Hi, thanks to anyone that can help me understand the question i have been having and haven't been able to find the answer to. I understand the major and minor chords that go to a major scale but don't understand why there are other chords that couldn't be played too. Dont all the chords come from the scale ? so why cant you play a A minor chord on a A major scale when the A minor chord fits in or is apart of the scale? this link might make what im trying to ask more understandable.

You could play A major over A minor, but it would sound like crap. The reason being the two most important notes of any chord (the third and the seventh) differs in major and minor keys.

The chords that are traditionally available to you when playing in any given key are the chords that are derived from the corresponding major/minor scale. So if you play in A major you can use combinations of the notes A B C# D E F# G# to form chord voicings. Those notes and the chords made up from those notes would be diatonic, which means in the key you are playing in. Normally, chords are built by stacking thirds upon eachother, so if you take every other in the scale you will end up with seven diatonic chords, 3 major chords, 3 minor chords and one half diminished chord.
thanks i think i kinda realized before i saw your post that i was looking at the full scale wrong and didnt see that A minor chord doesn't actually fit in the A major scale and the same goes for some other chords that i thought fit before.
Like you said, a "well-behaved" chord can be created from any notes from within the scale. So in your case, just pick any selection of notes from within the major scale!

Generally, the best sounding chords infer the presence of preceding 3rds. 3rds are a type of interval - a number of tones above a preceding note. 3rds include the major (4 semi-tones) and minor 3rd (3 semi-tones).

Intervals (no. of steps):

0: Unison (U)
1: Minor 2nd (m2)
2: Major 2nd (M2)
3: Minor 3rd (m3)
4: Major 3rd (M3)
5: Perfect 4th (P4)
6: Tritone (T)
7: Perfect 5th (P5)
8 Minor 6th (m6)
9: Major 6th (M6)
10: Minor 7th (m7)
11: Major 7th (M7)
12: Octave (O)

For example, a major chord has a root (0), major 3rd (4) and perfect 5th (7). Another way to look at it is the perfect 5th being minor 3rd above the major 3rd. I.e. (0+4+3=7).

The same goes for a minor chord: but this time the perfect 5th is a major 3rd higher than the minor 3rd relative to the root, which is what flavours the chord. I.e. (0+3+4=7).

A rule of thumb is to use alternating major and minor 3rds to construct your chords. For example, the major 7th chord:

Interval: 11=M7

Hope this idea helps!
Last edited by Joeseye at Nov 19, 2014,
Notes in the C Major scale:

Chords in the C Major scale:
I - Cmaj7 - C E G B
II - Dmin7 - D F A C
III - Emin7 - E G B D
IV - Fmaj7 - F A C E
V - G7 - G B D F
VI - Amin7 - A C E G
VII - Bmin7b5 - B D F A

The types of chord are the same for every major scale - start from the root and go up a third each time to find the notes in the chord.
You can also use chords that use notes outside of the scale. But you need to be careful and avoid certain notes when playing over them. For example if we are in A major, G major is a pretty usual non-diatonic chord. You just need to avoid playing G# over it.

There are seven triads that work "perfectly" with the major scale. And that's because the major scale has seven notes in it.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.


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I recommend that you read about Harmonizing the Major Scale. A quick Google search will provide you with plenty of information.

Ultimately chords chords are constructed by harmonizing the major scale. Triads are constructed by harmonizing three notes within a major scale by picking every other note to get a chord (up to three notes for a triad). Lets look at the C major scale:


If we start on C and pick every other note we get: C E G. These are the notes in a C major chord. If we start on F and pick every other note we get F A C. These are the notes in an F Major chord.

Now not all of the notes harmonize to a major chord. For example if we start on D, we get D F G. These notes actually make up a D minor chord. By harmonizing every note within the scale into triads we get the following chords:

C major
D minor
E minor
F Major
G Major
A minor
B Diminished

Each one of these chords then belongs to the key of C. You can play anyone of these chords within a progression. Playing the C major scale over the progression will sound "pleasing". To do the same thing in other keys, you can simply replace the letter names with a corresponding roman numeral representing their position in the scale:

I ii iii IV V vi vii*

Note the uppercase numerals represent major chords, the lower case numerals represent minor chords, and the * represents a diminished chord in this example. The first note in a major scale will always harmonize to a major chord, the second note in the major scale will always harmonize to a minor chord, and so on.

Using this harmonization you can determine which scale to play over a chord progression. Furthermore, you can harmonize the scale beyond three notes to get extended chords like Major 7, Minor 7, Dominant 7. These chords use 4 notes instead of 3. Keep adding more notes to the chord using this method and you find yourself with 9ths 11th and 13ths.

I hope this was useful and advanced your understanding rather than confuse you.
As chords are made of 1,3,5,7 just pick any note of the scale and add the 3rd, 5th and 7th

for example on the C major scale lets pick the 4th note of the scale which is F now consider the F as the root and add the 3rd note of the scale starting from F which is A and then the 5th note of the scale starting from F which is C and the 7th is E and you get the chord, in this case a Fmaj7.

in addition please note that there are popular chord progressions like the ii/V , ii/V/I
Quote by Hardinger94
Dont all the chords come from the scale ? so why cant you play a A minor chord on a A major scale when the A minor chord fits in or is apart of the scale? this link might make what im trying to ask more understandable.

I'm not sure if anyone has exactly answered this question, but let's look at it.

A major scale: A B C# D E F# G#
A minor chord A C E.

The "problem" (and I put it in quotes because it's only sort of a problem) is the clash between the C and the C#. Generally, two notes a half-step apart will not sound good together.

"I say generally" because that's a tension you can use and manipulate, IF you know what you're doing. That particular clash (a tension between the natural and minor third scale degrees) is very common.

A bigger problem would be something like Eb: Eb, G, and Bb. Each of those notes is a half-step apart from a scale tone. Again, you could play that chord, but it's going to be hard to get it to work right and not just sound off.

This applies to chords in the scale, too. For example, let's say you're playing in C major:
And you play an F major chord: F A C.
Do you see how that might clash with an E or a B note?

You usually, of course, think of this the other way around: you have a chord progression and are looking for notes to play over it. But this is part of why "shape-based" thinking is a problem.

So, back in A major, I might play the bVII (G major) which is G B D - and you notice that only one of those notes is not in the scale! This means this is going to be a relatively easy chord to get to work. When soloing, I'd just want to avoid the G# note while playing over that chord, and I might substitute a G-natural instead.

That's easy to do if I know my scale degrees and/or my note names, but really hard if I'm thinking of a scale as a series of dots on the fretboard.