#1
(Please forgive me, I'm not knowledgeable enough to make this question simple lol. Answer both or just one of the questions if you want)

>>>>>>>CHORD PROGRESSIONS
Ok, since I understand how to make chords outta the major scale and it's modes, I'm trying to learn how a progression is generally created.

I've noticed that you can't just throw random combinations of 1-7 together and get a riff. So I looked around before coming here and I've found in research that many people say use a template of buildup, tension, and release/completion (BTRC) with your tools, but which chords in the scale can provide each of those? As in, what does a I chord accomplish that a IV chord can't? What is the role of each chord in a scale?

>>>>>>>>>SOLOS
I mainly focus on chord progressions at this point, only bringing in melody by switching between a major chord and a maj7 for example. Well while looking for the answer to my chord question above, someone else brought up BTRC in the context of soloing. I've always wondered how the better soloists transcend general wankery and this seems to be it.

Well how would one convey the journey of BTRC? Depends on the song of course and the message being conveyed as well as artistic choice but what is the main thing here? Tempo? Scale degrees? Facial expressions!? (If nothing else tell me your preferred method of meeting BTRC in a solo if you do so)
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

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#2
The first question is about chord function. In tonality there's a chord grammar that dictates the way each chord of a key functions. The three functions are tonic (home, or chord of resolution), predominant/subdominant/elaborative (leads away from the tonic and towards the dominant), and dominant (leads back to the tonic).

I - tonic
II - predominant
III - primarily predominant, occasionally tonic
IV - predominant
V - dominant
VI - primarily predominant but can function as a replacement tonic (more commonly than III)
VII - dominant (always in major and in minor when the seventh is raised), predominant (in minor when the seventh is unaltered).

You can use this information to construct chord progressions or you could ignore this information to construct chord progressions.
#3
What is BTRC? I've never heard of it and can't find anything except Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, which I'm unconvinced will help anyone with a solo.
#4
Jazz rock feel's post is good. It's worth mentioning, though, that it doesn't always need to go tonic - predominant - dominant - tonic.

It can also go for instance: tonic - predominant - tonic; I - IV - I. It creates a weaker cadence called "plagal cadence". Arguably this is not a real cadence and often an authentic V-I follows it, but yeah, a lot of pop music has progressions without dominant - tonic cadences.

A very overused progression in pop: Am (i) - Fmaj (bVI) - Cmaj(bIII) - Gmaj(bVII) - Am(i)
as you can see, the cadential chord here is the Gmaj (bVII), which is a relatively weak cadence.

A good example of stronger cadence would be: Am (i) - Fmaj (bVI) - Cmaj(bIII) - E7(V7) - Am(i)
We swapped the Gmaj(bVII) with an E7(V7) chord and now we have a stronger cadence leading back to the tonic. Now we DO have that strong dominant - tonic relationship between the E7 and Am at the end of the progression

We could create even stronger relationships by adding a secondary dominant (dominant of a chord other than the tonic chord) before the E7; the dominant chord of the E7 in first inversion:
Am (i) - Fmaj (bVI) - B7/D#(V65/V) - E7b9(V7b9) - Am(i)

V/Vs are my personal favorite The reason why it says (V65/V) in the analysis is because 6/5 means seventh chord in first inversion, which means that the third of the chord is in the bass. Secondary dominants are in general are a good way to add tension to chord progressions. Once you've learned basic diatonic function, secondary dominants are the very next thing to learn, if you ask me.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Apr 7, 2015,
#5
Chord functions are easiest to understand by listening. What makes an IV chord different from the I chord? Well, I chord is the tonic. It is built on the first scale degree. A chord built on the first scale degree sounds pretty different from a chord built on the fourth scale degree.

Tonic chord is your "home chord". It is the most important chord in the key - it is what defines the key. What makes a chord a tonic chord? Well, you need to use your ears. The chord that sounds like home is your tonic chord. That's also your key.

V chord, ie dominant, is also very important. It has a very strong function and creates a pull back to the tonic. You can try this by playing C-F-G7. This doesn't feel complete, does it? Doesn't it feel like the progression "wants" to go somewhere? You have created tension. Now play C major again and that releases the tension. G7 is the dominant chord in the key of C major.

When it comes to tonal music, these two chords are the most important. A dominant chord doesn't have to be followed by tonic. A lot of songs use progressions like I-IV-V-IV. You can really follow any chord with any chord, there's really no right or wrong. It has a lot to do with your melody and also voice leading. In basic tonal music the most common chords are I, V and IV/ii (IV and ii have pretty much the same function).

The best way to learn about chord progressions is to listen to a lot of songs and figuring out the chords. Use your ears. Different music styles use chords a bit differently. Well, the basics are pretty much always the same, unless we are talking about death metal or something like that. But for example you will never hear a chord progression like I-bIII-bVII-IV in baroque music, but it's pretty common in rock music.
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#6
I swear Maggara, I will have to start paying for these eventually lol thanks boss!

Same to you jazz_rock_feel!
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

Quote by DBKGUITAR
To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM

Quote by MaggaraMarine
My motto: Play what the song needs you to play!
#7
Just start analyzing songs you like. Write down the chord progressions with roman numerals. Soon enough you'll start to associate the sounds with certain chord progressions. Then eventually you'll a lot of recognize chord progressions in real time while listening to music.

If you can't figure out a chord, listen to the bass note. Most often chords are in root position(second most often they're in first inversion, and rarely in second), so often the bass note is also the root note of the chord. Then you can look at the scale degree to determine the chord quality. In major keys, a chord root based on the IV degree is most often going to be a major chord, etc.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Apr 8, 2015,
#8
Damn I feel stupid, yesterday I must've been speed reading way faster than usual and didn't see the that part in the third paragraph. I got to the fourth paragraph, saw BTRC, and had no idea what you meant, which is why I made that post. Oh well, it was funny anyway


In the context of solos, you just have to learn what different intervals sound like over different chords. The notes that are in whatever chord happens to be playing at the moment will tend to be less tense, especially the 1 of the chord. Non chord tones will be more tense. Dissonant intervals are tense and consonant intervals aren't. You have to really use your ears and try to get the point where you're playing what you're hearing in your head.
#9
First off when you go up a III like it was mentioned in the thread your just expanding the chord For example you play C major ( C E G ) then you play E minor (E G B) your actually C Major 7, seriousy go to a piano and play it. In the (Im taking a wild guess here because im tired) classical era The root movements for good voice leading were up ii, then down for iii, iv, v.
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#10
Quote by The4thHorsemen
What is BTRC? I've never heard of it and can't find anything except Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, which I'm unconvinced will help anyone with a solo.


I dunno, some lazier players just dial it in when it comes to taking a solo.
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#11
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Chord Grammar: (Tonic, Predominant, Dominant)
I - tonic
II - predominant
III - primarily predominant, occasionally tonic
IV - predominant
V - dominant
VI - primarily predominant but can function as a replacement tonic (more commonly than III)
VII - dominant (always in major and in minor when the seventh is raised), predominant (in minor when the seventh is unaltered).

This was interesting... Thanks JRF!

I was wondering though?
Using say A minor for example: A-B-C-D-E-F-G...

Do the five other notes outside the scale (#'s & b's), also have a 'Grammar' Function, like tonic, predominant and dominant? Sure I understand those notes don't technically belong to A minor per-se, but that's not to say they aren't often involved in progressions nonetheless.

I'm not referring to non-diatonic extensions of diatonic chords such as m7(b5,b9,13) etc... (I mean, how are they incorporated within a chordal structure - chords built from them and (if any) the possible 'Chord Grammar' that would govern them)?

Perhaps an example might better illustrate what I'm trying to ask:

Am7... Em7
(Em7-Ebm7-Dm7)...G (X3)
(G)... G#dim... Am
I understand the G#dim can function as V7? (probably incorrect), but what about the Ebm7 chord (what, just an entire chord of passing notes?), and are there other chords built from these 5 non-diatonic notes?

Like TS, I have also searched the net (many times) looking for this sort of thing (wondering how to understand and incorporate all the extra notes), but feels like looking for the needle in a Hay Stack (or the proverbial pup digging for a bone that doesn't actually exist?).

and please don't just refer me to Wikipedia (or some thing worse) as Wikipedia can suck so bad some times! (Arduous highbrow elitist drivel)Sure it made some sense ...eventually, but far out, try telling me that was a straight forward easy read! (Sure for some of you, it probably was).

anyway, any help from anyone would be appreciated!

Thanks!
Last edited by tonibet72 at Apr 9, 2015,
#12
In general you can fit most chords into those three functions, regardless of whether they contain chromatics or not. In your examples the Ebm7 would be vaguely predominant, but mostly it's a voideleading/decorative chord. It's just connecting the Em and Dm chord through chromatic voiceleading. The G#dim is just a diatonic dominant function chord (the raised seventh in minor isn't an out of key note).

It's really a case by case thing that's dependent on context, as with all chord functions.
#13
^Yep. You can think of the G#dim as a rootless E7 chord. Add an E in the bass and what you have is simply E7. Or add an E on the top and you have E7 in first inversion.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Apr 9, 2015,
#14
^This. Trust the classical masterrace.

Most of the so called "modern" stuff you find now (think modern jazz/fusion) was typical classical parlance over 100 years ago.
"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
#15
^^^JRF:
Chromatics!... of course, that's what their called ...good word! (thanks for that)!

and by 'regardless of whether (they contain chromatics) or not'
I'm assuming this means 'regardless of whether (that chord is built from a chromatic root) or not?
(no need for reply, that being the case).

I left the raised seventh out to make my point clearer? (my foot).

^^ Likes pigs: Agreed! haha!

Thanks guys!

Does anyone have a url where this info might (building chords from chromatics) be better understood? (Proverbial pup still sniffing).

Could that page be found here?:
www.mymusictheory.com/for-students/grade-1
(Grades listed along the top, Subjects listed down the right).

Looks to be a pretty good course (has midi's ) but no Grade 8.

Cheers!
Last edited by tonibet72 at Apr 9, 2015,
#16
Start from a simple foundation and build.

One can write a song that's nothing more than I - V7 - I - V7. People still do.

Probably the best example of a tonic-dominant type progression is the blues:

I x 2 - IV x 2:
V7 - IV - I - V7

Again you can write a million songs about your no-account woman with that progression.

Everything else just builds upon these basic ideas: substituting a ii for a IV, for example.

Another common progression is the "Blue Moon" progression:

I - vi - IV - V

That's a million old Rock n Roll songs!

What is that, really?

I - vi (I Maj 7 without the root) - IV - V

I've mapped out lots of songs and I'm often shocked at how simple the progressions actually are, especially for verses!

I - I - IV - I

It's good to have a solid understanding of theory, but you'd be surprised how effective these very simple progressions can be in the right context. Don't fear them!

For me as a songwriter I often overthink things. I'll try and write some winding minor progression that is theoretically correct.. and I end up with fifteen bars of strange chords that go nowhere.

Better to start simple in your writing and then see if you can spice it up. Nothing wrong with strumming a I - IV - V for a while.

Try C - F - G7

Now substitute vi and ii for I and IV.

Am - Dm - G7

How about canning that G7 in favor of Bdim?

Am - Dm - Bdim

Maybe, maybe not.

Do you start with lyrics? A melody? Do you start with chords?

I find starting with chords doesn't work well in my hands. Better to noodle around a bit and find a melodic bit I like, then try and back it up. The result is often deceptively simple, but effective.