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Chord Question

Music Theory
29 Jan 2013 09:21 | Quote
Joined: 15 Mar 2012
United States
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Karma: 1
So I've been playing guitar for a little over a year now, and I decided that I wanted to start learning theory (why not?).

One of the biggest problems I've had when it comes to playing guitar is chords, chord progressions and so on. Unless I know a certain shape or location of a chord on the fretboard, I have difficulty in finding it based on what I know about theory. I'd like to be able to just hear the name of a chord, or read it and know which notes are contained within it. And, thusly, have some idea of where it might be located on the guitar.

For instance, I know that the notes of a B Minor chord are B, D, and F#. Following the steps 1, b3, 5. So, theoretically, E Minor, which I don't know notes of, would follow the same steps, 1, b3, 5? And, thusly, an E Minor chord would consist of E, G and A#?

So, is it then safe to assume that every chord follows certain steps?
For example, do all minor chords follow the 1, b3, 5 steps? And every major chord is 1, 3, 5?

I know there are other types of chords, suspended, augmented, diminished and so on, but I feel like maybe down the road I can try and tackle those.

I'd also like to know how and why certain chord progressions are applied in various modes.

Sorry if I'm confusing anything here, or wrong about anything. I'm a total newbie when it comes to theory.
30 Jan 2013 03:04 | Quote
Joined: 20 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 9
short answer, yes and this website is a very useful database which contains the "formulas" for each chord.

long answer... if you play the first, third, and fifth notes of a scale you are going to get a major scale, but there are many different ways and combinations that will yield different results. for instance, there is the difference between open C major (from low to high, x - 3 - 2 - 0 - 1 - 0) and playing C major on the 3rd fret of the fifth string (x - 3 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 3) have noticeably different sounds.

also i think your E example is wrong. i think it should be E G A, not E G A# (now i'm going to write it out to figure it out myself)

E major is E F# G# A B C# D#, so 1-3b-5 would be E G B, actually not A or A#. we were both wrong.


the reason different "progressions" are applied to different "modes" are because modes are, for most intents and purposes, just the same scale, with a different reference (starting) point. let's look at two scales and two progressions.

let's take G MAJOR and E MINOR.

G = G A B C D E F#
the progressions is I ii iii IV V vi vii*, or
G Am Bm C D Em F#*


the minor scale is 1 2 3b 4 5 6b 7b
E = E F# G# A B C# D#
Em = E F# G A B C D

see where i'm going with this?

the minor progression is i ii* III iv v VI VII (not sure if this is how it's notated), but the E minor progression would be:

Em F#* G Am Bm C D

so i'm sure you see where i was going by now, but for most intents and purposes the G major scale and E minor scale are the same scale of notes, with a different starting point.

i chose to use the major and minor of the same key (G) because they area easy. but the same logic can be applied to any key and any mode. using this knowledge you can find out the F# lydian scale and a progression of chords to fit that mode. i could figure it out with a pen and piece of paper but i'm not going to do it off the top of my head...!
14 May 2013 00:27 | Quote
Joined: 12 May 2013
United States
Licks: 1
E minor chord is E (the root) G (flat 3rd) and B (5th).

Now if you know the Major Scale intervals you know all the Major Scales.

Intervals are the distance between two notes.

If you play F on the first fret of the sixth string and move 1/2 step down (the next fret down) it is an F# (or Gb depending on the circumstances). If you you play the same F note on the sixth string and move 1 whole step (skip a fret) you are playing G.

For the Major Scale the Intervals are Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Whole - Half.

Using the two examples above starting on F on the sixth string if you go down one whole step (skip a fret) you come to G, which is the 2nd note in the F Major Scale. Go a whole step down from G (skip a fret) and you come to A which is the 3rd note in F Major. Now go down 1/2 step (next fret down) from A and you come to A#/Bb. Since A has already been used in the scale (the 3rd) the next note is Bb (which is the 4th note in F major). Continue till you reach the root (F) and you have all the notes in the Major Scale.

Here is another way
F (whole step to) G (Whole step to) A (Half step) Bb (Whole step to) C (whole step to) D (whole step to) E (half step to) F.

You can start at any note and as long as you follow the whole and half steps in the correct order you will find all the notes in that scale.

Now since you can find all the notes for any given Major Scale you can make all the Major and Minor chords.

The Major Chord is Root - 3rd - 5th
so looking at the F Major Scale we know that the root is F, the 3rd note is A, and the 5th is C.

So to Play F Major chord you would play F - A - C.

Minor Chords are Root - flatted 3rd - and 5th
Using F Major Chord as an Example

F - A - C

A is the 3rd and to flatten it means to lower it 1/2 step. If you lower A 1/2 you would get Ab.

So the notes of the Minor Chord are F - Ab - C.

It may take you some time, but I highly advise you to remember the notes in each of the Major Scales. Write them down on your computer, pen and paper, etc. Just so you have the handy.

Also forget about the modes focus for now on the Major and Minor Scales. Once you have a firm understanding of those then I would say move on to the modes.

Also if you are curious the intervals for the Minor scale is
Starting at the root
Whole Step - Half Step - Whole Step - Whole Step - Half Step - Whole Step - Whole Step

Also there are a lost of awesome lessons on here that cover the info, as if you want you can contact me and I can do my best to help you out.

Good Luck!

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