Sunday, June 19, 2011

Major Scale and Associated Chords

Every major and minor scale has 6 chords, but not all chords sound good together. Most common major chord progressions (group and order of chords) are (1,4,5) (1,6,4,5) (1,5,6,4). So, once you identify a key of song, you can experiment with these progressions. To know what these numbers mean, read on...

How to determine chords for a major scale

(Information presented here is nothing new, I have just tried presenting it in a more understandable way. Let me know if that's not what you think :-))

Lets take example of C major scale.
Its notes are

Formula for a major scale is

Root  +1  +1  +.5  +1  +1  +1  +.5 i.e.
Root Full Full Half Full Hull Full Half
C     D    E    F    G    A    B    C+

+1 or Full Step means skip to next full tone i.e. from B->C#, C->D or E->F# etc.

0.5 or Half Step means skip to next half tone i.e. from B->C, C->C# or E->F
Chords for C major are

C major C E G
F major F A C
G major G B D

Notes from these 3 chords cover all 7 notes of C major scale. 
Hence many songs in C Major can be played using these 3 chords.

Chords C F and G are based on 1st(C) 4th(F) and 5th(G) note of the scale Hence they are called 1, 4, 5 chords of C major scale.

Other chords that can be used in C major scale are

D minor (D F A)
E Minor (E G B)
A Minor (A C E)

All the notes in above chords are part of C major scale.

Now you can see that every note of C major scale has an associated chord

1.C   C Major
2.D   D minor
3.E   E minor
4.F   F major
5.G   G major
6.A   A minor

The last note B does not have neither B major (B D# F#) nor B minor (B D F#) because not all of the notes are in C major scale. 

It is possible only if you flatten D# and F# by a half step. The combination (B D F) is called B diminished chord.

Another way to find all chords of a scale is to look at minor scale that starts from 6th note of the scale (Called natural minor scale of C major scale).

Another way of finding natural minor is to go back 1.5 tones below Root, So

C  --> 0.5 Down --> B
B  --> 0.5 Down --> Bb
Bb --> 0.5 Down --> A

A minor is natural minor of C major.

C Major scale has C, F, G Chords as 1, 4, 5 chords.
Other three chords are brought in by A minor scale.

For C major, its natural minor is A minor scale. This scale uses same notes as C major scale.

Notes of A minor scale are
1     4 5

For a minor scale, 1,4,5 chords are all minor.
(Verify that all the notes of those chords are in the scale)
So A minor scale adds A minor, D minor, and E minor chords to C major scale.

A method for memorizing chords of all major scales.
Prerequisites: You need to memorize at least following 1,4,5 of all scales.

C maj: C,F,G (For C#, Sharpen all three notes i.e. C#, F#, G#)
D maj: D,G,A (For D#, Sharpen all three notes i.e. D#, G#, A#)
E maj: E,A,B (There is no E# :-) Next comes F)
F maj: F,Bb,C
G maj: G,C,D  (For G#, Sharpen all three notes i.e. G#, C#, D#)
A maj: A,D,E  (For A#, Sharpen all three notes i.e. A#, D#, F)
B maj: B,E,F# (There is no B#, Next comes C)

Find all chords of D major scale.

You should know 1,4,5 chords i.e. D,A,G
Now 6th note of scale is B, which is next full step after 5th note G.
Scale of B has B, E, F# as 1,4,5 notes. (You should have memorized this)

Create minor chords from these root notes which gives you
B minor, E minor and F# minor.

So all chords of D major are

Chords 1,4,5 from major scale
D major, A major, G major, 

Chords 1,4,5 from its natural minor scale (B minor)
B minor, E minor, and F# minor.

Note that 4, 5 chords of natural minor scale (B minor in this case) become 2 and 3 chords of D major scale.

1. D  major
2. E  minor  (4 Chord of natural minor)
3. F# minor  (5 Chord of natural minor)
4. G  major
5. A  major
6. B  minor  (1 Chord of natural minor)

Chord for 7th note is always diminished so, its C# dim.
Common Chord Progressions in major scale

1,4,5   (Give me some sunshine, 3 idiots OR Maa from TZP) e.g. C,F,G
1,6,4,5 (Papa Kehte Hai, QSQT Or Baatein from Life in Metro) e.g. C, Am, F, G

Find all chords of a minor scale
Note: 2nd Chord of minor scale is diminished.

Lets take E minor scale.

1,4,5 chords for E are E, A, B

So you get E minor, A minor and B minor as 1,4,5 chords.

Now find the major scale for which E minor is a natural minor.
Go up 1.5 tones.

E  0.5 up --> F 0.5 up --> F# 0.5 up --> G

Which gives us G major.
1,4,5 of G major are G, C and D. (From memory)

G major becomes 3rd chord.
C and D become 6 and 7 chords.

1. E minor
2. F dim
3. G major  (1 chord from corresponding major scale)
4. A minor  (4th Chord from Root)
5. B minor  (5th Chord from Root)
6. C major  (4 chord from corresponding major scale)
7. D major  (5 chord from corresponding major scale)

(Under construction)