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Types, Cadences and Progressions

ON THIS PAGE (click on title to jump to subject)
Triads Sevenths
Extended Chords Inversions
Harmonising Scales Cadences
Voice Leading -
Transposing Music Worksheets

 

TRIADS

A chord is 3 or more notes played together. A 3 note chord is also called a TRIAD
The notes in a basic triad are the root, the third and the fifth note of a scale. Eg in C Major the chord will have C, E and G in it. These notes are the root, the major 3rd and the perfect 5th.

By using different intervals we can make different chord types.

Click here to hear the 4 chord types written above

These triads are made up of the following intervals:

The Rules for Building Triads
1. Write the Root, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale on the stave (don’t worry about accidentals, just count up the white notes to get them).
2. Work out what the major triad would be by working out the key signature for the note that is the root (or 1):
SHARP KEYS – Go down a semitone to get the last sharp in the key signature. Order of sharps: F-C-G-D-A-E-B
FLAT KEYS – The key note (or root or 1) is the last but one flat in the key signature. Order of flasts: B-E-A-D-G-C-F
3. Add the accidentals to your triad to make a major triad.4. Now compare that to the triad you need to make and alter it to get what you need.
REMEMBER THAT FLATTENING A NOTE DOESN'T MEAN PUT A FLAT IN FRONT IT MEANS LOWER IT BY A SEMITONE

 

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SEVENTH CHORDS

These are 4 note chords - the triad (root, 3rd and 5th) with the 7th note of the scale added on top. You build 7ths in the same ways as triads.

Click here to hear the 4 chord types written above

By using different intervals we can make different chord types. Seventh chords are made up of the following intervals:

 

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EXTENDED CHORDS

An extended chord is where the chord is extended beyond the octave by adding compound intervals (ie bigger than an octave) on top of seventh chords. You can also call them 'add' chords because you just add a note to the top of a seventh chord without changing its basic identity. The chord continues to be built up in 3rds (ie, Root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th). The compound number added to a seventh chord doesn't change the make up of the chord it just adds another note which is always a major/perfect interval unless otherwise stated.

How to Build/Identify Extended Chords: To build - work out the notes needed for a major 7th chord (using same rules as triad building, working out the key signature of the bottom note or root of the triad) and raise of lower the 3rd, 5th & 7th as needed. Then add the compound interval on top (which will be major of perfect). To identify - using bottom note as root work out what a maj7th would be & compare the differences.  

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INVERSIONS

A chord inversion is where the root note is not at the bottom of the chord.
A chord with the 1 or root at the bottom is called ROOT POSITION (So this has NOT been inverted).
A chord with the 3rd at the bottom is a FIRST INVERSION
A chord with the 5th at the bottom is a SECOND INVERSION

NB The other notes can appear in any order. It is the note at the bottom of the chord that names the inversion

EG: Cmajor 1st Inversion has the 3rd at the bottom (E)
Cmajor 2nd Inversion has the 5th at the bottom (G)

TO MAKE A 1st INVERSION - draw triad in root position then put the root note up an octave
TO MAKE A 2nd INVERSION - draw triad in root position then put the root & 3rd up an octave

TO IDENTIFY AN INVERSION - root position triads are always stacked neatly either on all lines
or all spaces. 1st Inversions have a big gap between the top two notes and 2nd inversions have a big gap between the bottom 2 notes.

 

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HARMONISING SCALES

When you harmonise a scale you build triads on each note of the scale by putting a 3rd and a 5th above each note. This makes a chord on each note of the scale.

HOW TO HARMONISE A SCALE:
1. Work out key signature (do this for the relative major if it is a minor scale). Write it on the stave.
2. Write in scale (if harmonic minor raise the 7th by a semitone, if melodic minor raise 6th & 7th by a semitone.)
3. Build triads on each note. (If minor go through and make sure all accidentals are written in). Remember to place in spaces or on lines so the shape looks good.
4. Name each triad- note and chord type.

The order of triads in the scale is:
Major scale: maj min min maj maj min dim
Melodic Minor scale: min min aug maj maj dim dim - (My my! A melodic minor, dear dear!)
Harmonic Minor scale: min dim aug min maj maj dim - (My Dad Asks My Mum Many Dumb Q's)
 

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CADENCES

A cadence is a progression of at least 2 chords which are used at the end of a phrase to give a sense of the music either pausing or ending. Plagal and Perfect cadences sound final and ended.

Plagal cadence (IV to I) is also called the Amen cadence as it is used a lot at the end of religious music. LISTEN
Perfect cadence (V to I) is the strongest and most final sounding ending. LISTEN
ImperfectImperfect (any to V) and Interrupted (V to VI) sound paused. LISTEN
The Interrupted sounds like it has gone to a minor key (because it goes to the relative minor). LISTEN

 

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VOICE LEADING

Voice leading is where you use chord inversions to create 3 smooth melody lines built from the notes of chords. When the chords are all in root position the melody lines will jump around. By using inversions we can create smooth lines that are easier to sing and sound much better and smoother.

HOW TO CREATE VOICE LEADING
REMEMBER: A note can only move by one step or stay the same.

If two chords are only a note apart they can stay in the same inversion as each other. (Eg CMaj to DMin) Look for common notes - eg if both chords have an F and the F is in the middle of the 1st chord it must be in the middle of the second chord. (Eg DMin to FMaj) If there are no common notes the 2nd chord will be in the same inversion as the first. (Eg AMin to GMaj)

 

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TRANSPOSING MUSIC

When music is in a certain key, it may be too high or low to sing for you. Transposing music is when you change the key of a piece of music to make it sound higher or lower. You have to transpose the melody and the chords.

TO TRANSPOSE MELODY:
1. Work out what interval you want to change key by (eg In the example above - up a perfect 5th)
2. Work out what key the piece of music is in - Look at the key signature. (eg G Major)
3. Work out the new key by counting up or down. (eg D Major. Count up a 5th from G you get D)
4. Number the notes of the scale in the melody (eg G=1, A=2, B=3, C=4 etc)
5. For the new melody work out the new key signature and write on the music
6. Write the new melody on the stave using the new key (eg D=1, E=2, F#=3, G=4 etc)

TO TRANSPOSE CHORD PROGRESSIONS:
1. Work out what interval you want to change key by (eg In the example above - up a perfect 5th)
2. Work out what key the piece of music is in - Look at the key signature. (eg G Major)
3. Work out the new key by counting up or down. (eg D Major. Count up a 5th from G you get D)
4. Number the chords using roman numerals (eg G=I, A=II, B=III, C=IV etc)
5. For the new chord progression work out the new key signature and write on the music
6. Write the new chords on the stave using the new key (eg D=I, E=II, F#=III, G=IV etc)
7. Remember to include the chord type (eg Am7 becomes Em7)

 

Here is a handy guide to changing key (CLICK HERE)

Here is a blank chord chart (CLICK HERE)

 

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WORKSHEETS FOR CHORDS

Triads 1 Triads 2 Sevenths Extended Chords Inversions
Harmonising Scales Cadences Voice Leading Transposing Add/Alt Chords

 

GOOD LUCK! Any problems please find a friend who understands and get them to help you out or book a lesson with a theory teacher. Don't suffer in silence. x


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