More Advanced Music Theory

author: ironwolg date: 03/31/2009 category: for beginners

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Hey guys, hope you enjoyed my last lesson. Thanks so much for all the positive feedback. I honestly didn't even know it was accepted onto Ultimate-Guitar until about five minutes ago. Since the last lesson, I've gone through almost a full semester of music theory so I know much more than I did before. Let's get started shall we? Ok, you know how to build a power chord, but what about triads? Well first you need to know what a triad is. A triad is simply a chord with 3 notes: The root, the 3rd and the 5th. This will usually be written out like I III V. For scale degrees we use roman numerals. A degree is just a note in a scale(third degree, fifth degree, etc.). Here's a very basic C Major triad.
Time to learn a little more music theory lingo. The first note of a scale is called the Tonic(or root if you prefer). The second note of the scale is called the Supertonic. The third is called the Mediant. The fourth is the Subdominant. The fifth is the Dominant. The sixth is the Submediant. The seventh is the Leading Tone or Subtonic. Each degree of a scale can be turned into a chord, so there are I chords, II chords, III chords, etc. It's not absolutely necessary to memorize those(although I encourage it), but if you're going to school for music theory you'll have to know them. Now I can properly explain to you the basics of chord progressions. There are tons of progressions for you to use with chords. The most common progression is the I IV V progression. If you were paying attention you know that that means you'll use the Tonic chord, then the Subdominant chord, and then the Dominant chord. You can take any chords from any scales and put them together in whatever way sounds good to you. Of course, these progressions you come up with will also work with power chords, or any other chords for that matter. Now, you have to pick the right type of chord. Now we're going to go into Major, Minor, Diminished, and Augmented chords. As if all that junk up there wasn't enough! To have a Major chord you must have a I, a Major III and a V. So what's a Major III? It's the note that is 4 half steps(2 whole steps) from the Tonic. It will already be the third note of the major scale, so no worries here! If you want to make the Major chord a minor chord, you will have to lower the III one half step, resulting in a minor III(3 half steps from the Tonic). Now those are pretty basic chords, if you don't already know your basic Major and minor chords you should learn them now. Next, we'll move on to Augmented and Diminished chords. You can think of Augmented as a super Major chord and Diminished as a super minor chord. Augmented is built similar to a Major chord, the only difference is that the V is raised a half step. The Diminished chord is just the opposite, the V is lowered one half step. To make all of this a little easier to swallow, it's a good idea to memorize what chords are naturally major, minor, and diminished(there are no naturally augmented triads). When I say that they're naturally major or minor or diminished, I mean that there are no sharps or flats. Major: CEG, GBD, and FAC Minor: ACE, DGB, and EGB Diminished: BDF You should become familiar with those, it will make chords a lot easier to understand. It's much easier to build chords like this, but to understand the theory behind them you must be able to build them from scales. Well, I know that it's a lot of information to swallow and I don't expect you to instantly understand and memorize all of it. Just take all the time you need to read over it and memorize it. Chords are not the most fun things to learn, but they are extremely beneficial. I won't go into inversions this time, I'll save that confusion for later. Next lesson will be on scales and their modes. You'll learn how to make some killer shred licks. I personally prefer teaching scales and modes. Thanks again for all the positive feedback, I hope this lesson is helpful. If you have any questions, just email me and I will do my best to answer all the questions you have. Check back soon for more from Brain Frying 101.
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