Music theory can be a huge pain, especially for vocalists! What most students don’t realize isthat they actually can understand it, as long as it’s put into words that make sense. We don’t necessarily think in letters, we think in scales and solfege.In this Presentation, we’ll be looking at one of the building blocks of music: chords. Chords are really a simple concept, andhopefully you will all think that too when this lesson is through!
What is Chord Quality?? I’m sure we’ve all heard the “quality” of a chord is determined by the 3rd. What does that mean? First off, “quality” basically means major or minor. The quality of a Chord means major third? Or minor third? A chord is stacked in thirds. If it’s a major chord, the first third is major and the second is minor. Let’s break this down by looking at the scale.
MAJOR CHORDOur major triad is Do MiSol.Do to Mi is two wholesteps, (Do Re Mi) makingit a major third.Mi to Sol is one half stepand one whole step (MiFa Sol), making it a minorthird.
Minor Chord. A minor chord is stacked with a minor third and then a major one.Do Re Me (which is one half step and one whole step) and Me FaSol (which is two whole steps), making our triad Do Me Sol.By lowering the third degree a half step, the chord “quality”changes to minor.
Augmented • An augmented chord is built with a major third, meaning Do Mi rather than Do Me. • The part that we “augment” is the fifth, by raising it a half step. This makes the chord stacked with two major thirds. Essentially, The Interval between the root and the fifth is what was augmented.
DiminishedDiminished chords are stacked with MINOR thirds. So obviously we have Do Me, our first major third. Now what we’re going to do with the fifth is diminish it a half step. Me Se. So now we have Do Me Se, our diminished chord. These chords aren’t exactly pretty, but when used in the proper context, they can really work!