- You will be a better performer. - If you don't know much music theory and you are playing some music and you encounter a passage that has the notes C, E, and G, you would have to mentally process those three notes separately, and this will slow down your ability to perform. If a musician who knows music theory plays the same passage they would instantly recognize that the notes C, E, and G make up a C Major chord and they would play those notes more easily because it took less mental effort to understand the music. Music theory makes learning, practicing and performing much easier.
- You will have more options as a musician. - All musical activities will be much easier. Performing, composing, improvising, arranging, teaching music, or getting a music degree will be much easier if you know music theory.
- The first thing musicians should learn about music theory is notation: the staff, clefs, note names, rhythms, rests, intervals, meter and time signatures, key signatures, and dynamics.
- The next things musicians should learn are scales and chords(harmony).
- The next things to learn are melody, phrases, and musical forms.
- If you have you learned all of the above then you will have a firm grasp of music theory.
- Letter Name (e.g., C) = Major chord
- m = minor chord
- + = Augmented chord
- o = diminished chord
- 7 = minor seventh
- M7 = Major seventh
- Ø = half-diminished chord
- o7 = diminished seventh chord
- 9 = Ninth chord
- 11 = Eleventh chord
- 13 = Thirteenth chord
- b5 = flat fifth
- #5 = sharp fifth
- b9 = flat ninth
- #9 = sharp ninth
- #11 = sharp eleventh
- b13 = flat thirteenth
CM7 = a C Major chord with a Major seventh.
Dm(M7) = a D minor chord with a Major seventh.
Fm9 = an F minor chord with a minor seventh and ninth.
C7#9 = a C Major chord with a minor seventh and a sharp ninth.
If the root of a chord is not in the bass (the lowest note in a chord voicing) then that chord is said to be an Inverted Chord. For example, starting form lowest to highest, if you have the notes E, G and C you have an inverted C Major chord. It is inverted because the C, the Root of the chord, is not in the bass.
Any chord with the notes C, E, and G is a C Major chord no matter which note is in the bass, because they all contain the same notes.
Roman Numeral And Chord Notation
Chords of the Major Scale:
Chords of the Natural minor scale:
Chords of the Harmonic minor scale:
Chords of the Melodic minor scale (ascending):
Quartal And Quintal Chords
Most chords are constructed from major or minor thirds. Quartal chords are chords that are constructed from fourths. Quintal chords are constructed from fifths.
The French composer Claude Debussy was one of the first composers to use Quartal and Quintal chords regularly. Quartal and Quintal chords are now common in jazz, rock music and TV and film music. Quartal chords are also easy to play on the guitar due to the fact that the standard guitar tuning is mostly fourths.
Augmented Sixth Chords
If we have a minor chord in first inversion the interval between the bass note and the root of the chord is a Major sixth.
If we then raise the tonic note (by an augmented unison), the interval between the bass note and root note becomes an augmented sixth. A chord with this interval of an augmented sixth is called an Augmented Sixth Chord.
The three basic types of Augmented sixth chords:
An Italian Sixth Chord has an augmented sixth between the bass and root of the chord, with the fifth of the chord in-between the bass note and root.
A German Sixth is like the Italian sixth but with one extra note placed aperfect fifth above the bass note.
A French Sixth is like the Italian sixth but with one extra note placed aAugmented fourth above the bass note.
The resolutions of Augmented sixth chords:
Italian and French Sixth chords will most often resolve to a dominant chord.
The German Sixth will most often resolve to a dominant or tonic chord. (It is worth noting that if the German Sixth resolves to the dominant then parallel fifths will occur, which can cause musical lines to lose their independence in certain styles of music.)
Polychords are chords constructed from two or more separate chords. Composers and improvisers use polychords as a resource for rich and complex sounds in their music. Polychords frequently occur in jazz and modern classical music.
- A Root note
- A note a Major third (M3) or minor third (m3) above the Root
- A note a Perfect fifth (P5), Augmented fifth (A5), or diminished fifth above the Root
- And seventh chords also have a note a Major seventh (M7), minor seventh (m7), or diminished seventh (d7) above the Root.
- Major - Root, M3, P5
- minor - Root, m3, P5
- Augmented (Aug) - Root, M3, A5
- diminished (dim) - Root, m3, d5
- 7 - Root, M3, P5, m7
- M7 - Root, M3, P5, M7
- m7 - Root, m3, P5, m7
- dim7 - Root, m3, d5, d7
- half dim7 - Root, m3, d5, m7
Basic Guitar Chords
The easiest chords to play on the guitar are the Major, Minor and Seventh chords in open voicings. These chords use open strings and no more than three fingers, and they don't go into the higher positions of the guitar. The ease in playing these chords makes them the best for beginners to learn. This article will show them in two different ways: fretboard diagrams, and tablature (Tab).
A quick review of chord symbols: Uppercase letters indicate Major chords, a chord with a lowercase "m" indicates a minor chord, and a "7" indicates that the chord is a seventh chord.
Open circles indicate open strings.
Dark, filled in circles indicate the spots on the frets where you put your fingers.
The "X" symbol tells you to not play a string.