What Are The “Primary Chords” & Why Do I Need To Know Them?


FacebookGoogle+Share/Bookmark
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 7.7/10 (3 votes cast)

What Are The “Primary Chords” & Why Do I Need To Know Them?

Good morning. This is Duane. I’d like to ask you a question today. Do you know the primary chords in all 12 keys? What do I mean by primary chords? Primary chords are like homeboy chords. They’re the chords that belong to a family, a key family. In other words, if I’m playing in the key of B flat, I’ve got to know the three primary chords, the three main chords, the three home chords in the key of B flat. They are B flat, E flat and F.

Now why are they the primary chords? Well, let me explain. I’ll come back to the key of C so you can see it a little clearly, a little more clearly. Here’s the scale of C, and when I play in the key of C what I’m saying is I’m basing my playing on the scale of C. So I take the first note of the C scale which is C and add to it the third and the fifth; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, the third and the fifth of the scale and that gives me the home, the very home key, the very home chord I should say. That is the C chord in the key of C also known as the I chord. Do you know why it’s named the I chord? Because it’s built on the first note of the scale. I use Roman Numeral I to designate the C chord made up of C, E, and G. Very clear.

Now, the next most important chord, or one of the next most important chords is the IV chord; 1, 2, 3, 4. I’m going to build a chord on F; F, A and C, the root, third and fifth up from F, right? That’s the IV chord in the key of C. The third chord in the key of C is the V chord; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. So I’m starting on G, B and D again the root, third and fifth up from G. Those are the three most important chords in the key of C.

Now when I say most important, what I really mean is most used. When composers write a song, they can use any chords they want. When they’re in the key of C, they can use F sharp, or E flat, or whatever they want, but if you put all the songs ever written in a computer and they spit out the most likely chord you’d find the I chord, the IV chord, and the V chord way, way, way ahead of any other chords. They’re the primary chords. They’re the most used chords in any given key. So in the key of C, the primary chords are C, F and G.

Therefore, to play in any other key, I have to know the primary chords of that key, don’t I? How many keys are there that I can play in? How many major keys? Well, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. When I come to C again, of course, I’m repeating. C is the same as C, righet? So there’s 12 different keys that I can play in. If I want to play in all 12 keys, I have to master those scales, those primary chords in each of the 12 keys.

Let’s drop down a half step to the key of B. The key of B is based on the B scale, and if you know the rule for major scales, you’ll know that wherever you start you go up a whole step, not a half step, a whole step, then another whole step, then a half step, then a whole step, whole step, whole step, half. In other words, whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. That’s the formula for a major scale no matter what key you’re in.

The B scale goes like this; B, C sharp, D sharp, E, F sharp, G sharp, A sharp and B. How many sharps does it have? Well, how many did we play? Five. It has a key. There’s five sharps in the key of B. To find the primary chords I take the first note of the scale, B, and go up a third, 1, 2, 3. That’s my next note, and now up a fifth. That’s the I chord in the key of B. Now to find the IV chord, I go 1, 2, 3, 4, and build a chord up from E using the scale of B. I can’t use that because that’s not in the scale of B. So I play E, G sharp and B.

The V chord then would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so I build a chord up from F sharp; F sharp, A sharp, and C sharp. Again, I can’t use those because those notes are not in the scale of B. So the primary chords in the key of B turn out to be B, E and F sharp. Remember, the primary chords are always I, IV, V no matter what key you’re in. So in the key of B flat, it would be B flat, E flat and F. In the key of A, it would be A, D and E. In the key of A flat, it would be A flat, D flat, and E flat. In the key of G, it would be G, C and D. In the key of G flat or F sharp, well, I’ll call it G flat, G flat, C flat and D flat. In the key of F it would be I, IV, V. Or F, B flat, C. In the key of E; E, A, B. In the key of E flat; E flat, A flat, B flat. In the key of D; D, G, and A. And in the key of D flat it would be D flat, G flat, and A flat.

If I want to transpose a song say from the key of C, I’m playing in the key of C, to the key of D flat, I would have to know the primary chords in the key of D flat which I just illustrated, D flat, G flat, and A flat. Let’s say I’m playing. (Duane playing) In the key of D flat, it would be D flat, G flat, D flat, A flat, and home to D flat. If I wanted to play it in the key of D, (Duane playing). If I want to play it in the key of E flat, (Duane playing), and so on through the keys. So if you want to play in a different key, make sure to master the primary chords. Of course, you’ll have to master some other things to, but that’s the very first step to master the primary chords.

So my original question is why should you learn the primary chords? Because they’re the home-based chords of any given key. Well, that’s it for today so come on back tomorrow for another little tip, piano tip, of some sort. Meanwhile, go on over to PlayPiano.com and sign up for our free newsletter if you’re not already signed up, and you’ll receive tips like this most every day.

Thanks for being with me and we’ll see you again soon. Bye, bye, for now.

Here is the video on primary chords on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDzQNKbePsw
——————————————————————————————–

Summary
Article Name
What Are The
Author
Description
Do you know the primary chords in all 12 keys? What do I mean by primary chords? Primary chords are like homeboy chords. They're the chords that belong to a family, a key family.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Review our article:
Rating: 7.7/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
What Are The "Primary Chords" & Why Do I Need To Know Them?, 7.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

Tags:

Comments are closed.