The Devil's Chord

I am going to show you how to play "The Devil's Chord" and I will explain what it is and how it got it's name.

The Devil's Chord
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I am going to show you how to play "The Devil's Chord" and I will explain what it is and how it got it's name. The Devil's chord is a chord that has the root note of a minor scale, the flatted fifth of the same scale and the root note of the scale an octave higher. Here is "The Devil's Chord" in the key of A minor.
E|-------
B|-------
G|-------
D|---7---
A|---6---
E|---5---
If you have tuned your guitar to drop D play this.
E|-------
B|-------
G|-------
D|---7---
A|---6---
D|---7---
Because it sounds different to most chords it was banned by the church and they called it "The Devil's Chord." The flatted fifth is commonly used in blues and metal music. It can be used in any minor scale. If you want a chord progression that uses it play it and then play it again three frets higher and again three frets higher until it is the first you played only an octave higher. You can also use flatted fifth notes in solos. Again this is in the key of A minor but can be used in any minor scale.
E|---------
B|---------
G|---7b8---
D|---------
A|---------
E|---------
Or.
E|-------
B|---4---
G|-------
D|-------
A|-------
E|-------

60 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    christopher.ten
    Um... Yeah. What you're talking about is the tritone. It is not specific to a minor scale. In fact the 'chords' listed above aren't major or minor... They're just a lot of dissonance...
    Wintersentinel
    Actually its a diminished chord
    tanooj2
    It's a diminished chord if you play the minor third, which in this case would be the 5th fret on the G string.
    NoamKoKo
    I can't believe you wrote this without mentioning even once the words Tritone and Diminished.
    thenextkirk92
    Pretty basic lesson. Probably could have gone into tritones and examples.
    danieli99
    Yeah, but a lot of people probably don't know what a triton is, because they didn't learn music theory.
    Hydra150
    It's a little strange that a music lesson about this interval doesn't even contain the word 'tritone' nor the word 'diminished'. I mean, I understand that an author might not want to scare away those who misunderstand/fear music theory, but there's a difference between using more accessible language and not teaching a subject properly.
    Hydra150
    However I notice that, if his profile is to be believed, the author of this article is twelve years old - in that case I'd be more forgiving oh his efforts.* 'Teaching' a subject back is perhaps the best way of solidifying one's knowledge, and I'd encourage UGers to contribute in any way you'd like. One thing I would ask is that, if you're writing an article that pertains to music theory, you first create a thread in the following subforum, so that the content can be reviewed by your peers and you can take on any suggestions before submitting it proper; http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/for... Or indeed if the article is about guitar techniques for example, there's a subforum for that. * not too forgiving though, as it clearly states in the ToS of this site that you must be 13 years of age to use an account on this website.
    Sir_Taffey
    Well, what they all said really. It's root, flat 3rd flat 5th. Typically I would derive it in a diminished scale. Nothing special here though. Not to shoot you down at all but I would have like to see some examples using it especially using the notes as passing tones and even in a blues context. You have the right idea for sure, but a little more information next time
    crazysam23_Atax
    Why would you bother with a "diminished scale", when both major and minor keys have a diminished chord as a diatonic chord (the vii(dim) in major & ii(dim) in minor)? Honestly, do people just spout off things like this in the hope that we'll all be impressed with their music theory knowledge?
    mikepm
    He's viewing it from a jazz harmonic perspective. Jazz has a more open form of harmony and a diminished scale is one of the possibilities to play of a diminished chord like in a minor ii V i. There's no showing off his knowledge since it's pretty basic, he's just giving an idea for what to play over a diminished chord instead vanilla diatonic scales.
    MaggaraMarine
    Tritone isn't really even that dissonant. It's used a lot in all genres, not just in heavy metal. It's actually used a lot in classical music. A dominant 7th chord includes a tritone, same with diminished chords. Also, I doubt that it was really banned by the church, I'm pretty sure that's just a legend. People just didn't want to use it because it simply sounded bad - it might be that church banned it but that's just because it sounded so bad. But over time people got used to how it sounds like. As I said, a dominant chord includes a tritone and dominant chords are used a lot in every genre. You can make the tritone sound really dissonant if you want but it has to do with the context.
    mikey_1990
    You are right about dominant 7th chords containing a tritone. If you think about it F7 is just A diminished over F.. But anyway the church did ban it for along time!
    Pablopa99
    In gregorian chant and early medieval modal music there are no tritones, the rules for deciding which notes should the modal scale use can't allow a tritone to be formed, so that's a sort of ban (also they did actually call it "the devil's" interval). Later on, as you said, the tritone was an essential element for tonal resolution.
    MaggaraMarine
    Yeah, but I think tritones were avoided just because they sounded so bad. It might have to do with the church banning them but also because they simply sounded so bad that people didn't want to use them.
    Pablopa99
    The augmented fourth, dissonant both melodically and harmonically, IS the most dissonant interval of the chromatic scale. It is because of that unstability that it was banned in early western music treaties. All these treaties were written by ecclesiastics, as the only source of written western music we have was religous. So it was actually banned by the church and there were assocations with it containing the "devil in music". It's just a conventionalism.
    danieli99
    My music theory teacher read to our class something that Bach said once, about people being executed for writing music with the use of seconds, fourths, tritones and sevenths. Sounds absurd, doesn't it?
    Pablopa99
    In the baroque era (Bach) the tritone was alredy accepted (though with a limited use)seconds, fourths and sevenths were also widely used and no one was executed for that (:
    bass_man_dan
    listen to any architects song before the here and now and you'll find this chord always wondered about it though - is it a dimished 5th or augmented 4th?
    carl.roloff.3
    It's actually both. The nomenclature used for intervals allows some overlap. It's the same way that an augmented 7th is really the same thing as an octave. I think the point of it is to denote what kind of key you're in. You would say "augmented fifth" if you're in a key that does not normally contain a minor sixth.
    ncrooner
    Actually this has a deeper meaning and history than all of this. It goes back much further than the Roman Empire and it is not about what it sounds like its about frequency which is what runs everything..every atom every cell..everything. There are tones or frequencies that are conducive to positive results in matter and some that result in negative ...this is called the devils interval because for thousands of years it has been known to be in between the pure frequencies of love and harmoney and GOD's creative fingerprint mathmatically. I love blues and metal but truth is truth so I keep it real.
    ejg500
    While in Music Theory in high school, this was explained. It was banned from church because the intervals between each note is 6 half steps. B-F-B-F, (B-Natural tritone or 'devil's chord') is 6 6 6 6. It is, in fact, a chord because it has more than 1 note played simultaneously. Yes it is a diminished 5th. Yes it also is an augmented 4th. And it can be found in literally every scale. The fourth interval of any major scale played simultaneously with the seventh is a tritone, or 'devil's chord' as stated above.
    Hydra150
    Nah, a chord isn't more than one note played at a time, it's more than two notes played at a time. Two notes played simultaneously is just an interval. Also I don't buy that '6666' explanation.
    ejg500
    A fifth chord is just, for example, A and E right? If you add the A on top of it it becomes a power chord because you're adding the fourth interval of E. A fifth chord is still a chord. Just as long as it has a root note and is being played simultaneously it is a chord. And for the fifth chord it is a root note with the 5th interval stacked on top with the octave of the bass. Making it technically 2 different notes. And the 6 half-step intervals is just what I was taught. It very well could be incorrect because that was 200 years ago lol
    Hydra150
    Lol, you'd be surprised how long/how many pages threads titled 'Is a power chord a chord or an interval? ' can go on for in the forums.
    The Celturian
    The chord you are showing is not the Devils chord, the Devils Chord that Hendrix used has no root, and cannot be named in any musical format , the notes you want to play for this is...F.B.F.B. this can be repeated at the 7th fret.
    MaggaraMarine
    Are you talking about the "Hendrix Chord" or what? Where did Hendrix use the "Devil's Chord"? I know there were tritones in his music but tritones are used in every genre. The "Hendrix Chord" is a dominant 7th chord and a minor third and it's called a 7#9 chord.
    karman13
    tritone or augmented chord thats what it is not a diminished chord....come on
    crazysam23_Atax
    A diminished chord contains the following: root, minor 3rd, & flatted (imperfect) 5th. An augmented chord contains the following: root, major 3rd, & sharped (augmented) 5th. A tritone chord contains the following: root, flatted (imperfect) 5th. So, what exactly about this lesson leads you to believe that the "Devil's Chord" is NOT a diminished chord without a minor 3rd OR that it's an augmented chord?
    BillR87
    You mean tritone chord right? Don't give it names it doesnt need haha
    ironicallyindie
    what's the difference between this and a diminished chord?
    danieli99
    Here the 3rd of the chord is absent. It's just the root note, the root's triton (diminished 5th, if you will) and the root's octave. In a diminished chord, you will have the root note, a minor 3rd, the tritone and the octave.