Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A question from far, far away

Yo yo yo!

Ladies and Gents, our next question comes from a fella far away from the mind-numbing monotony of Suburban America.

I think it's a very relevant question, especially to you rock 'n metal musicians out there. Check it out!

Hi Josh,

My name is Carlos and i am a guitarist located in Belgium. I've finally decided to learn theory.
I have been reading and studying your lessons and i must say
that you explain things very clearly and funny!
ED'S NOTE: Ha ha! I changed his name to Carlos! What's next? Whelheim from Mexico? It's fun to be an editor.
But i have a problem..
So i learned how to analyze a chord progression with one of your lessons and actually it is quite clear to me, but i wanted to apply the newly learned theory and stood in front of a big wall..

I tried to analyze one of my own songs, but the problem is that you have to know if a chord is major or minor so you can see which place (I-II etc..)
it takes in a scale. the chords is use are mainly power chords.
can you explain to me how i would analyze C5-E5-D5...
I know it sounds stupid, but i can't seem to apply the theory.

Question 2.

You explained chord construction and I think I understand it. M3+m3 is major and so on
but how about constructing chords with other intervals. If I understand right then you use the minor 3rd and the major 3rd interval?
But for example a power chord would be Perfect 5th + the octave of the root?

Yo "Carlos!"

First off, thanks for letting me have fun with your name change. Secondly, if your countrymen invented brussel sprouts, please talk them into inventing a good seasoning for them. Ha ha! I'm such a clown sometimes.
Thirdly, and seriously this time, that's a really good question. It's one thing to pick out the function of a minor7(b5) chord, or some other jazzy invention, but not as applicable for most of us as figuring out where the power chords go in a song.

The reason is: Power chords (or 5th chords, as they're technically supposed to be called), don't have a minor or major sound. They lack a 3rd, which defines the major or minor tonality.

And if we're speaking technically, they're not even a chord! A chord, by definition, must have three or more different notes. (So a power chord with an included octave is still just an interval.)

So, to create a power chord, we take a note, and add a note a fifth above it. It's just one interval: P5 (perfect fifth.)

Harmonizing the Major scale in this manner, we take a note, count up five notes, and add that one. C to G would construct a C5 chord.

C major scale: C D E F G A B C

B diminished 5.

WHAT?! What about that last chord? All other six chords consist of perfect fifths. C to G is a perfect fifth, D to A is a perfect fifth, and so on. However, B to F is a diminished fifth.

Therefore, we can draw the following conclusion: All power chords built from the major scale, with the exception of the chord built on the vii degree of the scale, are perfect fifths.
The vii chord is a diminished fifth.

(This rule also holds true for minor scales, except the diminished chord would be built on the ii of the scale.)

To answer your original question of "how does C5-E5-D5 fit", I would say this:

I would treat it as a I-iii-ii in the key of C major. If we add the thirds of the chords, we would end up with: Cmaj - Em - Dm.

For your second question, yes, there are other formulas to build chords. For example, a Csus4 chord (C F G) would be constructed:

P4 + M2 (Perfect 4th + Major 2nd.)

But chords are mostly built in thirds.

Thanks for the question, "Carlos," and please let me know if it does, or doesn't make sense.

Rock on!


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We were discussing this in class just last week. Great explaination! Plus I needed the follow-up. Thank you!!

And on a side note: Lemon butter with toasted almond slivers liven up bland brussel sprouts quite well. :)