#1
I've been learning about writing chord progressions for a week or two now, and I just have one small question...

Working with an interactive Circle of Fifths wheel, I quickly noticed that there are 3 major chords, 3 minor chords, and 1 diminished chord that fit within each key.

I have noticed that a lot of the songs I have learned up to this point have more than 3 major chords --- for example "Beer" by the Reel Big Fish has a chord progression of A major, F major, C major, and G major. It doesn't seem to me like the song is changing key or anything, if it is let me know.

Are these just examples of accidental notes where the musicians recognize that it sounds good even if it isn't officially in the scale, or am I not understanding something about this theory?
#3
yeah thats basically it the artist just like how it sounds

also there are borrowed chords and passing tones etc.

mypoint is theres alot of things you can do with a chord progression and it will sound right even out of key notes you just learn about them and stuff
Last edited by supersac at Jun 23, 2011,
#4
I've never listened this song. tell me something about it:are these power chords?
#5
man, I've just listened to the song and I've checked on a tab hosted on UG.com and it seems to be A minor.
correct me if I'm wrong
#6
I guess if it were power chords they wouldn't be major or minor, eh?

They play it with ska style strumming, i think its just the highest strings, but it might be every string idk
#7
The thing to realise about keys, is that it's primarily only made out of 7 notes. Of those 7 notes you can make an endless amount of chords. For instance:

The Key of C:
C D E F G A B

with those notes you can make (for starters):

C major : C E G
G major: G B D
F major: F A C
A minor: A C E


Of course this is just the basics of the circle of fiths and chord theory, but this is why you can get lots of chords which aren't major which 'fit' in the key. Hope this helps.
That's what she said
#8
Yes, if they were power chords they wouldn't be neither major nor minor, then they could be used. but I guess they aren't. anyway, i think it's A minor, man.
#9
Wow that actually is an A minor rather than an A major... I guess I've been playing it differently for all these years haha! Maybe that was a bad example...
#10
I am glad I could help you at all. anyway, don't you ever think there won't be any songs with more than three major chords. you are probably going to learn about borrowed chords and you will see how many possibilities it'll open in your composition methods.
any other doubts?
#11
Maybe you should take a look at how chords are actually built from scales.

For example, C Major consists of the notes C D E F G A B C
In the most basic terms to find the chords of the scale, you skip every other note.
For example, start on C, skip D, E, skip F, G. This gives you the notes C E G, which is C major.

In a major scale, the chords built off of the first, fourth, and fifth scale degrees (C, F, and G in C major) are going to be major chords.

The chords built off of the second, third, and sixth degree are going to be minor ( D minor, E minor, A minor in C major)

Lastly, the diminished chord will be built off of the seventh degree (B dim in C major).

You're asking how come sometimes there are more then 3 major / minor chords in a progression.. well this is because of chord substitution/borrowing.

A lot of the time composers will borrow chords from the parallel key. For example if they are writing in C major, they might borrow a B major chord from C minor, C major's parallel key.
#12
Yeah you got Beer wrong, It starts with an A minor.

It goes Am F C G (roman numerals would be i VI II VII), which is a very common chord progression in pop/rock/ska - in fact most modern music. Its worth memorizing this progression in a few different keys and positions. I would also recommend becoming very familiar with the progression C G Am F (numerals I V vi IV), which is a very similar progression, just starting on the C and not the Am, but this time the tonal centre (key) is the C, not the A minor. Learn the progressions in several keys, positions, and styles.

There was a comedy band who were on telly a while back who did a medley of a hundreds of (hundreds = 36) instantly recognisable pop and rock songs keeping the same chord progression going throughout the whole thing, really showed me how often the same four chord progression crops up. (almost as often as the good old three chord I IV V progression it seems)

edit - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I - found a clip

If you dont understand the roman numerals then I suggest you look for a lesson on it as it would be useful to understand, especially as you are learning about what chords are in a key.

To answer your original question though, remember that music is about what sounds good and so you will sometimes find that it sounds better to break the rules - music theory is just a guide but good things happen when you get experimental. If it sounds good, it is good.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Jun 24, 2011,
#13
As an aside, sometimes people do add major chords from outside the key. They're technically not in the 'home' key but as so commonly used that they sound right.

For example,

1) Putting a major chord a tone below the key centre (building a major chord on the b7).

Like the chorus of Paul Simon's 'Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard'. It's in the key of A but he sneaks a G in there also: A - G - D - E

2) For an extreme example, sometimes people put major chords all over the place in a way that's tough to explain theoretically. For instance, most people would consider 'Dock of the Bay' to be in the key of 'G', but check out all the 'out of key' major chords!:

Verse: G - B - C - A
Chorus: G - E

So at the end of the day, it's usually best to go with what sounds good to your ears - even if you can't necessarily explain it theoretically.

Good luck!

Steve
#14
Quote by yookiwooki
I've been learning about writing chord progressions for a week or two now, and I just have one small question...

Working with an interactive Circle of Fifths wheel, I quickly noticed that there are 3 major chords, 3 minor chords, and 1 diminished chord that fit within each key.

I have noticed that a lot of the songs I have learned up to this point have more than 3 major chords --- for example "Beer" by the Reel Big Fish has a chord progression of A major, F major, C major, and G major. It doesn't seem to me like the song is changing key or anything, if it is let me know.

Are these just examples of accidental notes where the musicians recognize that it sounds good even if it isn't officially in the scale, or am I not understanding something about this theory?



You're not understanding something about theory.

There's a saying, learn to walk before you can run. You should make sure that you understand that Diatonic isn't the end all be all of Key understanding. Honestly if anyone doesnt understand Diatonic theory, skip the rest of this, because I'm about to sink you guys in the mud.

The real Idea of key is where is the central tone, anything can be used. In any key I can use 13 chords just at the triad level, and tonally resolve it how I want.

Where the song resolves to is your KEY. The filler can consist of intelligently applied chords in and out of the so-called diatonic key, be it Modal Interchange, or whatever.

Best,

Sean
#15
Most modern guitarists don't really work in key. it detracts from the feeling. Learning them is good I guess but unless you are playing classical music you won't use progressions that are "Official".