• The 50-50 Approach To Learning Chords In The Major Key

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

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    In this lesson, I’ll be showing you the 50-50 approach to learning chords in the major key.

    I know you’ll probably be wondering what this 50-50 approach is all about because it’s not a generally known term in music theory; it’s actually made up by me and I’ve used it to help a lot of musicians struggling to learn chords in the major key.

    Attention: This lesson is for beginners who are still struggling with chords. Therefore, if you’re an intermediate or advanced player, you might find this lesson very easy. However, you’ll still love the 50-50 approach and you’ll find it helpful in situations where you have to teach beginners.

    Alright! Let’s get started by reviewing diatonic chords, before we proceed into the 50-50 approach.

    A Short Note On Diatonic Chords

    Diatonic chords? Yes!

    These are simply the chords that are formed by the notes of the major scale in a particular key. Let’s say we’re in the key of C major:

    …the diatonic chords would be chords that are formed by the tones of the C major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B.

    There are seven diatonic chords in every major key and that’s because there are seven unique tones in every major scale — one diatonic chord for every tone of the scale.

    “Here Are The Seven Diatonic Chords In The Major Key…”

    The C major chord:

    The D minor chord:

    The E minor chord:

    The F major chord:

    The G major chord:

    The A minor chord:

    The B diminished chord:

    Altogether, there are three major chords, three minor chords, and one diminished chord in the major key and I’ll be showing you the 50-50 approach to learning diatonic chords in the major key in the next segment.

    The 50-50 Approach To Learning Diatonic Chords

    There are so many ways to learn chords in the major key and I’ve covered a few of them in the past here on this blog site. So, I know you’re wondering what is unique about the 50-50 approach and I’ll tell you that.

    In the 50-50 approach, we’re only learning the major and minor chords in the major key and there are about six of them:

    Three major chords (C major, F major, and G major)

    Three minor chords (D minor, E minor, and A minor)

    …and we’re isolating the diminished chord of the seventh tone of the scale, the B diminished chord.

    It’s called the 50-50 approach because 50% of the chords we’re learning are major chords while the rest of the minor chords make up the other 50%.

    Primary Chords In The Major Key

    The chord of the first, fourth, and fifth tones in the major key are known as primary chords and this is because they are the main chords in the key and they come before every other chord type.

    We’re in the major key and chords that have the major quality come before others in importance because they share the same quality with the key.

    So, major chords take the front seat in the major key while every other chord takes the back seat and that’s why they are called primary chords in the major key.

    In any key you’re in, just pick out the first, fourth, and fifth tones of the scale and form major chords on each of those tones and you’ll have the primary chords.

    “Yes! It’s That Simple…”

    In the key of D major:

    …once we pick out the first, fourth, and fifth tones, which are D, G, and A:

    …and then form major chords on each of the tones:

    D major chord:

    G major chord:

    A major chord:

    …we’ll have the primary chords in the key of D major.

    Secondary Chords In The Major Key

    The minor chords in the major key are known as secondary chords.

    There are three secondary chords in the major key: the 2-chord, the 3-chord, and the 6-chord. So, in the key of C major:

    …the second tone is D:

    …and the 2-chord is the D minor chord:

    …the third tone is E:

    …and the 3 -chord is the E minor chord:

    …the sixth tone is A:

    …and the 6-chord is the A minor chord:

    So, in the key of C major:

    …there are three secondary chords:

    The D minor chord:

    The E minor chord:

    The A minor chord:

    In any key you’re in, just pick out the second, third, and sixth tones of the scale and form minor chords on each of those tones and you’ll have the secondary chords.

    “Yes! It’s That Simple…”

    In the key of F major:

    …once we pick out the second, third, and sixth tones, which are G, A, and D:

    …and then form minor chords on each of the tones:

    G minor chord:

    A minor chord:

    D minor chord:

    …we’ll have the secondary chords in the key of F major.

    The 50-50 Approach To Learning Diatonic Chords

    Using the 50-50 approach to learning diatonic chords, you can learn how to play diatonic chords in any key and all you need to do is to focus on major chords (50%) and then minor chords (50%.)

    In the key of Eb major:

    …I can pick the first, fourth, and fifth tones of the scale (which are Eb, Ab, and Bb):

    Eb:

    Ab:

    Bb:

    …and then we build major chords on each of those tones:

    Eb major chord:

    Ab major chord:

    Bb major chord:

    …and then we’ll have the primary chords (which account for 50% of the chords in the key.) If we go ahead and determine the secondary chords:

    F minor chord:

    G minor chord:

    C minor chord:

    We’ll have all the diatonic chords in the key.

    Final Words

    If you’ve already learned the three major chords in the key, you’ve only learned 50% of the chords you should learn. You still have minor chords to learn and that’s twelve chords altogether.

    Submission: I’m aware that there are more than six diatonic chords in a key. But in the 50-50 approach, we’re considering the six chords as all the chords that there are in the major key.

    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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of 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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