Monday, January 4, 2010

Basic Music Theory (Chords)

Where do chords come from? This is the topic I'm going to cover today. It's not as difficult as it seems. To get to the bottom of chords we need to get back together with our friend the major scale. I'll pick things back up with the C Major Scale. C, d, e, F, G, a, B, C. The capitol letters indicate a major chord. The lower case letters indicate a minor chord.

I go over the major scale and how it's formed in the previous post and in a couple of videos:

  1. C maj
  2. d min
  3. e min
  4. F maj
  5. G maj
  6. a min
  7. B diminished
So, how do we get chords out of this scale. It's simple. You take 3 notes, starting on any note, and group together every other note. I'll say that again. Pick a note, take every other note, and combine 3 notes. Here's an easy way to look at it.

To make a C Major chord you take the C, the E, and the G and play them at the same time.
To make a d Minor chord you take the D, the F, and the A and play them at the same time.

  • CEG = C Major Chord
  • DFA = d Minor Chord
So you get the family of chords that are generated from the C Major Scale, you just keep applying this formula to every note of the C Major Scale. Here's what you get. By the way, this is called Harmonizing the Scale.

  • EGB = e Minor Chord
  • FAC = F Major Chord
  • GBD = G Major Chord
  • ACE = a Minor chord
  • BDF = B diminished chord

This formula works for any major you scale you'd like. Here's the G Major Scale.

G, A, B, C, D, E, F# (the only "accidental" in G Major)

  • GBD = G Major
  • ACE = a minor
  • BDF = b minor
  • CEG = C Major
  • DF#A= D Major
  • EGB = e minor
  • F#AC= F Diminished
If you play these chords one after the other you can hear the scale in the chords. I play the C Major scale chords this way at the start of this video:

Hopefully, you can hear the major scale in there.

That's quite a bit of info. If you find it confusing feel free to send me any questions and I'd be happy to help you understand this stuff better.
Hope it helps.

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