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Justin Guitar - Free Guitar Lessons

SC-103 • Diatonic Chord Sequences

Justinguitar.com on Scales

So before we understand how modes work we need to show how chords come from a key. We're going to do all these examples in the key of C - but I STRONGLY advise that you do all the "calculations" again yourself, in at least a few other keys to make sure that you understand all the concepts properly. I will explain the relationship with modes in the next lesson. This should be revision only, if this is all new to you, then please go and sort out your theory knowledge with my Practical Music Theory eBook, or another reputable theory book.

The notes of the C Major Scale are C, D E, F, G, A and B. The C Major scale has no sharps or flats.

As you hopefully know a triad is a three note chord that contains a root, 3rd and 5th. I have to assume that you understand the differences between major and minor triads (the flat 3rd) and the diminished triad (flat 3rd and flat 5th).

When these triads are formed from each degree of the scale we get a series of chords, called the diatonic chord sequence.

Even more is revealed when you look at diatonic quadad (4 note chords) sequence. You should know the formations of Major 7, minor 7, Dominant 7 and min7b5 chords.

Lets look at the diatonic chords as Triads and Quadads...

Degree
Triad Notes
Chord
Quadad Notes
Chord
I
C E G =
C
C E G B =
C Maj 7
II
D F A =
D min
D F A C =
D min 7
III
E G B =
E min
E G B D =
E min 7
IV
F A C =
F
F A C E =
F Maj 7
V
G B D =
G
G B D F =
G 7
VI
A C E =
A min
A C E G =
A min 7
VII
B D F =
B dim
B F D A =
B min 7 b5


I hope you know that to improvise over any of the above chords (in any order) you can play the C Major Scale.

Be sure to notice that the order of the chords will stay the same in every key. So you can place this chord sequence on the notes of any major scale. Please check this out yourself and try it on a few different keys, maybe Key of E and Key of Bb. Check that the notes for each chord add up to the chords shown in the sequences below. This will help you memorise the Diatonic Sequences and also help solidify your understanding of chord construction. Both are essential to understand modes.

 
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
Triads
Major
minor
minor
Major
Major
minor
dim
Quadads
Maj 7
min 7
min 7
Maj 7
7
min 7
min7 b5


Before you even think about modes you need to be good at playing over these chords in any order, and your ear needs to be tuned into hearing when you are on a good note and when you are on a bad note. Pick a key, write out the diatonic chords in that key and then record them and practice doing solos over them. Or get a jam buddy, get him to play any random chords from a chosen key (he MUST stay only playing chords in that chosen key) and then you solo over it. Then swap over and give him a turn at soloing. Of course this will help you with your barre chords too!

Generally a good note will be a chord tones of any note you are playing over. The bad ones will be the notes in between. Get your ears to recognise the good notes. There is theory behind it of course, and we will explain all that, but most importantly is that your ear can hear the difference between the good and bad notes.

Remember music is about listening, not thinking!

OK, so, plenty of playing over this, and when you feel confident that this is working well for you, then it is time to look at why modes work, why they are important and how to use them.

Ok lets get it a little deeper and look at why in: SC-104 • Why Use Modes?

 

 

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