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Question about chords

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by zr1bill, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. Hi- I'm quite new to theory and I'm trying to understand chords. Using the C Major scale, if I play C E G, it is maj. But if I start on the D, and play D F A, I believe it is minor. What I'm not grasping is how or why a minor chord can be part of a major scale. If you play D F# A I think that would be major, but it is not every other note of the C major scale.
  2. mcglyph


    Aug 17, 2011
    You are quite new to theory, so, you have the internet, GOOGLE basic music theory, or try this, studybass.com. Studybass.com is one of the most awesome free sites. To answer just your question though, CEG is maj because in the C scale there are no sharps or flats. In the case of DFA well in the key of D that F should be an F#, because in the key of D the F and incidentally, the C is sharp. A minor chord has the TONALITY of minor because in the C scale a D chord is going to be minor due to no F# being in the C scale. I recommend, This is your Brain on Music," when you get a chance. It's not a music book, though any musician will benefit from it. If sharp and flat are outside your realm of understanding, I direct you to studybass.com, or perhaps youtube. My way of teaching ALWAYS starts with learning the scales first, then chord theory, then songs, though some will disagree. Best of luck to you.

    In a major chord the third will be sharped.

    DF#A C C# D D# EF F# G G# A A# BC This is your piano

    Starting at C count the steps to D. Now do so from D to F#...see that? 1/2 steps..C>C#>D# Whole steps..C>D

    so from C to E is...2 whole steps away from C if you were to make a C minor chord then you'd play C D# G...

    A D major chord would be...D...to F# right 2 whole steps from D..so a minor D is...D >F not F# it has minor TONALITY
    because there are only 1 1/2 steps from D to F, and your ear hears this as a minor TONALITY. Simple.
  3. The notes from any major scale will make three major chords, three minor chords and one diminished chord. You are on the right track about using every other note, but, missing the mark just a little.
    Note	 ScaleTone 	Chord	spelling	        function
    C		1	Cmaj 7	CEGB R-3-5-7 		I	(tonic)
    D		2	Dmin 7	DFAC R-b3-5-b7		ii
    E		3	Emin 7	EGBD R-b3-5-b7		iii
    F		4	Fmaj 7	FACE R-3-5-7		IV	(subdominant)
    G		5	G7	GBDF R-3-5-b7		V	(dominant)
    A		6	Amin 7	ACEG R-b3-5-b7		iv	
    B		7	Bmin7b5	BDFA R-b3-b5-b7		viidim     (diminished)

    C major scale notes are C, D, E, F, G, A, B now stacking 3rds or using every other one we get C E G B. Question to ask now - what is the chord spelling for C E G B. It's R-3-5-7 and that makes the Cmaj7 chord.

    OK now start with the second note in the C major scale. D F A C Question what is the chord spelling for D F A C and to answer that you look at the D scale - not the C scale - as the D scale is D, E, F#, G, A, B, C# you have F# and C# in the D scale and are using the F and C so you flatted the F# to F and the C# to C and end up with a spelling of R-b3-5-b7 and that gives you the Dm7 chord.

    Spend some time and find the spelling on the rest of those chords. If they have a..............

    Natural 3's = major chords.
    b3 = minor chords.
    b5 are used with diminished chords
    7's are used with Maj7 chords
    b7 are used with dominant sevenths and minor sevenths.

    When you get through stacking 3rds - every other note - you are going to end up with three major chords, three minor chords and one diminished chord.

    Little more detail....... http://www.smithfowler.org/music/Chord_Formulas.htm

    Basic Chords
    Major Triad = R-3-5
    Minor Triad = R-b3-5
    Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5

    7th Chords
    Maj7 = R-3-5-7
    Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7
    Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7
    ½ diminished = R-b3-b5-b7
    Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7
  4. BassmanSBK


    Mar 31, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Memorize the previous post. You will us it forever.

    But what you are missing is the "why" of it. You are looking at the chords which occur naturally in the scale. A chord is, in its simplest form, every other note in a scale. If you start with the second note (D in your example), every other note (F, A) makes a minor chord, but the notes are all part of C major. So, a Dmin chord is in the Cmaj scale, but a Dmaj chord is not. You can see this because you understand that different types of scales--just like different types of chords--are made up of a mixture of whole- and half-step intervals.

    Now, sit down with a piece of paper and continue the exercise of making chords in different major scales. You will notice that in ANY major scale, chords built on the I, IV and V note will be major; the ii, iii and iv note will be minor; the vii note, diminished (i.e., minor with b5 chord tone). In fact, the chords are usually described with a capital I IV and V, or a lowercase ii, iii, iv and iiv, to emphasize this point. (Upper case=major, lower case=minor.)

    You should not expect music theory to make "sense" in some kind of logical, nonmusical way. (Like: "How can a minor chord be part of the major scale. If the scale is 'major,' shouldn't all the chords be 'major.'") It only makes sense in its own (musical) way.

    Hope this helps.
  5. Thank you everyone for your replies. I have printed out Malcolm's post and will memorize it along with the fret board. (it's coming along)

    BassmanSBK you are correct in that I am trying to make logical sense in a nonmusical way. I played some piano and played trombone for 10 years, jazz band, orchestra and marching band. But in the end I was a note reader. In all the time I took lessons it was about being a better trombonist and reading music, one note at a time. There was no theory or at lwast none that I remember.

    Now that I have taken up the bass, I'm seeing such a bigger picture of music. I'm not sure if it's the bass, or maybe that I've changed and need/want more information, or possibly that music instruction has changed or that it's a combination of the above.

    Thanks again...... Bill
  6. A thought unloosened....... on the bass, sheet music for Pop, Rock & Country is normally either fake chord or lead sheet, neither of which has the bass clef shown. Which means we compose our own bass lines.

    If you, in the past, have played by rote the bass can be a paradigm shift and you may have to adjust. Perhaps write out your own bass clef using standard notation. There are several software packages out there.

    Just a thought I had as I read your post.

    Good luck.
  7. I have Finale Print Music and when I do my ear training I first work out the bass line note by note using tabs. I then take my tabs and input the info into Print Music, trying the best I can to get the rhythm correct and to figure out the best fingering, which is always a challenge. I find this also helps me with my associating notes to the frets.

    As a beginner, I'm working on my technique, reading notation, training my ear and finally trying to get my arms around theory.

    My guess is that you wrote your first post from memory. Looking at that information and the chord formulas in the link make me think memorizing the NYC telephone book might be easier.
    What I find incredible is that you can do this with out thinking. It's so ingrained that your fingers just move, bypassing the normal thought process.

    I realize this will come if I keep at it, but I'm such a late starter that I'm afraid I'll run out of time. In the mean time, I find the mental challenge exercise for the brain and I'm really enjoying not just the playing, but the knowledge. Thanks again for your insights.
  8. CrazyCarl


    Nov 8, 2011
    Eastern OH
  9. Your welcome. Thanks for the kind words.

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