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Can chords be built on different scales i.e. harmonic minor, melodic minor, and when they are, how is this known?

  • More than that, it is considered that chords are (usually) built from scales. – amalgamate Dec 16 '14 at 14:42
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You can build chords on any scale. You would build chords the same way you build them in the typical major and minor scales. You would take a root note of any scale degree and add the 3rd above the root and the 5th above the root and you get your chord.

I'll use the example you've given that is based on the different minors.

In A natural minor you have the following notes:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G

If you were to build chords from each note you would have the following chords:

Am      - (A,C,E)
Bdim    - (B,D,F)
C       - (C,E,G)
Dm      - (D,F,A)
Em      - (E,G,B)
F       - (F,A,C)
G       - (G,B,D)

In A harmonic minor you have the following notes:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G#

If you were to build chords from each note you would have the following chords:

Am      - (A,C,E)
Bdim    - (B,D,F)
C+      - (C,E,G#)
Dm      - (D,F,A)
E       - (E,G#,B)
F       - (F,A,C)
G#dim   - (G#,B,D)

In A melodic minor (ascending) you have the following notes:

A, B, C, D, E, F#, G#

If you were to build chords from each note you would have the following chords:

Am     - (A,C,E)
Bm     - (B,D,F#)
C+     - (C,E,G#)
D      - (D,F#,A)
E      - (E,G#,B)
F#dim  - (F#,A,C)
G#dim  - (G#,B,D)

As you can see there is a very simple method to building chords that you can apply to any scale. It's even easy to mix and match these chords from these scales and others once you have a good idea of what you are doing.

  • Could also find Bo, Gmaj.and Cmaj. from the melodic. – Tim Dec 16 '14 at 9:05
  • You mean a 3rd and a 5th up the scale, right? e.g. just build a triad from alternate scale notes? Also what is C+? – Mr. Boy Dec 16 '14 at 11:04
  • @Mr.Boy Yes. And C+ is a chord symbol for a C augment triad. – Dom Dec 16 '14 at 14:34
  • A what? I've seen a chord written Gaug which is G with a D# instead of a D (G B D# G B G) - is this the same thing with different notations? – Mr. Boy Dec 16 '14 at 14:45
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