You are here

Confused over chords in a minor key

Arrangement, instrumentation, lyric writing, music theory, inspiration… it’s all here.

Confused over chords in a minor key

Postby jonel » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:40 am

Hi All,
Having developed a fairly good understanding of how chords are built in a major key, I felt I was on solid ground when studying similar chord development when applied to minor keys.

Since there are three minor harmonic scales then, by applying the principles of chord construction in a major key, there should be three slightly different sets of chords related to the minor scales.

Taking the key of A minor:

Natural A minor I would assume the primary chords to be:
Am Dm Em

Harmonic A minor I would assume the chords to be (because of the shift of G to G#)
Am Dm E

Melodic A minor I would assume the chords to be
Am D E

When I consulted my 'Complete Book of Chords' the only primary chords published was that for Harmonic A minor. Also, some other texts state the the V chord and v chord are interchangeable. So in the above cases Em or E can be used!

My question is this. Are the above definitions correct? I feel sure that they are.

Kind regards

Jonel
User avatar
jonel
New here
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:48 am
https://glenavon.online

Re: Confused over chords in a minor key

Postby GilesAnt » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:49 pm

The harmonic minor scale is so called because it allows for tonic-dominant functional harmony. The V and v chords are not interchangeable (in the context of functional harmony), since the minor chord does not act as the base for a V7 chord.
GilesAnt
Regular
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2003 1:00 am
 

Re: Confused over chords in a minor key

Postby jonel » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:00 pm

Thank you very much for your response. Sadly I think I have to get myself more conversant with the minor keys before |I can understand your answer.
User avatar
jonel
New here
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:48 am
https://glenavon.online

Re: Confused over chords in a minor key

Postby GilesAnt » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:34 pm

What is confusing you - maybe we can clarify.

At the risk of over generalising, bear in mind the harmonic minor is called that for a reason - i.e. it is used for chords, whereas the melodic minor is used for melody, and isn't primarily intended to be used for construction of chords.
GilesAnt
Regular
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2003 1:00 am
 

Re: Confused over chords in a minor key

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:12 am

Don't worry too much over this. Yes, there is a set of chords that can be constructed from the notes of a scale. But that's no more than a mildly interesting fact. A song in a given key will use some of the diatonic chords a lot, others not so often. And other, non-diatonic chords will also very likely be used. The diatonic, scale-derived chords are not a restriction, not the chords that you MAY use. They're just the diatonic chords.

For instance, take the C major key. C, Dm, F, G, Am will probably be used a lot. But D7, C#dim, Bb, Fm are more likely to be used than the diatonic B dim. And, if you're playing blues-based styles, C7, F7 and G7 are the basic chords, two of which are non-diatonic!
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5690
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:00 am
Location: London UK
You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.

Re: Confused over chords in a minor key

Postby jonel » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:28 pm

I have been very impressed with the very helpful replies in this forum. They have pushed me into a deeper understanding of the practical side of music production.
The use of non-diatonic chords made me realise the value of taking the unpopular diminished chord of a key and changing it into a more useful, albeit non-diatonic, chord. Bringing down the bottom note by a semitone to change it to a major chord or shifting up the to top note to make it a minor key.

Thanks
User avatar
jonel
New here
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:48 am
https://glenavon.online

Re: Confused over chords in a minor key

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:49 am

If you really want to know how it works in jazz: https://www.shermusic.com/1883217040.php

In jazz we mainly use the melodic minor scale and the harmony is very beautiful and complex once you know how to do it and use chords extended up through the 7th and into the upper partials that are formed naturally.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1145
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Confused over chords in a minor key

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:16 pm

jonel wrote:I have been very impressed with the very helpful replies in this forum. They have pushed me into a deeper understanding of the practical side of music production.
The use of non-diatonic chords made me realise the value of taking the unpopular diminished chord of a key and changing it into a more useful, albeit non-diatonic, chord. Bringing down the bottom note by a semitone to change it to a major chord or shifting up the to top note to make it a minor key.


You can do that. But then it isn't a diminished chord any more. That's like saying 'I can change one note in a minor chord and make it major'.

A more usual way to look at a diminished chord is that every note can be used as a leading note. Look at C# dim7. That's C#, E, G, Bb. Think of it as A7(b9), with the A missing. The dominant of D. Or as C7(b9) with the C missing. The dominant of F. And the two further possibilities. It can be used as a secondary dominant in the home key, or as a gateway to a new key.
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5690
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:00 am
Location: London UK
You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users