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Chord Tones

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Monk, that is awesome!

What you've posted there sounds like a summary of a very large topic I know nothing about. I know my:

Intervals, scale chords, that the V is a dominant chord, as is a dim7. I just thought tonic, sub-dominant and dominant were I,IV,V.

In other words your post has piqued my curiosity on a topic where I know just enough to know that I don't know anything much at all!

It is, instead, functioning as the V7 of a substitute for the I chord. That's why they don't have common notes.

I don't really understand this bit. I always resolve to a plain major or major 7, or Minor as the case may be.

If you want to give me some tips on where to learn more, I'd be grateful. I don't expect you to type everything you know, which would be a great deal! :claping:

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Noodler,

You are 100% correct about I, IV and V being Tonic, Sub-Dominant & Dominant. But because I, IV & V are the "main chords" in the key the terms are also used to describe the functions of all the chords in the key. Here's how it works.

Tonic=Home Base or Rest

Sub-Dominant moves away from Tonic

Dominant returns to Tonic

All of the seven diatonic chords break down into one of these three main functional categories.

The Tonic chords are I, iii and vi.

The Sub-Dominant chords are IV and ii.

The Dominant Chords are V and vii.

The reduction of seven chords into three categories is made possible by the common tones shared by the chords each category. This also makes diatonic substitution possible.

Regards,

Monk

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Ha, good stuff! I should be paying you, my friend.

My only query is that VIm and IV share two notes. I found that if I thought something was going to VIm and it wasn't, then it was going to IV.

I'll have to listen to "When You Were Cheating" with this new info in mind. It is a ballad with strong chord changes, so it'll give me a good feel of how the system works. It is very interesting, and thanks for sharing it.

Sub-Dominant moves away from Tonic

Dominant returns to Tonic

This is a bombshell. Bravo! :claping: Just thinking of songs. Pretty true.

You should write a book. It is awesome what you are teaching me. I've never heard this stuff so completely before, and it is all useful, I never knew how a III fitted in before, and now I do. Thankyou so much!

I'm going to print this baby off and write some progressions using it.

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Noodler,

Let's take this a step further. But first let me say you are correct that IV and vi share two notes. So do ii & V as do ii & vii. As I've said in other posts, context is everything. A three chord folk, rock or country song might not sound "right" with a bunch of complex chords and you wouldn't want to end a song in the key of C on an Am or Em even though they are considered to be Tonic.

Having said that, when we begin to discuss Jazz, Classical, "Modern Classical" (how's that for an oxymoron?) or Motion Picture Soundtrack music we wander into a landscape (soundscape?) where boundaries begin to blur. In other words, anything can become anything.

But for now, let's take a look at the Diatonic Sevenths from a slightly different angle.

As you already know, if we expand the the triads in a major scale to seventh chords we'll get:

Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 Bm7b5.

Now look at the same chords as triads over bass notes.

Em/C Fmaj/D Gmaj/E Am/F Bdim/G Cmaj/A Dm/B

So now you have more possibilities for harmony and improvisation.

Also note that Am7 is an inverted C6 and Bm7b5 is an inverted Dm6.

It's a fascinating subject.

Have fun.

Regards,

Monk

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Noodler,

... A three chord folk, rock or country song might not sound "right" with a bunch of complex chords and you wouldn't want to end a song in the key of C on an Am or Em even though they are considered to be Tonic ....

There are exceptions to that rule, though ... "Take it Easy", the Jackson Browne tune made famous by the Eagles ends on a vi chord, not a I. But, the sound of it certainly leaves you hanging there, and that was obviously the effect they were after.

I did that myself with my tune 'Montréal' ... I ended it on a iv.

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While the primary I, IV & V chords are pretty definite in their tonal identities, (i.e., each normally has a distinct and recogniseable 'feeling' of being tonic, subdominant and dominant, respectively), the beauty of the other (secondary) chords (especially iii and vi) is that they are capable of more than one interpretation of acting as tonic, subdominant or dominant depending on the context in which they are heard.

The iii chord, for example, does share 2 notes with the tonic chord, but also shares 2 notes with the dominant chord. That gives it the ability to function as a subtle variation of either the tonic or dominant chords in the right setting.

Similarly, the vi chord shares two notes with both I and IV.

A well known example of that is Blowing in the wind.

At the part "The (IV)answer my (V)friend is (I)blowing in the (vi)WIND, if you substitute IV for vi at WIND, you'll hear it fits perfectly well. That's because, at the point, the song is naturally progressing to the subdominant and chord vi is performing that subdominant function, more subtly than the straightforward IV chord, in that context.

To summarise, in the key of C major:

chord vi (Am) contains A C E. It shares A & C with chord IV (F maj) and C & E with chord I (C maj)

Chord iii (Em) contains E G B. It shares 2 notes (E & G) with chord I (C maj) and 2 notes (G & B) with chord V (G maj)

Chords ii (Dm) and vii (Bdim) share two notes with only one primary triad each (IV and V, respectively) and can perform those functions well. They lend themselves less readily to other interpretations, at least at that triad level.

This flexibility of interpretation of the secondary chords, greatly enriches the musical possibilities available even in the simpler musical forms.

Kirk - Terrific song. It did take me by surprise though, ending like that, even though you warned me it was coming. :D

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A well known example of that is Blowing in the wind.

At the part "The (IV)answer my (V)friend is (I)blowing in the (vi)WIND, if you substitute IV for vi at WIND, you'll hear it fits perfectly well. That's because, at the point, the song is naturally progressing to the subdominant and chord vi is performing that subdominant function, more subtly than the straightforward IV chord, in that context.

Fretsource,

I respectfully submit that the vi chord is functioning as a tonic moving to the subdominant in this example. To replace the vi chord with the IV chord is actually hastening the chord change.

Also iii of a key could not function as a Dominant because it shares two notes with the Tonic, one of which is the most important note, the 3.

The Tonic and Dominant relationship is defined by the difference between the two. If you remove the common tone, the remaining notes are completely different. This also holds true for Tonic and Subdominant.

Also in spite of the shared tones between vi and IV, this is overshadowed by the stronger relative major-relative minor relationship between I and vi.

Regards,

Monk

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Fretsource,

I respectfully submit that the vi chord is functioning as a tonic moving to the subdominant in this example. To replace the vi chord with the IV chord is actually hastening the chord change.

Hi Monk, yes I take your point. I had forgotten that the next chord after vi was IV and there's a definite change, meaning that vi couldn't be functioning as IV, but only as I. I still maintain that vi can function as IV, though - I'll just have to find a better example. :D

Also iii of a key could not function as a Dominant because it shares two notes with the Tonic, one of which is the most important note, the 3.

But it also shares 2 notes with the dominant, one of which is also the important 3 of the dominant. I think its technical name mediant better suggests its true character that, lying midway between tonic and dominant and consisting of important notes common to both, it's neither really one nor the other, yet can suggest either, depending on context.

Also in spite of the shared tones between vi and IV, this is overshadowed by the stronger relative major-relative minor relationship between I and vi.

Yes, the relative major/ minor relationship is naturally stronger, but I don't believe it always has to to be, in the right context. As you said, yourself - context is everything.

Nice to have you on the forum, by the way :winkthumb:

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Fretsource,

The reasoning behind the groupings is this:

Tonic group I, iii & vi all contain the third of I.

Subdominant group IV7 & ii contain the third of IV.

Dominant group V & vii contain the third of V.

In the Tonic group, iii implies Imaj7 & vi implies I6.

In the Subdominant group, ii implies IV6.

In the Dominant group, vii implies V7.

The reason that the iii chord doesn't function as a dominant chord is that when related to the V the iii chord implies a major 6 chord. The major 6 can be Tonic or Subdominant but not dominant.

Regards,

Monk

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Monk, another school of thought views that particular system of classification you cited as overly strict, and holds that, simply adding a major 6th to the dominant triad doesn't automatically negate its dominant quality (although it obviously must weaken it).

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fretsource,

That's an interesting concept. Can you recommend some sources for reading? Listening as well?

Regards,

Monk

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That's an interesting concept. Can you recommend some sources for reading? Listening as well?

I can't really point you in any useful directions there, Monk, as it's been quite a number of years since I concerned myself with it. But if memory serves, it was prevalent during a (probably brief) revival of the musicologist Hugo Reimann's theories (perhaps even a modern misinterpretation of them) in which he had classed the iii chord as the "dominant parallel" as it shared some of the dominant's characteristics in the same way that the other primary triads did with their parallels, aka relative minors. It also allowed for minor key progressions, such as Ab-Bb-Cm in the key of Cm being analysed as IV-V-I.

Personally, I had no particular interest in following his theories nor any modern reworkings of them in any detail, but it did leave me wondering if the ambiguity displayed by such classifications was a result of ambiguities inherent in the chords and progressions themselves, to an extent greater than I had at first realised.

The acknowledged ambiguity of the 'cadential 6/4' chord seemed a good example, i.e., a tonic chord with a dominant function. If it's held to be actually dominant, then that's a case of a sixth being present within the dominant chord without negating its dominant quality (although it certainly modifies it).

The ambiguities are, for me, the most interesting part of it all, and I often look for valid alternative interpretations, as they sometimes suggest musical directions that might never have occurred to me otherwise.

I hope that makes sense :)

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To try some melody over the chords should I just play with the Pentatonic Scale in mind and move the root note to C and play that over the whole progression (which is what i've been doing). Do I move the scale to the root note of the chord being played? (like playing the C pentatonic scale over a C chord, the A pentatonic over the Am. etc). Or do I find the individual notes in each chord and doodle around with those?

I think what you should do is learn from experience by trying out various scales over various progressions and 'hear' the different effects they produce.

All scales (apart from the chromatic scale) are potentially limiting if you never step outside them.

As for "doodling around with chord tones" Yes, you should learn the individual notes of every chord and use them as safe havens around which you can weave melodies including chord tones and non-chord tones as passing notes, etc. With that approach, you'll never be stuck wondering which scale goes with some weird progression that you've found.

Even if you take the scale approach, you should still be very aware where the current chord tones lie so that you can make the most of them.

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