~ Chord Progressions ~

letters become numbers
style and form shape progressions
getting hip to the changes by ear
motion to Four is most common
when Four doesn't ever arrive
One becomes Six
Two becomes Four
'only a couple of places it'll go ... '
the diatonic 3 and 3
the jazz 3 and 3 and the whole tamale
V7 before each chord
V7 becomes each chord

~ our building blocks for songs ~

In a nutshell. In this Essentials theory text, there are two basic ways we approach chord progressions. In the first we rely on our core philosophy of 'how many of whatever it is do we have', in this case chords, in our song or progression, that begins to place it within an established style.

Songs give is the best progressions

The second approach revolves around motion between the One and Four chords and vice versa, Four to One. For in nearly every song in every style, Four is the destination for where the story goes. It is how we get there through various means that determines style.

Thus just as with melody pitches, we can jazzup whatever by knowing the spectrum of styles in terms of the harmony. This 'motion to Four' DNA is quite possibly so strong in our Americana lore, that when we do not get to Four in a song, I think we really sense a different energy and restlessness in that song's story and message.

One
Four
jazzup
spectrum of styles
Americana

That the music we each love to listen to and play is the best source for the chords we need to feed the bulldog cannot be overstarted here. What good is all the theory mumbo jumbo if we struggle to play songs we dig. That said, composers of songs will have additional tasks to examine. Those who arrange for guitar also open up an infinite number of ways to explore where the theory helps to keep the feet on firm ground even when venturing out on more dicey harmonic limbs.

valence
diatonic
major / minor

Melody pitches of styles. So, want more blues in your folk sounds? Maybe more of a jazzier bop in your pop? Find a deeper swing feel in your home spun bluegrass or a more rockin' feel to your country core? Then by all means read on here as we go 'pitch by pitch additive' to rote learn tried and true ways to evolve most any melody or song with just a flick of a pitch or two.

While there's lots of theory aspects to each of our styles, the following discussions centers on melody; specifically, the number of pitches we most commonly find and use to create melodies in each particular style.

melody
# of pitches

We then look at just those pitches and see what loop and group they form, we then can determine what harmony is diatonically available to back the lines. From this basis we can auralize a linear spectrum of musical styles that reflects the number of pitches generally used to create them.

loops of pitches
diatonic harmony

For example, traditional Americana folk music rarely if ever features any sort of true chromaticism or melodic motion by half step. While on the other end of our style spectrum, the jazzers often embrace a full range of half step motions from either direction, thus utilizing all of our 12 tones as upper and lower neighbors. Examine the general number of melody pitches grouped by musical style. Example 1.

Americana
chromaticsm
we only get 12 tones
 
total # of pitches
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
1 ...
scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8

children's songs (5)

C
.
D
.
E
.
.
G
.
(A)
.
.
C

folk (6)

C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
.
C

blues and rock (6)

C
.
.
Eb
.
F
.
G
.
.
Bb
.
C
pop (7)
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C
jazz (12)
C
C#
D
Eb
E
F
F#
G
Ab
A
Bb
B
C

So as more pitches come into play, we've simply more stylistic options to shape our melodies and the style of music we're writing for evolves.

And for the chords? Creating the chords to back the melodies is a bit different. For if there's more than one chord in a song and there usually is, we'll just need more diatonic pitches to build them all up. Correlating style with the number of pitches in a chord is just a way easier way to initially think along these style / number of pitches perspective; fifth's (2 pitches), triads (3 pitches), add 7th's (4) then other color tones (4+) etc. Ex. 12a.

triads
 
total # of pitches
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
1 ...
scale degree #'s
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8

metal (2)

C
.
.
.
.
.
.
G
.
.
.
.
C

children's songs (3)

C
.
.
.
E
.
.
G
.
.
.
.
C

folk (5)

C
.
.
.
E
.
.
G
.
A
Bb
.
C

blues and rock (7)

C
.
D
D#
E
.
.
G
.
A
Bb
.
C
pop (9)
C
.
D
D#
E
F
.
G
.
A
Bb
B
C
jazz (12)
C
C#
D
Eb
E
F
F#
G
Ab
A
Bb
B
C
Roman numerals
I
#i
ii
#ii
iii
IV
#iv
V
#v
vi
bVII
vii
VIII

In most any style ... In today's wide spectrum of Americana styles, the seven pitches of the diatonic scale are the basis of all of our chords. We'll never hear a sharp nine (#9) in a song for kids or even folk tunes. But as soon as the blues hue kicks into folk, good chance it'll arrive somewhere in the music.

blues hue
the other five pitches

So this correlation of number of pitches and musical style is simply to place each of our 12 pitches somewhere in the fabric of our weave of musical styles. To develop a sense as musicians of what generally hangs with a genre. For pro leaning cats who want to gig and keep the gig, knowing what is appropriate and when is the oftentimes the foot in the door.

blues hue

Thus aware, we become empowered, energized to find the colors we need to tell our tales in any style as well as to shade things a stylistic way when needed. Examine the seven diatonic pitches in relation to 'the other five pitches.' Example 2c.

blues hue
.
1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
5
#5
6
b7
7
8
diatonic chords
C
.
D
.
E
F
.
G
.
A
.
B
C
other five pitches
.
Db
.
Eb
.
.
Gb
.
Ab
.
Bb
.
.

Easy enough yes? The tricky part in all of this is simply to be flexible in our thinking, yet somewhat rigid to preserve the diatonic perspective throughout, which keeps all of the theory straight. Like thinking from the root? Yep, works like a charm :)

think from the root

Once a cat can think and spell and rote learn each of the seven diatonic chords, sliding the numbers / pitches around in a chord spelling chart keeping in mind which five pitches are 'left over' to become that chords colortones, that's really the whole diatonic deal.

spelling chords

Run and rote learn this through the 12 keys and that's the whole tamale. Understand that we can slip in the passing diminished chords that live between each diatonic step and we're theory golden. Know the leading tone / substitution properties of the diminished colors and know the last steps to be taken to reach the Americana nirvana of Parnassus.

through 12 keys
whole tamale

passing diminished chords

diminished substitutions

steps to Parnassus

Get all this theory under your fingers, plus the interval and arpeggio studies from each of the five shapes and consider yourself arrived. Find some steady gigs and by then you've probably landed. Here's a version of the chord spelling chart that starts this all off. Example 2d.

interval studies
arpeggio studies

the five shapes

arrived / landed

motion to Four is the priority

starts on One / Two / Four / Five / etc.

Good lovin in E. In this Essentials text, the theory basis of the harmonic motions we use in telling our stories with the Americana musical language simply revolves around both the ascending and descending motions between the One and Four chords and vice versa, Four to One.

Americana musical language
One
Four

The first valence of this becomes the diatonic motions between these points in either the major or minor key center. This is the basis of most folk musics. Our next valence begins to blend the elements of these two core environments together, borrowing one from another, most often filling in the points between One and Four.

valence
diatonic
major / minor

So how we get from One to Four, or Four to One and then back again, to whichever one we started out on, in our diatonic major and minor ways and their mixing, becomes the theory nut we plant to grow our view and understanding of our Americana harmonic motions within this Essentials text.

philosophy of this text

Overview. Understanding the theory of diatonic harmony confirms for us the near artistic equality of the One and Four chords in composing our music. The One chord might be the center of attention but motion to Four is equally adept at getting our hair to stand up. So what lives in between these two compositional balance points becomes the basis of our theory adventures and machinations in the following discussions.

In a nutshell. Within a key center, a chord progression is simply a series of succesive chords with a beginning and end that supports the tension and release dynamic created by the melody. In learning that there's many tried and true progressions for supporting all kinds of melody lines in any style, we realize that we can find any of the diatonic chords starting off our progression.

'rule of 18'
philosophy
American song
American song
music notation

sp

Chord progressions ~ start points. Within a key center, a chord progression is simply a series of succesive chords with a beginning and end that supports the tension and release dynamic created by the melody. In learning that there's many tried and true progressions for supporting all kinds of melody lines in any style, we realize that we can find any of the diatonic chords starting off our progression.

'rule of 18'
philosophy
American song
American song
music notation

Chord progressions ~ starting on Four. Within a key center, a chord progression is simply a series of succesive chords with a beginning and end that supports the tension and release dynamic created by the melody. In learning that there's many tried and true progressions for supporting all kinds of melody lines in any style, we realize that we can find any of the diatonic chords starting off our progression.

'rule of 18'
philosophy
American song
American song
music notation

In a nutshell. Since the 1500's or so, we string players have had the changes. Our early lutes were built to the 'rule of 18' fame, thus creating equal tempered pitches and tunings capable of creating a functioning harmony. American song describes the spectrum of the styles of music we each love. Combined, our study here follows our core pathway; that by gradually expanding our pitch resource in composing our musical styles evolve.

 

As theorists, in any of our musical styles that have chords to back the melody, we've the potential to create corresponding numerical equivelents for the letter names that identify the chords. Of course we already do this as in a C7 chord, combine letters and numbers. Here we go a step further and identify a key center and create corresponding numerals for its pitches. As we've applied this principle to scales, arpeggios and chord tones, we can apply it to chord progressions.

'rule of 18'
philosophy
American song
American song
music notation

This will run more along with musical form and phrasing 4 bars 8 bars key to the highway 12 bar blues ...

start diatonic and add in other five pitches

The advancing theorist. Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art. For improvising musicians playing through the changes, this is a core of their evolutionary and ascension process .

improvisation
music notation

Progressions; One / Four / Five / One ~ major / minor. At the basis of our American chord progressions is the One / Four / Five.

Major and minor.

Numbers / key center.

heorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

Progressions with diatonic Six.

; One / Four / Five / One ~ major / minor. At the basis of our American chord progressions is the One / Four / Five.

Major and minor.

Numbers / key center.

heorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

Six

Root motion of chords. Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

This becomes a key component of morphing styles. As the harmony thickens up we just get more options to explore. The 'three chords and the truth' basis of each style simply evolves through addition of chords. So if your diatonic thing is cool, your chord speller is working fine, read on here to review or try the click to the right to explore and experiment with the theory.

Cadential motions. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical desig

nation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Common 'other' cadential options. Instead of Five / One we ...tritone sub / b7 / One to Six major dock of the bay ... gospel by using Four ... end of a blues tune.

This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical desig

nation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Overview. Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

1
#1
b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
b5
5
#5
b6
6
b7
7
transition into the 2nd octave / the melodic and harmonic color tones
8
b9
9
#9
-10
10
11
#11
12
b13
13
b14
14
15
#15

A solid diatonic basis. Turns out that from any of our key centers, we get the core harmonic motion of One / Four / Five in both the major and minor tonalities.

1. Vamp.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

 

1 / 4 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 6 / 4 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 2 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

2 / 5 / 1.Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

"As Time Goes By"

1 / 6 / 2 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
flipping it around

3 / 6 / 2 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Motion to Four. Chord motion to Four is the most common of our destinations. Filtering the whole style tamale through progressions, in the flow of a song it'll somehow get to the Four chord. The following examples simply run a lot of this down.

half step
music notation

Blues. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Rhythm changes. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

 

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

1 / 5 / 1. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Advanced chord progressions. Theorists already in the know of the diatonic chord motions can simply move beyond into the next level by creating progressions which borrow chords from other keys. Nine times out of ten we're simply spicing up the diatonic, but chances are all nine of these times we add a window of opportunity to advance the challenge of our art.

Folk. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Bluegrass. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Metal. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Blues. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Gospel. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Rock. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Country. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Pop. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Jazz / chord cycles. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Harmonic motion in diatonic fourths. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Rock. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation
scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
scale pitches
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15 (1)
arpeggio pitches
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord degrees
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII
diatonic triads
C E G
D F A
E G B
F A C
G B D
A C E
B D F
C E G
numerical scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
two octave C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
.
3
.
5
.
7
.
9
.
11
.
.
.
15
C major arpeggio
C
.
E
.
G
.
B
.
D
.
F
.
.
.
C

 

Adding the 7th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation
scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
scale pitches
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15 (1)
arpeggio pitches
C
E
G
B
D
F
A
C
chord degrees
I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
VIII
diatonic triads
C E G
D F A
E G B
F A C
G B D
A C E
B D F
C E G

Adding the 9th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 11th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 13th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 7th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 7th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Adding the 7th. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Turnarounds. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

halfdim

Seven / -7b5 / the half diminished chord. This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

 

In a nutshell. The diminished color just seems to be able to find its way into every knook of the American chromatic. Each of the styles has probably at least one spot where we might hear something of this doubly even or tripley minor stack'o pitches.

Into the wayback to the mid 30's to Charlie Christian and his "Air Mail Special", the bridge of which is but also chromatic ...?

can be something diffcan be lots of unique things to lots of different players. .

the American chromatic
the wayback machine

In today's music, while it's near impossible to hear any difference in pitches or tunings, the duality of our pitches enables the blue melodic magic weave over stable, closely tuned chord pitches. Just how central this relationship might be is more about one's own art directions but surely lives at the stylistic heart of Americana guitar. The bend-able string / pitch ability over precisely tuned chords is the basis of our guitar arts.

blue notes
a wide array of chords

Chord progressions ~ the explosive potenetial of the diminished color. As tempos accelerated in bop andits post incarnates, the diminished colors becomes the great accelerator of American jazz. Thanks to its symmetrically sequenced DNA of minor 3rds, two solid theories emerge.

First, simply that the diminished color can slip between two of any diatonic motions at the drop of a hat. Surely some are more awkward, but jazz cats often dig on the challenge of finding the balance and proper presentation based on style, tempo and feel.

The second theory helps creates the various double Two / Five motions. Based mostly on the b9 in V7b9, the fully diminshed 7th chord in this dominant's V7 trnsion encourages chord motion moved around by the minor third interval. We can find this motion in three very lovely jazz classics.

"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known."

Pete Seeger

Grout, Donald Jay. A History of Western Music, p. 10. W.W.Norton and Company Inc. New York, 1960.

 

Aebersold, James and Slone, Ken. Charlie Parker Omnibook. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978. I know this is a troubling stand to take but I felt I had to and as jazz player, I based it on Charlie Parker's compositions in the Omnibook. Find a copy, count the number of tunes, then compare the number of major key to minor key songs. Any real book of popular American song, by a mix of composers, will follow along similar lines in this regard.regard.

~ chord progressions ~

~ just getting hip to the changes ~

~ ~

~ letter names become numbers ~

'a numerical evolution of diatonic motions of one key center ... '

watchtower changes

viii bVII bIV V

I ii iii IV V
I iii IV V
i iv v
i iv v
i iv v
hearing chord progressions
#'s 1 through 7 major

#'s 1 through 7 minor

the diatonic 3 and 3
by 1/2 step or fourth
D7 G7 C7 F walk down to D ... 8 bars
cycles of V7 chords
comparing the diatonic chords
hearing chord progressions
 
 
 
 
 
 

~ motion to Four ~ 15856 / 3 of IV~

~ motion from Four to One ~

~ common chord progressions ~

~ major & minor ~ letters & numbers ~

~ cadential motions ~

 

~ chord progressions ~

~ musical style and form shape progressions ~

~ just getting hip to the changes ~

~ letter names become numbers major and minor ~

~ motion to Four is most common ~

~ the diatonic 3 and 3 ~

watchtower changes

viii bVII bIV V

I ii iii IV V
I iii IV V
i iv v
i iv v
i iv v
hearing chord progressions
#'s 1 through 7 major

#'s 1 through 7 minor

the diatonic 3 and 3
by 1/2 step or fourth
D7 G7 C7 F walk down to D ... 8 bars
cycles of V7 chords
comparing the diatonic chords
hearing chord progressions
 
 
 
 
 
 
'a numerical evolution of diatonic motions of one key center ... '

 

 

 

~ major & minor ~ letters & numbers ~

~ cadential motions ~