Another Way to Look at Which Chords in Which Keys

This is in response to the article "What Chords Are In What Key, And Why?" by SilentDeftone. It is important that you read that article first or this will make even less sense to you tahn it may already. It is only a an alternative way of looking at the same thing.

Another Way to Look at Which Chords in Which Keys
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This is in response to the article "What Chords Are In What Key, And Why?" by SilentDeftone. It is important that you read that article first or this will make even less sense to you than it may already. It is only a an alternative way of looking at the same thing. 

I understand what victoryaloy was trying to say and its exactly what I was thinking after I read this article. I am going to take a stab at trying to explain it too but may end up with a mess due to text formatting as victoryaloy did.

Here is the C major scale that continues on past the octave (in order to build the chords):

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

If you want to build all the chords in the key just start on that letter name and use the notes in that keys scale. You don't have to worry about the formula of flatting 3rds and 5th because they happen naturally when you look at it like this. A triad is built by using the 1, 3, and 5 of a scale - thus the 1 3 5 numbers under the corresponding note of the C scale.

I am in no way saying you don't need to know how the formulas work because you should. This is just an alternate way of looking at the same thing. You won't get any of this stuff unless you have at least some rudimentary understand of theory. It is important to know where the whole steps and half steps occur in order to understand this. That is another lesson altogether.

..Note: C D E F G A B C D E F G
C chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a minor chord [C maj]

..Note: C D E F G A B C D E F G
D chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a minor chord [D min]

..Note: C D E F G A B C D E F G
E chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a minor chord [E min]

..Note: C D E F G A B C D E F G
F chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a major chord [F maj]

..Note: C D E F G A B C D E F G
G chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a major chord [G maj]

..Note: C D E F G A B C D E F G
A chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a major chord [A min]

..Note: C D E F G A B C D E F G
B chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a diminished chord [A dim]

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Here is another example in the key of A:

Here is the A major scale that continues on past the octave (in order to build the chords):

A - B – C# - D - E – F#- G#

..Note: A B C# D E F# G# A B C# D...
A chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a minor chord [A maj]

..Note: A B C# D E F# G# A B C# D...
B chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a minor chord [B min]

..Note: A B C# D E F# G# A B C# D...
C# chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a minor chord [C# min]

..Note: A B C# D E F# G# A B C# D...
D chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a major chord [D maj]

..Note: A B C# D E F# G# A B C# D...
E chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a major chord [E maj]

..Note: A B C# D E F# G# A B C# D...
F# chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a major chord [F# min]

..Note: A B C# D E F# G# A B C# D...
G# chord 1 3 5
By default (without changing any scale degrees) this is a diminished chord [G# dim]

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Vitalious
    You're calling C maj as a minor chord and A min minor as a major chord. You need to proof read the text before posting it lest you confuse people with your lessons.
    Sixxstarr
    Actually if you pay attention it says C# min which is C#-E-G# while C# major is C#-F-G#
    robbocchino
    The one chord ( notes 1, 3, 5 is a major chord. In both examples it is listed as a minor chord. Of course, when the 7th is added it is a maj7..
    tobbenygard
    Only chords with a diminished fifth and seven are diminished chords, the seventh degree in a major scale yields only halfdiminished chords (ex. B-5) as far as triad chords go. The listed chords are not dim-chords
    tic tac tom
    I've got 2 pdf's that explain this slightly more visually - mail me at tom.eastwood@musicteachers.co.uk if anyone would like em - one is a lookup for all the diatonic chords in any key which is really handy if you want to know what key a song's in or to use for writing etc
    Job4ADeadCowboy
    Major scale W W H W W W H Minor scale W H W W H W W For those that don't know the steps for making these scales.
    Chocomalk
    Wow... Better to start with basic music theory, even the referenced article is overly confusing. Dear guitar players, learn music theory from the beginning, it won't hurt you.