• Who Else Wants To Learn Other Exceptional Chords For The First Tone Of The Scale

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano

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    In this lesson, you’ll be learning other exceptional chords for the first tone of the scale.

    The chord of the first tone of the scale is also known as the tonic chord and is fundamental to any key that you’re in because a vast majority of songs start and/or end in chord 1.

    That’s why we’re focusing on the tonic chord in this lesson. But before we get into learning some exceptional chords, let’s refresh our minds on the tonic chord.

    A Short Note On The Tonic Chord

    There are eight tones in every key (be it a major or a minor key.)

    These tones are described by music scholars using technical names as follows:

    Tonic for the first tone

    Supertonic for the second tone

    Mediant for the third tone

    Subdominant for the fourth tone

    Dominant for the fifth tone

    Submediant for the sixth tone

    Subtonic for the seventh tone

    Octave for the eighth tone

    The technical name of the first tone is the tonic. Consequently, the chord of the first tone is described as the tonic chord.

    The tonic chord in any key is the most important chord because its root is the most important tone in the key. For example, in the key of C major:

    …where the tonic is C:

    What other tone could possibly be more important than C:

    …in the key of C:

    Additionally, it’s common for a lot of songs to start and end on the tonic chord. Take for instance, the National Anthem of a lot of nations of the world — The US, Nigeria, South Africa, etc., all start and end on the tonic chord.

    It’s due to this importance of the tonic chord that we’ll be dedicating the rest of this lesson to learning exceptionaal chords for the first tone of the scale.

    Exceptional Chords For The First Tone Of The Scale

    Let’s go ahead and cover some exceptional chords that can be played on the first tone (aka – “tonic chords”) and also highlight the qualities that distinguish them from regular tonic chords.

    The Major Sixth Chord

    The major sixth chord is a non-tertian chord.

    The term non-tertian is used to describe chords that are not built absolutely on third intervals, versus tertian chords that are built on third intervals between successive tones.

    The major sixth chord can be formed when the first, third, fifth, and sixth tones of the major scale are played or heard together. Using the C major scale:

    …the C major sixth chord can be formed when the first (C), third (E), fifth (G), and sixth (A) tones:

    …are played or heard together.

    The C major sixth chord:

    …(just like every other major sixth chord) is non-tertian because the distance between its fifth and sixth tones (which are G and A in this case):

    …is a second interval.

    So, the exotic sound of the major sixth chord comes from the second interval between the fifth and sixth tone.

    The major sixth chord sounds a lot better in its first and second inversion for a variety of reasons that time will fail us to highlight. So, it’s recommended for you anyone to play the C major sixth chord (in first inversion):

    …or the C major sixth chord (in second inversion):

    The Major 6/9 Chord

    The major 6/9 chord (a non-tertian chord) is basically a major sixth chord with a chord extension — the ninth.

    In the key of C major:

    …where a ninth tone from the first tone (C):

    …is D:

    The ninth  (which is D):

    …can be added to the regular C major sixth chord:

    …to produces the C 6/9 chord:

    6/9 chords sound exotic not only because they are non-tertian, but because of the fourth interval (aka – “quartal harmony”) between its sixth (A) and ninth (D) tones:

    Also, the 6/9 chord can be formed in C using 7sus4 quartal triads:

    E 7sus4 triad

    A 7sus4 triad

    The E 7sus4 triad over C:

    …and the A 7sus4 triad over C:

    …are all voicings of the C 6/9 chord:

    The Augmented Major Seventh Chord

    Finally, we have a tertian chord on the list – the augmented major seventh chord.

    Raising the fifth tone of any major seventh chord produces the augmented major seventh chord. For example, raising the fifth tone of the G major seventh chord:

    …which is D:

    …by a half-step (to D#):

    …produces the G augmented major seventh chord:

    The exotic sound of the augmented major seventh chord is derived from its raised fifth tone (aka – “augmented fifth”)

    Final Words

    Due to the fact that most songs start and/or end on chord 1, you can always apply the chords learned in this lesson.

    “Check Out The Chords You Just Learned In The Gospel Song Thank You, LORD…”

    Attention: The organ or organ voice is recommended.

    Thank (the C augmented major seventh chord):

    …you (C 6/9 chord):

    …Lord (C major sixth):

    Isn’t that lovely?

    See you in the next lesson!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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