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Scales, Modes and Chords

JumpingJackFlash
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1218 posts since 10 Oct, 2004

Postby JumpingJackFlash; Sat Jan 27, 2007 12:36 pm Scales, Modes and Chords

This post is an introduction to almost every kind of scale, mode and chord (including arpeggios) you could ever need to know.
All examples begin on C, and are usually in either in C major or C minor. Recall that C Major has no flats and no sharps in its key signature, and C minor has 3 flats (Bb, Eb and Ab). Because this post uses lots of examples, it may take a while to load. Please be patient.

I have not used any key signatures to make things simpler.

Note than an 'arpeggio' is the same as a 'chord', only with the notes played in succession rather than simultaneously (usually starting at the bottom and ascending).

Unless otherwise stated, the notes of a scale or arpeggio descending is the same as the notes ascending (although, obviously you play them backwards).

Note, with most chords, (when in root position) an octave above the root (the 8th) is usually added at the top, although it does not have to be. (Sometimes another note or notes may be doubled an octave higher instead or as well).

For a more basic introduction to the concept of major and minor scales, see my Introduction to Music Theory.

The Major Scale
This is series of 7 different notes. From the bottom upwards, they have the pattern of intervals: Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone. The scale is named after the note it starts on (the 'tonic').

Example: The C Major Scale:
Image

The Major Arpeggio/Chord
This consists of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the major scale, usually with the 8th (octave) added on top. An upper-case 'M' is sometimes used to denote a Major chord.

Example: The C Major Arpeggio/Chord:
Image

The Natural Minor Scale
This is series of 7 different notes. From the bottom upwards, they have the pattern of intervals: Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone. The scale is named after the note it starts on (the 'tonic').

Example: The C Natural Minor Scale:
Image

The Harmonic Minor Scale
This is identical to the Natural Minor, except the 7th note of the scale is raised by one semitone. Thus the pattern becomes: Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone+Semitone, Semitone.

Example: The C Harmonic Minor Scale:
Image

The Melodic Minor Scale
This is identical to the Natural Minor, except the 6th and 7th notes of the scale are both raised by one semitone when ascending, but not when descending. (So, descending, the scale is exactly the same as the Natural Minor). The ascending pattern of intervals is: Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone.

Example: The C Melodic Minor Scale:
Image

The Minor Arpeggio/Chord
This consists of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the minor scale, usually with the 8th (octave) added on top. A lower-case 'm', a '-' sign or 'min' is sometimes used to denote a minor chord. (Note, as no 6ths or 7ths are involved, the chord is identical in whatever version of the minor scale you're using).

Example: The C Minor Arpeggio/Chord
Image

Major Sixth Chords
This is a Major chord with an 'added sixth'. So, it consists of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th (and 8th) notes of the Major scale. The common symbol is '6', or sometimes 'M6' or 'maj6'.

Example: C Major Sixth Chord:
Image

Minor Sixth Chords
This is a minor chord with an added sixth. Note however, the word 'minor' refers to the 3rd, not the 6th. The 6th is actually a MAJOR 6th. So, it consists of the 1st, flattened 3rd, 5th, 6th (and 8th) notes of the Major scale (or the 1st, 3rd, 5th and sharpened 6th of the minor scale). The common symbol is '-6', or sometimes 'm6' or 'min6'.

Example: C Minor Sixth Chord:
Image

The Dominant Seventh Chord
This is the Major arpeggio/chord with an added minor 7th. It's called a dominant seventh, because it is the dominant (5th) chord of the major key a 5th below it (for example, C Dominant Seventh is actually V in F major). So, it consists of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, flattened 7th, (and 8th) notes of the major scale. The common symbol is '7'.

Example: The Dominant Seventh on C:
Image

The Major Seventh Chord
This is the Major arpeggio/chord with an added (major) 7th. It consists of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, (and 8th) notes of the major scale. The common symbol is '?', 'M7', or 'maj7'.

Example: The C Major Seventh Chord
Image

The Minor Seventh Chord
This is the minor arpeggio/chord with an added minor 7th. It consists of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, (and 8th) notes of the Natural Minor scale. The common symbol is '-7', 'm7' or 'min7'.

Example: The C Minor Seventh Chord
Image

The Diminished Seventh Chord
This chord has four different notes in it, and there is a minor 3rd (3 semitones) between each note. (Note though, that there are times when one or more of the notes have to be notated enharmonically, meaning although the interval will always be 3 semitones, it may not technically be a minor 3rd). There are only 3 different diminished 7ths possible before you start repeating one in a different inversion. It consists of the 1st, flattened 3rd, flattened 5th, and double-flattened 7th (or enharmonically, the 6th) notes of the major scale. (or the 1st, 3rd, flattened 5th and flattened 7th notes of the Natural Minor scale). The common symbol is '°' or 'dim7'.

Example The Diminished Seventh on C:
Image

The Half Diminished (Seventh) Chord
Sometimes just called a 'Half Diminished' chord. This consists of the first 3 notes of a diminished seventh, with the 4th note raised a semitone to become the minor 7th. So, it consists of the 1st, flattened 3rd, flattened 5th, flattened 7th (and 8th) or the Major scale. (Or, the 1st, 3rd, flattened 5th, 7th (and 8th) or the Natural Minor scale). The common symbol is 'ø', or 'm7(b5)'.

Example: The Half Diminished (Seventh) Chord on C:
Image

The Augmented Seventh Chord
This chord consists of the 1st, 3rd, sharpened 5th, flattened 7th (and 8th) notes of the Major scale. The common symbol is '7+', or '7(#5)'.

Example: The Augmented Seventh on C:
Image

Note, at this point, you should note the differences between the various 'seventh' chords.

Dominant 9th, 11th and 13th Chords
This is a Dominant 7th Chord, with an added 9th, 11th and/or 13th (i.e., the 2nd, 4th and 6th notes in the second octave). The common symbols are '9', '11' and '13'.

Example: Dominant 13 Chord on C:
Image

The Minor 9th Chord
This is a minor seventh chord with an added (major) 9th. It therefore consists of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th notes of the Natural Minor scale. The common symbol is '-9' or 'm9' or 'min9'.

Example: The C Minor 9th Chord:
Image

Chromatic Scale
This scale consists of every single note, moving up entirely in Semitones (various enharmonic spellings are possible). There is only one chromatic scale, but it may start on any note.

Example: The Chromatic Scale on C:
Image

Whole-Tone Scale
This scale moves up entirely in Tones. They consist of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, sharpened 4th, sharpened 5th, sharpened 6th, (and 8th) of the Major scale. There are only 2 whole-tone scales before you repeat one in inversion.

Example: The Whole-Tone Scale on C:
Image

Diminished Scale
This scale is made up of alternate Tones and Semitones (usually in that order, but occasionally Semitone/Tone is used) Every other note forms the notes of a diminished seventh chord. It therefore consists of the 1st, 2nd, flattened 3rd, 4th, sharpened 4th, sharpened 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th notes of the major scale. (Enharmonic spellings are possible).

Example: The Diminished Scale on C:
Image

The Augmented Chord
This consists of the 1st, 3rd, sharpened 5th, (and 8th) notes of the the Major scale. You could also think of it as a chord of the Whole-Tone Scale. There are only 4 augmented chords before you repeat one in inversion. The common symbol is '+' or 'aug'.

Example: The Augmented Chord on C:
Image

The (Major) Pentatonic Scale
This is a five-note scale consisting of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th (and 8th) notes of the Major scale.

Example: C Pentatonic:
Image

The Minor Pentatonic Scale
This is a five-note scale consisting of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th (and 8th) notes of the Natural Minor scale. (It is the fifth mode of the relative major pentatonic).

Example: C Minor Pentatonic:
Image

The Blues Scale
This is a Minor Seventh Chord with an added 4th and sharpened 4th. It therefore consists of the 1st, flattened 3rd, 4th, sharpened 4th, 5th, flattened 7th, (and 8th) of the Major scale. (Or, 1st, 3rd, 4th, sharpened 4th, 5th, 7th, (and 8th) notes of the Natural Minor scale).

Example: The Blues Scale on C:
Image

The Suspended 4th Chord
This is the 1st, 4th, 5th (and 8th) notes of the Major Scale. The common symbol is 'sus4'.

Example: C Suspended 4th Chord
Image

MODES
There is a different mode starting on each degree on the major scale.

Ionian Mode
This is the mode on the 1st degree of the major scale. Eg. all the white-notes on the piano starting on C. It is identical to the ordinary Major Scale. Pattern of intervals: Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone.

Dorian Mode
This is the mode on the 2nd degree of the major scale. Eg. all the white-notes on the piano starting on D. It is therefore a natural minor scale with sharpened 6th (or a major scale with flattened 3rd and flattened 7th). Pattern of intervals: Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone.

Example: The Dorian mode on C:
Image

Phrygian Mode
This is the mode on the 3rd degree of the major scale. Eg. all the white-notes on the piano starting on E. It is therefore a natural minor scale with flattened 2nd (or a major scale with flattened 2nd, flattened 3rd, flattened 6th and flattened 7th). Pattern of intervals: Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone.

Example: The Phrygian Mode on C:
Image

Lydian Mode
This is the mode on the 4th degree of the major scale. Eg. all the white-notes on the piano starting on F. It is therefore a major scale with sharpened 4th (or a natural minor scale with sharpened 3rd, sharpened 4th, sharpened 6th and sharpened 7th). Pattern of intervals: Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone.

Example: The Lydian Mode on C:
Image

Mixolydian Mode
This is the mode on the 5th degree of the major scale. Eg. all the white-notes on the piano starting on G. It is therefore a major scale with flattened 7th (or a natural minor scale with sharpened 3rd and sharpened 6th). Pattern of intervals: Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone.

Example: The Mixolydian Mode on C:
Image

Aeolian Mode
This is the mode on the 6th degree of the major scale. Eg. all the white-notes on the piano starting on A. It is therefore the same as the natural minor scale (or a major scale with flattened 3rd, flattened 6th and flattened 7th). Pattern of intervals: Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone.

Example: The Aeolian Mode on C:
Image

Locrian Mode
This is the mode on the 7th degree of the major scale. Eg. all the white-notes on the piano starting on B. It is therefore a natural minor scale with flattened 2nd and flattened 5th (or a major scale with flattened 2nd, flattened 3rd, flattened 5th, flattened 6th and flattened 7th). Pattern of intervals: Semitone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone.

Example: The Locrian Mode on C:
Image

Modes of the Ascending Melodic Minor:

Jazz Minor
Also called Dorian #7, Ionian b3, The Ascending Melodic Minor, the Minor-Major scale, and the Hawaiian scale.
This is the natural minor scale with sharpened 6th and sharpened 7th. Pattern of intervals: Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone.
Image

Dorian b2
Also called Phrygian #6, Jazz Minor Inverse, and Phrygian-Mixolydian.
This is the mode on the second degree of the Jazz Minor. It is therefore a natural minor scale with flattened 2nd and sharpened 6th. Pattern of intervals: Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone.
Image

Lydian Augmented
Also called Lydian #5.
This is the mode on the third degree of the Jazz Minor. It is therefore a major scale with sharpened 4th and sharpened 5th. Pattern of intervals: Tone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Semitone.
Image

Lydian Dominant
Also called Mixolydian #4, Lydian b7, Acoustic scale, Overtone scale, Lydian-Mixolydian, and the Bartok scale.
This is the mode on the fourth degree of the Jazz Minor. It is therefore a major scale with sharpened 4th and flattened 7th. Pattern of intervals: Tone, Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Semitone, Tone.
Image

Mixolydian b6
Also called Aeolian #3, the Hindu scale, Mischung 6, and the Major-Minor scale.
This is the mode on the fifth degree of the Jazz Minor. It is therefore a major scale with flattened 6th and flattened 7th. Pattern of intervals: Tone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone.
Image

Locrian #2
Also called Aeolian b5, the Half Diminished scale, Minor Locrian and Minor b5.
This is the mode on the sixth degree of the Jazz Minor. It is therefore a natural minor scale with flattened 5th. Pattern of intervals: Tone, Semitone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone.
Image

Super Locrian
Also called the Altered scale, the Diminished Whole Tone scale, Locrian b4, the Pomeroy scale and the Ravel scale.
This is the mode on the seventh degree of the Jazz Minor. It is therefore a natural minor scale with flattened 2nd, flattened 4th and flattened 5th. Pattern of intervals: Semitone, Tone, Semitone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Tone.
Image
Last edited by JumpingJackFlash on Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Toxikator
KVRAF
 
1975 posts since 4 Feb, 2005

Postby Toxikator; Sat Jan 27, 2007 12:49 pm

Some parts may be a touch misleading. For example, you talk about the suspended chord as if it were a functional harmonic unit, but it's really a major chord WITH a suspension (a functional nonharmonic unit) which resolves.
Image
JumpingJackFlash
KVRian
 
1218 posts since 10 Oct, 2004

Postby JumpingJackFlash; Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:23 pm

Toxikator wrote:Some parts may be a touch misleading. For example, you talk about the suspended chord as if it were a functional harmonic unit, but it's really a major chord WITH a suspension (a functional nonharmonic unit) which resolves.


Yeah, I was debating whether or not to put in the Suspend 4th or not. I decided to go with it because it's used a lot in popular music (where it often doesn't resolve properly, and is seldom prepared). You're right that it's not a harmonic unit in the same way as a diminished seventh is, but I thought it might be good for anyone new to harmonic notation that wants to work out the chords in a pop song (for example).
Km7
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149 posts since 27 Jan, 2007, from Eyeth

Postby Km7; Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:39 pm

A nice topic. About the sus chords - I think it is OK - as you said, in popular and jazz music there is often no resolution and preparation (the chord is used as any other standard chord in tertian harmony)... and one may prefer to analyze it not contrapuntaly in that case.
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chardin
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725 posts since 18 Dec, 2004

Postby chardin; Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:57 am

How should a suspended chord be prepared?
Km7
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149 posts since 27 Jan, 2007, from Eyeth

Postby Km7; Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:13 pm

Well, for example, if you have the progression IV-V-I and the harmony shifts from chord IV to chord V but you keep (delay) the fifth of the IV chord, you'll get a Vsus4 chord. Then, classicaly, this interval of a fourth is usually resolved to the third of the chord while the chord sounds.
The so delayed tone is a non-harmonic tone for the V chord and as it doesn't attack together with the other chord tones of the V chord, but earlier (coming from the IV chord), it is prepared.
Last edited by Km7 on Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
JumpingJackFlash
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1218 posts since 10 Oct, 2004

Postby JumpingJackFlash; Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:33 pm

chardin wrote:How should a suspended chord be prepared?


The suspension is 'prepared' by having the suspended note in the preceding chord as a consonance in the same part.
The suspension should then resolve downwards by step (onto a consonance).

For example:
Image

This is a 9-8 suspension. (So called due to the intervals above the bass).

The resolution note should not occur in the resolution chord, except if it is in the bass.
Ornamental resolutions (involving unessential notes or consonant skips) are possible.
Km7
KVRist
 
149 posts since 27 Jan, 2007, from Eyeth

Postby Km7; Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:50 pm

Just adding that as a rule, the resolution note shouldn't occur in the resolution chord, except if this note is more than an octave apart from the suspended note and if the suspended note is above it.
Last edited by Km7 on Sun Jan 28, 2007 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
JumpingJackFlash
KVRian
 
1218 posts since 10 Oct, 2004

Postby JumpingJackFlash; Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:57 pm

Varadin wrote:Just adding that as a rule, the resolution note shouldn't occur in the resolution chord, except if this note is more than an octave apart from the suspended note and if the suspended note is above the tone of resulution.


Depends. According to modern practises maybe, but in four-part harmony Bach would surely have frowned upon the resolution note being anywhere other than the bass.
Km7
KVRist
 
149 posts since 27 Jan, 2007, from Eyeth

Postby Km7; Sun Jan 28, 2007 2:04 pm

Yes, depends on the style and also on the theorists and the different books. For example, I've learned what I wrote from a text book on classical harmony, widely used in the musical schools and conservatories in my country.
Jono-60
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689 posts since 19 Nov, 2006

Postby Jono-60; Tue Jan 30, 2007 9:11 am

In the context of this thread, what does 'resolve' mean?
mayan
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1960 posts since 30 Oct, 2003, from Frolicking in Dirac's Ocean

Postby mayan; Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:29 am

Great post, thanks!!
JumpingJackFlash
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1218 posts since 10 Oct, 2004

Postby JumpingJackFlash; Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:08 am

Jono-60 wrote:In the context of this thread, what does 'resolve' mean?


Most dissonances (including the suspension, as noted above) resolve by moving downwards by step, usually to a note in the next chord.

See the example of the suspension I posted above; in a chord of C major, the D in the top part is dissonant (does not fit the chord). In this case, it is suspended from the previous chord. It then resolves downwards to C, which is consonant (fits with the chord).

There are certain circumstances where a dissonance can resolve upwards too, but again, it is usually by step.
Jake Jackson
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1144 posts since 13 Sep, 2004

Postby Jake Jackson; Wed Feb 07, 2007 3:35 pm

Is there a good book just on ways to use suspended chords and resolve them? I don't mean a general theory book that includes a chapter, but instead a thorough discussion of it with a examples from the Bach up into rock and jazz?
BosseJo
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608 posts since 18 Dec, 2005, from Sweden

Postby BosseJo; Wed Feb 07, 2007 3:54 pm

Jono-60 wrote:In the context of this thread, what does 'resolve' mean?


There's a story where Mozart is in his bed trying to sleep. His servant is up playing the piano but he ends on a "unresolved chord". Mozart can't stand this and have to get up and play a "resolving" chord.
Not all cultures share this idea of resolved chords but in the western harmony tradition we think that music should end in a certain way. For example: play G7-C several times and then stop on he G7. Does it make you feel uneasy in some way? If, then you know what an unresolved chord/chord progressions is. If not - that's ok too :)
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