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Thread: Which chords work together?

  1. #1
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    Question Which chords work together?

    Hey, How do I know which chords will work with each other? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    hey im not sure if this is exactly what your after but its a good resource anyway:

    http://www.ezfolk.com/uke/Tutorials/...ord-chart.html

  3. #3
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Chords from the same key will sound good with each other. How do I know which chords are in a key? Several ways of going about that. Perhaps the easiest is to have a handy dandy key chord chart.
    http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/chords/chordchart.htm
    Next is to know which chords like to go to what other chords. For example, the V chord likes to move to the I chord. The V7 chord likes go do this right now. The iii chord likes to drag the vi chord with it and the vi chord likes to move to the ii or IV chord. For more on this spend some time at:
    http://www.musictheory.net/ ---- click on Lessons then Common chord progressions. This will let you understand how to build a chord progression that will sound good.

    Key of C = these chords; C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim.
    C, F, G, C will sound good together and is used in thousand of songs.
    Dm, G, C is used in jazz quite a lot.
    C, Am, F, G, C is called the ice cream progression and used all the time.

    Spend time at www.musictheory.net.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 07-18-2009 at 04:35 AM.

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeman9412@gma
    Hey, How do I know which chords will work with each other? Thanks!
    This is the "circle of 5ths":

    Normally it's used as a chart showing all 12 major keys (outside circle) and their relative minors (inside). Going clockwise, 1 sharp gets added each time, or 1 flat removed; going anticlockwise, it's vice versa.
    (The key signatures are shown in the middle. There is one key name missing: the lower 3 segments should each feature two "enharmonic" keys - sound the same, written differently. Cb and Abm should appear alongside B and G#m. But you needn't worry about that right now...)

    But you can also look at as a chart of major and minor CHORDS. The ones that go best together are the ones nearest each other.

    The chords for any one KEY occur in a block of 6, making up one quarter of the circle, with the tonic (I) in the middle of the outside 3.
    Eg, the chords for D major are D (I), G (IV), A(V), Bm (vi), Em (ii) and F#m (iii). (You can forget the vii chord, C#dim. Practically nobody uses vii chords )

    As well the 6 in that block, you'll find neighbouring chords can be brought it and can work. Eg, you could add C or E major chords to the D major set and (in some instances) they will work. But chords from the other side of the circle are going to sound very odd. (Which doesn't mean that "odd" might not be a sound you sometimes want! )

    Another good clue is that, for any major key, you can often use chords that belong to the "parallel minor". For the key of D major, that means borrowing chords from D minor. For those, look across to the group around the Dm, over on top left. This gives you F, Bb, C, Gm, Am - all of these can be added to the D major set to contribute heaviness, darkness or mystery. (Tip, don't use the Dm, or your key will become fully minor, which may not be what you want. Always think about your tonic, your key chord, first, then about other chords you can use with it.)

    If you DO want to write in a minor key, use the block of 6 around the chosen minor chord, but make the chord on the clockwise side of the tonic MAJOR. Eg, for key of D minor, use Dm, Gm, F, Bb and (least important) C, but make the Am into A or A7. This strengthens the sense of Dm as tonic.
    Last edited by JonR; 07-18-2009 at 10:48 AM.

  5. #5
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    i finally understand what the circle of fifths is for now

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    BRILLIANT JON!!!!!
    I have never looked at the circle of 5ths that way before! I only used it to figure out how many sharps or flats a major key has.
    I have a long way to go. I am beginning to realize that the love of music/study of music theory is a life time pursuit. I read your post and had an absolute EUREKA moment! It was there all along but I was blind to it- but now I see!
    enough waxing poetic about the circle of fiths though! ROFL!
    What I really want to know is...DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER APPLICATIONS, INSIGHTS, OR REVELATIONS YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT THE CIRCLE OF FIFTHS?

    shamelessly seeking musical knowledge,
    Jimmy

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    Quote Originally Posted by daystar
    BRILLIANT JON!!!!!
    I have never looked at the circle of 5ths that way before! I only used it to figure out how many sharps or flats a major key has.
    I have a long way to go. I am beginning to realize that the love of music/study of music theory is a life time pursuit. I read your post and had an absolute EUREKA moment! It was there all along but I was blind to it- but now I see!
    enough waxing poetic about the circle of fiths though! ROFL!
    What I really want to know is...DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER APPLICATIONS, INSIGHTS, OR REVELATIONS YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT THE CIRCLE OF FIFTHS?

    shamelessly seeking musical knowledge,
    Jimmy
    now thats enthusiasm

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    Well here's my question, I've seen songs with chords outside of the key like in C major, an A7 chord?

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    www.musictheory.net

    This is an amazing site!

    I have been sitting here asking myself why do certain chords go together(some of EVH's song come to mind), create ambience, create tension? I have a lot of home work!
    Last edited by diesel; 01-11-2013 at 01:25 AM. Reason: screwed up

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeman9412@gma View Post
    Well here's my question, I've seen songs with chords outside of the key like in C major, an A7 chord?
    Usually that would be a negative move, which would be to create another Key/Root somewhere else. For example C A7 D would get the D chord to sound completely different than if you did C D.

  11. #11
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeman9412@gma View Post
    Well here's my question, I've seen songs with chords outside of the key like in C major, an A7 chord?
    It's what's called a "secondary dominant".

    The "primary dominant" is the V chord, G, which resolves to C. But every chord in the key (apart from Bdim) can have its own V chord:

    V of Dm = A ("V/ii")
    V of Em = B ("V/iii")
    V of F = C7 ("V/IV")
    V of G = D ("V/V")
    V of Am = E ("V/vi")

    The secondary dominants don't all need 7ths, because their major 3rds are enough to reveal them for what they are; but you can of course add 7ths if you want. (The word "dominant" just means "V".)
    The C7 needs a 7th because otherwise it's just the tonic chord. It needs Bb to make it sound like V of F.

    I'm not sure what Ken means by a "negative" move, but the effect is to make a stronger move on to the relevant chord. Eg, A>Dm sounds stronger than Am-Dm; it makes D sound (almost) like a new tonic. (The fact that the key stays as C is what makes the A a "secondary" dominant. If the key actually modulated to D minor, and stayed there, the A would then be the primary dominant of D minor.)

    Secondary dominants are extremely common in jazz, especially older types of jazz. They're also quite common in country music, esp V/V, which appears as a major II chord going to V - eg D in key of C going to G, or A in key of G going to D.
    You don't get them very often in rock, and that country-ish V/V is probably the most common. Eg the Stones' Honky Tonk Women (key of G, A major chord going to D).
    Last edited by JonR; 01-14-2013 at 07:50 AM.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post

    I'm not sure what Ken means by a "negative" move, but the effect is to make a stronger move on to the relevant chord. Eg, A>Dm sounds stronger than Am-Dm; it makes D sound (almost) like a new tonic. (The fact that the key stays as C is what makes the A a "secondary" dominant. If the key actually modulated to D minor, and stayed there, the A would then be the primary dominant of D minor.)
    If a tendency is positive than it tends to be what our ear wants to measure from. So 1-3-5 to 6-b2-3-5 (C A7) didn't add anything positive as far as number choice. If we measured from D instead then we get b7-2-4 to 5-7-2-4 which is positive. A 5 is more complex than its 1 and so is the 7 which makes them bright positive numbers. They create a 1 that is simpler.

    We're saying close to the same thing, the positive/negative way is just more versatile yet more consistent at the same time. For instance in the key of D: A7 to D is positive, D to A7 is negative, D to C is negative, but C to A7 is positive.
    Any move can be useful, I just want to know why the sound changes.
    Last edited by Ken Valentino; 01-14-2013 at 02:54 PM.

  13. #13
    Registered User Color of Music's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Valentino View Post
    If a tendency is positive than it tends to be what our ear wants to measure from. So 1-3-5 to 6-b2-3-5 (C A7) didn't add anything positive as far as number choice. If we measured from D instead then we get b7-2-4 to 5-7-2-4 which is positive. A 5 is more complex than its 1 and so is the 7 which makes them bright positive numbers. They create a 1 that is simpler.

    We're saying close to the same thing, the positive/negative way is just more versatile yet more consistent at the same time. For instance in the key of D: A7 to D is positive, D to A7 is negative, D to C is negative, but C to A7 is positive.
    Any move can be useful, I just want to know why the sound changes.
    IOW, if we go where the ear expect us to and if we don't ...

    But to answer your question as to why the sound changes. Well, shouldn't it or the ear would get tired. I've heard time and time again - especially with beginners: "I'm stuck on (I-IV-V, most often). Where else do I go?" I'm saying if we don't have a mix of positive and negative movement (in the same vein as Consonance and Dissonance), one will be stuck if not bored as well.

    As trite as this sounds, everything has a positive and negative; however, those negative can be turned into positives. I do get the math & music connection, but I'm with JonR on how what you've said is somewhat confusing. Let me restate that I do get it, but it does seem like it's a little abstract. (Nothing wrong with that, of course)
    Last edited by Color of Music; 01-15-2013 at 05:47 AM.

  14. #14
    Yes that's what I'm saying. Negative moves are needed. And I don't mean to be abstract about things. It's just to really have a universal approach to music theory means that there can be no absolutes. I know it's conceptually easier to stick with absolutes (which I'm all about making things as easy as possible), but for me it just doesn't work.

    Every time that I got stuck in the past turned out to be because I was unintentionally in the habit of some rule. For example that a Key contains certain chords. On the other hand each tendency I figured out drastically improved my abilities. Once I could prove to myself what my reference point really was, everything fell into place.

    I'm in no way just changing words around for the sake of confusing people. There's a completely different paradigm going on here that can't be explained with normal theory terms only. For instance, there are so many different words for consonance and dissonance, but positive and negative are instead saying which direction a tendency went. Going to a lower note for instance is "positive", but it doesn't mean that it's "consonant", it could be more "dissonant".

    A positive move from one tendency could cause a conflict with another tendency, which would then sound tense from the conflict. For instance G to C is positive as far as complex to simple. But if G is the most repeated and is an octave lower, then the different tendencies are in conflict with each other. Getting the tendencies to agree is what will cause a resolution or more consonant sound.

    Well now I'm probably sounding too abstract again. Sorry, If I knew another way I would.

  15. #15
    Registered User Color of Music's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Valentino View Post
    Yes that's what I'm saying. Negative moves are needed. And I don't mean to be abstract about things. It's just to really have a universal approach to music theory means that there can be no absolutes. I know it's conceptually easier to stick with absolutes (which I'm all about making things as easy as possible), but for me it just doesn't work.

    Every time that I got stuck in the past turned out to be because I was unintentionally in the habit of some rule. For example that a Key contains certain chords. On the other hand each tendency I figured out drastically improved my abilities. Once I could prove to myself what my reference point really was, everything fell into place.

    I'm in no way just changing words around for the sake of confusing people. There's a completely different paradigm going on here that can't be explained with normal theory terms only. For instance, there are so many different words for consonance and dissonance, but positive and negative are instead saying which direction a tendency went. Going to a lower note for instance is "positive", but it doesn't mean that it's "consonant", it could be more "dissonant".

    A positive move from one tendency could cause a conflict with another tendency, which would then sound tense from the conflict. For instance G to C is positive as far as complex to simple. But if G is the most repeated and is an octave lower, then the different tendencies are in conflict with each other. Getting the tendencies to agree is what will cause a resolution or more consonant sound.

    Well now I'm probably sounding too abstract again. Sorry, If I knew another way I would.
    Indeed! Music does have universal rules, without question, but what I find funny is trying to so hard to escape them just to be "new." Well, you do know all chords are in all keys as all keys are related from the closest to the most distant.

    Doubling voices, they aren't necessarily goes when it comes to "having room," however, sometimes t's not meant to make room. Instead, it'll enhance what's in the room. I was watching a jazz piano video on YT yesterday and the pianist went through a slew of techniques - one of which consisted of doubling chords. Now, there was room for movement and thus there were some positive and negative moves, but I didn't think in those terms because even the negative moves sounded positive.

    So, if I had this:

    G (LH) G (6/4) (RH) ----> C (LH) C (Root to octave) (RH)

    Now, I may or may not personally double since I'm gonna have four C's; however, if I think that tonic needs that much enhancing. Is that what you mean? I've heard te "less is more" quote as well, but that depends on the situation and if you ear likes it.

    Note: I'm not necessarily disagreeing, I just haven't heard it put quite like you put it.

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