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Major Scale into Chords for Harmony

 

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Now we build a chord (a triadic sequence) on every note of the scale using only notes of the scale in the same pattern. I informally call this the "Leapfrog Principle" because you start on a note (C) and "leap over" the next note (D) to use the following note in building the chord (E). Leap again over the (F) and use the (G). Hence, the first chord is built of the notes C-E-G. This is the basic principle known as Triadic Harmony.

C - E - G = 1st scale degree - 3rd scale degree - 5th scale degree = the "one chord" of the C major scale. So, the chord built on the first scale degree of the C major scale is a C major chord.

The distance (the interval) between the notes of the chord gives us the formula for all major chords: 1st note of chord, 4 half steps (or 2 whole steps), 3rd note of chord, 3 half steps (or 1 and a half steps), 5th note of chord.

The formula for minor chords is: 1st note of chord, 3 half steps (or 1 and a half steps), 3rd note of chord, 4 half steps (or 2 whole steps), 5th note of chord.

The formula for diminished chords is: 1st note of chord, 3 half steps (or 1 and a half steps), 3rd note of chord, 3 half steps (or 1 and a half steps), 5th note of chord.

Now we now all three types of triad chords we will encounter in major scale harmony. So we build a chord on every note of the C major scale. Here is the list of all the chords:

  • C - E - G = 1-3-5 (the "1 chord") C major chord
  • D - F - A = 2-4-6 (the "2 chord") D minor chord
  • E - G - B = 3-5-7 (the "3 chord") E minor chord
  • F - A - C = 4-6-1 (the "4 chord") F major chord
  • G - B - D = 5-7-2 (the "5 chord") G major chord
  • A - C - E = 6-1-3 (the "6 chord") A minor chord
  • B - D - F = 7-2-4 (the "7 chord") B diminished chord

    Notice that every chord has 3 notes - its own 1st, 3rd & 5th unto itself. This is a crucial point: every note in the major scale has 2 separate and simultaneous functions.

  • 1. Its position in the scale.
  • 2. Its position in any given chord.

    E |-------------------1--3------|
    B |----------1--3--5--3--5------|
    G |-0--2--4--2--4--5--4--5------|
    D |-2--3--5--3--5--7------------|
    A |-3--5--7---------------------|
    E |-----------------------------|
    C--D--E--F--G--A--B--C

    GT also has this tutorial covering the various types of triads that are found in scales:
    Using Triadsd

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