• Exposed: Four Categories Of Scale Tone Seventh Chords In The Major Key

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano,Theory

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    There are four categories of scale tone seventh chords in the major key.

    The goal of this lesson is to narrow your perspective down to these four chord categories versus knowing and memorizing seven different chords in every key.

    One of the advantages of knowing these four categories is that it would help you understand how chord-based idea substitution in the major key works and also how to derive scale tone chords simply by assigning chord quality to a particular tone of the scale.

    “How Does The Assigning Of Chord Quality To A Particular Tone Of The Scale Work?”

    The 1-chord in the key of C major:

    …is the C major seventh chord:

    Due to the fact that the chord of the first scale tone is a major seventh chord, we can assign the major seventh chord quality to every other 1-chord.

    For example, in the key of F major:

    …the major seventh chord is assigned to the first tone of the scale (which is F):

    …and this produces the F major seventh chord:

    …which is the 1-chord in the key of F major.

    Trust me! You’ll understand this better in the second segment of this lesson. For now, let’s get started by refreshing our minds on the scale tone chords in the major key.

    A Short Note On Scale Tone Chords In The Major Key

    There are two key types: the major key and the minor key.

    The major key as seven unique scale tones and seven unique seventh chords in the major key. Here are the scale tone chords in the key of C major:

    The C major seventh chord:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    The E minor seventh chord:

    The F major seventh chord:

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    The A minor seventh chord:

    The B half-diminished seventh chord:

    From the outline above, there are four chord types in the major key: the major chord, the minor chord, the dominant chord, and the diminished chord.

    Let’s categorize scale tone chords according to these chord types.

    Category #1 – Major Chords In The Major Key

    There are two major chords in the major key: the 1-chord and the 4-chord. In the key of C major:

    …the C major seventh chord:

    …and the F major seventh chord:

    …are the major chords in the major key.

    Attention: The 5-chord is also a major chord. However, it is classified as the dominant chord in the major key.

    So, there are two major chords in every major key: the 1-chord and the 4-chord.

    “Check Out How To Find Major Chords In Other Major Keys…”

    A closer look at the D major scale:

    …where the first and fourth tones are D and G respectively:

    D (the first tone of the D major scale):

    G (the fourth tone of the D major scale):

    Assigning the major chord quality to D and G would produce the major chords in the key of D major:

    The D major seventh chord:

    The G major seventh chord:

    Using the Bb major scale (as a reference):

    …the major chords in the key can be derived from the first and fourth tones — which are Bb and Eb respectively:

    Bb (the first tone of the Bb major scale):

    Eb (the fourth tone of the Bb major scale):

    Assigning the major chord quality to Bb and Eb would produce the major chords in the key of Bb major:

    The Bb major seventh chord:

    The Eb major seventh chord:

    Following the same procedure, the major chords in any major key can be determined.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    Category #2 – Minor Chords In The Major Key

    The 6-chord, 2-chord, and 3-chord in the major key have the same chord quality —  the minor chord quality.

    In the key of C major:

    …the D minor seventh chord:

    …E minor seventh chord:

    …and the A minor seventh chord:

    …are the minor chords in the major key.

    So, in every major key, there are only three minor chords: the 2-chord, 3-chord, and the 6-chord.

    “Check Out How To Find Minor Chords In Other Major Keys…”

    A closer look at the F major scale:

    …where the second, third, and sixth tones are G, A, and D respectively:

    G (the second tone of the F major scale):

    A (the third tone of the F major scale):

    D (the sixth tone of the F major scale):

    Assigning the minor chord quality to G, A, and D would produce the minor chords in the key of F major:

    The G minor seventh chord:

    The A minor seventh chord:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    Using the A major scale (as a reference):

    …the minor chords in the key can be derived from the second, third, and sixth tones — which are B, C#, and F# respectively:

    B (the second tone of the A major scale):

    C# (the third tone of the A major scale):

    F# (the sixth tone of the A major scale):

    Assigning the minor chord quality to B, C#, and F# would produce the minor chords in the key of A major:

    The B minor seventh chord:

    The C# minor seventh chord:

    The F# minor seventh chord:

    If you stick to the procedures, you can derive the minor chords in any given major key.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    Category #3 – The Dominant Chord In The Major Key

    The chord of the fifth tone of the scale is the 5-chord and the technical name for the fifth tone of the scale is the dominant.

    So, the dominant chord in the major key is simply the 5-chord.

    In the key of C major:

    …the G dominant seventh chord:

    is the dominant chord in the major key.

    “Here’s How To Find The Dominant Chord In Other Major Keys…”

    In the E major scale:

    …where the fifth tone of the scale is B:

    Assigning the dominant seventh chord quality to B:

    …would produce the B dominant seventh chord:

    …which is the dominant chord in the key of E major:

    Using the B major scale (as a reference):

    …the dominant chord in the key can be derived from the fifth scale tone — which is F#:

    Assigning the dominant chord quality to F# produces the F# dominant seventh chord:

    …which is the dominant chord in the key of B major:

    If you stick to the procedures, you can derive the dominant chord in any given major key.

    Category #4 – The Diminished Chord In The Major Key

    The diminished chord is the chord of the seventh tone (aka – “the 7-chord”) in the major key. The specific chord quality assigned to the 7-chord is half-diminished seventh chord.

    In the key of C major:

    …the B half-diminished seventh chord:

    …is the diminished chord in the major key.

    “Here’s How To Find The Diminished Chord In Other Major Keys…”

    In the Ab major scale:

    …where the seventh tone of the scale is G:

    Assigning the half-diminished seventh chord quality to G:

    …produces the G half-diminished seventh chord:

    …which is the diminished chord in the key of Ab major:

    Using the G major scale (as a reference):

    …the diminished chord in the key can be derived from the seventh scale tone — which is F#:

    Assigning the half-diminished seventh chord quality to F# produces the F# half-diminished seventh chord:

    …which is the diminished chord in the key of G major:

    If you stick to the procedures, you can derive the diminished  chord in any given major key.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    Final Words

    Using the categories of chords learned in this lesson as a reference, scale degree chords in every major key can be mastered.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll go a step further into exploring the categories of chords in the minor key.

    See you then.

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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.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 James Singer

    I just read Four Categories Of Scale Tone. The information provided is straight up ingenuity of thought. When we take the time learn the four chord categories of:
    Category #1 – Major Chords In The Major Key
    Category #2 – Minor Chords In The Major Key
    Category #3 – The Dominant Chord In The Major Key
    Category #4 – The Diminished Chord In The Major Key
    Our skill set will be enhanced. Thank you GMTC for strengthening us.

    Reply

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