• Beginners: Forget About Passing Chords And Learn Scale-Degree Chords.

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    This lesson is dedicated to beginners who want to beef up their playing with intermediate level chords.

    One of the best steps a beginner can take is upgrading from triads (that sound very basic) to the use of seventh chords (that sound a little bit sophisticated). However, two things are involved: he/she is to learn scale degree chords and passing chords.

    Considering that it can be overwhelming to learn both chords side-by-side, it is important for one to forget about passing chords for the time being and focus on scale-degree chords.

    Let’s get started with a contrast between scale-degree and passing chords.

    A Contrast Between Scale Degree And Passing Chords

    In a given key, the chords that are formed on the tones of the scale are known as scale-degree chords, while passing chord are chromatic chords that connect two scale-degree chords.

    We can say that scale-degree chords are diatonic while passing chords are chromatic.

    Diatonic chords are chords that consists of the notes of the prevalent key while chromatic chords are chords that consist of one, or more notes that are foreign to the prevalent key.

    In the key of C major:

    …the D minor seventh chord:

    …is a diatonic chord because its notes  (which are D, F, A, and C) are tones of the C major scale:

    In the case on the F# minor triad:

    …in the key of C major:

    …the F# minor triad consists of F# and C#:

    …which are foreign to the key of C major:

    “In A Nutshell…”

    Scale-degree chords are more vital to the key than passing chords because you can’t possibly play without them. Therefore, we’ll proceed in this lesson by learning a handful of them.

    Scale Degree Chords – Explored

    Let’s go right into exploring certain scale degree chords that are useful in playing a variety of popular songs, starting from the chord of the first tone to the chord of the sixth tone.

    Attention: All examples are given in the key of C major.

    The First Tone (C)

    For the first tone is the C major seventh chord:

    …which can be played as an E minor triad (in first inversion):

    …over C:

    Check out the overall outcome:

    The Second Tone (D)

    The D minor seventh chord:

    …is the chord of the second tone of the scale.  This chord can be easily recalled as an F major triad (in first inversion):

    …played over D:

    Check out the overall outcome:

    The Third Tone (E)

    The chord of the third tone is the E minor seventh chord:

    …which can be played as a G major triad (in root position):

    …over E:

    Check out the overall outcome:

    The Fourth Tone (F)

    The chord of the fourth tone is the F major seventh chord:

    …which can be played as an A minor triad (in root position):

    …over F:

    Check out the overall outcome:

    The Fifth Tone (G)

    The chord of the 5th tone is the G mu chord:

    …which is basically a G sus2 chord:

    …played over B on the left hand:

    Check out the overall outcome:

    The Sixth Tone (A)

    The A minor seventh chord:

    …is the chord of the sixth tone of the scale.  This chord can be easily recalled as a C major triad (in second inversion):

    …played over A:

    Check out the overall outcome:

    Final Words

    Using the chords you’ve learned in this lesson, you can sound a little more sophisticated than you would with triads.

    “Check Out This 6-2 Chord Progression…”

    Chord 6 (4 counts):

    Chord 2 (4 counts):

    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.

    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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