#1
Hello

many people explain chord teory like this one :

but why in the example above, that guy takes all letters without picking up flats to have 2 whole steps between 1 - 3 - 5 notes to shape a chord?

instead we end up having minors and major (and diminished) chords ...but why ? I mean I could just swallow it all, but nobody ever explained this

It still sounds ok if you play all major chords as a progression, so who the f@#k decided there should be minor or major chords ?

it is even more obvious when you check his previous video where he explains that flats should be added to form scales

thanks
#2
Point 1:  you can play whatever sounds good.  
Point 2:  based on a given scale pattern, it will "host" a bunch of chords.  The simplest are called triads, and for the major scale (which has 7 notes), you get 7 different triads.  Explained below.
Point 3:  #'s and b's are for musical notational convenience, these days (ever since the tempered scale came in, back with Bach).
Point 4: the sound flavour produced by a scale, or a chord, is entirely due to the DISTANCES BETWEEN the notes involved.  So, if you play 

e:  1
b:  2

or

e:  5
b:  6

In both cases, the distance between the notes in either pair is the same, so you hear the same flavour of sound, just higher.  Move that shape anywhere along the two strings, you get the same flavour.  The notes involved obviously change each time you move, but as long as you don't change the shape, the distance between the two notes doesn't change.

Point 5: different combinations of distances produce different chord "feelings".  Some make you want to hear a new chord, and real quick.  Some sound fine to be used a lot and rested on.  Some are sort of between these two.  Hence you can build and release expectations in a tune by the chord types used.

Point 6:  There is no law that says you can only play the chords that come from a given scale.  While this often happens, as it does sound good, it can also sound more bland, depending on the player/composer.  Rock players often play stuff like E, G, and A major triads in a tune, which definitely doesn't agree entirely with a strict chord progression from the major scale.  Mixing and matching chords from different scale types gives more colour.


Back to triads;
---------------------

Play this scale (E major) on just the bass string.  (I could have chosen any starting note, but I chose E to have enough room along the string:

0  2  4  5  7  9  11  12  14  16  17 ...

The above are fret numbers.  One one string, any two adjacent frets are said to be "one semitone" apart.  So, from fret 0  (i.e the nut, i.e. the open string)  to fret 2 is 2 semitones.  In the example above, E major scale starts again at the 12 th fret, , just an octave higher.

Now do this. Choose any of the above frets (notes), such as 4.  Then skip the next note (so, skip 5), and choose the next (7).  Choose, skip, choose.

E.g. choose 0, skip 2, skip 4.

If you do this starting from 0 or 2 or 4 or 5 or 7 or 9 or 11, you will find there is always a distance of 3 of 4 semitones between the two chosen notes.  This is important, and the particular distances produce sounds that combine well together.  (A distance of 3 is called a "minor 3rd", written as "b3";  a distance of 4 is called a "major 3rd", written as "3".

If you start and 0, and keep applying "choose, skip, choose, skip, choose", you will get

Choose 0
Skip 2
Choose 4
Skip 5
Choose 7

i.e. a group of 3 notes.  Look at the distances:  0 ->4 is 4 semitones.   4 to 7 is 3 semitones.  And also 0 to 7 is 7 semitones (4 + 3).

7 semitones is called a "perfect 5th", written as "5".

So, this group has a "major 3rd" starting from 0  (i.e. 0 and 4).   and a "minor 3rd" on top of that, stating at 4  (i,e, 4 and 7).
If we write the distances from the bottom note to each of these three notes in turn, we get (0 (coincident with the bottom note), 4 semitones above, 7 semitones above)

This particular pattern has a shorthand name:  a "Major triad".  Because we started this at E, this is called an Emaj triad, just written as E.

Let's do the same "choose, skip, choose, skip, choose", starting from the 2nd fret of our E major scale.

We get

Choose 2
Skip 4
Choose 5
Skip 7
Choose 9

If we look at the distances from the 2nd fret to each of these chosen notes, we get (0, 3 (5-2), and 7 (9-2)).

This pattern (0, 3, 7) has a shorthand name: a "Minor" triad.  Because this starts on F#, we call this F# minor triad.  Written F#m .

Ignoring E major scale for a moment, You could play these patterns (0, 4, 7) and (0. 3. 7) as arpeggios, anywhere on the guitar (or piano, etc).  It is the distances between the notes involved that give the sound flavour.  The starting note just makes that flavour sound higher or lower.

Back to E major.

Use the choose-skip-choose-skip-choose, starting from 0, them 2, then 4, then 5, then 7, then 9, then 11.

Write down the pattern you discover for each.   Do this for yourself, before checking the answers below.

How many times do you find the pattern (0, 4, 7)?  Which frets (notes) did you find this pattern starting at.  How many semitones above the scale start note?

How many times do you find the pattern (0, 3, 7)?  Which frets (notes) did you find this pattern starting at.  How many semitones above the scale start note?

What other pattern(s) do you find, if any?


(0,4,7) occurs three times, starting from 0, 5 and 7 semitones above the scale start note.  i.e. there are 3 major triads found in this scale.

(0,3,7) occurs three times, starting from 2, 4 and 9 semitones above the scale start note.  i.e there are 3 minor triads found in this scale.

(0, 3, 6) occurs one, starting from 11 semitones above the scale start note.  This pattern is called "diminished".

Now, you could do exactly the same with C major scale

8 10 12 13 15 17 19 20 ...

And you'd find exactly the same patterns.  The notes involved are different because you stated somewhere else.  The patterns within the scale are unchanged.


Scale letter naming
----------------------------

For a 7 note scale, the first thing to do is write down the 7 letter names (without worrying about # or flat, as convention is that each note must have a different letter).  So, for E major, our first (incorrect) attempt is:

E  F  G  A  B  C  D

Next, we have to look at the scale pattern (distances).  Major scale pattern is (0, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11)

There the second note must be 2 semitones higher that the start.  At the moment, we have F, which is only one semitone above E.  SO, we need to adjust this to be F#.  The 3rd note should be 4 semitones above the start.  But we have G (3 semitones from E), so we need to adjust this to G#.  The 6th note must be 9 semitones above the start.  We have C, which is 8 semitones.  So, we adjust that to C#.  The 7th note must be 11 semitones above E.  We have D (10 semitones), so we adjust that to D#.

Hence we get E F# G# A B C# D#

Combining this with what we know about where triads occur in the major scale, we get the triads of the E major scale are

E F#m  G#m  A  B  C#m  D#dim

(we don't need to reanalyse by letter names to figure out the triads ... remember, it's the distances we found above that determine the type of triad).


Personally I almost never think of note names, and certainly not when I'm performing.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jun 29, 2017,
#3
You are right that there are some things he did not really explain... maybe some earlier videos are where he does.

Not sure about your "2 whole steps between 1 - 3 - 5 notes" question. At no point in this video did he do that. If he did, that would be a C augmented chord C E G#, but G# is not one of the pitches of the C major scale, so that chord does not show up in the thing he is doing, which is called harmonization of the major scale.

Anyway, here is what I think he left out... a bit of a wild ride ahead...

Scales have tonics, chords have roots.

There are two terms which are important to understand, "intervals" and "scale degrees".

Scale degrees are numbers assigned to the pitches of the scale. For the C major scale, the assignment is:

C - 1
D - 2
E - 3
F - 4
G - 5
A - 6
B - 7

Intervals are labels assigned to the notes of the scale. For the C major scale, the interval number portion of the label assignment is:

C - 1
D - 2
E - 3
F - 4
G - 5
A - 6
B - 7

At this point, they look the same, but they aren't. Scale degrees are simply a counting of pitches from the tonic, in this case, C. Intervals are often thought of as the distance between pitches, but they are not! They are the distance between notes. In casual talk people don't distinguish between pitches and notes, but they are different and when distinguishing scale degrees from intervals it is important to know the difference.

OK, this is not too hard if you can stick to the definitions and not let the casual talk confuse you.

Notes are the letter names of the positions in the staff (the lines and spaces). That is all they are. Notes are named by what line or space they occupy. If a note is on the bottom space of the typical treble clef (the G clef), that note is F. It does not matter if the actual pitch of that note is altered with an accidental in the key signature or by an accidental enforcing a pitch change for the duration of just the measure in which the F resides.

F is the note F
Fb is the note F
F# is the note F

Those three pitches are all the note F if the note is on the bottom space of the staff... F is F is F is F... always "F", the note F.

Now, you see why intervals can be confusing if you don't know this. An interval is the literal distance between notes, which means an interval is the literal distance measured strictly by counting the number of lines and spaces occupied and between them. Sharps and flats are ignored at this point. The result is what is called the interval number part of the interval label. There is a second part to the interval label that DOES take into account accidentals in order to produce the complete interval name. That second part is called the "quality".

The interval from C to E would be described by the label comprised of the two parts, the quality and the number. The number is found by counting the lines and spaces spanned by C and E in the staff... a C may be found in the second to the top space of the staff and the E above it is in the top space, so you have C on a space, D on the line above, and E on the next space above. Counting the C space - D line - and E space gives you three total lines and spaces, so the interval number is "3". This interval number is determined by the Note names only. The quality is determined by the pitch of that note. If this is a natural E then the quality is "major" and the full interval description is "major third", but if the pitch is modified by an accidental to be Eb then the quality is minor and the full interval name is "minor third".

The main source of confusion is that people mix up interval names and scale degrees; in fact the vast majority of guitarists are really thinking of scale degrees when they talk about intervals, and are thinking of pitches when they talk about notes. This all gets worse when intervals are used to describe the distances between notes other than one of them being the tonic of a scale or root of a chord... as in when talking about the span of E to G in a C scale or C chord. This is because the correct full name of an interval is dependent on the quality term which is based on accidentals, which means it is based on a key context, and that context may not match the bare example of the two pitches.

Different pitch distances with the same interval number
C - G# (8 semitones) is a fifth
C - G (7 semitones) is a fifth
C# - G (6 semitones) is a fifth

Identical pitch distances with different interval numbers
Ab - B# (4 semitones) is a second
A - C# (4 semitones) is a third
A - Db (4 semitones) is a fourth
A# - Ebb (4 semitones) is a fifth

This is why most guitarists talk about scale degrees of pitches with respect to the tonic of a scale or with respect to the root of a chord... it minimizes the complexity of intervals, even though they may persist in referring to these things as intervals.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#4
Wow, Phil your getting a real crash course this morning...

Sometimes it helps to grasp of these things by using a piano. If you don't have one, here is a POPUP PIANO where you can play things, and mark things (like chords or scales).
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
Last edited by PlusPaul at Jun 27, 2017,
#5
This is the part of music theory that is whole lot easier if you can read music. I'm doing this stuff with one of my students, and it just takes forever trying to explain everything alphabetically and having to bushwhack through every chord.

This stuff will probably also make more sense if you just go ahead and learn a few positions of C major by rote. When it comes to learning musical concepts, you often have to learn the material on your instrument before know how to make sense of it. 
Last edited by cdgraves at Jun 28, 2017,
#6
@PlusPaul so when that hair bloke is talking about intervals he ommits qualities(accidentals). that makes sens and it's indeed the source of confusion

@cdgraves I just find it odd, it would be more logical to use only half steps as a general metric to measure intervals all the way instead of mixing both to fit letters (or white keys on the piano) since once you change the scale, you'll obviously use flats and sharps.... it feels like music theory has entirely been build around the C scale

this is all purely cultural and subjective...there are no reason to use minor or major chords but the simple fact one use letters (white keys on the piano) blindly ... (as jerrykramskoy said, it's more a question of tastes) it has nothing to do with linear mathematic logic...and still, it is entitled "music theory", 

it should be called "occidental historical way of seeing music theory"

I just checked a treble clef, I never figured before that these were only refering to these white notes...this is so crude and occidental-centric, to me there has always been 12 notes, not 7....

btw, I always thought I could play any chord as long as the notes I used to build them were in a particular scale...

anyway thanks for the explanations :-)
Last edited by phil123456789 at Jun 28, 2017,
#7
ok now that I see the difference between interval names and scale degrees , I still dont understand, why the guy ends up with major and minor chords
why is music theory for chords progression based on interval numbers (without accidentals)..

these I ii iii IV V vi vii° seem to appear from thin air
Last edited by phil123456789 at Jun 28, 2017,
#8
Quote by PlusPaul so you have C on a space, D on the line above, and E on the next space above. Counting the C space - D line - and E space gives you three total lines and spaces, so the interval number is "3".

that guy says between C and E there are 2 whole steps, and technicaly he's right, so there is a difference between "steps", "scale degrees" (or simplified intervals) ????
steps are the deltas between notes while degrees/intervals are more like a range, I guess
Last edited by phil123456789 at Jun 28, 2017,
#9
another question if any major chord is built on 1-3-5 degrees but we're talking about notes right ? so , any of those notes could be a natural, a flat or a sharp so that chord might be something different than major....

so "any major chord is built on 1-3-5 degrees" is not correct right ? or am I again mixing things ?
Last edited by phil123456789 at Jun 28, 2017,
#10
phil123456789

An interval:

1/ is the number of semitones between TWO pitches (possibly identical, such as playing fret 5 on 6th string, and open 5th string)
2/ has a particular sound flavour determined by the number of semitones
3/ has different names for different distances.

A semitone is the sound formed by playing two pitches one fret apart on the same string (or equivalent if using a string pair, such as 5th fret on E string and 1st fret on A string)

A  "step" means 2 semitones.  So, from 8th fret on a string to 10th fret on same string is 2 semitones (a step).  Hence C->D is a step
A "half-step" means 1 semitone.  So, from open string to 1st fret is one semitone.  Hence E->F is a half-step
A "jump" means more than 2 semitones.  So, from open string to 3rd fret  is 3 semitones.  It is a "jump".

Note names are irrelevant to the above (for now).

If one of the two pitches in an interval is kept constant, then by changing the number of semitones to the other pitch, you are forming a bunch of different intervals.

(C,C)  0  semitones;  (C,D)  2 semitones , (C,Eb) 3 semitones,  (C,E)  4 semitones ... etc.

Therefore, you can describe a scale by intervals (i,e semitones from the scale start pitch).  So, blues scale (1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7).  Major scale (1,2,3,4,5,6,7), and so on.   The measuring point is the start note of the scale. 

E.g for C major scale, that measuring point is the pitch C.  

For  G blues, the measuring point is G.  To make the G blues scale sound, start at G, and then use the intervals (i.e. semitone distances;  i.e. number of frets if doing this all along one string)  to tell you where to nail down each of the members of the scale.

The "scale degree" indicates which of the scale pitches you are interested in.  (The first one, the second one etc).

Chords are exactly the same.  e.g (1,b3,5) is a minor triad.  (1,3,5) is a major triad.   Now the measuring point is the root of the chord.  

With scales,a root of a chord is a scale degree.

Try doing the examples I gave you in the previous post.  Learning this stuff by note name initially is mega-confusing.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jun 28, 2017,
#11
steps and half steps are almost more like measures of physical distance. It's the most raw way of measuring how far one note is from another. Intervals are measures of distance that include musical information which helps you figure out the relationship between the notes. 

You could describe two notes as being 8 half steps apart, but that doesn't give you any musical information. What do those two notes have to do with each other? Is it a raised 5th or a lowered 6th? What chord, key, or scale do they belong to?

Think about the way you describe travel distance to someone. You don't say "The store is 1.2 miles away". You say "It's a 5 minute drive" or "It's a 20 minute walk". One is just the information, the other is the significance of it, which is usually what's being asked after in the first place.

I really do think you'd benefit from either learning to read from the staff or at least memorizing C major up to the 5th or 7th fret. You need some basic material to work with before any of this will make total sense. Imagine an artist trying to understand painting purely by reading and watching videos, without actually using the paints and brushes. 
Last edited by cdgraves at Jun 28, 2017,
#12
Quote by phil123456789
@PlusPaul so when that hair bloke is talking about intervals he ommits qualities(accidentals). that makes sens and it's indeed the source of confusion

@cdgraves I just find it odd, it would be more logical to use only half steps as a general metric to measure intervals all the way instead of mixing both to fit letters (or white keys on the piano) since once you change the scale, you'll obviously use flats and sharps.... it feels like music theory has entirely been build around the C scale

this is all purely cultural and subjective...there are no reason to use minor or major chords but the simple fact one use letters (white keys on the piano) blindly ... (as jerrykramskoy said, it's more a question of tastes) it has nothing to do with linear mathematic logic...and still, it is entitled "music theory", 

it should be called "occidental historical way of seeing music theory"

I just checked a treble clef, I never figured before that these were only refering to these white notes...this is so crude and occidental-centric, to me there has always been 12 notes, not 7....

btw, I always thought I could play any chord as long as the notes I used to build them were in a particular scale...

anyway thanks for the explanations :-)


There is a reason behind these things.

Imagine that you are given the task to invent a music notation for 12 pitch chromatic music.

- your first attempt might be to make a staff where each line is a pitch and not use the spaces. You think this is clever because each pitch maps to one and only one line (no accidentals, the line above or below is just the next chromatic pitch). When you submit this system it is refused because the piano has 88 chromatic pitches and the pianist is having trouble reading a staff with 88 lines on it, because it is about 18 inches tall.

- your second attempt uses spaces and lines, no accidentals yet so still strictly chromatic (but the staff is half a tall), but it is hard to read and when diatonic scales are written they look all kinked and crooked. Back to the drawing board...

- in your final attempt, you decide to use a method that makes all possible diatonic scales appear as easy to read straight lines of notes on the staff, without kinks or crookedness. THIS is where the bare use of letter names without accidentals ("the white keys") comes from - instead of putting pitches on the staff, you put note letter names and then adjust for pitch with accidentals. This is a kind of data compression that works by enforcing two rules:

1] all diatonic scales are described by 7 letter names, each letter occurring, and each occurring just once.
2] the global adjustment to pitch using accidentals is specified up front by the key signature

These two rules result in all diatonic scales in all keys forming nice straight lines of notes on the staff. The two places where the gaps between notes in a diatonic scale are single chromatic steps rather than two chromatic steps... all those differences in scale note gap sizes are totally suppressed by the two rules. Written music looks clean and linear when playing diatonic music (which it mostly is) which allows one to read easily and read ahead easily.

This is the basis of  the concept of musical key, the naming of notes, and the indication of pitch... all based on the concept of separating the definition of "pitch" from the definition of "note". Everything else in music theory is based on this conceptual separation and flows from it.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
Last edited by PlusPaul at Jun 28, 2017,
#13
Quote by phil123456789

I just find it odd, it would be more logical to use only half steps as a general metric to measure intervals all the way instead of mixing both to fit letters (or white keys on the piano) since once you change the scale, you'll obviously use flats and sharps.... it feels like music theory has entirely been build around the C scale

this is all purely cultural and subjective...there are no reason to use minor or major chords but the simple fact one use letters (white keys on the piano) blindly ... (as jerrykramskoy said, it's more a question of tastes) it has nothing to do with linear mathematic logic...and still, it is entitled "music theory", 

it should be called "occidental historical way of seeing music theory"

I just checked a treble clef, I never figured before that these were only refering to these white notes...this is so crude and occidental-centric, to me there has always been 12 notes, not 7....

Well, maybe it doesn't make "logical sense", and if an engineer had invented music, we would only use stuff like chromatic scale, whole tone scale, octatonic scale and "synthetic" scales like that, and the only chords we would use would be the augmented triad and the diminished 7th chord - and actually, we would most likely have 10 notes in an octave instead of 12. But it just doesn't work that way. We use the letters from A to G because western music is based on the diatonic scale. The diatonic scale existed before people figured out there were 12 different notes (and some cultures have even more than 12 notes). Actually, having 12 equal half steps in an octave is a compromise and a simplification, and it's actually a lot more complicated than that. If you think 12 tone equal temperament is the be all and end all, you are wrong.

Music theory is not based on your "logic". Music theory is based on finding common patterns in music and giving explanations to them. Music is sound first, theory second. What I mean is that people first started playing music and only then found explanations to what's happening in it. It's not like people just invented 12 tone equal temperament from out of nowhere and then started playing symmetrical patterns. Symmetry may look cool on paper, but it may not sound pleasant to our ears. Why things are like they are has a lot to do with history. But it also has a lot to do with the overtone series that's one of the most fundamental concepts of music. If you want to understand where this all comes from, I would suggest learning about the overtone series. It is one of the main reasons why certain note combinations sound good and others don't (and why we use major chords for example). Music theory has its own logic and it actually makes a lot of sense when you learn about it. It's actually a lot more practical to have 7 note names and use accidentals than to have 12 different note names. And I would also call that more "logical", since most music is based on the diatonic scale, not on the chromatic scale, so it's pretty natural that the note names are also going to be based on the diatonic scale.

there are no reason to use minor or major chords but the simple fact one use letters (white keys on the piano) blindly ... (as jerrykramskoy said, it's more a question of tastes)


I don't think that's what Jerry said and that's a pretty ridiculous statement. There are plenty of reasons to use minor and major chords, and most of those reasons have nothing to do with note naming.
Quote by AlanHB
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#15
Quote by jerrykramskoy


If we look at the distances from the 2nd fret to each of these chosen notes, we get (0, 3 (5-2), and 7 (9-2)).

This pattern (0, 3, 7) has a shorthand name: a "Minor" triad.  Because this starts on G#, we call this G# minor triad.  Written G#m


(0, 3, 3) occurs one, starting from 11 semitones above the scale start note.  This pattern is called "diminished".


jerrykramskoy 

I think you have a couple of little mistakes.
I think the minor triad should be F#.

(0,3,3) should be (0,3,6)
#16
Vreid You're absolutely right.   Brain and hands out of sync!! I've now corrected the original post so any new readers don't get confused.  
Many thanks to you

Out of interest, did you know about chord construction already?
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jun 29, 2017,
#17
jerrykramskoy 

Yep, I have a reasonably firm knowledge of music theory.

I just like reading the many different ways of approaching or teaching the subject, to arrive at the same outcome.

I believe that people do learn and approach learning a subject in many different ways. The old what works for one doesn't work for another, or what makes perfect sense to one person is gobbledegook to another.

I do read thoroughly through posts, and tend to pick up on mistakes that might have been made. I do see them as typing errors or simple oversights, especially when the poster obviously knows the subject.