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Music Theory for Guitar - From intervals to chords - major and minor triads

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Previous page: Music Theory for Guitar - Chords Next page: Music Theory for Guitar - Sus4 and sus2 chords

From intervals to chords - major and minor triads

Intervals are two notes. Chords are by definition three or more notes. As for all such definitions, it is not without exceptions. But we will come back to that. We will start with the two main three notes chords - The major and minor triads.

The major chord

As a point of departure, we will go back to the Perfect Fifth. It is the strongest interval - after the unison and octave. But it is empty sounding, static and not very interesting. What we do is to add a note that divides it into two halves. The "problem" is: The perfect fifth spans 7 half notes, and as long as we do not use micro tones, it must be a 4+3 or 3+4 division. We start with the 4+3, meaning that we have 4 halves = 2 whole notes, and then One and a half. We start with the perfect fifth C-G, and add the note a major third (two whole notes) above the root. Listen to the example to hear how the character changes by adding the E. I will say that it is starting to get character. We have a major third and then a minor third, which adds up two a perfect fifth. What you get is the C-major chord in root position.

(picture)

You can cross over to my Harmonized Fingerboard lesson for fingerings of the basic major triad in root position.

The minor chord

We can try the other alternative: First a minor third, and then a major thirds, which still adds up to a perfect fifth. Now we have a C-minor chord.

If we compare the major in minor chords as a kind of diagrams, it will be like the diagram to the far right, where each block is a half step. The major chord is a stack with two whole steps (a major third), and then one and a half step (a minor third) on top of it. The minor chord has a minor third and then a major third.

(picture)
Major Minor

You can cross over to my Harmonized Fingerboard lesson for fingerings of the basic minor triad in root position.

You should know the function of the notes in the chords, as this knowledge is important when you change the voicings, extend or alter the chords. In a triad, the root gives the identity, the third gives the character and the fifth gives stability.

If you listen to the example, you will hear the perfect fifth C-G, which changes to a C-major, to C-minor and then back to the Perfect fifth.

(picture)

It is the first third up from the root that determine if it is a major or minor chord. If it is a major third, then it is a major chord. If it is a minor third, then it is a minor chord.

An Introduction to Chord Theory

Written by Don Latarski

A practical guide to the fundamentals of chord construction, analysis and function.

A practical guide to the fundamentals of chord construction, analysis and function. Arranged in a logical, sequential order, beginning with intervals, then moving to triads, extended chords, altered chords, chord function, and chord substitution. A simple, straightforward approach to a complex topic.

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RefNr: APF3096GTX
Pages: 48
Format: Method
Medium: Book (paperback)
Series: Progressive Guitarist Series
Publisher: Alfred Publishing
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