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Thread: Improvisation: Major and Minor Chords

  1. #1
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
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    Improvisation: Major and Minor Chords

    Dear all

    For use when improvising, what are the major chords within any minor key and what are the minor chords within any major key - is there a pattern at all - are they located at a specific number of notes away from the root note?

    thanks!
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

  2. #2
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Mat's Avatar
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    Hi Bach>Meer,


    I'm not sure if I understood your question correctly, but major chords within minor key would be:

    Neapolitan chord - built on the lowered second scale degree (in a minor key it'd be B flat major chord)

    chord built on the third scale degree (C major chord)

    dominant (E major)

    chord built on the sixth scale degree (F major chord)


    Minor chords within major key:

    chord built on the second scale degree (in C major key it'd be d minor chord)

    chord built on the third scale degree (e minor)

    chord built on the sixth scale degree (a minor)



    Cheers
    Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.
    -- Victor Hugo


  3. #3
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    It's also going to depend upon which sort of minor scale you choose since there are three basic minor scales (in Western European music anyway, before we start getting into bizarre combinations of minor pentatonic, etc, etc): Natural minor, Harmonic minor and Melodic minor.

    Natural minor is the easiest as it's simply any major scale shifted down three note names; eg, take D major but start playing it from the B. This makes the major triads in a Natural minor scale appear at the 3rd, 6th and 7th degrees (staying with the b minor for now: 3rd = D major, 6th = G major 7th = A major)

    The Harmonic minor is only one note different from the Natural as it contains the raised 7th. This now makes the triad built on the 3rd degree an augmented triad, not major. Instead, the Major chords in a Harmonic minor will now only occur at the 5th and 6th degrees (in b minor, 5th = F# major, 6th = G major)

    The Melodic minor scale can be confusing because it's going to depend on what the composer has done with his/her melody. This is the one that has the 6th and 7th degrees raised on the way up, and then lowered on the way down. So as a general rule, if the melody was ascending, the 6th or 7th were often raised and if it was descending, they tended to be lowered. The result of this is this it alters your choices of the availability of major triads within a minor scale.
    Melodic minor ascending gives you major triads at only the 4th and 5th degrees (in a minor, 4th = E major, 5th = F# major)
    Melodic minor descending (same as Natural minor descending): 3rd = D major, 6th = G major, 7th = A major

    That's probably annoyed you now hasn't it?! :P
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  4. #4
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    Actually pretty much anything goes depending on style and circumstances but basic harmonics has it that a minor key is connected with a major key a minor third up. A-minor and C-major are connected and consequently any chord that you can pass through in C-major is easily available in A-minor.

    Dominants, on the fifth note, are usually in major although the key is in minor. But ofcourse they do not need to be, a minor dominant in a minor key gives an impression of folk music, and a minor dominant in a major key sounds a bit like Satie.

    The subdominant, on the forth note, is usually in minor if the key is in minor and otherwise in major. It's actually not rare at all to use minor subdominants in major keys and vice versa. It's often used for dramatic effect.

  5. #5
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
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    thanks all

    whats the difference between a normal scale, melodic scale and harmonic scale?
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

  6. #6
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Mat's Avatar
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    Basically, the difference lies in the notes that get changed in particular key.


    For example, a minor natural consists of:
    A B C D E F G A

    a minor harmonic:
    A B C D E F G# A - 7th scale degree sharpened

    a minor Dorian (or at least it's called this way in my country):
    A B C D E F# G# A - 6th and 7th scale degrees sharpened


    Anyway, for further information go to these sites:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_scale
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_scale
    Last edited by Mat; Mar-19-2009 at 02:03.
    Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.
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  7. #7
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mat
    a minor Dorian (or at least it's called this way in my country):
    A B C D E F# G# A - 6th and 7th scale degrees sharpened
    My Uni professors would have called that "Dorian Mode on A" without the "minor" - semantics eh?!

    The Melodic Minor is the one that annoys most of my classes because it's different on the way down. So A Melodic minor would be:
    A B C D E F# G# A G(nat) F(nat) E D C B A. Strangely enough, it's not dissimilar to the North Indian ragas because many of them have one pattern of notes ascending and a different pattern of notes descending, but I digress (as usual).

    Those Wiki sites that Mat (the other Mat as opposed to this one) found cover everything.

    Matt
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  8. #8
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Mat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soubasse View Post
    My Uni professors would have called that "Dorian Mode on A" without the "minor" - semantics eh?!

    True. For example: what you call supertonic, we call second degree subdominant; what you call submediant, we call either sixth degree tonic or sixth degree subdominant (depending on musical context). There are plenty of differences of this kind. Sometimes when I read your (MIMFers') posts I need to ask Wikipedia for help. And after I check it, it turns out I knew the term I was looking for in the first place, but just call it differently.
    Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.
    -- Victor Hugo


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