No Matter Which Keyboard We Choose, We All Need To Know Chords Inside-Out & Upside-Down.
Every musician has his or her favorite keyboards. I love my Roland and my Yamaha slabs, and you have your favorites as well. And that’s as it should be.
But no matter what keyboards we play, we all need to know chords and chord formations and chord progressions inside out & upside down & in our sleep if we are to become the musicians we hope to be.
Because the songs we play — no matter what style or genre — are made out of a succession of chords forming a chord progression of some kind. And the better and more skillful we are at negotiating those chord changes, the better we will become as arrangers, improvisers, and musicians in general.
Here is a quick birds eye “fly over” of chords:
* Chords are formed from scales.
* Scales are a ladder of notes that climb from the bottom rung (called the root, or key note) up to the top note — also called the octave note.
* 3-note chords are called “triads”.
* Major chords are formed by playing the root, 3rd, and 5th degrees of the major scale starting on that given note.
* Minor chords are formed by lowering the 3rd of a major chord by 1/2 step.
* Augmented chords are formed by raising the 5th of a major chord by 1/2 step.
* Diminished chords are formed by lowering both the 3rd and the 5th of a major chord by 1/2 step.
* Chords may be inverted (turned upside down).
* When the root note is the lowest note of a triad, it is said to be in “root position”.
* When the 3rd is the lowest note of a triad, the chord is said to be in 1st inversion.
* When the 5th is the lowest note of a triad, the chord is said to be in 2nd inversion.
* Extended chords are chords with 4 or more notes.
* Extended chords have as many inversions as there are notes in the chord.
* Extended chords are named by the scale interval they add to a triad; for example, by adding an “A” to a C triad we get a C6 chord.
* There are many other chord types such as:
* Minor 6th
* Major 7th
* Minor 7th
* Half-diminished 7th
* Flat 9th
* Sharp 9th
* Sharp 11th
* Sus 7th
* Aug 7th
* 9th/Major 7th
* Add 2nd
* Add 4th
* Flat 5th
* 7th with flat 5th
* Chord progressions are a succession of chords.
* Chord progressions are represented by either relative symbols such as Roman numerals — which indicate both the root of the chord in the current key, as well as whether the chord is major (large Roman numeral) or minor (small Roman numeral); or absolute symbols, such as C, G7, Fm, etc.
* Some common relative chord progressions (which means they are useful in any key) are:
* I V I
* I IV V7 I
* I ii V7 I
* I vi ii V7 I
* Chord progressions often repeat, forming a section of a song — typically 4 or 8 or 12 measures — creating a “form”.
* Common song forms are:
* ABA (theme, bridge, theme)
* AABA (theme, theme, bridge, theme)
* ABAB (theme A, theme B, theme A, theme B)
* ABCA (theme A, theme B, theme C, theme A)
* AB (verse, chorus)
Obviously there is much more to learn about chords and what they do, but this will have to suffice as a quick review or “fly over”.
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