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   Reviews
 
 

  

   About the Author,
   Wayne Chase

  
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Reviews
 
 

  

   About the Author,
   Wayne Chase

  
  


  

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  
CHAPTER 6:
How Chords and Chord Progressions
REALLY Work
  
6.3 Introduction to Chord Progressions

 
PAGE INDEX
  

6.3.1 What Are Chord Progressions Good For?

6.3.2 Dynamic Qualities of Chords

6.3.3 Understanding Harmony: Terms of Endearment

 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~


6.3.1

WHAT ARE CHORD PROGRESSIONS GOOD FOR?


When you hear a tune, you hear a sequence of individual pitches. In the context of tonality, all of those pitches—except scale degree 1—sound restless.


     But when you hear a chord, you don’t hear the individual pitches. Even when you finger-pick chord changes on the guitar, or play the chords as arpeggios on the keyboard, you still don’t hear a tune. You hear chords being unrolled and spread out in time. But they still sound like chords—not a melody.


     Your brain processes harmony differently from the way it processes melody. That’s why there’s no “music” in harmony without melody.


     When you hear a chord progression and a tune simultaneously, your brain processes the chords as blends of related tones, a kind of third dimension of music, unfurling and sprawling beneath and around the tune, a colourful sonic panorama. Musical depth.


     Your brain hears melody and harmony as related but separate entities. The tune is a restless traveller. The chords provide a dynamic, moving landscape through which the tune travels.


     Chord progressions, though not absolutely necessary in the making of music, serve three main functions:

  

     1.  Chord progressions help define tonality and unify a piece of music. They provide a sonic frame of reference that makes unrest and dissonance possible.

  

     2.  Chord progressions impart drive and propulsion to a piece of music. In the context of tonality, most chords, like most intervals in a melody, sound, to a greater or lesser degree, tense and restless. They seek resolution. Like the tune itself, they’re also trying to find their way home.

   

     3.  Chord progressions furnish music with the qualitative aural equivalents of color and depth.



6.3.2

DYNAMIC QUALITIES OF CHORDS


A chord has a unified sound and retains its identity even when inverted. However, the all-important root note of the chord (the lowest note of the chord in root position, not inverted) simultaneously wears another hat, namely, as a degree of a melodic scale.


     When the scale degree of a key coincides with the root of a major or minor triad—which only happens when scale degree 1 coincides with the triad built on scale degree 1 (for example, the C major triad in the key of C)—the chord has no dynamic quality, no motion. It’s merely a stable triad in root position.


     But the moment the tune moves away from scale degree 1, all accompanying chords, whatever they may be, take on a dynamic quality, a feeling of unrest—even major and minor triads. Even the triad built on the tonic note.


     How come?


     Because all notes in a diatonic scale except scale degree 1 are unbalanced. And when it comes to getting attention, the tune trumps the chord.


     Repeat:


The tune trumps the chord (see Chapter 9).


     As you will learn in Chapter 9, bearing this fact in mind will help you enormously in your songwriting. Your brain zeros in on the tune, which, again, is why a chord-free melody stands on its own, but a tune-free chord progression does not.


     As long as the tune is in a state of imbalance, no accompanying chord can bring it back into balance.


     At the same time, your brain has to be able to identify a succession of notes and accompanying harmony as “music” in the first place. For the collective musical mind of an audience to find a piece of music memorable and emotionally potent...

 

        The piece must have enough tonal unity to be coherent;

 

        It must also possess a sufficient variety of tonal disturbance and tension to be mesmerizing.


     Unity and variety. Both are essential. The trick is to have them in the right balance. That means a melody and its chords must necessarily be tonally related in some way. What way?


   

6.3.3

UNDERSTANDING HARMONY: TERMS OF ENDEARMENT


Melody and harmony, while identifiably different, relate to each other so intimately that similar terms are used to describe and understand their individual natures.


     Just as melody is organized by scale degrees, intervals, and scales, so harmony is organized by harmonic degrees, harmonic intervals, and harmonic scales (Table 37 below).




TABLE 37  Basic Terms, Melody vs Harmony


Melodic Terms

Harmonic Terms

Notes are identified as scale degrees. Each note has an assigned Arabic number, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., identifying its scale position.

Chords are identified as harmonic degrees. Each chord has an assigned Roman numeral, I, II, III, IV, etc., identifying the whole chord, although named for the root note.

Note-to-note succession—a tune or melody—proceeds by melodic intervals.

Chord-to-chord succession—a chord progression—proceeds by harmonic intervals.

A diatonic order of seven notes, plus the eighth note which repeats the first at a higher pitch, is called a melodic scale (major or minor).

The harmonic order of seven chords is called the harmonic scale. (As you’ll soon see, there are 12 harmonic scales.)






     Chapters 4 and 5 covered the melodic terms in Table 37 in detail. Now to tackle the harmonic terms, one at a time.


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You are reading the FREE SAMPLE Chapters 1 through 6 of the acclaimed 12-Chapter book, How Music REALLY Works!, 2nd Edition. Here's what's in Chapters 7 through 12. 

 

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 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 TABLE OF
 CONTENTS

  

 PART I

 The Big Picture    Introduction

   1. W-5 of Music
  
2. Pop Music
   
    Industry

  
 PART II
 Essential
 Building Blocks
 of Music
   3.
Tones/Overtones
   4. Scales/Intervals
   5. Keys/Modes
 
 PART III
 How to Create
 Emotionally
 Powerful Music
 and Lyrics
   6.
Chords/
  
      Progressions

   7. Pulse/Meter/
  
      Tempo/Rhythm

   8. Phrase/Form
   9. Melody
 10. Lyrics
 11. Repertoire/
     
  Performance

  

 PART IV
 Making a
 Living In Music
 12.
Business of
   
     Music

 
 Appendixes

   

 Notes

   

 References

  

 Index
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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