• Who Else Wants To Learn About The Chromatic Mediant Chord?

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    If you’re interested in learning about the chromatic mediant chord, then you’re on the right page.

    The chromatic mediant chord is one of the passing chords every serious musician must know and there are three categories of people reading this post:

    1. Those who can play and apply the chromatic mediant chord but don’t know its name.
    2. Those who know what the chromatic mediant chord is, but don’t know how it’s applied.
    3. Those who neither know the name nor the application of the chromatic mediant chord.

    Irrespective of the category you belong to, you have something to learn in this post.

    “What Is The Mediant?”

    There are eight tones in every major key. Using the key of C major (as a reference):

    …we have the following tones:

    C D E F G A B C

    A Short Note On The Technical Names

    Every tone of the major scale has its technical name. Let’s go ahead and check them out in the key of C major:

    C is the tonic

    D is the supertonic

    E is the mediant

    F is the subdominant

    G is the dominant

    A is the submediant

    B is the subtonic

    C is the octave

    “What Is The Mediant?”

    The mediant is the technical name of the third tone of the scale in any major key. In the key of D major:

    …where F# is the third tone:

    …F# is the mediant.

    All ideas associated with the third tone of the scale (notes, scales, intervals, chords, progressions) are generally labeled with the term mediant.

    For example, a mediant chord is the chord of the third tone of the scale in any key (aka – “the 3-chord”). In the key of C major:

    …can be any of the following:

    The E minor triad:

    The E minor seventh chord:

    The Chromatic Mediant Chord — Explained

    We’ve already established that the mediant chord is the 3-chord in any key you’re in.

    Therefore, it’s a lot easier to understand what the chromatic mediant chord is, and that will require a brief discussion of the term “chromatic” before we proceed.

    Quick Insights On The Term Chromatic

    The term chromatic is used to describe musical ideas that are outside the prevalent key. Let’s say we’re in the key of C major:

    …all the notes, scales, intervals, chords, progressions, etc., that are outside the key of C major are generally classified as chromatic scales, chromatic intervals, etc.

    “Here’s An Example…”

    In the key of C major:

    …the following notes are chromatic:




    …and that’s because they are not the tones of the prevalent key (which is the key of C major).

    “What Is A Chromatic Mediant Chord?”

    The chromatic mediant chord is simply a mediant chord that is foreign to the prevalent key. Still in the key of C major (which has always been our reference):

    …we have the E major triad:

    …as the chromatic mediant chord.

    Unlike the E minor triad:

    …the E major triad:

    …has a G# note:

    …which is foreign to the key of C major.

    “Here Are Three Chromatic Mediant Chord Types…”

    Although there are possibly other chord options for the chromatic mediant chord, here are three important chromatic mediant chord types:

    The E major triad:

    The E dominant triad:

    The E dominant seventh [flat ninth chord]:

    Let’s go ahead and learn how the chromatic mediant chord is resolved.

    Resolution Of The Chromatic Mediant Chord

    Beyond knowing the chromatic mediant chord, it is also important to know where it resolves to.

    The movement of an unstable chord to a more stable chord is called resolution. So, the resolution of the chromatic mediant chord is simply its movement to a more stable chord.

    The chromatic mediant chord in the major key can be resolved to the 6-chord in the key. For example, in the key of C major:

    …where the chromatic mediant chord is any of the following E chords:

    The E major triad:

    The E dominant triad:

    The E dominant seventh [flat ninth chord]:

    …the resolution is to any of the 6-chords in the key:

    The A minor triad:

    The A minor seventh chord:

    The A minor ninth chord:

    The A minor eleventh chord:

    The chromatic mediant chord can also be resolved in the same manner in every other key.

    Final Words

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll be exploring other chromatic chord types and how they can be resolved.

    If you have questions, comments, and suggestions, please feel free to input them in the comment section and don’t forget this: “if you can hear it, you can play it”.

    See you in the next lesson.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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


    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Carolyn

    Thanks. God bless you.


    2 piano

    Great thanks to u Dr Pokey and my boss J. Griggs, please kindly show an example of using chromatic mediant as a passing chord in the following chord progression: C G A F in the key of Cmajor.cheers in anticipation.


    3 Alan Sloane

    Another great lesson, very inspiring and informative.I really appreciate these lessons . and the priceless content you share .Please keep up this great work.


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