48

Put it in key A. That's I, and D is IV, while E is V. The slightly awkward G is said to be a borrowed chord, from, in this case, A minor, the parallel key. It's theory, an observation, not a rule, and obviously it works, not only in your song, but many, many others. The reason A seems better is that the E at the end of four bars (I guess) is the dominant, ...


33

I would argue that your premise that the chords used in a song should be comprised of notes that occur in the scale of the tonic key doesn't really hold. Yes, the majority of songs tend to use almost exclusively diatonic triads, however, there are many example of non-diatonic chords, for instance, borrowed chords and secondary dominants. In traditional ...


28

This chord progression is common enough to have a Wikipedia page: I–V–vi–IV progression The 'axis of awesome' video you refer to is talking specifically about those chords in that particular order - I–V–vi–IV - which is a feature of many prominent pop hits. (I'm sure you're aware of this, but for any other readers: just because this is one common chord ...


26

Great question - I remember when I myself was confused about this very same thing many years ago, and indeed at first, it all seems completely random. In order to answer your question, there needs to be a little background: Historically, thinking about music in terms of harmonic progression is one that has really only come to complete prominence in the ...


26

In common-practice theory, secondary dominant chords are chromatic harmonies used to approach a non-tonic chord with greater urgency. Let's use C major for examples: I might want to approach the V chord (G) with a secondary dominant to give greater direction or "color" to the approach. I construct the secondary dominant by going to the V chord of the V ...


25

As the other answers have correctly pointed out, you can do what sounds good to you. But this might leave you with a feeling of not knowing where to start. That's why I would like to let you know the little trick used in Lithium and zillions of other songs: you can mix the chords from the major scale and its parallel minor. In the case of Lithium you have ...


25

This is a very common concept known as the Neapolitan chord. In short, the Neapolitan chord is typically a major chord built on the lowered second scale degree; you'll occasionally see/hear it called the ♭II. It's also commonly in first inversion, so you'll also occasionally hear it called the "Neapolitan six(th)," the "six" indicating the figured bass ...


22

The key change you are describing is known as a Chromatic Mediant Relationship. This type of modulation rose to prominence in the Romantic Period and has been used by composers and musicians ever since. Chromatic Mediant Relationships are ones in which the roots or tonal centers of the keys are a non-diatonic 3rd apart. If diatonic (within the key), it ...


21

I would actually consider this to be ♭III - IV - I in B major, with the ♭III borrowed from the parallel minor key. In fact, with the ♭III chord, it's somewhat similar in character to one of the "Fellowship of the Ring" themes: I - ♭III - I (in your key, that would be Bmaj - Dmaj - Bmaj). It's the first three chords here. Soundtracks aside, this type of ...


21

Any readers may thank you more if the new key becomes Ab. Ab has only 4 flats in it, whereas G# has 8 sharps. The simplest, which always works, pretty well whichever key you're changing into, is to use the dominant of the new key for a bar. Thus Eb or Eb7 will do the trick. I've done it hundreds of times with choirs and bands and soloists - some of whom ...


21

In addition to No'am's nice answer, there are two further points I'd like to make: In most (all?) of your instances, note that the chord in question changes from major to minor. This is thus an easy way to make a pretty big change in the harmonic environment. But perhaps more than that, let's think about how easy it is to do this change. Imagine we have a C-...


21

Chromatic mediant is the technical name https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_mediant This is where the chord roots are a third apart and there is one common tone. So with Fm and Am you have: F, A flat, C A, C, E So the "C" is the common tone, and F and A chord roots are a third apart. I think part of what makes the great sound is that the two moving ...


20

Fm/Ab stands for F minor with note Ab on bass. Generically, X/Y is Chord X with note Y as lowest note. This second chord could be read as Gb major with major seventh and added 9th. The slash after a chord alteration serves only as a separator to indicate every simultaneous alteration you should apply to the chord.


20

Tension and release. The point of a leading note is often to give a feeling that it needs to move, as little as possible, to the tonic. As in G chord, dominant of C, contains B, which needs to move to the tonic C. A semitone move is used in this example. The F minor chord has F, Ab and C. To move as little as possible to the tonic involves the Ab going to G, ...


20

Theory is not a set of rules to be followed or broken. Theory is a set of explanations for why things sound the way they do. As a composer you use theory to help inform your choices, but it never dictates anything.


20

Let's say a song is in the key of C; three semitones below this is the key of Am, which is known as the relative minor key. In the same way, chords which are 'three semitones below' (e.g. F and Dm, G and Em) are the relative minor chords. These chords can often be substituted one for the other, as they have two common notes (F and Dm have in common F and A). ...


19

You found the one unexpected chord. See here: http://bostonglobe.com/ideas/2012/07/07/when-computers-listen-music-what-they-hear/hzdqdfgsIgEPiWPRe66U8J/story.html Using Music21, which was designed by Michael Cuthbert and his MIT colleague Christopher Ariza, Harvard physics doctoral student Douglas Mason analyzed Beatles songs, running more than 100 of ...


19

On a basic level, this is just a modal chord progression using the Mixolydian mode, which contains a b7 scale degree. That makes the notes you're using G A B C D E F G. The G major triad (G B D) and the F major triad (F A C) are both right in there. But doesn't necessarily reconcile other chords aside from those two (assuming not all the songs you're talking ...


19

The original term - still used - is 'Tierce de Picardie', which translates to Picardy Third. No proof has emerged appertaining to the reason why Picardy was involved, except perhaps the major chord to end a minor piece, which started in the sixteenth century, was used at least initially, in church and choral music, and that was prevalent in Northern ...


18

Why? It sounds good. Music would sound boring after a while if all you played were the notes in the scale. I would be hard-pressed to find music that doesn't have notes outside of the scale--scales are just the basis for melodies, and the home base from which you can stray in creative ways. In this particular context (and your chords would be better ...


18

In addition to Tim's great answer, we can also conceptualize this as being in C Dorian. The Dorian mode is a major scale with a lowered third and seventh. C Dorian would thus have E♭ and B♭. I think this is especially important to point out because of the A♮ (not A♭!) shown in your link. Another way to conceptualize Dorian is as natural minor with a raised ...


18

iii is used, I'm not sure where you heard that it wasn't really used much. Sure, you could argue that it's used less than other diatonic chords, (Em in the chart for chords, according to this site), but it's nowhere near the point where people would hear it and go, "Whoa! What's that chord?". In popular music especially, it's often kind of a substitute for ...


17

First let's not look at it as a ♯V chord, but a ♭VI chord. This chord naturally occurs in the parallel minor and can easily be borrowed. Let's look at how the notes move with a sample progression in the key of C: IV F - A - C ♭VI(7) A♭ - C - E♭ - (G) I C - E - G If you look at this progression without the 7th, you'll notice a few ...


17

The simplest metric, and probably the most frequently used (even if only implicitly), is to count the number of steps between the chords' roots along a one-dimensional line of fifths (or the circle of fifths, if you permit enharmonics and modular arithmetic). I say this is the most frequently used because chord progressions where the root ascends or descends ...


16

The chord progressions you want will depend on the sound you're after. You can do quite a lot of creative songwriting without ever straying from the basic "in-key" chords: I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-[vii], and if the Top 40 charts are any indication, you can make a pantload of money with very "safe" chord progressions. However, if you don't want to be safe, and want ...


16

The link I posted in the comments gave a good explanation on how chords resolve best in a major key and I will reiterate that and explain in general what is preferred in an progression. Common Tones Let's start out with common tones as touched on by user2808054. I will be using C major as an example, but also put the Roman numerals so it may be reproduced ...


16

The scale/chords are good clues to the key of a song, but at least as important is the tonal center. That's not as easy to define but generally it's where the song comes back to a place of less musical tension. IMHO the chord played when the song in question returns to a "rest" state is A major. Which means I would say the song is in A and the ...


15

You are missing the fact that you are looking at two different keys. The chord progression (C G Am F) is in the key of C. The chord progression (G D Em C) is in the key of G, which contains F#. The first site you were looking at, shows you alternatives for a C major chord in different keys than C. (Maybe compare the third alternative when you are ...


15

The term "borrowed chords" relates to borrowing from the parallel major or minor. This is also called "mode mixture." At its most basic, when we're in a given key, we can use chords from the parallel version of that key. Let's test this in C major. In this key, we have: I ii iii IV V vi vii° C d e F G a b° In C ...


14

There seems to be a general confusion here. Everything you can play or imagine is possible. Theory is a means to describe music, but music is by no way bound to any theory whatsoever. Major scales are typically not a good way to describe (or play) Blues. Better suited are scales that are aptly named "blues scales" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...


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