This lesson is a branch from Area 4 from the Playbook for Beginners and Beyond main lesson. Visit the main lesson to see my philosophy on the five different areas of learning to play.
In the first two parts of this series, we talked about The Note Names and Intervals. As usual, open this chart and practice:
Do Re Mi
Play the note scale
Play the chord scale
See and hear the connection
Sing or hum as you play
If you don't know what this means, please open up the first lesson, The Major Scale Chord Chart: Part 1. Be sure to read each line of the chart from left to right.
The Chords: Harmonizing the Major Scale
Harmonization of the major scale is achieved by beginning with the root note, the 1st scale degree note, and then skipping every other note to play a total of 4 notes. This routine continues using the same note names and intervals within a key until you have seven sets of notes, creating chords. Although this is a huge topic, I want to present the basics because this is how we come up with The Chords. Let's stay with the key of C to begin.
- Looking only at the line of notes within the key of C (C, D, E, F, G, A, B and back to C), if we start with C and begin playing every other note until we have 4 notes, then we come up with C, E, G and B notes to give us the Cmaj7 chord.
- Staying with the line of notes within the key of C, we begin with the 2nd scale degree note: D. If we play D and then play every other note until we have 4, then we come up with D, F, A and C, which gives us the Dm7.
- Then we start with the third scale degree, E, which gives us the E, G, B and D notes; the Em7.
- The F, A, C and E notes gives us the Fmaj7 chord.
- The G, B, D and F notes together are the G7 chord.
- The A, C, E and G notes give us the Am7 chord.
- The B, D, F and A notes make up the Bm7b5 chord.
Break it Down
If you then look at the collection of each set of notes, you can understand why the chords were named as they were:
- The maj7 chord uses the 7th note of the major scale which is only a half step under the root.
- The minor chords are minor because the 3rd scale degree is following Rule #1, which makes the chord have a third note which is flatted by a half step from the regular major chord (the full harmonized minor chords also have the characteristic of having the 7th degree of the scale being flatted).
- The G7, which is the 5th chord degree, is called a dominant 7 chord because it is a major chord using the major 3rd scale interval note which also uses a 7th scale degree note which is a full-step behind the root (hey, it's only following the Rule #1!). One of the original names for this chord was the 'major minor' chord because the front triad has major intervals (G, B and D notes) but the back triad has minor intervals (B, D and F notes).
- The m7b5 is minor chord for previous described reasons, but it also has a flatted 5th scale degree note. It's also only following Rule #1!
We've stayed in the key of C because there are no sharps and flats. It makes it easier to see the theory in whole. When we move forward to the key of D, we begin to experience notes that are sharp. Why is that? Why is it that when we get to the key of F we a flat note (Bb)?? Figure it out. It's all in the chart. I'll give you a hint: it has to do with the first two statements of the chart. For a more robust conversation on this issue, check out this thread here at GfB&B.
These are how The Chords are made. You'll notice that the chord names in the chart have been shortened to their basics. To let you know what's going on, please check out the next lesson in this series, The Major Scale Chart: Part 4.