Music Theory and Harmony

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GibsonGoldtop / RSRobynes _ 4yr+6mo ago
Hey guys - I hope I word this in a way that makes sense to everybody. Here goes.. I have an acoustic riff that starts with an Amajor chord and concludes on a Gmajor chord. Amajor does not appear as a harmonious triad in the key of Gmajor and vice versa. For example: G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em F#dim A, Bm, C#m, D#m, E, F#m, G#dim Gmajor and Amajor do appear together, however, in the key of D (and Bm) Does this mean I can say that my riff is in the key of D?


   

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sriracha   commented 4yr+6mo ago


Yes, they are respectively the 4 and 5 in the key of Dmaj. If you were playing extended chords, it would be Gmaj7 and A7. Bmin is the natural minor in the key of D.

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GibsonGoldtop   commented 4yr+6mo ago


Great, thanks.... According to some additional research, what I've done is create a "fragile" chord progression by playing around, but not landing on the tonic - which in this case would be D. This does, however, allow me luxury of strategically hitting that Dmaj somewhere down the line for greater emphasis; obvious places being the chorus and/or bridge.

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sriracha   commented 4yr+6mo ago


This "A, Bm, C#m, D#m, E, F#m, G#dim" is incorrect - I just noticed. :) Should be "A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#dim". A has 3 sharps.

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NicolaOffidani   commented 4yr+6mo ago


Correct! Bill you are always ready to share your great knowledge and this it's very important for us. Looking to that progression I suggest also this variation that may work depending of the song mood... A, Bm, C#m, Dmaj7, F#m, B7, Bm7, E7sus (E7sus recall very well the A for the second verse or also work on a Dmaj7 as starting chord for the bridge/chorus....

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GibsonGoldtop   commented 4yr+6mo ago


I'll give these a try too, thanks. I haven't really explored the 7th chords much. I know that a lot of blues progessions include the 7th, but they aren't a part of my day to day playing yet.

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sriracha   commented 4yr+6mo ago


I think he was just outlining the chords in the key, but yeah - there's a ton of great substitutions one can make.

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NicolaOffidani   commented 4yr+6mo ago


Yes, just was suggesting some idea out of the box... Roma, to understand better witch chords to be used in a scale may be useful this link: http://randscullard.com/CircleOfFifths/

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GibsonGoldtop   commented 4yr+6mo ago


Thanks for the comments fellas. One last question for this thread. I understand that the scale of Dmaj and Bm are the same, but If I focus on making the top line melody feel more Bm could I possibly say the song is then in Bm? For example I could focus on certain notes (in the bassline, and/or lead guitar) that feel more minor, if that makes sense. I guess my question is really: is the key of my song determined by the harmony or the melody? The chord structure or the notes on top of the chords?

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sriracha   commented 4yr+6mo ago


DMaj and Bm are the same key, yes. What determines which one the song is in is the harmonic content. The harmonic content will dictate what melodic content sounds good. :) This is a pretty decent explanation - but the UI is hinky: you have to click on the line you are reading to see the chart it talks about. http://www.musictheory.net/lessons/57

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GibsonGoldtop   commented 4yr+6mo ago


Ahha.. "Harmonic Context." That's exactly the wording I'm looking for in my brain to put this into perspective. Thanks!

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drycamplaptop   commented 4 years ago


There is sort of two "brands" of minor keys, the harmonic minor and the melodic minor. The melodic minor has a halfstep leading tone. so the melodic minor scale is B C# D E F# G A# B The main difference is this makes the V chord a major chord (F#7). In the harmonic minor the 7th stays with the 2 #s that are in the key signature, so the scale is B C# D E F# G A B the v chord (within the key signature) is the F#m chord. If you experiment with them, I think you'll agree that the F#7 to Bm is a "stronger cadence" and makes the song sound more firmly seated in the minor mode. The F#m7 to Bm is less final sounding and leads one to believe you might just be playing in D. :-)

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drycamplaptop   commented 4yr+1mo ago


I think the easiest way to determine how your "riff" is seated "keywise" would be to use it in a song. If your song ends up in the key of G, then the A chord is functioning (momentarily) as a V/V chord. It's used a lot and some folks just call it a Major II. But when you play and A chord in a song that is firmly seated in the key of G, it "wants to" go to the D chord and then back to G. The longer song will tell you what you were up to for that moment. don't worry about the key of the riff, worry about what key the riff seems to work with, and then all the rest can be explained. :-)

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giuliano22   commented 4yr+1mo ago


Thanks man. Has me thinking onthe right plane.

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drycamplaptop   commented 4yr+1mo ago


If the A chord in the key of G is the only "oddity" in the song, I'd say it's probably living there as a V / V chord or a Major II. If you've looked at piano music sometimes they throw in a needed sharp or flat to include notes that do not occur naturally in the key. If it's just for a measure or so, they use accidentals (write in the # and b) before the notes. If the whole section is going to need accidentals, probably what's happened is you've changed keys... then (in written music) you would stick a new key signature in the middle of the piece and go on. As a guitarist playing chords, I don't always "care" what's going on, I just play the chords in front of me. But there's no reason as a song writer to not understand what's going on, and particularly to know what using chords that are slightly outside the main key does to the sound of a melody. It all works together. If you want to "play" with some of the chords that are "just outside" the key you're working in, start by changing a minor to major, or a major to minor. (probably not the I chord). not all of them, but say one of them at some point in a song. Something often done in rock songs is to mash together chords that do NOT normally fit in a key. But they repeat the pattern enough so that you create a new "normal" space in your brain for this song to live in. Context is everything. in the right context things that sound awful alone can resolve into some really nice music.

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GibsonGoldtop   commented 3yr+8mo ago


I've found this thread to be extremely helpful. Thank you all. Is there a way in Kompoz to archive or bookmark this thread for easy access? Maybe there's something on my Dashboard that I've accidentally overlooked that will allow to be quickly bounce back here.. ??