#1
I hope it's okay to post in this forum. I couldn't find anything in the Music Theory forum.

I'm still confused by counting thirds and fifths and sevenths and so on in chords. The part that confuses me is the B and the E. They're both half steps on the fretboard, yet they're treated as two steps or two semitones when identifying some chords, but then are used as half steps or one semitone when identifying other chords.

For example, the G major chord has G as the first, B as the third, and D as the fifth. But the B major chord has F* as the fifth. Why wouldn't the fifth for the G major chord be E, as the G has two semitones, the A two semitones, the B and the C two semitones, the C# and the D two semitones, and the D# and the E two semitones? Or, if the notes are counted as two semitones, why wouldn't the B major chord have F as the fifth, rather than F#?

Every time I think I understand the rules, I fall down.
#2
I'm a bit confused how you got that. G major is made up of these notes-G A B C D E F#(f sharp).You have some extra notes in there, a major scale only has seven. Describe how you think a major scale is made.
#3
Hello!

In order to build chords, you will need to learn scales and their structures and intervals. Although we have 12 possible notes on a guitar's neck, the most common scales, called diatonic, use only 7 of these. For practical reasons, we double the tonic on the 8th note, since it repeats itself an octave higher.

If you want to build a C chord, you must know that the C Major scale contains the following notes: C (I/Tonic), D (II), E (III), F(IV), G(V), A (VI), and B (VII), and C (Tonic). Since a triad chord is formed by 3 notes, the Tonic/I, III and V , a C chord is formed by C (I), E (III) and G (V). If you add the VII, you'll have a Tetrad Chord, which is formed by 4 notes. More usually, the VII is minor, so the seventh note is flat, which means taking it a half step lower. (I won't go into diminished chords)

In this case, if you read C7, you have C Major with a Minor 7th. The 7th, in this case, is Bb.

The G scale is formed by the notes G (I), A (II), B (III), C (IV), D (V), E (VI), F#(VII), G (Tonic). Can you build a G7 chord from this information?

Now, some more theory:

Major Scales are build with a formula, like this (note that tone is a full step and semi tone is half step):

I/Tonic - Tone - II - Tone - III - Semi Tone - IV - Tone - V - Tone - VI - Tone - VII - Semi Tone - I/Tonic

A practical example:

C (I) - Tone - D (II) - Tone - E (III) - Semi Tone - F (IV) - Tone - G (V) - Tone - A (VI) - Tone - B (VII) - Semi Tone - C (I)

Using the above, can you build the major scales to all other notes?


If we talk minor chords, the only difference will be on the 3rds, which are flat. It means that the 3rd of the major chord will be a half step lower.

Because of this, the Cm chord will be C, Eb and G. If you'd like to learn about other intervals on the Minor Scale, there is a different formula for it.

But I won't go into further detail, since I think this is already too much information.

B and E are never treated as steps or tones. As all the other notes also are not treated as such. When we talk about chords, we refer to intervals. B and E are different, since they lead to the next note when taken a half step higher on the guitar, and not to a accidentals.

I hope it helps a little.

Best.
#4
Quote by Monkeyleg
...[ ]....I'm still confused by counting thirds and fifths and sevenths and so on in chords. The part that confuses me is the B and the E. They're both half steps on the fretboard, yet they're treated as two steps or two semitones when identifying some chords, but then are used as half steps or one semitone when identifying other chords.
OK first, we could have named the notes anything we desired. For example, "AA, BB, CD, DC". Instead we chose from A-G, and then started over. The relationship of every note to its "octave" (upper or lower counterpart is 1/2 (lower octave) or 2 times the
original note's frequency, (1 octave higher or "8va"). Accordingly, the spacing of the other tones used in western music, lend themselves to be named A to G. (We could have also picked 1 to 8). Hence you might have had a 3# or a 4b.


As it turns out, the "C major scale" contains all natural notes. This is ecause of the interval spacing of every major scale is, (in semitones), 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1. In order to have all natural named notes based on that pattern, the B & C, and E & F, have to have the 1/2 step spacing.

Quote by Monkeyleg
For example, the G major chord has G as the first, B as the third, and D as the fifth. But the B major chord has F* as the fifth. Why wouldn't the fifth for the G major chord be E, as the G has two semitones, the A two semitones, the B and the C two semitones, the C# and the D two semitones, and the D# and the E two semitones? Or, if the notes are counted as two semitones, why wouldn't the B major chord have F as the fifth, rather than F#?

Every time I think I understand the rules, I fall down.
Well the rule between major and minor chords is very simple. These chords are built on "stacked 3rds".

In the case of a major chord, you have a "major 3rd" (4 semitones), and then a "minor 3rd" (3 semitones") For a minor chord, you simply reverse that order, 3 semitones, then 4 semitones.

In order for you to understand why a chord is major or minor, you first have to learn to build a major scale. As I said above, the spacing is, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1.

If we assume B major chord is the "tonic chord" (key name), we get the F# like this.

B major has 5 (!) sharps. The scale is as follows B to C# (2 semis), C# to D#, (2 semis) D# to E (1 semi), E to F# (2 Semis !!) So B is the root or 1st, D# is the 3rd, and F# is the 5th of B major. The complete scale is B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, then B again.

Major chords occur on the 1st, 4th, & 5th degrees of every major scale.

Minor chords occur on the 2nd, 3rd, & 6th degrees of every major scale.

The 7th degree of any major scale produces a "diminished chord", which is basically 2 stacked minor 3rds!!!

So to recap, a major chord is, 4 semis, 3 semis. A minor chord is 3 semis, then 4 semis. A diminished chord is 3 semis, then 3 semis again.

As far as the extended theories behind 7th, 11th, 13th, sus4, sus2, and "5" chords, you're going to have to hit one of the free music theory websites.

No offense intended, I'm simply trying to cut back a bit on what someone called my, "long winded posts".

If you learn the Chromatic scale first: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_scale you should be well on the way of figuring all of this out.

And remember, you can start on any letter, (or any # or b letter), of the chromatic scale to form a scale. After that, the only rule is this, if you must pass a natural note forming your scale, that note becomes a sharp (#). I you stop before you get to a natural note, the the note is named as a flat (b).

All major (and minor) keys, must have one of each letter A through G. All the notes which aren't "natural", must be either all sharps, or all flats. Standard diatonic major & minor scales cannot have a mix of sharps and flats in the key signature.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jan 3, 2016,
#5
Thanks for the replies. While it doesn't all make sense to me yet, I can figure out the thirds, fifths and sevenths for all of the different chords. The 2,2,1,2,2,2,1 sequence really helps. I just have to remember that 7ths have a flatted 7th, and the counting of semitones for minor chords continues on that sequence, even though the third of the note is flatted. (Example, on a minor F 7th, the third is A flat, even though the counting resumes at A to get to the 5th, C, and to the 7th, D#. Yes?)
Last edited by Monkeyleg at Jan 3, 2016,
#6
Quote by Monkeyleg
...[ ]...I just have to remember that 7ths have a flatted 7th, and the counting of semitones for minor chords continues on that sequence, even though the third of the note is flatted. (Example, on a minor F 7th, the third is A flat, even though the counting resumes at A to get to the 5th, C, and to the 7th, D#. Yes?)
The most common form of a "7th" chord" is a "dominant 7th", and yes, it has a flatted 7th. These chords are simply notated "x7". Th reason the 7th is flatted, is because it is NOT the tonic chord of the scale it is being played over!

In traditional music theory, the "dominant 7th" is formed over the dominant chord of the major scale, which occurs on the 5th step of the scale.

If we look at C major, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, the dominant chord will be G. We form the G major chord by counting G as the 1st, skip a letter, B (3rd), skip a letter, D, (5th) Then we skip the 6th, which in this case is the E. When we get to the F, it is a n F natural. After all, we are in the key of C major.

If we were in the key of G, that F would be F#, and G would be the tonic chord. When we turn G major in the key of G major into a 7th, it has an F# in the scale, and then is referred to as a "major 7th". The 7th is only 1 semitone below the root, so a "natural 7th". Keep in mind a major 7th chord, and a "dominant 7th chord, have 2 entirely different harmonic functions.

Now, many songs are what is called "I, IV, V" songs. Here are songs which only utilize the major chords on the 1st, 4th, & 5th steps of the scale. The "V" can be a simple major "triad", or a "V7", (dominant 7th).

This should help you with your theory literacy. The chords in any scale are notated using Roman numerals. Upper case are major, lower case are minor, and the "diminished"(formed on the 7th scale degree), is a little triangle which I don't have on my keyboard.

So, the major scale in correct chord / degree terminology would be: I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, (little triangle), then "I (8va)" again. "8va" means "one octave up.

Sometimes the chord's scale degrees are called out in standard English numbers in groups who are learning a song together. The person who knows the song will call out "!, 4, 5, 1". which tells you which chords to use, regardless of key. In C that woud be "C, F, G, C". In E, the same numbers would be, "E, A, B, E"

Do you want to try and digest that before we try some more?
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jan 3, 2016,
#7
First, take a look at https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/the_basics/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_2.html.

Intervals have nothing to do with pitch names ... and everything to do with how far apart in semitones two pitches are. A few differently named intervals denote the same semitone distance, unfortunately (such as b5 and #4 which both denote 6 semitones). For example, in a dim triad, there is a b3 and a b5. There is no 5, unlike the minor triad. In a maj triad with an additional interval of 6 semitones from root, now that interval is called a #4, since the triad already has a 5 in it.

Then, 9ths, 11ths and 13ths are these days the same as 2nds, 4ths and 6ths ... strictly (as observed in the past), they should appear at least one octave above the chord root, but as often as not, chord voicings place these in same octave as root.

There are many additional rules on chord naming. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_names_and_symbols_%28popular_music%29
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jan 4, 2016,
#8
The information is out there Monkeyleg but my advice is to learn from a good tutor. It will save you a lot of time plus you can ask questions throughout the process and here music theory in action.
#9
Quote by StuartBahn
The information is out there Monkeyleg but my advice is to learn from a good tutor. It will save you a lot of time plus you can ask questions throughout the process and >here< music theory in action.
AFAIK, that particular "here", is an adverb. I think you may have confused it with the verb "hear".

If we're going to promote formal music education, we should be prepared to promote good grammar while we're at it.