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  1. #1
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    Default Minor Chord Question

    I need to clear something up... I am learning to play all of the minor chords, open and barre.

    With major chords you have the I IV V progression, with VI being the relative minor. If I were to play a chord progression in minor form could I apply this theory?

    An example would be:

    I IV V

    Bm Em Fm


    and would the relative major be the VI, G Maj?

    I have been practicing moving between Minor barre chords in this way, but also been wondering if this is the correct thing to do. If I am way off and wrong please let me know, come to think of it, would be nice to know if I am on the right lines too.

    Thanks

    Stu

  2. #2
    Premium Member dash rendar's Avatar
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    Hi Stu

    To answer this question, you need to get to grips with two things:
    1) The notes (degrees) that make up a scale in a given key
    2) The triads (chords) that are assembled from each degree of the scale.

    If you don't mind, I'll start with C major as an example, as this key has no sharps on flats in the major scale. You probably already know that the C major scale looks like this:

    C D E F G A B C

    The C major chord is assembled by taking the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes from the scale.

    So, we get C+E+G = C major.

    If we repeat this procedure for each note in the scale, it looks like this:

    C+E+G = C major (I)
    D+F+A = D minor (ii)
    E+G+B = E minor (iii)
    F+A+C = F major (IV)
    G+B+D = G major (V)
    A+C+E = A minor (vi)
    B+D+F = B diminished (vii dim)

    (I've adopted the notation of using uppercase Roman numerals for the majors, and lowercase for the minor chords.)

    You can actually mix any of the above chords in the key of C major to get a progression that works. So, the I, IV, V progression you mentioned is very common, and if you look at the chords above, you'll see they all happen to be major chords.

    You could choose a I ii vi progression, if you like, and that would be major, minor, minor.

    The relative minor of C major is A minor. The scale looks like this:

    A B C D E F G A

    If we apply the same rules, we get this...

    A+C+E = A minor (i)
    B+D+F = B diminished (ii dim)
    C+E+G = C major (III)
    D+F+A = D minor (iv)
    E+G+B = E minor (v)
    F+A+C = F major (VI)
    G+B+D = G major (VII)

    If you look closely, you'll see they are exactly the same chords, but starting from A minor. This is also known as the Aeolian mode. If you're writing a chord progression in the aeolian mode, as you can see, you could in fact pick i, iv, v as a chord progression, and they do indeed all happen to be minor chords.

    But to specifically answer your question, no, you can't *normally* just swap minor chords in place of a progression based on the major scale. But in this case, it just happens to work that i, iv, v are all minors. This was just lucky.

    Take another progression from the C major scale... I, ii, iii. If you used the same chord progression from the A minor scale, you'd get i, ii dim, III. So, in this case, swapping majors for minors didn't work.

    Now to your example, starting with Bm. B minor is the relative minor of D major. The D major scale looks like this:

    D E F# G A B C# D

    Using the rules as above, we find the chord progressions can be made from these chords...

    D maj (I)
    E min (ii)
    F# min (iii)
    G maj (IV)
    A maj (V)
    B min (vi)
    C# dim (vii dim)

    So, D, G, A would be the I, IV, V chord progression.

    Swapping them around to the Aeolian mode...

    B min (i)
    C# dim (ii dim)
    D maj (III)
    E min (iv)
    F# min (v)
    G maj (VI)
    A maj (VII)

    If you wanted a progression i, iv, v, the chords would therefore be B minor, E minor, F# minor (not F minor).

    Hope that helps.
    --- Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.

    Guitars: Ibanez Prestige JS1200, Fender Strat (70s Reissue), Farida D62N Acoustic, Ibanez SR400.
    Amps: Roland Microcube RX, Fender Champion 30.
    Recording: PreSonus Firebox.

  3. #3
    Moderator mkorsmo's Avatar
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    Default

    Very clear explaination.

    Nice job Dash.

    Can we get this stickied? A theory guide thread with links to some of these posts would probably be useful.

  4. #4
    Premium Member dash rendar's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks.

    I like the theory guide idea.
    --- Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.

    Guitars: Ibanez Prestige JS1200, Fender Strat (70s Reissue), Farida D62N Acoustic, Ibanez SR400.
    Amps: Roland Microcube RX, Fender Champion 30.
    Recording: PreSonus Firebox.

  5. #5
    Free Member (Wimp!) greeno's Avatar
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    Very clear explanation dash. Nice job. Thanks

  6. #6
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    Thanks Dash, not had time to read through and digest this just yet but when I do I will most definately be asking some questions.

    Cheers

    Stu

  7. #7
    Premium Member dash rendar's Avatar
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    I'll look forward to it!
    --- Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.

    Guitars: Ibanez Prestige JS1200, Fender Strat (70s Reissue), Farida D62N Acoustic, Ibanez SR400.
    Amps: Roland Microcube RX, Fender Champion 30.
    Recording: PreSonus Firebox.

  8. #8
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    Should add that when you have a I IV V progression and the V returns to I, it is a custom to play the V as a major chord (should it not happen to be one already), since this gives you a half tone step between the 3rd of the V-chord and 1st of the I-chord, rather than a whole tone. Of course, one is free to entirely disregard customs ;D

    The method taught by Dash is a great framework for beginners to use when putting together progressions. But it's only for beginners :headbang:

  9. #9
    Premium Member dash rendar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sanctumzero View Post
    Should add that when you have a I IV V progression and the V returns to I, it is a custom to play the V as a major chord (should it not happen to be one already), since this gives you a half tone step between the 3rd of the V-chord and 1st of the I-chord, rather than a whole tone. Of course, one is free to entirely disregard customs ;D

    The method taught by Dash is a great framework for beginners to use when putting together progressions. But it's only for beginners :headbang:
    I'm not normally one to post up anything too controversial or vehement, but that last paragraph was completely vacuous!

    What I described above wasn't a 'framework for beginners'. It was an explanation of modal and chordal theory and how it can be applied to progressions. It didn't prescribe or suggest the use of any simple chord progressions. It was intended as an explanation of why progressions work the way they do, such that the musician can work from first principles. Consequently, this isn't a framework for beginners, but an understanding that should be appreciated by any guitarist, including advanced players!

    I'll go back to being a recluse now!
    --- Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.

    Guitars: Ibanez Prestige JS1200, Fender Strat (70s Reissue), Farida D62N Acoustic, Ibanez SR400.
    Amps: Roland Microcube RX, Fender Champion 30.
    Recording: PreSonus Firebox.

  10. #10
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    Nono, it's not an attack on you or anything And the explanation of the system is excellent! But I much suspect that that "framework" for putting together chords in progressions was invented out of need on keyboard based instruments hundreds of years ago because only inferior systems for tuning the instruments were available. Only other clever thing about the system that I can think of is that it allows a guitarist to use the same pentatonic scale throughout the entire progression.
    That is just guessing though. But I'll still consider it for beginners. It doesn't mention half tone-leads and the way chords resolve, which would open up new vistas for putting progressions together. But I much agree, that it is essential to know that piece of theory! You will run into it sooner or later.

 

 

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