D E F
As you can see they both share the raised fourth. If you played F major over that or used an Fmajor7(add11), the B and Bb would clash.
You look at the notes in the chords and then pick the scale that would mesh well (or vice versa)
Learning to harmonize a scale in thirds would be a good way to find out what chords go with each scale/key.

Quote by vermanubis

Lastly, how do scales lead into each other? I know that most songs don't stick to a single key, so how does the transition occur? Any principles to abide for this concept?

A lot of songs are in one key but a lot aren't. The transition between keys is known as modulation. Search some info on it. There are a few basic types of modulation. Abrupt modulation where there is no transition and it changes immediately. An example would be if I was playing in C and then immediately modulated to F#. This would be jarring and perhaps not the most beautiful modulation considering that it's a tritone (but I'm sure there's a way to make it work wonderfully) Abrupt modulation can be really cool sometimes.
You can use common chords, meaning chords the key you're using and the key you want to modulate to have in common, then add the chords/notes of the new key. C and D major for example. They share G and Em, and have two differing notes, F# and C# (which means they're closely related). This is most effective when you know how the chords function in both keys.
Another common one (often used in conjunction with common/pivot chords) is to play the dominant(7) of the next key. The dominant in D major is A. If we're in C we might be playing something like this: C Em F G A7 D A7 Bm etc. The A7 contains a C# which isn't in the key of C and an A7 pulls towards D major. You can slowly add in notes of the next key too. Play a melody in C but then change the F notes to F#, have the chords follow suit and bam, you're in G if you do it well. Also avoiding the leading tone of the key you want to leave can be good. Meaning if you're in C and want to modulate, try to avoid B to C.
This is all about changing where the tonic is.
Again, it would be helpful to look into the harmonized major scale and chord functions within. Really understand the major scale inside and out. How to use it, how the individual part that make it up interact with each other, and how it acts as a whole.

Quote by vermanubis

Thanks SO much to anyone who can answer. This has been really impeding my progress for a while now. I want to write rich songs with a good flavor using chords, but thus far, I have no idea how to use them. I must know over 200 by now, but haven't the slightest how to use them. >_< I guess the best way to state my predicament is a vast amount of theoretical knowledge, but little knowledge of how to apply it all.

Learning about keys, scale construction, and scale harmonization will be one of your greatest friends. Voice leading could be of use as well. After that, go for chord substitution/extension and modulation. It's ALWAYS a good idea to apply your newly learned knowledge.

Hopefully I was able to help answer your questions.

(It would be helpful to know what theory you understand already)

EDIT:
Quote by vermanubis

Edit: Also, one final question if anybody is willing to answer: how can you know which chords resolve into each other or go well?

See the answer right above this quote. Understand the major scale and it's harmonization. Learn the functions of the chords.
For starters, V and viio have a strong pull to I.

PS: I suggest you go through all the lessons on the link I posted as well. Music theory builds upon itself so having a strong base is critical.
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Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Sep 17, 2010,
#8
You need to train your ear if you want to be able to find chords in a song without wanting to rip your hair out. I'd recommend using a piano or computer software to play melodic and harmonic intervals until you can identify them easily. Then over time as your ear develops you'll be able to identify differences between minor, major, diminished, augmented, sevenths, whatever chords you encounter. Then the hardest part is done and you just need to use your knowledge of what key the song is in to determine exactly which chord is being played.

The easiest method to make sure a chord won't clash with the others in the song is to use diatonic chords (chords formed from the notes in the scale the song uses). For example, if you're playing in C major you could play Amin7 with the notes A C E G. Experiment for yourself with accidentals (notes outside of the scale) and chromatic chords, see what sounds good for yourself. You don't need to strictly adhere to the "rules" of music theory.
#9
Quote by vermanubis
I'll try to keep my question(s) short. For starters, I've been tirelessly reseaching theory for months now. I know a great deal in some areas. But in others (probably the more important areas) I have a very fragmented knowledge.

My main issue thus far is my awful inability to identify chords by ear. I have NO idea how to go about figuring out what types of chords I'm hearing. I have a very basic idea of what I'm hearing, but I can't pinpoint it for the life of me. What is a good way to identify chords by ear?

Secondly, when one says to use a certain chord over a scale, what does this mean? I know that it means it's in key with the scale, but why, for instance, does an Fmaj7#11 go well with an F Lydian? How can you tell what types of chords complement scales?

Lastly, how do scales lead into each other? I know that most songs don't stick to a single key, so how does the transition occur? Any principles to abide for this concept?

Thanks SO much to anyone who can answer. This has been really impeding my progress for a while now. I want to write rich songs with a good flavor using chords, but thus far, I have no idea how to use them. I must know over 200 by now, but haven't the slightest how to use them. >_< I guess the best way to state my predicament is a vast amount of theoretical knowledge, but little knowledge of how to apply it all. So far, I've been completely self-taught from the internet, so I've learned a lot of things backwards, so needless to say, I'm a bit discouraged.

Also, please provide examples for each question! I learn far better by example! Thanks. (Any tips for memorization/practice would be much appreciate as well)


1. Do you ear train with intervals? You should be very strong with interval and inversions of interval training before trying to tackle every chord.

2. It means that the user should be able to identify every chord that can be constructed from a given scale. To do this you'd need to know how to name all the notes in any chord, and triad. In the F Lydian example, I know it goes because the #4/#11 is a characteristic of a Lydian scale. I also know all then notes which make up every kind of chord, so using my knowledge to construct a Maj7#11 chord, I can do this. I teach students how to do this every day, Its not as hard as you might think.

3. Leading into another key is a concept called modulation. You can wiki it or Google it, but there again you'd need to know every Major Key and how to numerically analyze them so that if you were going to do a ii V I to the new key, you'd know what they are talking about.

Your problem with theory and yet needing to know how to apply it, is one Im well familiar with, given my past struggles. Today its my life's calling to help others where I once fought and struggled.

Congratulations on your journey. Hope this helped.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Sep 17, 2010,