Jimmy's Chord Theory TOC                                 Lesson 3


When the Harp was turned on its side and made

into a Harpsichord, an early piano, it featured as

many as seven different keyboards, one for each mode.

Other versions sported a double tier of keys, one all

white, the other all black. The modern keyboard did

not come together until much later when music became

so popular that no living room could exist without

its own piano-forte, piano for short.

During the consolidating of keyboards into a lasting version

came the realization that there were at least TWELVE true scales,

and other related scales, i.e. minor scales (Dorian, Phrygean & Lydian)

in addition to the all important major scales.

Each of these scales could move the listener

in a controlled direction.

   Music was thought to be like an endless river running through time,

when abruptly it was discovered that three musical ladders

could form a triangle and thus establish a KEY. Conclusion:  

 3scaPmid.jpg (8975 bytes)

The starting scale is called the ROOT or TONIC,

the second is called the SUB DOMINANT

and the finishing scale is called the DOMINANT.

Each is represented by Roman numerals: I, IV & V (numbers 1, 4 & 5).

Another awesome pyramid had been erected by building

scales on the first, fourth and fifth tones of a starting place.

A CHORD was thought to be the reduced essence of scales.

KeyC.jpg (5728 bytes)

From the modern keyboard an entire song could be written

using only seven notes and two notes repeated

KeybdC.jpg (6318 bytes)

By using these three chords you establish

the KEY of C MAJOR.

You also establish a foundation for a song.

The song has

a beginning   CEGC   chord I

a middle   FACF  chord IV

a resolution   GBDG   chord V

and an option to continue  CEG

repeat... FAC

resolve... GBD

or to come to an end on a    CEGC     chord I

How many melodies can you accompany with these chords?

C  F  G  C   F  G  C

Technically a chord is two or more notes played

at the same time or in counterpoint moving in different

directions. Chords move either forward in progression

or backward in regression.    I  IV  V   :   V  IV  I  The same

principles apply to Beethoven as well as Megadeath.

Every song written to a KEY builds scales on  I    IV  & V

no matter what the starting note is.

Suppose D is the starting note chosen:

I chord:  D F# A

IV chord:  G B D

V chord:  A C# E

From this you could conclude yet another rule.

I, IV & V chords all have the same intervals between

the notes of the chord.

Go back to the KEY of C and

number the notes of the C SCALE from one to eight:


1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8

The essential notes of a C CHORD are C E G

The scale intervals are 1 3 5



D E F# G A B C# D      D F# A

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8         1  3  5


Some others:

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

1 3 5        1 3 5        1 3 5       1 3 5         1 3 5


What all these 1-3-5 chords have in common is that

they all form the bright, happy, outer, onion rings

of any KEY when they are built up as I, IV & V.

KeyC135.jpg (7809 bytes)

Now you see that every song written to a KEY is a

triangle of chords built on the 1-4-5 aspect of the

scale which begins and ends the song, while the chords

then are a stack of notes which can be any combination

such as  1-3-5,   3-5-1,  5-1-3,  3-1-5,  1-5-3  or  5-3-1

all of which reside in a family of chords called MAJOR.

Major keys, major scales and major chords

are made with the same intervals between notes.

1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1

scale: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

and chord: 1 3 5

Every song in a major key is held together by three

major chords:  I maj    IV maj   V maj

All the other chords in a key's  SCALE OF CHORDS  are


For example:

I maj    II min    III min    IV maj    V maj     VI min    VII dim

correspond to chord Names:

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


Put more simply, if the melody of your song happened

to be the same notes as a C MAJOR SCALE, that is:

C D E F G A B, then the accompanying chords would be

Cmaj Dmin Emin Fmaj Gmaj Amin and Bdim.

Wilson was dazzling me with his command and

knowledge of the chord theory, but I was becoming quite

confused. "First you tell me about one, four five and

next you are giving me one THREE five, are they the same thing?

Wilson sighed heavily, "They all are intervals

of a scale, any scale, but one, four five is

for determining WHICH scales and chords will

establish or NAIL DOWN A KEY, whereas one, three

five are the intervals in a major scale which

comprise a major chord!



ŠJimmy Warner Design, 2016