Major & Minor Intervals & The Chords They Form
Hi, this is Duane and no matter what kind of music you play, you play both balanced and unbalanced chords – Major & Minor Intervals & The Chords They Form. I’d like to talk a little bit about those two things, balanced and unbalanced chords. Have you ever thought about that? Here’s a major chord. That’s the most common of all chords, it’s used in music may be 60, 70% of the time.
Twenty or 30% of the time minor chords are used. They’re far more used, major/minor chords are are far more used than augmented or diminished chords and I’d like to show you why, in case you don’t know, may be you do know why.
Major chords are unbalanced. Minor chords are unbalanced while augmented chords are unbalanced and diminished chords are unbalanced. Here’s why. A major chord is made out of a major third. A major third is the third note of the scale or you can count half steps. One, two, three, four. A major third is four half steps.
A minor third is three half steps. One, two, three. There’s a major third and there’s a minor third. Now let ask you a question, when you play the C chord, what are those two intervals? That’s the major third, obviously but what’s that? Is that a major third? Sounds very major, doesn’t it? That’s because your mind is filling in that note. After having played the C chord and then if I play just those two notes, your mind is filling in that note even though I’m not playing it.
I’ll prove it to you. If I play an E down there, now does it sound major? No, suddenly it sounds minor. Why? Because I’m emphasizing the E is the root, not C. If C was the root, it would sound like that. It would sound major but if I play E, it sounds minor, doesn’t it?
Here’s why, because between E and G is only a minor third. One, two, three. We have an unbalanced chord. We have a major third with a minor third on top of it, don’t we? A major third and a minor third. Unbalanced. We like the sound, we like the sound of unbalanced chords.
Now, what about minor. That’s unbalanced too, isn’t it? It’s a minor third with a major third on top. Just the opposite of a major chord. A major chord has a major third on the bottom, a minor third on top. While a minor chord has a minor third on the bottom, major third on top. Those are the two most used chords, major and minor. We hear that all the time in our playing.
Now a chord that’s used may be five or something like that percent of the time is a diminished chord. It goes like that. In fact, diminished chords are almost always including that note too. I’ll show you why in a minute. A diminished chord is balanced, isn’t it? Even though it sounds, we’re really not comfortable with leaving it.
If I played that note and told you to go to bed, played that chord and told you to go to bed, you’d want to get up and turn it off, wouldn’t you? Because it’s unbalanced. I mean it is balanced but it gives you an eerie feeling.
It’s a minor third followed by a minor third. Now the reason that that note is often included in that chord is because that’s a minor third too. Notice it’s a minor third up to the octave note. We have all minor thirds, very balanced.
Now, that’s called a diminished seventh chord. How many diminished seventh chords would there be, do you think? Do you think there’s 12 different diminished seventh chords like there’s 12 major chords and 12 minor chords? No, there’s only three diminished seventh chords. Why is that? Watch me go up a half step.
That’s a different diminished seventh chord and that’s a diminished seventh chord but now is that a diminished seventh chord? No, all I’ve done is taken the C off the bottom and put on top. That’s why it sounds that why because it’s totally balanced.
Now another chord that’s totally balanced is an augmented chord. Instead of making of being made up of all minor thirds like a diminished chord is, it’s made up of all major chords. I mean all major thirds. Major third, major third. From here up to the octave, what is it? Major thirds. It’s totally balanced. It’s totally balanced.
How many augmented chords do you think there’d be? Will there be 12 like major and minor or would there only be three like the diminished? How many notes are in it? Three. How far to the octave? Eight or 12 half steps. There is one, two, three. There’s only three, isn’t there? I mean there’s only four, isn’t there? Because when I get to that, that’s the same chord we started at, just inverted. You got that.
There’s four different augmented chords. One, two, three … One, two, three, four and then we come down to the same augmented chord that we started at just inverted, turned upside down.
The augmented chord, by the way, is based on the whole tones scale. The whole tone scale used nothing but whole tones and the augmented chords are based on that. You have that feeling of lightness or I don’t know, something, some feeling that’s created out of that chord.
Anyway, that’s the difference between balanced and unbalanced chords. I just thought you’d like to know that because your major and minor chords, you play more all the time are unbalanced. While the chords like diminished and augmented are totally balanced.
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