I started taking lessons. I told the teacher I've been playing for a while and I need to know more chords so I can write my own songs. My first couple lessons were about learning what chords are in a key and what the relative minor is. We also talked about the position of the chords like I, ii, iii, iv, and so on. So our last two lessons have been about seventh chords like M7, m7, 7, m7b5, and dim7. He gave me each of these in the 6th root and 5th root (G and C). He gave me the song autumn leaves to help learn these chords but is there a way to apply these chords to the "what chords are in a key" structure? Also, do u have any practice suggestions.
I'm not sure if I made sense. I'm talking about the sequence of chords in a key. Like Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, diminished. The key of G would be the chords G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim. I'm asking, can u put the seventh chords in a sequence like that. Btw, I'm talking about the bar shape sevenths.
Yes, exactly. So, Gmaj7, Am7, Bm7, Cmaj7, D7. Em7, F#m7b5.

Same with extension chords also. Notice above there is only one 7 chord (D7), so this can be a big clue what key you're in (a 5th below, 7 semitones below the root of the 7). But beware, there are plenty of times when this doesn't work. Similarly, notice the two m7 chords, a tone apart. These must be at ii and iii (in a major piece).
Ok. But why did you use the b5 instead of diminished?
Quote by bryan.bailey.39
Ok. But why did you use the b5 instead of diminished?

Because when it comes to seventh chords there are two types that include a flat fifth (b5). There are the Minor 7th flat 5 (m7b5) which are built on the seventh degree in major scale harmony. So in the case of the key of G major, that chord would be F#m7b5. It contains the intervals : Root, minor third, flattened fifth, and minor seventh.

Then there is the diminished seventh chord. The difference is in the seventh note of the chord. While a m7b5 chord contains a b7 (flat seven) the dim7 chord contains a bb7 (a diminished seventh).

So lets build a diminished and m7b5 of the root of C.
Cm7b5 = C Eb Gb Bb
Cdim7 = C Eb Gb Bbb (a double flatted B, enharmonic to the note A)

Hope that helps.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”

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Do you understand where the chords in a key come from?

They come from harmonizing the key scale. So let's take the key of C major (no sharps, no flats).

To figure out all the triads, you just start the scale with the root (C), third (E) and fifth (G). If you also want to figure out all the seventh chords, start the scale with the seventh note of the scale (B). You can also figure out the 9th, 11th and 13th chords in a key by using the same method.

So let's figure out all 7th chords in a key.

``````     R 3 5 7
I    C E G B - Cmaj7 (1, 3, 5, 7)
ii   D F A C - Dm7 (1, b3, 5, b7)
iii  E G B D - Em7 (1, b3, 5, b7)
IV   F A C E - Fmaj7 (1, 3, 5, 7)
V    G B D F - G7 (1, 3, 5, b7)
vi   A C E G - Am7 (1, b3, 5, b7)
viio B D F A - Bm7b5 (1, b3, b5, b7)``````

As I said, if you want to know the extended chords in a key, you can use the same method. For 9th chords start the scale with the 2nd note, for 11th chords, start the scale with the 4th note, and for 13th chords, start the scale with the 6th note. Remember that when playing extended chords, you usually omit some notes to make them sound more clear. An extended chord only needs root, third, seventh and the extension (9th, 11th or 13th). And you can also omit the root if you want to, but then the chord may start sounding like something else. But yeah, basically 13th chords have all notes of the scale in them but you never play them like that (it would just sound really unclear). As I said, a 13th chord only needs root, third, seventh and 13th in it.

Also, not all chords sound good with extensions. Learn how they are used in other songs. That way you'll figure out how to use them tastefully.
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I understand what ur talking about, how to build the chords. But its a bit much for me as I don't have the background knowledge yet. In simpler terms, why did u use the m7b5 instead of the dim? The G major key has a dim at the vii spot but in the Gmaj7 key you have a m7b5 at the vii spot. I'm guessing it just works out that way in the sequence mathmatically? Or do they do that just because it sounds better. I also understand that sometimes they can be switched out, like in a major key subbing the V spot with a seventh chord. I would like to know if there were more common substitutions like that.
So am I correct if these are the chords ina key,

G major - M m m M M m dim
G minor - m dim M m m M M m

Would this be a key,

Gmaj7 - M7 m7 m7 M7 7 m7 dim7

Then that would be my question, why am I seeing the m7b5 instead of the dim7.
The vii chord, built including the 7th, is a m7b5. The Dim chord would just be a triad, and a Dim7 would have a bb7 (double flattened 7th) which wouldn't be part of the Major scale.

There's no such thing as a Gmaj7 key, all the extentions (7ths, 9th, 13ths etc etc) are built from the major scale.

I also understand that sometimes they can be switched out, like in a major key subbing the V spot with a seventh chord. I would like to know if there were more common substitutions like that.

This isnt really a substitution, a D7 chord exists as the V in G, as does a D. You are just adding the b7th (C) to your D triad.

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

The C is the 4th degree of G major.

I could, if I wanted, just keep stacking thirds on top of a G chord and it the chord itself would still be in the key of G.

G-B-D-F#-A-C-E
1st-3rd-5th-7th-9th-13th

There's a Gmaj13 which can be played in place of your G tonic if you really want to
Last edited by MapOfYourHead at Oct 17, 2014,
Quote by bryan.bailey.39
I understand what ur talking about, how to build the chords. But its a bit much for me as I don't have the background knowledge yet. In simpler terms, why did u use the m7b5 instead of the dim? The G major key has a dim at the vii spot but in the Gmaj7 key you have a m7b5 at the vii spot. I'm guessing it just works out that way in the sequence mathmatically? Or do they do that just because it sounds better. I also understand that sometimes they can be switched out, like in a major key subbing the V spot with a seventh chord. I would like to know if there were more common substitutions like that.

Well it could have to do with language also. I have been studying music at many schools in my life, both in europe and america. And i found that in the US teachers often used the term "diminished" (1 b3 b5) and "diminished seventh" (1 b3 b5 bb7) chords when talking about fully diminished chords, and half diminished if it was 1 b3 b5 b7. Where i come (Sweden) we generally call a chord consistent of 1 b3 b5 a minor flat 5, not a diminished chord. We only call it a diminished chord if it contains those intervals and a double flattened seventh (bb7).

To speak in simpler terms as you said, there is no diminished chords in the key of G major, on the seventh degree you have a minor chord with a flattened fifth, and if we make it a seventh chord we have a "Half Diminished" (1 b3 b5 b7). True diminished chords are not found when dealing with harmony based on the major scale, but when dealing with harmony from the melodic minor family. I'm not sure if i am doing more good than harm here, since i don't know how familiar you are with harmony derived from anything else than the major scale.

Hope that helped abit, cheers.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”

Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Gmaj7 is not a key. Did you understand what I wrote? You just add sevenths to the triads of the harmonized major scale and that way you get all the possible 7th chords diatonic to the key.

m7b5 chord is a diminished triad (1, b3, b5), but with a minor seventh (b7). Bm7b5 has notes B, D, F (which form a Bdim chord) and A (which makes it a Bm7b5 chord) in it. The name Bm7b5 just separates it from diminished 7th chord (dim7) that has a diminished 7th instead of a minor 7th in it (1, b3, b5, bb7). So Bdim7 would be B, D, F, Ab. There is no Ab in C major scale so Bdim7 isn't part of C major. But the Bdim (triad - B, D, F) is part of C major, and if you add the seventh note that is part of the C major scale, it becomes B, D, F, A which is Bm7b5. Don't get confused by the chord name. It is not a minor 7th chord. It is a "half-diminished" chord. As I said, the chord symbol is there to separate it from the diminished 7th chord that has a diminished 7th (bb7) in it.

^ Yeah, and as Sickz said, major keys don't have any fully diminished chords in them. Yeah, maybe using Bmb5 instead of Bdim when referring to the vii triad in a major key would be less confusing.

And as MapOfYourHead said, adding the 7th/extensions is optional. In the key of G major both D and D7 chords function as dominant chords. The D7 is a D major chord with an added minor 7th which makes the pull back to the tonic chord stronger. So I wouldn't really look at the 7th chords as being completely different chords. They are triads with an added 7th. And what kind of 7th you need to add depends on which key you are in. Just look at the key scale and use the notes from that scale to build the chords. (You aren't limited to just 7 notes but it is best to start with just the key scale because that way we'll keep it simple in the beginning.)
Quote by AlanHB
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Oct 17, 2014,
Ok. I understand what u guys are sayin.
So what would this be,
M7 m7 m7 M7 7 m7 dim7
So its a major key, just with seventh chords?
Quote by bryan.bailey.39
So its a major key, just with seventh chords?

Yes. You can even do this with extended chords, such as:
• 13th chords (1, 3, 5 {optional tone}, b7, 9 [2nd interval as an octave]) {optional tone}, 11 [4th interval as an octave] {optional tone}, 13 [6th interval as an octave]);
• 11th chords (1, 3, 5 {optional tone}, b7, 9 {optional tone}, 11);
• or 9th chords (1, 3, 5 {optional tone}, b7, 9).

Just don't get too crazy with it yet.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Oct 18, 2014,
Quote by bryan.bailey.39
Ok. I understand what u guys are sayin.
So what would this be,
M7 m7 m7 M7 7 m7 dim7

Assuming you're referring to chord roots that line up with pitches from a major scale, then all these chords can be built from their respective key locations, apart from dim7.

Here is C major in a couple of octaves. I've made bold the specific seventh chord built off B.

C D E F G A B C D E F G A B

B->D = b3 interval
D->F = b3 interval. B->F = b5 interval. Measuring from B, we get 1, b3, b5 (aka diminished triad).
F->A = 3 interval. B->A = b7 interval. from B, we get 1, b3, b5, b7 (akd m7b5 ... a m7 chord is spelled 1, b3, 5, b7, hence the use of "b5" to name the above collection of intervals using chord "shorthand".

A dim7 has intervals 1, b3, b5, bb7. So, for above, instead of B,D,F,A the A gets dropped a semitone, to get B,D,F,Ab ... Ab isn't in C major.

So, your example would be nearly all chords from C major, and one (B dim7) that isn't. Doesn't mean you can't use it. Does mean its not in the key of C major.

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 18, 2014,
Quote by jerrykramskoy
So, your example would be nearly all chords from C major, and one (B dim7) that isn't. Doesn't mean you can't use it. Does mean its not in the key of C major.

Yes, the Ab isn't part of the C major scale, but if you've playng in C and you hit an Ab, you're still playing in C.
Yes, the Ab isn't part of the C major scale, but if you've playng in C and you hit an Ab, you're still playing in C.

Yeah. Actually using a Bdim7 chord in C major isn't that rare. The b6 is a really common accidental.

But if we are talking about diatonic chords, Bdim7 is not part of C major. And I would first try to understand diatonic chords before moving to non-diatonic chords.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Charvel So Cal
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Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Yes, the Ab isn't part of the C major scale, but if you've playng in C and you hit an Ab, you're still playing in C.

Hi,

I've had this discussion a couple of times here. When I learned theory, playing in a key meant that a particular scale is being used (e.g. major) for building chords and melody, rooted of a given pitch (e.g. C).

Playing a non-diatonic pitch (e.g Ab) had no real impact on the music being in the key of C major. But starting to add in non-diatonic chords (e.g modal interchange) at some stage changes things enough so that the piece is in the tonality of C, but not longer just in the key of C major. (e.g. C, Am, Abmaj7, G) can be seen as borrowing the Abmaj7 from C Aeolian or C HM (briefly).

Does this agree with your understanding? (Some folk treat the words key and tonality as synonyms (without regard for scale type), while others use key as I described above).

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 18, 2014,
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Hi,

I've had this discussion a couple of times here. When I learned theory, playing in a key meant that a particular scale is being used (e.g. major) for building chords and melody, rooted of a given pitch (e.g. C).

Playing a non-diatonic pitch (e.g Ab) had no real impact on the music being in the key of C major. But starting to add in non-diatonic chords (e.g modal interchange) at some stage changes things enough so that the piece is in the tonality of C, but not longer just in the key of C. (e.g. C, Am, Bbmaj7, G) can be seen as borrowing the Bbmaj7 from C mixolydian (briefly).

Does this agree with your understanding? (Some folk treat the words key and tonality as synonyms, while others use key as I described above).

cheers, Jerry

Key of C major doesn't mean you need to use C major scale all the time. Key of C major just means your tonic is C and it is a major chord.

Key is more than just a scale. You can use all 12 notes in a key. Key just defines the functions of those notes.

Using borrowed chords doesn't mean you change your key. Bb major is a pretty common borrowed chord in the key of C major.

I understand that in jazz you talk about ii-V-I being in the key of this and that while the tonality is still the same. But it's just the ii-V-I of that key. The actual key doesn't really change. That's called tonicization. You kind of "visit" another key without really changing the key. But if the key actually changes, it is called a modulation.

So you are still in C major. You are just borrowing chords from other keys.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Charvel So Cal
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Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Oct 18, 2014,
Personally, I only work with tonality and view harmony as such, but I get what you're saying. Viewing your tonality as 7 notes + 5 more is probably best left until you've got a firm grasp of the 7. Based on this, I think your definition of playing in key is only applicable to a learning environment and I believe it should be followed and merged with the more encapsulating view of playing in [x] tonality - which could also be called playing in [x] key, as the two would no longer be separate entities.
Interesting stuff. Ok, so I'm trying to learn more chords so I can extend my ability to write songs beyond the basic chords. My lessons have been,

The notes in the key of G and the chords that go with them
G A B C D E F#
I ii iii IV V vi vii
M m m M M m dim
Chords - G Am Bm C D Em F#dim

This alone, helped immensely. I printed out the above info for all the keys in major and minor and the relative for each. Now I can just pick a key and know what chords to mess around with. But, if Im making up a song I still am not sure how to use the relative. I'm guessing you use it for change of pace but I'm not sure how.

Also in my lesson,
We went over different common progressions
I IV V
I IV viidim
I iii IV V
I IV iii V
I vi IV V
ii V I
I'm not really sure what those mean or how he came up with them so I just use them to practice and get used to different chord combos.

My next lesson we learned the seventh chords in the bar shapes.
6th root - GM7 G7 Gm7 Gm7b5 Gdim7
5th root - CM7 C7 Cm7 Cm7b5 Cdim7
He gave me the song Autumn Leaves to put them to use. These chords can be pretty difficult but I'm getting better. Then he said I could apply these to the key formula and u can take those bar shapes up or down to get the note you need,
GM7 Am7 Bm7 CM7 D7 Em7 F#dim7

So basically, I'm wondering where to go next. What should I work on, based on my lessons, to better be able to compose my own chord progressions.
your on the right track...learn that stuff until your comfortable with it in several keys...then learn some inversions of the chords - triads and 4 note chords..the inversions are what harmony is made of ... this will make more sense when you get to that point in your studies

play well

wolf
The common chord progressions you listed are all built using the notes of the major scale. And how your teacher came up with them? He has listened to lots of music and many songs use that kind of progressions. I would pay attention to the sound. ii V I really means nothing if you have no idea of what it sounds like.

I would have asked your teacher to give some examples of songs where those chord progressions are used. You'll understand this stuff a lot easier in practice.

This video is a bit of a cliche but it helps you at recognizing one of the most common chord progressions - the infamous "four chord progression", ie I V vi IV. As you can hear, it is used in many popular songs. After watching this video, I bet you'll recognize this chord progression whenever you hear it. It has a distinct sound to it.

But yeah. Just experiment with the chords in the key. You could also build chord progressions by using notes outside of the key. Just experiment and pay attention to the sound. But yeah, I would start with chords in the key. You can come up with new chord progressions by trying different things and listening. There are no rules. If it sounds good to you, it is good, and that's all that matters.

And about the relative minor thing... I don't like it when minor is only taught as the relative key of major. It is good to see the connection but people don't always understand why a song is in Am and not in C major. Both of them have the same key signature and the same key scale. Am and C major scales have the same notes in them. But what makes them different is the tonic. In A minor, the tonic chord is Am and in C major the tonic chord is C. A minor doesn't sound like C major. You feel a pull towards your tonic chord.

(Tonic is your home chord and you should learn to hear it. Let's try a simple progression and you'll understand the idea. First play the chords C, F and G. Now doesn't it feel a bit incomplete? Now play C major. Now it should sound complete. That's your tonic chord.)

But yeah, you may understand the difference between minor and major easier by comparing parallel keys instead of relative keys. Parallel keys have the same tonic. C minor and C major are parallel keys. So compare C minor and C major to each other. You may notice that they have 4 notes in common. C minor has a flat 3rd, 6th and 7th note when compared to C major. Here is the formula of the minor scale: root, major 2nd, minor 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, minor 6th, minor 7th. Scale degrees in bold belong to both parallel major and minor scales.

You can also understand the difference between major and minor by thinking in terms of happy (=major) and sad (=minor). That is of course a stupid generalization but it can help you understand the difference. Once you understand it, you should forget about the happy and sad thing because there are happy minor songs and sad major songs. I don't even really like describing music with "happy" and "sad". But as I said, if you have problems with understanding whether you are in minor or major key, the "happy/sad" thing can help, at least in the most obvious cases. But learn to hear the tonic and you don't have to worry about the happy/sad thing at all.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Oct 18, 2014,
Quote by wolflen
your on the right track...learn that stuff until your comfortable with it in several keys...then learn some inversions of the chords - triads and 4 note chords..the inversions are what harmony is made of ... this will make more sense when you get to that point in your studies

play well

wolf

Would you mind giving me a quick intro to what inversions of a chord are. And perhaps what they would be for, say, G major.
That's some real interesting thoughts Maggara, thx.
Quote by bryan.bailey.39
Would you mind giving me a quick intro to what inversions of a chord are. And perhaps what they would be for, say, G major.

You can do this easily.

Pick a chord. Say G.

Find the notes that make up the chord. G B D

Use a different note of the chord, other than the root as the lowest/bass note. and add the remaining notes. B D G So you have G/B. B is the lowest bass note.

Best,

Sean
Quote by bryan.bailey.39
Would you mind giving me a quick intro to what inversions of a chord are. And perhaps what they would be for, say, G major.

They're just inversions of the chord notes, where the chords root is't the bass note (lowest note).

G, containing the notes G-B-D (Root position), could be inverted as B-D-G (First inversion), or D-G-B (Second inversion). You can do this for every chord, even your extended chords.
+1 to everything Maggara has said. All a key has to do with is what major or minor triad your music is currently revolving around.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
I have to add that the order of the notes doesn't matter in inversions. What makes it an inversion is the fact that there is something else than the root in the bass. But the other notes can be in any order.

For example E G C is C major in the 1st inversion, but E C G is also C major in the 1st inversion. You can also double some of the notes. And that's what you do when you play basic chords on guitar. For example your open C chord is x 3 2 0 1 0 - C E G C E. So it has two C's and two E's. If you add the low E string to your chord, it becomes a C/E - 1st inversion of C major chord.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
An easy (ok, a bit unguitaristic) way to get the sound of the chords in C major is to play triads or seventh chord on piano. Just take C E G (B) for I. Then go to D F A (C) for ii and so on.
The chord will be
Cmaj Dm7 Em7 Fmaj G7 Am7 Bm7(b5) and Cmaj again.
^ Every guitarist should at least get a midi keyboard of some kind and theory suddenly becomes 500% simpler. Trust me.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Nov 9, 2014,
The roman numerals are the basic triads. You can modify these by exchanging or adding other notes of the key. You can also add other notes outside of the key, but that's a little more complex. The reason you would do anything is how it sounds. It can quickly get complicated. It is kind of easy to follow directions, but knowing all the sounds and selecting based on that takes a bit longer. That's why we need to practice a lot.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 9, 2014,