Guitar Lesson – Music Theory Part 7 – "out of key" chords

In Part 5, we looked at building triads from the major scale.  This resulted in: (just looking at 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)

   ii   iii   IV   V   vi

Now, let’s turn them up-side-down and see what their major/minor counterparts might sound like.

   II   III   iv   v   VI 

Let’s try using the key of G.  So the “normal” chords would have been:

   Am   Bm    C    D   Em

So instead of these, let’s try: 
   A    B     Cm   Dm  E

Here’s a progression that tries to use all of them.  First, we’ll use all the “normal” chords.  Then we’ll play another sequence that will use some of the “abnormal” ones.  Here, some 7th chords will be used.  But the major and minor 3rds will still be “flipped”. 

|G    |D    |Em   |Bm   |
|C    |Am7  |D    |D7   | 
|G    |B7   |Em   |A7   | 
|C    |Cm   |G    |E7   |

|C    |Cm   |G    

Unfortunate, this example doesn’t use the 5-minor.  But we’ll get to that in the next example… 

Another set of chords that are “out of key” are the diminished-6 and diminished-7 chords (aka “6-flat” and “7-flat”).  This is not the same as 6 dim or 7 dim.  But rather, take the 6-note and 7-note of the scale and make them flat.   For instance:

E major scale:    E  F#  G#  A  B  C#  D#  E

So instead of C# and D#, use C and D.  Particularly, use their major chords.  Try this progression: 

|E    |E    |Bm   |Bm   |   (here’s that 5-minor)
|E    |E    |Bm   |Bm   |
|E    |E    |C    |D    | 
|E    |E    |C    |D    |
|E  
I hope these examples gave you some idea on how to “break out” of the scale and find other interesting sounding chords.

As you play with these chords more, you’ll start to hear their distinctive sound and you’ll be able to identify them more quickly when you hear them in songs.  You may notice that certain genres tend to use a certain chord a lot.  For instance, the 4-minor (as a “turnaround”) in 50s and 60s pop/rock, the 6-flat in (early) grunch, or the 2-major in (what I call “old school”) country.

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About ckyoungmusic

Guitarist ♪ Songwriter ♪ Instructor ♪ Nice Guy ♪ Music for the Soul | Rock | Country | Blues | Pop | Folk | Funk

Posted on October 13, 2009, in Guitar Lessons, Music Theory. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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