Guitar Question basics of harmony theory

Discussion in 'Beginner's Q&A Forum' started by Liquid, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. Liquid

    Liquid New Member

    yup another question...

    and yes im not sure how to explain either...anyways....i cant remember where i read it or anything....but like....suppose ur writing a song...and u start off with the C what other chords will "sound good" with it...i know this sounds weird....and dumb...but i mean like i read somewhere why F C G or whatever 3 chords sound good together...

    i know ur probably saying like....well it depends on the person or whatever...but i want like "the music theory" answer...and i know u guys are probably really busy and instead of the whole explanation....can someone just provide the term i can research or something?...

    maybe it has something to do with the key the song is written in?....i dunno..

    but that takes me to another do u define what key a song is in...and how do u know what chords fit into a key?....i understand scales and all....those two are related?.......i know like Am is part of the C key...but where is that from?....must have something to do with scales right?
  2. hs07

    hs07 New Member

    This is the basics of harmony theory - I haven't taken any courses on this subject, so take this as an intro.

    Basic knowhow of scales and how they are harmonized will help in determining the chords that fit a scale. BTW, the key is denoted by the root of a major scale and key signature denotes the #'s and b's in a scale (the key of C has no #'s or b's) - u can think of scale as a sequence of related notes and the key as the note that forms the root of the major scale with the same name.

    Starting again with the major scale (its the starting point for most anything), and using C major scale as example, u can write the corresponding "type" of chord to each degree like this (this applies to all major scales, not just C major - try it out in another scale after u finish going thru - u'll probably be way confused to do anything but go watch TV or listen to Jay's MP3's !!! ;), so perhaps u'll have to come back to this exercise some other time ). This is also called harmonization of the C major scale.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    (degrees of scale carried over beyond one ocatve)

    C D E F G A B C D  E  F   G
    (Notes on the C major scale)

    Degree/Note/Type of chord built on that note
    1 C Major
    2 D Minor
    3 E Minor
    4 F Major
    5 G Major/Dominant 7th
    6 A Minor
    7 B Diminished

    You can see how this works take the notes of the scale in triads - one degree between the notes of the triad, starting with the note in each degree i.e.
    take C E G (a triad - one degree between each note) and see that it forms the major chord.
    take D F A (another triad, starting with the 2nd degree and taking notes one degree apart - this is a Dm
    take E G B - again a minor chord
    take F A C (just extend the scale to accomodate the C note beyond one ocatve i.e. the 8th degree) - major chord.
    G B D - hmmm...this is a major chord and u can certainly play a G major chord, but typically another note is added to this to make it G B D F - this is the G7 chord (dominant 7th chord spelling in case u didn't know already is 1 3 5 b7). Note that the G7 will resolve to the root chord i.e. the G7 will want to go back to C major. This is one important harmony concept - the dominant 7th built on the 5th degree of the scale will resolve into the root.
    take A C E - Am
    take B D F - its a B diminished chord (half diminished if u want to particularly technical !)

    This way u'll see how the chords built on each degree will take on a characteristic tone (maj/min/dom 7th/dim etc.). That doesn't mean u can't build a song with a D major chord in the key of C, but typically a Dm will fit better, a D maj chord when played in the key of C will likely be followed by some chord that resolves to something that "fits" better.

    One other point to note, chords built on the 1st (root), 4th degree and 5th degree are usually most important chords, so for the C major scale, chords C major, F major abd G7 are considered the most important.

    As with much of this, these are ONLY starting points, there are so many deviations and sometimes u want to deviate to create "tension" and then resolve the tension by coming back to what "fits". Also, through substitution of chords, u can see that a lot of things actually "fit" a pattern, even if its loosely fitted !


    A dominating theme in modern music is the movement of chords a fourth away from each other i.e. the 1 chord will usually move to the 4 chord, 4 chord will move to a 7 chord etc.
    So a C major will move to a F major chord, usually this will resolve by going another 4th back to C major chord. But there are innumerable substitutions that change this (or appear to change this). Beyond the scope of this already length mumbo jumbo !!

    There are some typical chord progressions that have been part of music and typically "sound" good e.g. the 12 bar blues (google this, its available on many web sites) or the I VI II V progression

    i.e. a song would be C Am Dm G7 (and yes, this actually does follow the movement of 4th's even though its not at all obvious - I'll skip the theory behind why this does "fit" the movement by 4ths - as it is, this is already much for ppl to digest).

    Hope this helps - harmony theory is vast, ppl study music in college to go thru this stuff. I am learning jazz guitar and hence a bit of theory gets forced into my head !!
    Liquid, tejas and theguitaristofm like this.
  3. ^^^woooooow
    will save n read it later too long though seems to b some good work;) reps
  4. dennis

    dennis The Bhangra King

    damm..hs..uve gotta be the most helpful guy here.
  5. Liquid

    Liquid New Member

    wow....that was an amazing post man...

    so suppose i had a song which started out with asus2 [x22000] how would i know what chords would go in this key...or how would i know what key this belongs to?

    oh and if u have anymore info with diminished / sus chords and the harmoney theory with them...would highly appreciate it :D

    thanks again really rocked
  6. nehemiah

    nehemiah New Member

    sure thing...hs ur are pretty handy for people with NEWBIE under their name..oh i see u have one too!
  7. Liquid

    Liquid New Member

    lol...once again...amazing post...

    cant wait for the answer to my question :D lol ( no sarcasm im serious...:p )
  8. nadish

    nadish Active Member

    Gud work hs 07
  9. hs07

    hs07 New Member

    In a suspended chord, the 3rd is missing i.e. in a sus2 u have 1 2 5 and in a sus4, u have 1 4 5. Since there is no 3rd, it is neither a major type chord nor a minor type chord.

    That gives u a clue, it creates a tension that resolves by usually being followed by a major of the same name i.e. an Asus2/Asus4 would be resolved by the next chord being Amajor or by Aminor. The idea is that the with the 3rd being suspended, it needs to be brought back.

    Now, by substituting for the Amajor, u can see that Asus2 can be resolved by any corresponding substitution for an Amajor (e.g. Amajor7).

    Note that there are also dominant 7th suspended chords, which resolve to the dominant 7th.

    Finally, suspended chords may not resolve at all - e.g. u can end a song by playing a suspended chord.

    As always, not all resolutions will sound good, u need to experiment.

    Since the sus2 and sus4 don't flat or sharp any key, but use the same notes as the corresponding major scale, they fall into the same key as the major e.g. Asus2 and Asus4 will be chords in the key of Amajor.
  10. Liquid

    Liquid New Member

    wow...that was a ur saying...that if i write a song and my first chord is Asus2...the next chord should most likely be with the same something in the A makes sense....

    so ur saying that throughout the would be better if i used the Amajor scale to come up with chords right?...

    thanks man...

    ps...what are the exceptions to this "rule" ? :S
  11. hs07

    hs07 New Member

    well, if u start with a sus2 in a song, follow it up with a major of the same name and it will "generally" sound good. As I said earlier (and also explained more in my other thread on substitution of major chords), since a major 7th can be substituted for a major, u can daisy chain this and say that a sus2 can be followed by a major7th i.e. sus2->major, substitute major7th for major and sus2->major7th.

    And so on.

    As to continuing only in the key of "A" if u start with a chord that beongs to the Amjor scale - that's not necessarily true, key changes occur in songs all the time. But, for starting off, u r better off trying to stick to the same key (and hence chords in the same key/major scale). Once u have it down sounding decent, u can experiment with changing the key for a particular section and return back to the original key for the rest...

    These are all really "guidelines" - in the end, remember, what sounds good is what is most important, whether a certain chord doesn't belong to a scale but is being used anyway is not all that important.
  12. Liquid

    Liquid New Member

    thanks man...again this really helped...

    but like ur pretty much sayin subsititue maj7th chords for every major ur not gonna keep any major chords in the song at all? :S

    and how come sus chords arent part of the whole maj min min maj maj/7 dim pattern?
  13. hs07

    hs07 New Member

    NOOOOOOOOOOO, too much substitution makes a khichdi of everything, never substitute a major7th for a major just bcos u can, try a major 6th instead or just play the plain old major. Cannot substitute everytime wily nily, it'll become crazy. Use ur judgment !

    As to sus2 not being part of the maj min min...., its bcos its NOT a major or a minor (read my post, there is no 3rd, so u can' say if its a maj or min). Chords like sus2 are "altered" chords...

    Enuff said.
  14. Liquid

    Liquid New Member

    ok i have a feeling that my posts are starting to annoy i apologize...

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