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aaeolean
12-24-2003, 04:05 PM
I'm new here, this is my first post and let me say this is a great forum and a great website.

So here's my question:

I have always thought that if you harmonized the minor scale you would get

vi, vii, I, ii, iii, IV, V

I seen on another website it was written like:

i, ii, III, iv, v, VI, VII

I understand that they are just re-numbering but is this common? Do a lot of people think of it like that? I prefer the first way because that's what I'm used to.

Any ideas?

sweetious
12-24-2003, 09:08 PM
Aaeolean,
Your confusion is common and you are right that the minor is typically the vi chord, that is in tonal music which means just the major keys and thier relative minor keys. i.e. C major and A minor. So when you numbered your chords you appropriately realized that the I chord of the minor is the vi of the Major, these again are relative keys. But in music you always have whats called a tonic chord or note that is the center a particular piece of tonal music. Whether it is major or minor or modal the tonic is always the one. Let me illustrate.
major - I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - vii - I
minor - i - ii - III - iv - V - VI - vii
dorian mode - i - ii - III - IV - v- vi - VII

The first thing that may need some explaining is that in the major the iii Chord is the same chord as the V of the minor. So why is that chord minor in the major key but major in the relative minor?
it is to give the leading tone to the minor which normally does not have the leading tone unless you raise the Seventh of the minor key. Again I will illustrate. Lets Assume we are dealing with the key of C and its relative minor A minor.

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

These both have the same notes in them. But if you will notice the seventh of the A minor is a whole step below the A and it is labeled G. This is called the subtonic, in order to make it a leading tone and not a subtonic we raise it a half step to G# which changes several of our chords in the key, most commonly used thought are the V and the fully diminished vii. I hope this helps if not, tell me what you don't understand and I will try again.

Thorsten
12-25-2003, 10:36 AM
Theoretically everything that sweetious said is right but in real life when putting it in musical context (and thatīs what you should be doing anyway) just go by ear!
Sometimes an interval thatīs not in your theory book may still sound good so always let you ear be the judge!

Bongo Boy
12-25-2003, 07:11 PM
To me what Sweetious did was explain an example of exactly what Thorsten recommends. IOW, to me at least, theory would tell me that the minor iii in the major scale would be a minor v in the relative minor--and not knowing any better, I would have retained it that way and used it. Theory doesn't say to raise the vii a half-tone (per Sweetious' example), but 'the ear' does. Of course, I guess theory also explains why the 'adjustment' works.

So, my interpretation is that this common practice approach to harmonizing the minor is totally consistent with what Thorsten recommends--and in fact is just a popular application of his recommendation. I think he's also saying we're free to go even further in tweaking what we actually do--with no explanation needed other than 'it sounds good'.

I don't know, does any of that make sense or am I kind of a dumba**? These excellent explanations are really useful for me because I basically have no ear, and so I need someplace to start. I can't be trying things out too much, chord-wise, because I'd seldom if ever hit on anything that works.

sweetious
12-25-2003, 11:49 PM
I agree with you guys totally, always use your ear. In classical these raised forms of the 6th and 7th degrees of the minor scale were more expected, so much so that sometimes it was even demanded by the classical ear, today however it is definitely a different story, we are taught to use our ears which is definitely the recommended approach... For a good example, look at the jazz standard "Beautiful Love", it contains examples of the raised and lowered form of the 6th and 7th degree both in the melody and the harmony. Definitely know what both both sound like over any given chord in the minor and what they do to all the chords in the minor...

First master your instrument. Then forget all that %$## and play! -- Charlie Parker

aaeolean
12-26-2003, 03:43 PM
Hey, thanks for the insight Sweetious, check out what I learned:

I ii iii IV V vi vii = major

i ii III IV v vi VII = dorian

i II III iv v VI vii = phrygian

I II iii iv V vi vii = lydian

I ii iii IV v vi VII = mixolydian

i ii III iv v IV V = aeolean

i II iii iv V VI vii = locrean

If I understand you correctly, you must renumber chords so that the "root" or tonic of the progression becomes the I chord. So if I am playing am, dm, em then it's i, iv, v instead of vi, ii, iii.

Thanks for helping me get this!!

sweetious
12-27-2003, 06:54 AM
You've got it, now you know your modes, which is what much of modern music of any genre consists of. One thing I would point out, you learned some of what is called "modal" music, but there is another that you can understand called "tonal", referring to classical music of the nineteenth century and back (besides church music which was usually modal). Tonal music refers to just the major keys and or its relative minor and rarely deals with modes if at all. The chords you used to illustrate your learning were am dm and em, which are right but they are again "modal" specifically the aeolian mode. In tonal music the em would actually be E7. Heres why: the notes used in the aeolian mode which is the relative minor of C major are; A B C D E F G
The G note is what is called the subtonic. The seventh note in the scale is called the subtonic only if it is one WHOLE step below the tonic! this happens in many of the modes, however in the minor key we are talking about if you raise the subtonic a half step, it is now called the LEADING TONE. In our example that would make our scale, A B C D E F G#. Which is the harmonic scale. Lets look at what that does to our chords(triads or three note chords only for now) in A minor.
Am - A C E
Bdim- B D F
Cmaj - C E G# -------- note the G# making this chord Augmented, this chord is not that common but you may find a lot of use for it I know I have!
Dm - D F A
Emaj - E G# B --------- again note the G# making what was minor major!
Fmaj - F A C
G#dim - G# B D ------- the G# gives us a leading tone chord as in the major!

The reason that theory (especially classical) wants us to do this is that the leading tone makes our ear want to hear the I or the tonic. You will find that if you play Am and Emaj back and forth the Emaj wil make your ear want to hear the Am again. This becomes more intense if you add the seventh on the Emaj, making an E7 chord!

Once again, as always don't let this always be the rule as some musci teachers tell you, let your ear be the rule. I just thought this will give you a few more things to play with. You will find that the i - V - i is very common even in modern pop music! Have fun!

Fisrt master your instrument. Then forget all that $#@ and play! - Charlie Parker

aaeolean
12-27-2003, 03:02 PM
I think I understand but some things are sort of hazy. As mentioned in Sweetious previous post, in a sequence like:

am, dm, em

You said that the em was actually an E7.(if you are thinink tonal not modal) I followed your harminized harmonic scale but I didn't catch where the E7 came in. I know it's only 10am here for me but I haven't been able to catch it.

I never went to school for this and I'm just trying to learn this as I go. I love learning this ****, it makes my day when I learn something new. Thanks for giving me something new to ponder Sweetious. Much appreciated!!

sweetious
12-28-2003, 12:56 AM
I understand at first some of this can be hazy and confusing but the more you get the easier it gets to pick up new things. Let me try to explain the E7 thing. The A minor scale is made of these notes; A B C D E F G. To make the Eminor chord you use the E, G and B notes out of the scale. If you raise the G a half step to G# in the scale (or in your E chord, however you need to look at it) you get an E major triad. it is really that simple. you could change any of the notes in the scale if you wanted i.e. B to Bb and any chord that contained that B would now contain a Bb which would change the quality of those chords. let me try to illustrate.
B, D, F = Bdim
Bb, D, F = Bbmaj

G, B, D = Gmaj
G, Bb, D = Gminor

E, G, B = Eminor
E, G, Bb = Edim

If you watch the B go from natural to flat in each chord you see how it affects each chord. It would help to do this with any given note in the scale to see what it does to all of the chords. Now if you take this and apply it to the seventh(G) in the scale and sharp the seventh it changes several chords. Most importantly though, it changes the V from minor to Major which gives the strongest pull to the i. Hope that helps, if not maybe someone else can explain it so that you can understand.

aaeolean
01-02-2004, 10:55 PM
hEY, I THINK I'M GETTING IT. THANKS FOR THE HELP SWEETIOUS. IF I HAVE ANY MORE QUESTIONS (WHICH I PROPABLY WILL) I'LL SEND THEM TO YA!!!! I THINK I'LL ASK YOU ABOUT THE DIMINISHED ARPEGGIO NEXT. I'M AWARE OF HOW TO USE IT IN SOME PLACES BUT I NEED MORE INSIGHT.

OH YEAH ONE MORE THING, HERE IS A PROGRESSION i'M WORKING ON. iT'S MORE OF A FINGERPICKING THING WITH SOME RHYTHMIC ACCENTS.

C, E7, Am7, F

I REALIZED THE E7 SHOULD ACTUALLY BE AN Em BUT I LIKED THE CHANGE. IS THERE ANY RULE TO THIS SO THAT I MIGHT BE ABLE TO DO THE SAME THING IN A DIFFERENT PROGRESSION? SOMETIMES I SUB A Ab7 FOR THE F. WHY DOES THAT WORK?

THANKS MAN AND IT'S REALLY COLD HERE IN SASKATCHEWAN, YOU AMERICANS HAVE IT NICE, IT'S COLD HERE. BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR........

sweetious
01-06-2004, 04:47 AM
That progression happens to be exactly what we are talking about You are playing in the key of Cmajor/Aminor and the E7 has that G# in it which is why you like it, it gives a little more flavor sometimes than the Em. You would have to tell me what shape of an Ab7 you are playing for me to know what you are doing, Maybe you should call it a G#7? That would make more sense, or what would make more sense is if it is a diminished chord. G#dim? Don't think we are so lucky it is 30 degrees below zero here (farhenheight that is.)