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Chord Analysis for Beginners

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by garytelecastor, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    We are going to start this thread with the very basics of chord construction and save substitutions, etc., for the next thread. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT CHORDS ARE GIVEN THE TERM ONLY AS A MEANS OF ORGANIZATION. WHAT WE ARE REALLY DOING IS PLAYING HARMONY ON THE NECK OF THE GUITAR.

    So far by learning the Major scale we have found that the entire chord structure for a given
    scale is right there. That is was Johann Bach that discovered the wonders of harmony and he devised for HIS TIME PERIOD a set of rules on how to write with harmony in the most ear pleasing manner. This was called the SATB rules and stands for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass voices in the piece respectively. This is why choirs and vocal groups use the SATB method of singing.
    We found that by applying a given pattern to a given task that it was applicable to every key. The major scale is built on one of these patterns. Whole step (W)-Whole step (W)-1/2 step (1/2)-Whole step (W)-Whole step (W)-Whole step (W)-1/2 step (1/2) or W W 1/2 W W W 1/2.
    Each whole step is two frets, and an 1/2 step is 1 fret.
    We now begin to enter the procedure for construction of chords.

    Again, we will stay in the key of C for right now.
    By using the pattern for construction of the Major scale W W 1/2 W W W 1/2 we produce the following:
    C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C
    1-2-3-4-5-6-7-1

    To play a 3 chord progression of the 1, 4, 5 chords we start with:

    To construct the 1 chord for the C Major scale which is the CMaj chord, Bach found out that the 1-3-5 make a pleasant sound together.

    So to build the CMaj chord we need the 1-3-5 of the CMaj scale or the notes: C - E - G
    1 3 5
    We have the CMaj or the I chord

    Now we have to construct the FMaj chord or 4 chord. So again, first we construct the FMaj scale using the patter of W W 1/2 W W W 1/2 starting with the F note on the neck.
    F-G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F
    1-2-3-4-- 5-6-7-1
    By building the FMaj chord we use the 1-3-5 of the FMajor scale or the notes: F-A-C or the 1 3 5
    We now have the FMaj Chord or the IV Chord

    To construct the 5 chord or GMaj we have to first construct the GMajor scale:
    G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G
    1-2-3-4--5-6-7--1

    Again we use the 1, 3, 5 notes of the GMajor scale for the GMaj chord: G-B-D
    1-3-5

    We now have all of the basic chords of the 1, 4, 5 chord progression.

    So how do we construct the rest of the chords in the Major scale.
    Well it is actually quite simple

    C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C----------1

    G - A - B - C - D - E - F - G----------5

    E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E----------3

    C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C----------1
    1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 1

    In a 3 tone Major chord or a Major triad it is the 3rd tone in the CMaj scal that gives the chord it's color.

    So in a CMaj chord the E or 3 of the CMaj scale makes the note either major or minor or dim.

    A CMaj chord keeps the E completely intact or Natural with the scale.

    In a 3 tone minor chord or a minor triad we flat or b the 3rd tone of the scale.

    So let's build the scales as they are used in the Major scale permutation. Now, as we are in the key of CMaj we are only going to use the notes of the Cmaj scale to construct the notes of the 7 scales that exist within the scale:

    8-C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C-8
    7-B - C - D - E - F - G - A - B-7
    6-A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A-6
    5-G - A - B - C - D - E - F - G-5
    4-F - G - A - B - C - D - E - F-4
    3-E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E-3
    2-D - E - F - G - A - B - C - D-2
    1-C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C-1
    ---1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 1


    The one chord in CMaj is made of the tones in the 1, 3, 5 or C E G
    The two chord in CMaj is made of the tones in the 1, 3, 5 or D F A
    The three chord in CMaj is made of the tones in the 1, 3, 5 or E G B
    The four chord in CMaj is made of the tones in the 1, 3, 5 or F A C
    The five chord in CMaj is made of the tones in the 1, 3, 5 or G B D
    The six chord in CMaj is made of the tones in the 1, 3, 5 or A C E
    The seven chord in CMaj is made of the tones in the 1, 3, 5 or B D F

    Now we know that the CMaj chord is made up of the notes 1, 3, 5 or C E G. Looking at the CMaj scale we can see that these 3 notes are part of the make up of the CMajor scale.

    We now enter the world of Altered Tones:

    If we look at the "colors" of the chords in the Major Scale-as with everything else on the neck-there is a pattern to their construction. It is:

    Maj (M) - Minor (m) - Minor (m) - Maj (M) - Maj (M) - Minor (m) - Diminished (d) - Maj (M)

    M - m - m - M - M - m - d - M

    So lets take a look at the 2 chord and figure out the color of the 2 chord.
    First we construct the D Major scale as the 2nd note is a D.

    D - E - F# - G - A - C# - D or
    - W -W--1/2--W- W- -1/2

    the number 2 scale in CMaj is built as follows:

    D - E - F - G - A - C - D

    If we compare the 3rd tone in the D Major scale and the 3rd tone of the #2 scale in the C Major scale we see that:

    D Major Scale = F#
    #2 Scale = F
    Or in other words the 3rd tone in the DMajor is Natural to the scale while in CMaj the 3rd tone of the #2 scale is Altered. We lower it a 1/2 step. The note is now an F which gives the 1, 3, 5 of the chord a minor color.

    *This is the end of post #1
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
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  2. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Does it have to be that complicated?
     
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  3. callasabra

    callasabra Tele-Afflicted

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    So that is how you determine whether to play a major or minor chord in a given progression. I only had to read it 4 times but I think I got it.

    That is why we Play C#m, F#m and G#m when playing in the key of E

    Subscribed!
     
  4. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    No, not really. What Gary is spelling out is chord construction. Not chord progression construction.

    I don't want to derail this already, but for basic chord progression understanding:

    Major-minor-minor-major-major-minor-diminished.

    Or, I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-VIIdim.

    What Gary is spelling out is the make up of individual chords. Not how to put full chords together to make a progression.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
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  5. McGlamRock

    McGlamRock Poster Extraordinaire

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    When I was 18 my guitar teacher made me 12 flash cards with each major chord on the front and the spelling on the back (I think he also had the major 7th and dominant 7th listed as well as the relative minor for that major chord).

    Once I could spell the chords, the relationships between them was much easier to understand.
     
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  6. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Please tell me what is complicated about it, so that I can fix it. I really need feedback on this stuff so any improvements that you can see that could be made I would greatly appreciate.
     
  7. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    POST #2


    So leaving off at Post 1 we found that in whatever key we are playing in, by using the W-W-1/2-W-W-W-1/2 pattern on the neck starting with the note of the key we are in, we can build the Major scale.
    This will tell us what chords are Natural to the key. For instance:
    If we start in the key of E, we build the Major scale from the E note.
    Then we follow the pattern of the Major scale on the neck.
    E-(W)-F#-(W)-G#-(1/2)-A-(W)-B-(W)-C#-(W)-D#-(1/2)-E

    The E Major scale becomes: E F# G# A B C# D# E

    the Root or 1 chord is built on the 1,3,5 of the Maj Scale or E, G#, B
    The color of this chord as the G# is Natural to the key is Major
    If we go to the 2 chord we build an F# Maj Scale and we find that the 2 chord is F# A C# which has an Alterted tone of the F# Maj scale:
    In the F# Maj scale the 3rd tone in the scale is an A#
    In the E Maj scale the 3rd tone for the F# or #2 chord is an A
    So we have the notes F# A C# a color of minor.

    This procedure or pattern when it has been carried out to each of the tones in Major scale leads us to another pattern:

    Major Scale chord Patterns

    1st tone = 1st Chord = Maj chord
    2nd tone= 2nd Chord= min chord
    3rd tone = 3rd Chord = min chord
    4th tone = 4th Chord = Maj chord
    5th tone = 5th Chord = Maj chord
    6th tone = 6th Chord = min chord
    7th tone = 7th Chord = dim chord

    Now that we know how the Major scale is built, and how the Natural chords for the scale are constructed we can move out of key nomenclature and remember that we are mainly dealing with patterns on neck. So in every key the following are the make up
    of the different mainly used chords and their altered tones:

    b = flat or 1 fret or note down from the note that is in the chord.

    Maj chord = 1, 3, 5
    min chord = 1, b3, 5
    Maj7 chord = 1, 3, 5, 7 (all notes natural to the Maj scale)
    minMaj7 chord = 1, b3, 5, 7
    Dominant7 or 7th chord = 1, 3, 5, b7
    Dominantmin7 or min7th chord = 1, b3, 5, b7
    Major 6 chord = 1, 3, 5, 6
    min 6 chord = 1, b3, 5, 6
    Maj 9 chord = 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
    min 9 chord = 1, b3, 5, 7, 9
    Maj b9 chord = 1, 3, 5, 7, b9
    min b9 chord = 1, b3, 5, 7, b9
    Maj#9 chord = 1, 3, 5, 7, #9
    min#9 chord = 1, b3, 5, 7, #9
    Diminished chord = 1, b3, b5, bb7 (Ex: E, G, Bb, Dbb or C)
    Augmented chord = 1, 3, #5

    As you can see there is a definite pattern to the construction of these chords. That is why it is important to know how to construct the Major scale. Out of it comes all of the information we need to play anything in current music.

    Remember this: In any key that you are playing in, you construct the Major scale with the patten described, then you construct the chords with the patterns described.
    1.) Build Major scale
    2.) Number the scale (1-7)
    3.) Using the numbers for the notes in the scale, build the root chord.
    4.) From there the pattern for the chords will always be the same in the Maj scale = Maj-min-min-Maj-Maj-min-Dim.
    Work on this and try to build the scales not only on one string, but also working down the strings from 6 to 1. A little hint: If you haven't begun to use them or understand them, this will greatly enhance your learning of the modes.
    a.) Build your Maj scale on the 6 string starting with E
    b.) Then note by note go down the string building the EMaj scale
    from each of the notes on the scale from the 6th string to the
    1st.


    One other thing. Once you are familiar with the different chord structures on the neck you won't have to go to the Maj scale anymore. By knowing the notes in the scale and the chord pattern you will be able to move extremely easily on the neck.

    Key of E: I-vi-ii-V will automatically become E-C#min-F#min-B


    [Again, any improvements or questions don't hesitate to comment on them and I will get right back to you. I need all the feedback I can obtain. Thank you.]

    Next thread will deal with beginning scales on the neck.















     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  8. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, this is why these chords are natural to the key of E. Thanks again for your questions and comments, they really help.
     
  9. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a son in Napa Valley and the first thing he said on my first visit was "Don't call it 'Frisco. The locals hate it."
     
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  10. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Your stuff looks reasonably well presented. A very minor issue has become a Major problem with my students over the years. I recommend treat the m in major the same as the m in minor. Using a capital M in Major is redundant, and is usually used in place of the word, major. "The m3rd is the inversion of the M6." "BbM7 Gm7 Cm7 F7."
     
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  11. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's

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    Agree that this is well presented. It can't be easy to put this in written word and have it make sense.

    This is the type of thing that I think just about any guitar player could benefit from knowing.
     
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  12. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'm trying to look at it from a beginner's perspective, and it seems like a big mouthful to chew. Also, some beginners won't be able to read instructions and correlate them to the guitar.

    In other words, everyone absorbs information differently. Some people (like me) could not read all that you typed and apply it to the guitar. I learned the chords by someone showing me how to play them on the guitar.

    Then there is the aural aspect of learning, where some people need to hear the chords to be able to understand their relationship to each other. Just my two cents.:D
     
  13. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    I still would like to hear of some specific examples of the material itself as to where it is too difficult to understand. How is it that you are not able to transfer the information to the neck? I have tried in these first few posts to give an overview of the fundamentals of harmony and how they apply to chords within the playing of music.
    One of the things that tend to happen with beginning guitar players is as you stated. They learn the chords from someone without really understanding what they are playing and why. There are some people that fail to recognize that the triad structure is in all actuality nothing but 3 voice harmony. In a lot of ways the guitar neck can be equated with the piano. No matter where you play the CMaj chord on the keyboard it is still a CMaj chord. It is made up of the 1, 3, 5 of the CMaj or Do-re-mi scale. Whichever note you play first on the keyboard-be it the 1 or the 3 or the 5-defines which inversion it is, and helps to define what your fingering will be on the next chord to which you are leading. The same thing applies to the guitar. It's not the shape you are playing it is the 3 notes harmonizing with one another. It just so happens that, by the way the guitar was constructed, we can play 12 different notes on the guitar, and we can play a Maj or min chord for each of those notes. But if a person does not understand how they are built, or which notes are appropriate with which chord, then they really are lost. My purpose was not so much to give a guitar lesson as it was to explain how to use all of those frets to our advantage.
    If you have read through the information a couple of times you should know that in Western Music there are 12 notes that we use to create music. These notes are built on Intervals (the space between the notes) or steps. By picking a key we can take the note that is the same name as the key and using the W-W-1/2-W-W-W-1/2 step or intervals you can construct the Major scale of the key. Out of the Major scale we can choose the notes that we need to construct a chord for every tone within the scale. By comparing the Major scale of each of the notes in their respective scales with the notes that are in the Key Major scale we can learn whether the chord is Maj Min or Dim.
    The thing is, if I simply stated that you can build every chord that fits with the Major Scale of the key, and never explained how to do it, that would lead me to being really frustrated. This way there is an explanation of:
    1.) Where harmony comes from
    2.) That there are two important scales that we use. The Western Tonal Scale and the Major Scale
    3.) In the Major Scale we have all the information necessary to analyze and play almost all of the music that we hear around us.
    4.) How to build a Major Scale from the Western Tonal Scale
    5.) How to use numbering to identify the notes within the Major Scale.
    6.) How to use numbering to identify the chords within the Major Scale.
    7.) How to determine which notes are within the chords of the Major Scale.
    8.) How altered tones are used to make the color of a chord Major, Minor, or Diminished.

    Where in all of this are you having your problems? I will do all within my power to make it easier for you.
    Now admittedly, this is not an overnight intake of knowledge. As you stated "everyone absorbs information differently". There is no hurry, but if a person wants to learn anything more than cowboy chords than this information is vital. I have lots of friends that play 1st through 5th fret chords and they are very happy.
    Please tell me which part that you read that you couldn't apply to the guitar. Music is music. The fundamentals or basics of music are the same for whatever instrument you play. True, you can't play 3 part harmony on a trumpet, but, as in big bands, if you get 3 of them together you can.
     
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  14. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    thank you Larry, I will try to incorporate that with anything else.
     
  15. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thank you very much.
     
  16. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    Gary, the only feedback I see worthwhile from a beginners stand point is really just a matter of the computer thing. More spacing. Every2-3 lines for typing, give it a space. Lack of space on a computer screen can have an effect on how we absorb info.

    One piece of Top-line info: The formula for the major scale:

    Whole step--Whole step--Half step--Whole step--Whole step--Whole step--Half Step.

    Count it for yourself and see:

    In the key of C:

    C--C#--D--D#--E--F--F#--G--G#--A--A#--B--C

    Start at C (whole step) D (Whole step) E (half step) F (Whole step) G (Whole step) A (Whole step) B (half step) C.

    That makes:
    C is your I (one)
    D is your ii (two)
    E is your iii (three)
    F is your IV (four)
    G is your V (five)
    A is your vi (six)
    B is your VII
     
  17. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is actually pretty much what is covered in the 1st year of Music Theory. It is definitely what is covered in the first semester. So take your time. Also, I am always here to try to make it more understandable. We have players here as well, who wipe the floor with me when it comes to guitar, and I am sure they will do all they can to help as well.
     
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  18. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Are you speaking of the numerical designations?
     
  19. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    For what? Not sure which part you're asking about? I was simply trying to spell out the major scale formula again, and possibly in a visually easier way to read. However we all digest this stuff differently and at different paces, so I don't do this thinking one way is better than another, but rather in redundancy for repetitious purposes.
     
  20. PastorJay

    PastorJay Tele-Afflicted

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    following
     
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