Chord Progression question

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
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fmr
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9652 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Post Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:03 am

mbloom wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 10:11 pm
Musical Gym is completely correct. In the key of C major, Am is the 6 chord (not the 5, so not dominant). There is no G# in it and you can totally jam in Am, when other musicians are playing in C major. It's the relative minor, meaning it has exactly the same notes as C major. No need to make it more confusing. As far as chord substitutions are concerned...that's a whole different topic and too advanced for the OP to be worried about. Even with substitutions, there's no typical situation where an Am chord has a G#.
There is no G# in the Am "chord" - of course not. NOR DID I WRITE THAT. What I wrote is that the A minor TONALITY usually has G#. Tonality is NOT chord. Actually, chord "per se" is a weak notion. What's important within a tonality are the the TONAL FUNCTIONS of certain chords. Not all chords work inside a tonality, and there are ones that are absolutely needed, while others shouldn't be used, or used sparsely. And there are others that, when used, replace, in therms of TONAL FUNCTIONS, other chords. Those are the replacement chords.

Which brings us to the beginning: There isn't a G# in the Am CHORD, but there certainly IS a G# in the A minor TONALITY. A "chord" doesn't make a tonality. Am chord (vi degree) in the key of C Major is certainly NOT a strong chord, as isn't the ii degree chord (Dm). Both are usually used as replacement chords. whether it is "too advanced" for the OP or not. Better keep in mind what things are right from the beginning than learning things wrong. You can't and shouldn't use Am chord whenever you want within C Major, unless you want to create a sense of tonal/modal instability.
Fernando (FMR)

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fmr
KVRAF
9652 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:08 am

Septimon wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 11:06 pm
It might be better to speak of aeolian mode Rather than „Minor“ Here.
Aeolian is a mode. Minor is related to the tonal system. Apples and Oranges. That's why saying A minor is A, B, C, D, E, F, G is plainly wrong. A minor usually has the alteration G#. otherwise it would lack the leading tone, which would make it impossible to have the Dominant function. No Dominant function, no tonality - therefore, a mode, which is not the same thing. And if you harmonize it, you could fall quickly into C Major, while pretending that you were in A "aeolian".
Fernando (FMR)

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jancivil
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19993 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Sun Apr 12, 2020 12:15 pm

mbloom wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 10:11 pm
Musical Gym is completely correct. In the key of C major, Am is the 6 chord (not the 5, so not dominant). There is no G# in it and you can totally jam in Am, when other musicians are playing in C major.
No need to think of the one thing two ways.
See below.
Last edited by jancivil on Fri May 29, 2020 9:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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jancivil
KVRAF
19993 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Fri May 29, 2020 6:21 am

Musical Gym wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:50 pm
Relationship between major scale and relative minor scale
If you take C major scale and compare it to A minor scale, you will see that they have exactly the same notes. [...]

This is extremely useful! It means that we can use A minor scale to do a solo in a song which tonality is C major. In other words, when we have a major tonality, we can think in two scales: the major scale of this tonality and the relative minor scale of it. This increases our options when we are thinking in solo.
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No, it’s just knowing two names for the white keys.
There is zero sense in saying you‘re thinking A minor when you’re in the “tonality of C major”. You haven’t expanded your options, you’re merely doing twice the mentation than you can use.

over-complicating theory, really
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jancivil
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19993 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Fri May 29, 2020 6:35 am

HOWEVER there def is a tendency in much recent pop to melodically prefer landing on LA, 6 (on the I, where we will have assumed major key) so there is a kind of at least temporary ambiguity of major/relative minor.
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NERF_PROTOSS
KVRist
46 posts since 14 Jan, 2020

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Fri May 29, 2020 7:28 am

yeah the distinction between scale (just a collection of notes) and tonality (contextualising the way those notes relate to each other) is important.

there is a difference between playing "in A minor" and "playing the notes in an A minor scale"

xandde1
KVRist
171 posts since 12 Nov, 2018

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Fri May 29, 2020 5:39 pm

I did not read all the comments, so I might be repeating some information here.

The C major scale is made of single notes: C - D - E - F - G - A - B. If you stack these notes in thirds (pick one, jump one, pick one, jump one and pick one again), you will find the diatonic chords that belong to the C major scale:

C + E + G = C major
D + F + A = D minor
E + G + B = E minor
F + A + C = F major
G + B + D = G major
A + C + E = A minor
B + D + F = B diminished

So, the A minor chord is diatonic to the C major scale. By the way, C major and A minor are called relative chords. This is because the C major scale is identical to the A minor scale (and so are the diatonic chords). The only difference is that the C major scale starts from C and the A minor scale starts from A.

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jancivil
KVRAF
19993 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Fri May 29, 2020 9:33 pm

Yeah, reading a thread is a good idea.

The salient difference is A minor and C major are two different keys. Scales are mere material before you apply musical thought;
note that there are seven possible nominal scales for seven notes.
That there are (meaningful*) names of these things (*as modes/identities) denotes a singular fact for each: which one of the seven is number one, musically.

If one thinks they’re playing in A (natural) minor while the rest of the band is in C major, one is just being silly. One or the other designation is true, musically.

You could, as I pointed to with the trend of phrases landing on LA (6), impart some flavor to C, and some musical thoughts and ideas follow, but the name A natural minor for activity in C major adds nothing but an extraneous label. If you did something to actually effect A as tonic (G# effecting a dominant entity) while the song is in C, you’re acting polytonally. But ‘A natural minor‘ isn’t going to have any identity where there is the fact of a C tonic in the music.
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fmr
KVRAF
9652 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Fri May 29, 2020 11:44 pm

xandde1 wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 5:39 pm
I did not read all the comments, so I might be repeating some information here.

The C major scale is made of single notes: C - D - E - F - G - A - B. If you stack these notes in thirds (pick one, jump one, pick one, jump one and pick one again), you will find the diatonic chords that belong to the C major scale:

C + E + G = C major
D + F + A = D minor
E + G + B = E minor
F + A + C = F major
G + B + D = G major
A + C + E = A minor
B + D + F = B diminished
Yeah, so? Not all of them are meaningful to C Major, and some are more important than others. To have C Major you just need two chords: C and G, You can add F, or d min as a substitute of F, and you can use, sometimes, a min as a substitute of C. You can also use sometimes b dim as a substitute of G, but in the end, the polar chords are G and C, with F coming a little behind.

That's what you need to keep in mind.
xandde1 wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 5:39 pm
So, the A minor chord is diatonic to the C major scale. By the way, C major and A minor are called relative chords. This is because the C major scale is identical to the A minor scale (and so are the diatonic chords). The only difference is that the C major scale starts from C and the A minor scale starts from A.
No, they are not called relative chords (???) That's WRONG. The tonalities are relative to each other, the chords are just chords. Chords are not "relative". Some of them play certain roles in a certain tonality (function chords - hence the expression "functional harmony" because it resides on "functions") while others don't.

You also have a minor and C Major in the G Major tonality. Yet, they play different roles in G Major than the ones they play in C Major, despite being the same chords. The same happens in F Major, where you also have those same chords, but again, they play different roles in there. Actually, a min has a slightly more important role in G Major than it has in C Major. And in F Major, a minor has almost no role to play, and you may not see it most of the time.

Also, and once again, there is no such thing as "natural minor" and "harmonic minor". There is minor - period. Natural minor is a way to describe a behavior of the minor mode where it approaches the old "modal system", but if you use harmony (i.e. if you use chords to accompany a melody in minor mode) you will have to use the "harmonic minor" (that's why it is called HARMONIC), otherwise, you would not have the tonal function of the Dominant (it would lack the leading tone), and you would fall in the mode of D (Dorian mode). Bach also created a third behavior for the minor mode, which we know as "melodic minor" where it would raise both the vi and the vii degrees when going up, and would lower both when going down. This was purely for melodic reasons. If you study pieces from Bach written in minor, you would find some where ALL of these behaviors appear in the same piece. He actually wrote an organ piece called "Toccata and Fugue in d minor (Dorian)" where he oscillates between the "harmonic" minor and the Dorian mode (natural minor). Listen to it and study it to understand the differences:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRY7zrMGCi8
Fernando (FMR)

xandde1
KVRist
171 posts since 12 Nov, 2018

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Sat May 30, 2020 7:26 am

fmr wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 11:44 pm

Yeah, so? Not all of them are meaningful to C Major, and some are more important than others.
fmr wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 11:44 pm

No, they are not called relative chords (???) That's WRONG. The tonalities are relative to each other, the chords are just chords.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRY7zrMGCi8
The OP is clearly new to harmony. So, understanding where diatonic chords come from is a good starting point. He asked why A minor fits a song that's fully constructed using the C major scale and the reason is because A minor chord can be obtained by stacking notes from the C major scale.

Regarding the forementioned "relative chords", I learned the concept by that name. What is important is the concept behind the name, which is the same for both "relative chords" or "relative tonalities": C natural major and A natural minor scales shares the same notes.

Indeed, it is really important to understand the harmonic minor scale (or at least that you sometimes need to change the minor chord built on the 5th degree of the natural minor scale to a major seventh chord).

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jancivil
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19993 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Sat May 30, 2020 7:56 am

The OP didn’t get what the chord A minor is doing in C major. It’s the vi chord. Question answered, incl. ‘why lower case’.

Then, before we’re on very solid ground (unsure the OP has it yet) the red herring
This is extremely useful! It means that we can use A minor scale to do a solo in a song which tonality is C major.
was presented. Which has to be discouraged. It’s not even useful, it’s extraneous lingo.
(‘simplifying theory’ not so much.)
Again, if you like eg., an unresolved 6 on your I in C or what-have-you, we can look at internal relations within any tonality or mode, or compare tensions, etc., here we have musical interest.

The term is “relative minor”, conversely ‘relative major‘.
Any chord viewed in any context is relative to something, so “relative chord” is too wishy washy to be really useful, in my view.
Then, any tonality vis a vis another is ‘relative’ to it. CF: Relative minor is a specific, precise term as the lexicon has it.

Pedantic, maybe, but the thing gets fuzzy if we’re not careful.
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fmr
KVRAF
9652 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Sat May 30, 2020 10:11 am

xandde1 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 7:26 am
fmr wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 11:44 pm

Yeah, so? Not all of them are meaningful to C Major, and some are more important than others.
fmr wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 11:44 pm

No, they are not called relative chords (???) That's WRONG. The tonalities are relative to each other, the chords are just chords.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRY7zrMGCi8
Regarding the forementioned "relative chords", I learned the concept by that name. What is important is the concept behind the name, which is the same for both "relative chords" or "relative tonalities": C natural major and A natural minor scales shares the same notes.
Sorry, but if you learned that way, you learned it worng (or you understood it wrong, and it was not what was being taught). As I said, tonalities have relatives. Any Major tonality has a minor relative, and vice-versa. They are relative because they share the same key signature (nothing else). They are not the same and, as I demonstrated, they even don't share the same polar chords. So, saying that you can "solo" in A minor over C Major is plainly wrong, and teaching wrong concepts. You could very much say that one could solo in G Major over C Major (as long as F# was avoided), or you could solo in F major over C Major (as long as you avoided B flat). Those statements would be as meaningless as stating you could solo in a minor, and equally wrong.

The fact you would play from A to A doesn't mean you were playing in a minor, but just playing from A to A in C Major. You need more than just play from A to A to have a minor.
xandde1 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 7:26 am
Indeed, it is really important to understand the harmonic minor scale (or at least that you sometimes need to change the minor chord built on the 5th degree of the natural minor scale to a major seventh chord).
It's not important, it's FUNDAMENTAl. And it's not the "harmonic minor scale", it's the fundamentals of the minor mode HARMONY. If you don't have G# in "a minor" you don't have "a minor". It's as simple as that. And it's not because of the seventh over E Major. You don't need the seventh - you need the G# in the chord, because it is the leading tone, and what creates the Dominant function without which you will not have TONALITY at all. And it's not "sometimes". It's "all times" unless you don't want to establish the tonality, but instead create a modal flavor. Tonality lives from the relation V - I. Destroy that and you destroy tonality.
Fernando (FMR)

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jancivil
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19993 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Sat May 30, 2020 10:30 am

‘I can solo in A minor‘ while in C major is the same problem as those who like ‘Imma go for E phrygian when I’m in C major (or the stupid takeaway from the jazz theory books ‘for the ii chord you want Dorian’. ii chord relates strictly to a I, eg., C where D Dorian means tonic is D.).
These are not seven names for major. Unless the idea is bitonality (which practically no audient will detect), exactly one of these is true at one time
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fmr
KVRAF
9652 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Sat May 30, 2020 10:35 am

jancivil wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 10:30 am
‘I can solo in A minor‘ while in C major is the same problem as those who like ‘Imma go for E phrygian when I’m in C major (or the stupid takeaway from the jazz theory books ‘for the ii chord you want Dorian’. ii chord relates strictly to a I, eg., C where D Dorian means tonic is D.) These are not seven names for C major.
Yep... pretty much. I get sick every time I read something like that.
Fernando (FMR)

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jancivil
KVRAF
19993 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Chord Progression question

Post Sat May 30, 2020 10:37 am

rather irritating
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