#1
I've been working on a couple songs that have 4 different major chords in them. For example one of them has the progression D - F# - G - A (all major in that order). I just don't understand the theory behind it and was wondering if anyone could shed some light on this. I don't see it that often but when I do I believe it's only in reggae songs. So I wasn't sure if it was just a reggae thing? Just wondering....
#2
Quote by NaytronA7X
I've been working on a couple songs that have 4 different major chords in them. For example one of them has the progression D - F# - G - A (all major in that order). I just don't understand the theory behind it and was wondering if anyone could shed some light on this. I don't see it that often but when I do I believe it's only in reggae songs. So I wasn't sure if it was just a reggae thing? Just wondering....


That would be a I III IV V progression in the key of D major.

A pretty common progression except it would normally be played

DMaj F#Min GMaj Amaj

The 3rd being played as a major chord instead of a minor may be why you don't see it that often.
#3
I use stuff like that sometines. I'm not really sure about the theory part of it, but it seems to work in a weird way. Normally what I do is add a seventh, like on that progression add a seventh to the F# just for a lttle more flavor or whatever.
#5
Quote by Sean0913
It ends on the V...and goes to the I - it's not Diatonic, but its certainly tonal. The trick is knowing how to play over chords that are not diatonic. Not for beginners, and theory is gonna be the best way!

Best,

Sean


So do you know what would be the best theory guide for studying this? Cause I play lead mostly and I want to work with more progressions like this.
#6
The half step major chord to major chord is often seen in Spanish music, which is kinda sorta sometimes played in two keys at once. A common Spanish mood chord progression is: Am, Dm, F, E (Major!).

Also check the Jefferson Airplane's, "White Rabbit", for something else along these lines. (F# major to G Major) is the principal riff in the song.

Also find, Am > G > F > E, in Bob Dylans, "One More Cup of Coffee".

One way to improvise over the 1/2 step Major to Major, is simply bump to attendant Major scale up a half fret.

You wind up with Spanish sounding improvs. A step further is to investigate the double harmonic minor.

I should add that it is not uncommon in rock type progressions to sub out the minor chords for pure majors also, although sometimes it's actually a mid song key change taking place. I think the Dire Straits, "Solid Rock" has this type of changes. Not sure though, better check.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Sep 22, 2011,
#7
That's basically borrowed from the B harmonic minor scale, or the D major augmented scale (I'm pretty sure that's the correct name). It's basically a D major scale with a raised fifth, which explains why the F# chord would have a major third instead of a minor third. The song only borrows that note for that one chord, and it's only used to create tension before resolving to the IV (it's also used to resolve to the vi in many instances). The tension comes from the major third of the F# chord resolving up a semitone instead of a whole step, which is what it would do if the chord were minor. Common examples of it include:

Creep - Radiohead
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John
Tennessee Waltz - Patsy Cline
Georgia On My Mind - Hoagie Carmichael (made most famous by ray charles)

Wow, I thought I'd be able to remember more examples from modern music, but I guess people really don't use it anymore as much as I thought... anyway, it's one of those conventions that you don't really learn about until you hear it somewhere and ask someone. The best way to improvise over it would be to simply raise the 5 in your major scale to make it a harmonic major scale. That'll give you the note you need without completely changing the key center, which is what would happen if you tried to use the F# mixolydian scale or something of that nature. It's just a very quick passing chord, after all.
Last edited by Glen'sHeroicAct at Sep 22, 2011,
#9
Well, you can see the Key of D Major with D, G, and A. So what about the F#?

To find where (what you think are) out Key chords many people learn how Major and Minor Keys work together from one Tonic. In your case the Tonic would be D, so D Major and D Minor.

But this doesn't get you your anywhere with the F# does it.

Other than the Tonic, the strongest chord "against" the Tonic's chord is the V chord, remember the V chord is really harmonically a V7 chord, or the Dominant chord.

Once you understand the Dominant side you'll find that it contains it's own harmonic equivalents.

I the Key of D you have A7 as the V7 chord. But you also have three other 7th type chords that move in minor thirds from the V7. To make a long story short...

In the Key of D Major, you have A7...but also have C7, Eb7, and F#7. This is due to tension, alterations, substitutions, and how you can intorduce symmetric scales into Diatonic Keys.

The F# is nothing more than a harmonic equivalent to the A7 chord.

Experiment, use A7, or C7, or Eb7 in place of the F#. You can even try any of those equivalents for the A, or A7, at the end of the progression.

So experiment using A7, C7, Eb7, and F# for both the F# and A chords. All the combinations have their own unique sound. Some better than others, but unique.

HINT to bring it full circle, the 7th chord that usually sound the smoothest have their Roots based in the parallel Major and Minor tonalities. IOW, the A, C, and F# roots are found in D Major or D Minor so they will sound the best. The Eb root is not found in D Major or D Minor, so it will sound the furthest out.

(something to investigate) Learning how the Dominant chord leads to diminished/symmetric scales (ala the H-W and W-H scales) you find that each of those scales contains:

four maj triads
four minor triads
four 7th chords
four m7 chords
four m7b5 chords
four dim7 chords

This opens the doors to a lot of different sounds and is one vehicle for learning how to understand tension and release in music.
Last edited by MikeDodge at Sep 22, 2011,
#11
Quote by NaytronA7X
So do you know what would be the best theory guide for studying this? Cause I play lead mostly and I want to work with more progressions like this.


For free? Check out Mike Dodge's website.

For paid instruction, I'd say our Academy might be worth a look. If you want a catalog on our courses, just send me your email in a PM to my profile, and I'll send you a pdf of our course catalog.

But free? Mike Dodge, and he did a great job responding to the answer of this progression, but its important to understand how HE did it. That's theory!

Best,

Sean
#12
Quote by Glen'sHeroicAct
No, that's a different progression from the one I'm talking about. But yes, that one's been used to death.


It still uses the F# in the key of D dude, the similarities are obvious.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#13
I just don't understand the theory behind it and was wondering if anyone could shed some light on this. I don't see it that often but when I do I believe it's only in reggae songs.
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#14
Quote by ccarlos196
I just don't understand the theory behind it and was wondering if anyone could shed some light on this. I don't see it that often but when I do I believe it's only in reggae songs.
____________________


The F# major chord uses an A#, which slides up to the B in the G chord.


C# -> D
A# -> B
F# -> G


Now, every note in the chord just moves up half a step. It's easy to play, which may be one reason it is used.

Depending on the voicing, you could even have A -> A# -> B in one voice moving from the D chord to the F# to the G.

Other than that, there's not much to get. The progression itself follows a pretty standard movement: tonic -> mediant -> pre-dominant -> dominant.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#15
Quote by MikeDodge

I the Key of D you have A7 as the V7 chord. But you also have three other 7th type chords that move in minor thirds from the V7. To make a long story short...

In the Key of D Major, you have A7...but also have C7, Eb7, and F#7. This is due to tension, alterations, substitutions, and how you can intorduce symmetric scales into Diatonic Keys.

Could you explain this a little further?
#16
pixies - where is my mind, also

i i would say it's V-VI in the mediant key. And mike dodge, i don't think it's equivalent to A major, i know with the extensions of the A major as dominant you could have a b9, which would be a Bb, but this is an A#, so although it might look enharmonically like that, the resolution is literally totally opposite, and that A# could never be actually heard as a Bb, so i think the V-VI in the mediant is the best way to look at it.

and cranky captain, without getting to much into the fact that you put an exclamation mark after E just cos it was major, yeah, VI-V, reverse that, then use VI as IV in the relative major, that's all this is.

D -- F# -- G -- A

I - #III? - IV - V in D major
--- [this - bit]
III - V --- VI - VII

by the way i'm not saying this starts on chord III or ends on VII i'm just using this to illustrate the relationship between the two important chords.
Last edited by gavk at Sep 23, 2011,