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Thread: Question on Chord Progression and Direction

  1. #1
    5 years, still suck.. Leviathon's Avatar
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    Question on Chord Progression and Direction

    Hey all,

    Got a questions about a two chord progression that I would like to take somewhere else...

    This post could be placed in the theory section as well so if it needs moved AOK...

    Two choards are D major to G minor... It's a nice progression. But it breaks the rule that chords are derived from the parent scale. D major and G minor do not exist in a "Major" scale, or a major modal scale, at least I think they don't.

    So my questions are,

    1) What is the theory behind this progression that makes it work. What rules are being applied kind of thing.

    2) What would be a possible 3 chord that helps with the minor sound of the progression...
    "The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Interesting -- In my World I do not see a Gm that often. I just played your D, Gm and it is a good sound. I went on to the obvious D, Gm, A and it sounded OK to me.

    I've been thinking of why and nothing pops out............ be Interesting what other can add.........
    Last edited by Malcolm; 10-24-2007 at 12:06 AM.

  3. #3
    5 years, still suck.. Leviathon's Avatar
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    It sounds good when you play the open D chord, then play your G minor barring across the EBG strings on the 3rd fret, then hammer onto the 5th fret on the high E string. Nice little add note on there... A minor doesn't sound real bad in the progression, just looking for that chord that will send it over the top I guess.. Plus I got to know the theory behind it if at all possible...
    Last edited by Leviathon; 10-24-2007 at 12:53 AM.
    "The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."

  4. #4
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    You can think of Gmin as the IVmin of D major - a common chord substitute, borrowed from the natural minor of D = D E F G A Bb C D.

  5. #5
    5 years, still suck.. Leviathon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed
    You can think of Gmin as the IVmin of D major - a common chord substitute, borrowed from the natural minor of D = D E F G A Bb C D.
    I understand that Gmin is the flated fourth, but you lost me with the "Borrowed from the natural minor of D". Are "Natural" and "relative" minors the same? What is the theory behind that...

    Also, what is a natural 3 rd chord that could be applied to the D Gmin progression...?
    "The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."

  6. #6
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathon
    I understand that Gmin is the flated fourth, but you lost me with the "Borrowed from the natural minor of D". Are "Natural" and "relative" minors the same? What is the theory behind that...

    Also, what is a natural 3 rd chord that could be applied to the D Gmin progression...?
    G minor isn't the flatted fourth (that would be Gb)

    D major = D E F# G A B C#
    D Minor - D E F G A Bb C
    D Minor = D Natural Minor = relative minor of F major = D Aeolian

    The diatonic triads of D major are:
    D (major) = D F# A
    E minor = E G B
    F# minor = F# A C#
    G (major) = G B D
    A (major) - A C# E
    B minor = B D F#
    C# diminished = C# E G

    The diatonic triads of D (natural) minor are:
    D minor = D F A
    E diminished = E G Bb
    F (major) = F A C
    G minor = G Bb D
    A minor - A C E
    Bb (major) = Bb D F
    C (major) = C E G

    G (major) is the diatonic or natural IV chord of the key of D major
    G minor is the diatonic or natural IV chord of the key of D minor. So we can say that in the key of D major, the triad - G minor is "borrowed" from (the key of) D minor.

    One thing that makes the IV min triad sound good is that there are two notes that resolve down by a 1/2 step and one note that stays the same when the IV minor is followed by the I major triad.

    IV min >> I major:
    G (root) >> F# (3rd) = (half step)
    Bb (b3) >> A (5th) = (half step)
    D (5th) >> D (root) (common tone)

    So if you think about the D major triad as the 1, 3 & 5 of the D major scale
    you can think of the G minor triad as the 1, 4 & b6 of the D major scale.

    I hope this answered you question.
    Last edited by Jed; 10-24-2007 at 04:24 AM.

  7. #7
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathon
    . . but you lost me with the "Borrowed from the natural minor of D". Are "Natural" and "relative" minors the same? What is the theory behind that...
    Well, you can't borrow chords from the relative minor since a major key and it's relative minor share the same notes and hence the same chords (although the chords serve different functions).

    So when a chord is borrowed, it's borrowed from a similar scale degree in a parallel scale or mode.

  8. #8
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    Wait... You have two chords right? Gmin and D. You know D is the dominant (V chord) of G right? And you know that minor has two variable degrees (the 6th and the 7th) so a G minor scale would shelter both those chords. You can play a G minor scale through the whole thing and just raise the 7th (G harmonic minor) when you get to the D.

    No borrowed chord or anything. Simple V-i progression as far as I see. Am I missing something?

    I hope this clears things out.

    -Jorge
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  9. #9
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Yes you can do that, however, I think the question is why does the D, Gm sound good together -- not what could be played over them. Those two chords do not both fit into any one scale or at least into any I can see. So...... the question is:
    So my questions are,
    1) What is the theory behind this progression that makes it work. What rules are being applied kind of thing.

    2) What would be a possible 3 chord that helps with the minor sound of the progression...
    Then Jed said:
    So if you think about the D major triad as the 1, 3 & 5 of the D major scale
    you can think of the G minor triad as the 1, 4 & b6 of the D major scale....... OK that is what it is, but is that why it sounds good?

    I always look at situations like this as; "What is scared with that Gm or D being together?" And then I normally just change the chord progression to where it fits and go on. I know I miss unique opportunities this way........ Trying to learn why it sounds good together, so I can add it to my bag of tricks. And the answer may be as simple as; if it sounds good do it.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 10-24-2007 at 04:00 PM.

  10. #10
    Registered User WillieG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm
    Yes you can do that, however, I think the question is why does the D, Gm sound good together -- not what could be played over them. Those two chords do not both fit into any one scale or at least into any I can see....
    Actually DMaj and Gmin live in the same scale in both the Melodic and Harmonic Minor. You can see the progression as a V-I as forgottenking pointed. So a Harm. or Mel. scale *should* work. However it depends on the context are we implying a I-iv or a V-i? The chords are the same but the functions are not...

    cheers,
    WG

  11. #11
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Actually DMaj and Gmin live in the same scale in both the Melodic and Harmonic Minor.
    Now that explains why they sound good together and also tells us what other chords could be added and still keep the minor sound. Forrest for the trees .......

    I have neglected my study of Harmonic and Melodic minor scales/chords. Gives me something to look into.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 10-24-2007 at 06:03 PM.

  12. #12
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm
    Yes you can do that, however, I think the question is why does the D, Gm sound good together
    I thought that was implied in my answer. Because D is the V of Gmin. (V-i progression).
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  13. #13
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    I thought that was implied in my answer. Because D is the V of Gmin. (V-i progression).
    D is the V of Gm only in the Harmonic and Melodic minor scale. And at the time of my post I was only thinking in Natural minor.

    Missed it, sorry.

  14. #14
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Then Jed said:
    So if you think about the D major triad as the 1, 3 & 5 of the D major scale
    you can think of the G minor triad as the 1, 4 & b6 of the D major scale....... OK that is what it is, but is that why it sounds good?
    The above explains not only the what, but also the why at the same time. Theory is much more about the classification of sounds by function than a system of names. The names exist to define the function. You just have to think about the theory from a slightly different angle.

    Play a D major triad . . hear the tonal center, the sound that we associate with a I (maj) chord). Now play a G major . . hear the subdominant sound that we associate with a IV (maj) chord. Now play another D major . . and hear the tonal center again.. What makes this simple D (maj) to G (maj) to D (maj) progression sound good / right / classic?? . . . well it's the notes / the intervals / the intervalic interactions of course !!

    The D major tonality is defined by the 1, 3 & 5 of the D major scale (the D, F# & A notes), right? It has to be true because you aren't' playing any other notes over the D major chord and yet you are hearing the D major tonality.

    When you play the G major chord (in a D major tonality), you are hearing the subdominant function of a IV chord. But what you are really hearing is the interaction of the 1, 4 & 6 degrees of the major scale (the D, G & B notes) relative to the D tonality that's still in your aural memory. This bit of mild tension is by definition the subdominant sound / function. This sound existed long before music theory, but over the years people came to refer to this sound the subdominant.

    When you play the D major chord again, you hear the resolution of the G major's subdominant function transitioning to the home base that is D major. But what you are really hearing is the resolution of the 1, 4 & 6 degrees of the major scale / the subdominant function of the IV chord / G major (the D, G & B notes) resolving to the 1, 3 & 5 degrees of the major scale / the tonic function of the I (maj) chord / D major (the D, F# & A notes).

    Take a minute to sing these individual notes as you play the progression. Hear how the same D note sounds a bit different over the two chords. Hear how the F# moves to a G, then back to an F#. Hear how the A can move up to a B, then back to an A. Alternatively, hear how the A could move down to a G, then back up to an A. The movement of the individual notes, in terms of their scale function, is the component level interactions the we hear in the larger-scale as a Tonic > Subdominant > Tonic cadence.

    What makes this sound good or right? . . . hundreds of years of western music makes it sound right to your and my ears. But the actual note-level interacts are what makes this work, so let's look at the notes another way.

    Code:
     
    D maj  >>  G maj >> D maj
    
      D    >>   D   >>   D  
      F#   >>   G   >>   F#  
      A    >>   B   >>   A   or
      A    >>   G   >>   A
    If we do a post-mortem on this we can say that it's the individual movement of the component notes that create the sounds we describe / call a "tonic to subdominant to tonic" cadence. At the note level the root on the tonic carries over unchanged but is re-purposed as the 5th of the new chord. The 3rd of the tonic rises by a half-step (to become the root of the subdominant) and descends back down, while the 5th of the tonic rises a whole-step (to become the 3rd of the subdominant) and descends back down. The above is the meat and potatoes of the "tonic to subdominant" sounds. Forget chord names, forget theory, none of that matters. Think scale degrees, scale degree functions and intervallic level movements.

    If the root of the tonic holds over to the next chord AND the 3rd of the tonic rises a half-step AND the 5th of the tonic rises a whole-step - then we have a "tonic to subdominant" cadence. Any time we have this sequence of intervalic movements, we have created a tonic to subdominant cadence. It doesn't matter is the chords are diatonic or borrowed, it the intervals that are driving the sound and the definition / name.

    OK, so what happens if we use a G minor?

    Code:
     
    D maj  >>  G min >> D maj
    
      D    >>   D   >>   D  
      F#   >>   G   >>   F#  
      A    >>   Bb  >>   A   or
      A    >>   G   >>   A (not quite as valuable here)
    In this post-mortem we're looking at the individual movement of the component notes that create the sounds we describe / call a "tonic to subdominant minor to tonic" cadence. At the note level the root on the tonic carries over unchanged but is re-purposed as the 5th of the new chord. The 3rd of the tonic rises by a half-step (to become the root of the subdominant) and descends back down, while the 5th of the tonic rises a half-step (to become the minor 3rd of the subdominant) and descends back down. The above is the meat and potatoes of the "tonic to subdominant minor" sounds.

    Why does this sound good?? Look how closely is mirrors the "tonic to subdominant" cadence. What's the difference ??

    If the root of the tonic holds over to the next chord AND the 3rd of the tonic rises a half-step AND the 5th of the tonic rises a half-step - then we have a "tonic to subdominant minor" cadence.

    The difference is where before we had a weak whole-step movement from one chord tone the next (from the tonic's 5th to the subdominant's major 3rd), here we have an additional half-step movement between the notes. So now there are two half-step resolutions between these two chords. Why do we care about half-step resolutions? There is only one instance in a major key diatonic progression where there is a dual half-step resolution. That one instance is the almighty "perfect" cadence of V7 to I. By creating another dual half-step resolution based on the subdominant sound we had created a hybrid sound that combines the strong resolution of the V7 to I cadence but done so in a subdominant to tonic setting. . . Brilliant !! Hopefully the above makes sense. It is a very detailed view of the what / why / how. But as they say "The Devil is in the details".

    cheers,

  15. #15
    Registered User jimc8p's Avatar
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    Great post-mortem! It's a good way to look at chord movement, and gets your thinking out of the confines of a key. The minor sub-dominant is a great chord to use if you want to relax the slightly sickly sound of strict 7-note major key progressions.
    Last edited by jimc8p; 10-25-2007 at 09:35 AM.

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