Chord and key question

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Slaphound, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    The key of C major is C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C again. OK. That makes sense.

    The Key of C Minor is C, D, D#, F, G, G#, A# and back to C. Right?

    So the one chord of the C minor key is Cm and the 6 is a G# Major right? With the C being the major third of the G# Major Chord. Am I right?
  2. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Yeah, but by convention, generally G# is referred to as Aflat (fewer number of symbols to get there), and in the larger sense you are coming to the relationship between the "Dominant" major and "Relative" minor key - C and Aminor for instance have that relationship. When you mix C major and Cminor the Dominant/Relative relationship doesn't exist (hence you come up with G sharp).

    Take a look at the Circle of 5ths or some other basic harmony theory and it will become clear quickly.

  3. Not quite. The key of C minor is C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb and back to C. Because you need to include all natural scale tones withd any necessary alterations. Having D & D# and G & G# in the same scale becomes confusing, therefore you use their enharmonic equivalents (ie. instead of D#, G# and A# you use Eb, Ab and Bb, respectively). You also use only sharps or flats in a diatonic scale, not a combination of both.

    That's sounds good to me.
  4. Mharris


    Sep 25, 2007
    Missoula Montana
    C minor is actually C D Eb F G Ab Bb C. I realize that you are naming the enharmonic equivalents, but it's a much better idea to starting thinking about scales in a more accurate manner to avoid confusion and communication errors later on.

    Hope this helps.
  5. and C mi is relative minor to Eb major the C mi notes are the Eb maj scale but starting on C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
  6. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005

    Well, enharmonics are getting the better of this comment. The one chord of Cm key is Cm. No problem. The 6 is a Ab major chord, and C is indeed the 3rd of that chord (Ab, C, Eb).

    Learning scales and key signatures is a very important and basic step to learning all you need to know about music theory.
  7. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    OK, take that C major scale and write it out four times, staggering by a third each time.
    So, first you write:

    C D E F G A B C

    Then you stack thirds on top of that to get:
    E F G A B C D E
    C D E F G A B C

    Repeat to get:
    G A B C D E F G
    E F G A B C D E
    C D E F G A B C

    And one more time...

    B C D E F G A B
    G A B C D E F G
    E F G A B C D E
    C D E F G A B C

    Those stacks are the chord in the key of C major. Figure them out, play them analyze them until you know WHY they're Cmaj7, Dmin7, Emin7, Fmaj7, G7, Amin7, and Bmin7b5.

    Then do the same with the C Natural Minor scale (and make it easy on yourself- use each letter only once in the scale so your C Nat. Minor is C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

    The chords then become:
    Bb C D Eb F G Ab Bb
    G Ab Bb C D b F G
    Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb
    C D Eb F G Ab Bb C

    THOSE chords are Cmin7, Dmin7b5, EbMaj7, Fmin7, Gmin7, AMaj7, Bb7, and Cmin7. There's a harmonic problem here- that Bb7 pulls you to EbMaj7 instead of to the Cmin7 that's supposed to be the tonic. So, someone came up with the idea to raise the 7th a half step (in this case from Bb to B).

    Spell out the chords for yourself to see that they now become...

    Cmin/Maj7, Dmin7b5, Eb#5Maj7 (or something weird- I'll come to that later), Fmin7, G7, AMaj7, and B7b5. That G7 pulls your ear to the Cmin triad based on the first note so it's a more natural sounding resolution. The G7 pulls you to the 1 of this C minor scale. Because the change to the 7th was made to make the harmony more pleasing and less ambivalent, it's called the Harmonic Minor scale (hello, Richie Blackmoore!!).

    Now some peopel found the minor third between the 6 and 7 to be jarring when creating melodies using the Harmonic Minor scale (exactly the part that makes Harmonic Minor sound so cool!), so they nudged the 6th up a half-step to preserve the G7 chord. That's why this one is called the Melodic Minor scale.

    Bottom line, is learn what happens when you harmonize the scale and you'll know the chords. For me, all these discussions are predicated on knowing how to build the diatonic major scale in any key, and how to figure out the four chord types contained in the diatonic major scale. I don't suggest doing any other theory stuff until you have a handle on those two basic foundations. It'll make understanding chords, progression, modes, everything a lot easier.

  8. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Thanks guys.


    So tell me. A Major chord is a 1, 3, 5. And a Minor chord is a 1, b3, and a 5th. Right?

    Now how do you spell a Minor chord with a b7? Is it (in the Key of C) Cmin7 or is it Cmin b7th?

    How do you spell a Major chord with a b 7? C Maj. b7 or CMaj.7
    How do you spell a Minor chord with a natural 7?
    And how do you spell a Major chord with a Natural 7th?

  9. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    C7 = A C major chord with a flat 7th
    Cm7 = A C minor chord with a flat 7th
    Cmaj7 = A C major chord with a major 7th
    CmMaj7 = A C minor chord with a major 7th

    A major 7th is a 3rd from the 5th.
    A flat 7th is a flat 3rd from the 5th.
  10. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Perfect. Thanks
  11. joeeg33

    joeeg33 Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Central New Jersey
  12. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY

    Why is the 5th chord called a Dominant and the 4th a sub dominant?
  13. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    The V chord pulls you to the tonic. Play a G7, and follow it with a C major- there's a sense of fulfillment there. So, the V is the dominant chord after the tonic. The IV is the subdominant because it preceeds the dominant.

    I look at chord spellings in terms of the notes from the major scale, so...

    Maj = 1, 3, 5
    Min = 1, b3, 5
    (Dom)7 = 1, 3, 5, b7 (generally called a 7th, but technically it's the dominant 7)
    Maj7 = 1, 3, 5, 7
    Min7 = 1, b3, 5, b7

    Extensions above the 7th technically include the 7th but how you VOICE them depends on the music, and there are some that clash... But a 9th is 1, 3, 5, b7, 9 (2). NOT the same as an Sus2 which has only 1, 2, 5. That 7th makes al the difference

    Here's how a chord name is (note this is pretty general because complicated chords get harder and harder to name, plus there's less consistency).

    Cmin7b5 is exactly that- C minor 7 with a flatted 5 so it's C Eb Gb Bb.

    Cmin/Maj7 is a Cminor with a major 7; C Eb G B

    C9 is 1, 3, 5, b7, 9 or C E G Bb D

    C Add 9 is the major triad with the 9th added, or C E G D (no Bb)- it can function as a major chord, whereas the 9 (with it's b7) functions as a dominant chord.

    Csus2 is 1, 2, 5. The "sus" means you've suspended the third, and the 2 tells us which note you've used to replace the 3rd. So, Csus2 is C, D, G.

    Csus4 (a favorite folk guitar chord) is where you replace the 3 with the 4 and get C F G. Listen to Stephen Stills' "Carry On" for that alternation in the intro in the key of D.

    "How do you spell a Major chord with a b 7?" 1 3 5 b7, or C E G b7. It's a dominant 7

    "How do you spell a Minor chord with a natural 7?" 1 b3 5 7 or C Eb G B- that's the Cmin/Maj7

    "And how do you spell a Major chord with a Natural 7th?" 1 3 5 7 or C E G B- the Major 7

  14. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    What happens if its deceptive cadence and the V resolves to the vi? What about if the dominant is preceded by an augmented 6th chord? Hmm?
  15. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Sorry, the reason I gave is what I understand to be the reason the V is called the "dominant", not an exhaustive description of its function in all areas. The question asked was "why is the V the dominant"?

  16. Indeed. When tutoring a new piece of knowledge you don't want to describe all processes and functions. It just makes it even more confusing. Just keep it simple and gradually increase the learning curve to make it accessible. Doing it the other way around is a bit like teaching grade 1 kids the alphabet, and then trying to explain the finer nuances of Shakespeare. People have problems learning when the person teaching them cares more for showing off knowledge than aiding their learning.
  17. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    And, the the IV is called the "subdominant" because in order, it's the one before the dominant. Has nothing to do with usage, it's about the order of the notes.

  18. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Thank you guys very much. This is what Talkbass is all about. It should not go unnoticed that this bass community is as good as gold.
  19. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 12, 2021

Share This Page