The 10 Things That Every Music Producer Really Needs To Know About Chords

The 10 Things That Every Music Producer Really Needs To Know About Chords

If you don't rely on minimal techniques, it's inevitable that you'll use chords very early in your music production journey. This means you play multiple notes at the same time - either on a MIDI keyboard or by programming in a DAW.

What are the different types of chords and how are they formed? We've created a 10-step guide to the basics - learn the essential rules of music theory and your songwriting skills will take off on their own.

1. Formation of basic triads

A common or major garden chord is known as a triplet and consists of three notes. To create one, start with any note in a scale, then add alternate notes from the scale until you have a stack of threes.

For example, to form C major (CEG), you start with the root C, skip the next note in the scale (D) to land on E, and then skip the next note (F) to descend to G. Depending on the position of the middle note, it can be major or minor.

A major third interval between the middle note and the root is a major third, while a minor third is a minor third. For this reason, forming a triad from the notes of the C major scale and a D yields a minor chord—Dm (DFA)—since the interval between D and F is three semitones, or a minor third.

2. Reduction of liability

If you take a simple minor triad and lower the fifth by a semitone, you get what is called a diminished chord. Since the fifth is flat, the interval between it and the root of the chord is called the flat fifth and has another name - the tritone, and is so called because it is an interval of exactly six semitones, or three whole notes. This gap is considered to be so volatile and volatile that it was widely feared in the Middle Ages!

Diminished chords sound strained and uncomfortable in some contexts due to vocal instability, but they make great transitional chords to bridge the gap between a major and minor triad - try Bb – Bo – Cm, for example.

3. Augmented Reality

In contrast, augmented chords are formed by taking a standard major triad and raising the fifth by a semitone. For example, to make a C+, you would start with C major (CEG), raise it a fifth (G) a semitone G#, and end with CEG#.

This results in three equal chord notes, each separated by a major third interval (four semitones). Since an octave consists of 12 notes, the augmented triad is the same, so any of the three notes in a chord can be the root. Like their diminished cousins, augmented triads make great transitional chords – try C – C + – F.

4. Rule 4/3

If you don't know the notes of the scale you're working with, you can figure out how to make a major or minor triad in any root in 4/3 time.

Find the starting note, count four semitones on the keyboard to find the third, and then three more to find the fifth. Starting with C, four semitones up is E, then three more notes take you to the G triad – voilà, C major (CEG).

For minor triads, reverse the formula to 3/4—three semitones from the root to the third, then four more semitones to the fifth.

5. Excellent animation

Hanging chords are very similar to major and minor triads and are great for movement. They are created by taking the third note of a standard triad - the middle note - and transposing it one note up or down a scale.

Transposing it up yields a Sus4 chord with a perfect fourth fraction between the middle note and the root, while transposing it a major second fraction above the root yields a Sus2 chord. So C major (CEG) is played after Csus4 is CFG and Csus2 is CDG.

6. Improved skills

While building a song using simple triads is great, expanding chords by adding more voices can really help increase the level of complexity.

To build them, start with a regular triad, but keep jumping and stacking scale notes. So for C major we start at the fifth (G), skip the next note of the C major scale (A) and finish at CMaj7 (CEGB) in Bb, then add a 9 (D) and add an eleventh ( F) to give us CMaj11 (CEGBDF). )

7. Lucky 13

Maximum chord length is 13 (no more, and the note-skipping technique means you go back to the root). A quick way to edit the 13th interval above the root is to play it a sixth octave up - so in C major we play CEGB-DFA for Cmaj13. This is a very wide range of pitches for anyone's fingers, so the harp can "play" with an octave shift over a few pitches, making it somewhat easier to handle.

8. Dominant seven

Widely used in rock, pop, blues, and jazz, the dominant seventh chord works back to the tonic chord. It's made by adding a flat seventh to the top of a major triad - for example, C7 is CEG-Bb.

9. Polychord

A quick and easy way to create complex chords. Multiple chords are formed by combining two regular major or minor triads into a major chord. For example, we can join a C major triad (CEG) and a G major triad (GBD) to form Cmaj9 (CEGBD). Playing triads with different pitches (or even different octaves) can produce more interesting results. Keep this trick in mind when setting up chords for your song - try mixing triplets in random combinations until you get something that sounds good.

10. Reduce 7 parts

A diminished seventh is made by adding an extra note on top of a diminished third, three semitones above the fifth. Therefore, Co7 will bind as C-Eb-GbA.

Interestingly, since the diminished seventh has four notes spaced three semitones apart, it covers all twelve notes of the octave in a symmetrical pattern. Therefore, Co7, Ebo7, Gbo7, and Ao7 have basically the same chord and the same notes. The same applies to C# o7, Eo7, Go7 and Bbo7 as well as Do7, Fo7, Abo7 and Bo7.

The diminished seventh functions similarly to the dominant seventh, essentially representing a return to the tonic.

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