December 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm #21685
For basic common practice period chords there is a standard quality for each number of chord depending on whether the scale is major or minor.
capital letters= major; lowercase letters= minor; °=diminished
I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii°, back to I
i, ii°, III, iv, V, VI, vii°, back to i
example in C Major
C Major, d minor, e minor, F Major, G major, a minor, b diminished, back to C Major.
example in c minor
c minor, d diminished, E Major, f minor, G Major, A Major, b diminished back to c minor
These qualities also work for every other key, so it can be easy to figure out what chords are in each key.December 20, 2009 at 4:28 pm #32197
yea…. and for the rest of us who didnt get that class in music theory?December 20, 2009 at 4:46 pm #32198
So you might be wondering how I know what notes make up the root of each chord. There are a couple ways to find this out. The easiest way without knowing music theory, is to just look up a chart of key signatures. The labeling of the chords works with the scale degrees associated with the root of the chord. For example a I chord has the first scale degree as the root. A ii chord has the second scale degree as the root. A iii has scale degree three as the root…. and so on. You might be wondering what scale degrees are… well scale degrees are just the different notes of the scale. The first scale degree is the first note in the scale and the second scale degree is the second note in the scale and so on. The root is also a standard term in the field of music theory. The root is basically the name of the chord. For example a C Major chord has a root of C, a d minor chord has a root of d. A f# diminished chord has a root of F#, and so on.
So when you know what key you are in you can look up the key signature and build your chords off the different scale degrees. Refer to the previous post to know what the qualities should be. Also keep in mind these are only the chords that are in that key, so there are no secondary dominants or voice leading chords included there, but this is a whole different topic.December 20, 2009 at 5:14 pm #32199
i was confused as scale degreese in my theory classes were refered to as “half steps” and “whole steps”December 20, 2009 at 7:08 pm #32200
scale degrees are different than whole and half steps. Whole and half steps are more similar to intervals.
Scale degrees are the different notes of a scale. For example the C major scale has no sharps or flats.
C D E F G A B C
C is scale degree 1
D is scale degree 2
E is scale degree 3
and so on
so the note is the first scale degree. The second note of the major scale is the second scale degree. Depending on the scale depends on what letter name the scale degree has. For example c minor is different. Below is a c minor scale written out. Of course the (b) that Im using is substituting for a flat symbol, which kind of looks like a fancy cursive b.
C D Eb F G Ab Bb
In this case
C is scale degree 1
D is scale degree 2
Eb is scale degree 3
so scale degrees letter names change depending on the scale.
Whole steps and half steps is the distance between notes without regards to letter names. For example a half step is the smallest division of a note in Western music. It is from one note to the next. This could be from (c) to (c#) or from (c) to (db) or from (c) to (ebbb, which is e triple flat). A whole step is two half steps. It is the second smallest interval. It can be from (c) to (d) or (c) to (cx, which is c double sharp). Or from (c) to (ebb, which is e double flat). Now with intervals these they change depending on the name but they still are all whole steps. Also I could make the comparison with other notes besides (c) (d) or (e). I hope this clears things up a bit.December 20, 2009 at 8:00 pm #32201
We also give names to the specific chords.
V/v= dominant (minor five is not very common)
vii°= leading toneDecember 20, 2009 at 8:19 pm #32202
You can ignore the dorian and mixolidan modes for now. Modes are used more in metal, Jazz and old school 1500′s counterpoint. The common practice does not use modes very much and therefore I will not talk a whole lot about it right now. I still have a lot to learn about modal tonality at least to be able to explain it properly.March 13, 2011 at 4:35 am #32203
Couldn’t have said tht any better myself. Very informative. Us music theory nerds tend to over complicate things lol.
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