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#1818535 - 01/04/12 05:06 PM scales or chords?
Gary D. Offline
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Obviously both have to be mastered, but which do you, as teachers, enjoy teaching?

I hate teaching scales, love teaching chords... smile
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#1818576 - 01/04/12 06:00 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
pianolady14 Offline
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I'm exactly the opposite: love teaching scales, chords not so much. I love talking about the circle of 5ths. So much so that a student once told me she knew what my favorite number was -- 5!
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#1818601 - 01/04/12 06:39 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Gary D. Offline
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I like teaching scales, by rote, as coming FROM chords. smile
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#1818614 - 01/04/12 06:52 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
pianolady14 Offline
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I always talk about chords coming from scales! Now what are your views on arpeggios?
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#1818643 - 01/04/12 07:22 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Obviously both have to be mastered, but which do you, as teachers, enjoy teaching?

I hate teaching scales, love teaching chords... smile

Hate to be the odd man out here, but enjoy both. Scales and scale passages add sparkle to music, so they are fun to use, and of course chords add meat to the foundation, so that's satisfying as well!

My teaching routine has changed over the years. Now I work on white key scales and their chords, root and inversions, then add in the primary chord sequence. Finally add arpeggios and inversions of the primary chord sequence. Try to get through the white keys before they are ready to start two octaves, but don't always succeed. If I can get through the white keys, I begin the minors, then add in the black key majors. Save the black key minors for very last, when students are very secure in their scale fingerings.
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#1818648 - 01/04/12 07:28 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Gary D. Offline
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Obviously both can be derived from both. It's a chicken-egg thing, but when I was young, I always wanted to play very big chords. smile


Edited by Gary D. (01/04/12 07:28 PM)
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#1818651 - 01/04/12 07:30 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
pianolady14 Offline
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That's interesting, John. I too have changed my routine, which is similar to yours in some ways. I have started delaying the black key majors until after the white key minors, too. I used to feel I had to slavishly follow the circle of fifths, but I started to think that introducing the black-key scales too early was slowing progress rather than speeding it up. I introduce scales very early anyway, usually at the beginning of level 1. Most of the teachers I know wait until much later.
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#1818653 - 01/04/12 07:33 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
pianolady14 Offline
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Gary, I still want to play very big chords! However, my hands quit growing too soon!
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#1818679 - 01/04/12 08:02 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: pianolady14]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianolady14
That's interesting, John. I too have changed my routine, which is similar to yours in some ways. I have started delaying the black key majors until after the white key minors, too. I used to feel I had to slavishly follow the circle of fifths, but I started to think that introducing the black-key scales too early was slowing progress rather than speeding it up. I introduce scales very early anyway, usually at the beginning of level 1. Most of the teachers I know wait until much later.


I introduce scales very early on as well, but we might work on the first 3 or 4 (going around the circle of 5ths) for quite a while. I don't find that the black key scales cause any more problem than any others by the time they get there.

Back OT, I prefer teaching scales, as those are the building blocks for chords and melodies. Usually students will do all major sharp and flat keys in scales, then I add chords to the routine (sometimes I add them along the way first time around the circle), and then I add arpeggios. So usually by the 2nd time around they've done all keys, one octave hands together of scales, chords (I IV V I progression in root position), and arpeggios (built on I only). Then we go on to minor scales or 2 octaves.
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#1818689 - 01/04/12 08:11 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Morodiene]
pianolady14 Offline
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I'm always impressed with how many routes can lead to the same destination!
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#1818712 - 01/04/12 08:40 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Minaku Offline
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I can't say I enjoy teaching either as most of the time it's tough for both teacher and student. Once the meat of the scales have been learned, then it gets fun. Same with chords. Teaching 4 basic chord progressions to undergraduate music majors has pretty much sucked any kind of joy out of it.
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#1818815 - 01/04/12 11:14 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: pianolady14]
Monaco Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianolady14
I love talking about the circle of 5ths. So much so that a student once told me she knew what my favorite number was -- 5!


Me too. I also use the circle of 5ths to teach chords though. I make them play their majors and minors around the circle. I found the easiest way to teach them is by color coding. C is all white. B is white, black, black. etc.
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#1818838 - 01/04/12 11:59 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Monaco]
Minaku Offline
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Originally Posted By: Monaco
Originally Posted By: pianolady14
I love talking about the circle of 5ths. So much so that a student once told me she knew what my favorite number was -- 5!


Me too. I also use the circle of 5ths to teach chords though. I make them play their majors and minors around the circle. I found the easiest way to teach them is by color coding. C is all white. B is white, black, black. etc.


That's how I teach arpeggios - we go by color groups, then major/minor.
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#1818864 - 01/05/12 01:27 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Hate to be the odd man out here, but enjoy both. Scales and scale passages add sparkle to music, so they are fun to use, and of course chords add meat to the foundation, so that's satisfying as well!

I started on scales, officially, very VERY late. And I would not recommend this path to any serious student. But I was in 9th grade when my teacher, new at that time, simply told me to take home the Hannon book and learn all the standard scales, all keys. The strange thing is that I do not recall having any problem doing that, but that could be because I had already played so much music, in so many keys, and I think the patterns were already about 98% there.

The same thing happened with chords. She told me to learn all major, minor, diminished and augmented chords in all keys, all inversions, also dominant 7 chords, and to play all these in arpeggios.

Everything about my musical development was weird, so I really can't use my own "path" as any kind of norm. Most of my teaching life has been about trying to find ways to get students who don't pick these things up quickly to get there, some how.

I swear I've tried everything!

Right now I'm having even my very young students (as young as seven) play: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, those major chords. Then Db, Eb, Gb, Ab, Bb. I have them continue up and down a couple octaves, but once they have them, I will tell them to play them chromatically, in whole tone scales, in minor thirds, etc., whatever they can follow. Obviously the really little ones are not going to move right to parallel motion, whole tone, but you see where I am heading.

Then I tell them to play major triads at random, root position, both hands, experimenting. The idea is that by not controlling how they experiment, they start to discover how modern composers uses such devices to set moods.

I move from there to minors. I like having students have major and minor triads, the concept, in all keys, because I use chords in all keys very early. The B chord is probably most rare for the young ones, but B minor is not rare at all, Bb shows up all over the place, and I even use a Db chord with a sort of "Neapolitan feel" in a little waltz I wrote in C minor, adding it to the usual primary chords in that key.

Perhaps the bottom line is that our students end up learning, to some extent, the way we ourselves feel most comfortable simply due to our individual personalities as teachers, if they are comfortable with us.

And in the end, if they get really good, they have to know all about chords AND scales any way. smile


Edited by Gary D. (01/05/12 01:28 AM)
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#1819026 - 01/05/12 11:21 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I even use a Db chord with a sort of "Neapolitan feel" in a little waltz I wrote in C minor, adding it to the usual primary chords in that key.


Hi Gary. It was exciting to see your reference to Neapolitan chords because I had just been learning about Neapolitan 6th chords.

It's helpful to have some discussion about a new idea. Helps me to remember it. So for that reason I'll explain a Neapolitan 6th chord. smile An N6 is a major chord built on the lowered 2nd degree of the scale usually found in 1st inversion. It's used as a colorful substitute for IV. For example in A minor, an N6 would be a Bb chord in lst inversion.
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#1819039 - 01/05/12 11:33 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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So, in A minor, N6 = D F Bb? Substituting for iv = D F A?

What if you were in A major? Would it still be N6 = D F Bb (flatting the sixth degree of the scale to make the Bb major chord)? Substituting for IV = D F# A?

Any examples of pieces that include N6 chords?
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#1819057 - 01/05/12 12:00 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Minaku Offline
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Pianostudent - yes. The bII6 will sub in for a ii6 or a IV. You can alter a chord progression thus:

I-IV6-bII6-V7-I or
I-bII6-IV6-V7-I
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#1819128 - 01/05/12 02:24 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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An example of use of an N6 is in "A Slow Waltz" op.39, no.23 by Dmitri Kabalevsky. It's included in Piano Repertoire book 5 of "Celebration Series Perspectives".
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#1819132 - 01/05/12 02:25 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Minaku]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
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Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Minaku
Pianostudent - yes. The bII6 will sub in for a ii6 or a IV. You can alter a chord progression thus:

I-IV6-bII6-V7-I or
I-bII6-IV6-V7-I


Is this read as "flat two six"? A Neapolitan chord can also be called a "flat two"?
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And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
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#1819289 - 01/05/12 07:17 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Registered: 08/07/07
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I have a hard enough time getting my students to play the technical requirements for their CM test (which contains lots of scales and chords/progressions), so I only teach whatever is on the test for the student's level. I will throw in Hanon and Czerny if and only if the student has no dexterity whatsoever, and I don't have very many of those.

I prefer to teach repertoire and theory. I actually find the hands-together scales pretty useless, since you don't find that very much in actual literature.
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#1819290 - 01/05/12 07:20 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Minaku
Pianostudent - yes. The bII6 will sub in for a ii6 or a IV. You can alter a chord progression thus:

I-IV6-bII6-V7-I or
I-bII6-IV6-V7-I


Is this read as "flat two six"? A Neapolitan chord can also be called a "flat two"?


Yes.

I like your "Slow Waltz" example.
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#1819295 - 01/05/12 07:28 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Minaku
Pianostudent - yes. The bII6 will sub in for a ii6 or a IV. You can alter a chord progression thus:

I-IV6-bII6-V7-I or
I-bII6-IV6-V7-I


Is this read as "flat two six"? A Neapolitan chord can also be called a "flat two"?

Yes. A flat two six chord.

But the Neapolitan idea does not HAVE to 1st inversion.

Chopin Predlue in C Minor, Op. 28, No. 20

Check out M8 and M12. Root position Db major in both, lowered 2nd degree of school, moving to Gaug7 (V aug7) G B Eb F, where Eb resolves to D, typical V7 chord.

So Neapolitan is a "feel", as if you are hovering around a temporary tonal center just a wee bit above normal I chord. smile
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#1819356 - 01/05/12 09:45 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Minaku Offline
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Registered: 07/26/07
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Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Minaku
Pianostudent - yes. The bII6 will sub in for a ii6 or a IV. You can alter a chord progression thus:

I-IV6-bII6-V7-I or
I-bII6-IV6-V7-I


Is this read as "flat two six"? A Neapolitan chord can also be called a "flat two"?

Yes. A flat two six chord.

But the Neapolitan idea does not HAVE to 1st inversion.

Chopin Predlue in C Minor, Op. 28, No. 20

Check out M8 and M12. Root position Db major in both, lowered 2nd degree of school, moving to Gaug7 (V aug7) G B Eb F, where Eb resolves to D, typical V7 chord.

So Neapolitan is a "feel", as if you are hovering around a temporary tonal center just a wee bit above normal I chord. smile


I myself really like a bII-I cadence. It's just cool.
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#1819485 - 01/06/12 02:13 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Gary D. Offline
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Not to mention a bII chord with 7 and b5. smile

Example, in C major:

Db F G B to a I chord, proceed any way you please. It's the old tritone thing, since G7b5/Db = Db7b5.

I think Ann may want to hit us for making this so complicated. wink
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#1819496 - 01/06/12 02:52 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Nikolas Offline
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Oh... I love teaching chords... But for compositional reasons, rather than piano playing... I mean it's vastly important to teach someone who wants to compose the vast alternatives of chord construction (rather than just chord progression): Quartal harmony, 12 tone harmony, mirror harmony, modal harmony, polytonal harmony, etc... So much interesting stuff in there.
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#1819506 - 01/06/12 04:10 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
beeboss Offline
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It is the relationship between scales and chords that I find the most interesting although both are interesting individually.
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#1819561 - 01/06/12 08:34 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Not to mention a bII chord with 7 and b5. smile

Example, in C major:

Db F G B to a I chord, proceed any way you please. It's the old tritone thing, since G7b5/Db = Db7b5.

I think Ann may want to hit us for making this so complicated. wink


No, I'm grateful for the discussion even though a bit of it is beyond my comprehension. smile
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#1819723 - 01/06/12 02:32 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: AZNpiano]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Minaku
Pianostudent - yes. The bII6 will sub in for a ii6 or a IV. You can alter a chord progression thus:

I-IV6-bII6-V7-I or
I-bII6-IV6-V7-I


Is this read as "flat two six"? A Neapolitan chord can also be called a "flat two"?


Yes.

I like your "Slow Waltz" example.


Thanks. I wish I could take credit for it. The example came from the Teacher Handbook (CSP). It's a great resource.
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#1819739 - 01/06/12 03:10 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.


But the Neapolitan idea does not HAVE to 1st inversion.

Chopin Predlue in C Minor, Op. 28, No. 20

Check out M8 and M12. Root position Db major in both, lowered 2nd degree of school, moving to Gaug7 (V aug7) G B Eb F, where Eb resolves to D, typical V7 chord.

So Neapolitan is a "feel", as if you are hovering around a temporary tonal center just a wee bit above normal I chord. smile

Ok, I get the part about the "feel" and function. But is it still a 6 chord when in root position. Like, first inversion you'd have FAbDb which is a 6 chord. But in root position you have DbFAb which is a straight major chord.

So what I'm understanding is that it's outside the notes and chords of that key, which gives it the Neapolitan feel, even though technically it is not a six chord when in root position. (?)

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#1819803 - 01/06/12 05:32 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: keystring
Ok, I get the part about the "feel" and function. But is it still a 6 chord when in root position. Like, first inversion you'd have FAbDb which is a 6 chord. But in root position you have DbFAb which is a straight major chord.

So what I'm understanding is that it's outside the notes and chords of that key, which gives it the Neapolitan feel, even though technically it is not a six chord when in root position. (?)

We are running into a Roman numeral/ lettered chord clash.

6 after a Roman numberal is not a "6 chord". It is a 1st inversion chord.

But 6 after a letter IS a "6 chord".

So, for instance, Db6=Db F Ab Bb. It could also be written Bbm7/Db, but people who use letters, not Roman numerals, generally go for the symbol that seems both easiest to write and simplest to understand. At any rate, the name is: D flat 6,

But if you want F Ab Db, in the key of C minor, you would have to use something like bII6, and you would say: Flat Two Six chord. You would now have to know that "flat two" means a Roman numeral, that II is the second degree, that "b" means lower that degree, and that 6 is a hold over from figured bass.

In figured bass that F would be in the bass. In the key of Cm, already three flats, the Neapolitan in 1st inversion:

b6
F

If you are in C major, the same thing would be
b6
b
F

The F would be notated of course, no letter name.
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#1819871 - 01/06/12 07:03 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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Thanks, Gary. Sorry I should have specified. The discussions above mine were mixing and matching Roman numerals, where "6" means a first inversion, and letter names, where 6 means something else. I meant the latter.

I figured out where I was confused. I have learned a little bit about Neapolitan (tonality?) where the music temporarily moves in the key that is a semitone above, and of course your chord would then be a Db chord, for example which is the bII of C major. The other thing that I learned about is a dominant type chord that gets respelled into a 6 (letter name) because of where it moves when it modulates. For example, instead of DbFAbCb which is Db7 you have DbFAbB which I guess is a Dbaug6 (German 6?) but has exactly the same tonality as the Db7, changed because it moved. I had mixed up these two things because of all these country names: German, Neopolitan, French... wink


Edited by keystring (01/06/12 07:04 PM)

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#1819884 - 01/06/12 07:22 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Thanks, Gary. Sorry I should have specified. The discussions above mine were mixing and matching Roman numerals, where "6" means a first inversion, and letter names, where 6 means something else. I meant the latter.

I figured out where I was confused. I have learned a little bit about Neapolitan (tonality?) where the music temporarily moves in the key that is a semitone above, and of course your chord would then be a Db chord, for example which is the bII of C major. The other thing that I learned about is a dominant type chord that gets respelled into a 6 (letter name) because of where it moves when it modulates. For example, instead of DbFAbCb which is Db7 you have DbFAbB which I guess is a Dbaug6 (German 6?) but has exactly the same tonality as the Db7, changed because it moved. I had mixed up these two things because of all these country names: German, Neopolitan, French... wink

The Db7, deliberatly "misspelled" with a B natural (Db F Ab B) signals that the root (Db) and the B, which sounds like a minor 7 but is spelled as an augmented 6, are going to "expand".

For example:

*Db* F Ab *B*
*C* F Ab *C*

However, in this case your real key would most likely be F minor. And the "misspelled" Db7 chord becomes a German 6th chord.

If, on the other hand, we are in either they key of C major or C minor and want to "visit" another key, I would suggest the whole Neapolitan idea is simply visiting a key, up a half step. You are visiting the key of Db major. Now, if you only do it for one chord, Db/F or bII6, it's as if you have opened up a sound-window, briefly heard a new key, but the window is slammed back before you have enough time to really feel it.

That is the case in which the first inversion chord will often be called a substitute for ii6 or IV.

F Ab Db, bII6
F A C, IV chord in major key
F Ab C, iv chord in minor key
F A D, ii chord in major key.

(The major key would be C major, the minor C minor)

It's really the beginning of rather complex chromaticism.

If, on the other hand, a composer, already in C minor (for example) slips in a Db chord, then plays around with primary chords in that new, temporary key (Db, Gb, Ab, Ab7, Db), you can actually end up in this new key for some time. There will be sort of a "master-key feeling" that reminds you that sooner or later you have to resolve the issue with something like G7 to Cm, but the Romantics may stay in what I call the "Neapolitan key" for quite a long time. It might be 4 measures, 8 measures, or it might be a page or two in Mahler.

And that is why there is very close relationship between the so called "Neapolitan" and the "German 6th". They end up being the I and V7 chord of the key exactly 1/2 step above the real key.

So the Neapolitan 6th chord is simply a particular inversion, used in a particular way, that is part of something much much MUCH bigger.


Edited by Gary D. (01/06/12 07:26 PM)
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#1820254 - 01/07/12 11:59 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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Ok, I understand better now. My very first confusion was that Anne had talked about the N6, being the "Neapolitan Sixth, and I understood that it was called this way because there is a sixth going from the root to the top note. This is like in figured bass, rather than letter names. So then when there was a Neapolitan in root position, there was no longer a sixth, but (if coming from a major key) a straight major chord which technically is the bII. The part that escaped me is that up to a certain point, discussion was about the N6, but there is very simply an N which is the Neapolitan which is the ii chord brought down a semitone making it major and no longer diatonic to the original key. There is the Neapolitan pure and simple, and then the N6 which is first inversion, giving it the property of this 6 from the bass, and letting you do particular things with it. AND that this is just the door opening to a bunch of cool things that can be done with this idea.

Hm, might this tie back in to the original question - scales or chord?

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#1820346 - 01/07/12 02:23 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: keystring]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring


Hm, might this tie back in to the original question - scales or chord?


whome

I guess it's a vote for chords.
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#1820375 - 01/07/12 03:17 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Ok, I understand better now. My very first confusion was that Anne had talked about the N6, being the "Neapolitan Sixth, and I understood that it was called this way because there is a sixth going from the root to the top note. This is like in figured bass, rather than letter names. So then when there was a Neapolitan in root position, there was no longer a sixth, but (if coming from a major key) a straight major chord which technically is the bII. The part that escaped me is that up to a certain point, discussion was about the N6, but there is very simply an N which is the Neapolitan which is the ii chord brought down a semitone making it major and no longer diatonic to the original key. There is the Neapolitan pure and simple, and then the N6 which is first inversion, giving it the property of this 6 from the bass, and letting you do particular things with it. AND that this is just the door opening to a bunch of cool things that can be done with this idea.

Hm, might this tie back in to the original question - scales or chord?

Mini-rant about Roman numerals coming...

And Keystring, this is in NO way aimed at you, or at anyone else in particular. It's just that RNs make me so ANGRY, as a teacher. <grrr>

1) In a major key, exactly what "bII" means is a mess. Why is it major? A II chord is minor. Some people write it as ii, but the system did not start out that way. We have to KNOW that the Neapolitan is major. In other words, the traditional RN system is arbitrary, inconsistent and incredibly inflexible. And it has no real-world application.

2) There is no way to represent a 6th chord in RNs. In the RN world, 6th chords don't exist. They are inversions of 7 chords. If I want to represent an F6 chord, I have to write it as a II6/5. So there is the constant mix-up between X6 (letters) and X6 (RNs).

3) The whole idea of the "Neapolitan" should be a large concept. It is one of 11 other major and minor keys that we can move to at any moment, as briefly as we wish or for as long as we wish. When moving to ANY key, we can use any inversion we wish, and the fact that in situation A or B a particular inversion is picked is merely a matter of context, namely what chord preceeded it and what chord comes next.

The reason I hate theory books, for the most part, is that they are freakin' cookbooks. Yes, everyone has to start somewhere. I understand that. But these books all treat music as if everything important in music started and ended a couple centuries ago, and they put everything into an aritifical box which usually has next to NOTHING to do with the way music really works.


Edited by Gary D. (01/07/12 03:21 PM)
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#1820477 - 01/07/12 06:18 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.


But these books all treat music as if everything important in music started and ended a couple centuries ago, and they put everything into an aritifical box which usually has next to NOTHING to do with the way music really works.


The book I'm using has this: "Composers used the N6 chord as a colorful substitute for IV." And that gave me the impression that it is a thing of the past, and composers don't do that anymore.
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#1820552 - 01/07/12 09:16 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Gary D.


But these books all treat music as if everything important in music started and ended a couple centuries ago, and they put everything into an aritifical box which usually has next to NOTHING to do with the way music really works.


The book I'm using has this: "Composers used the N6 chord as a colorful substitute for IV." And that gave me the impression that it is a thing of the past, and composers don't do that anymore.


Ann,

Very quickly, yes, composers will still do that. ANY chord or progression that EVER sounded "cool" is never thrown away.

The reason your N6 chord is shown to be a substitute for IV is that the IV V I bass line will be preserved.

N6 to V to I is:

Db/F go G to C or Cm in C major or C minor.

Thus
F Ab Db
G B D
C E G C

You will have to double something for four-voice writing.

Note that in a minor key, the IV chord may be written iv, so in C minor, the key, there is only one tiny TINY little 1/2 step difference between:

F Ab C IV
F Ab Db N6
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#1820921 - 01/08/12 02:08 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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That's a lot of issues with a general theme running underneath. wink
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

Mini-rant about Roman numerals coming...

.......... The reason I hate theory books, for the most part, is that they are freakin' cookbooks. Yes, everyone has to start somewhere. I understand that. But these books all treat music as if everything important in music started and ended a couple centuries ago, and they put everything into an aritifical box which usually has next to NOTHING to do with the way music really works.


I've been dancing around this for several years. When I first started harmony theory, it fit in nicely with my experience. My background was m.d. solfege and lots of sonatinas (Clementi) and Baroque. I had a sense of functions and regular modulations like the books teach. If I suddenly wanted to call G "Do" and D "So" in a piece that had started out in C major, it was an easy transition to understand "modulated to G" and V/V. The Roman numeral analysis fit nicely with the type of music that I had experienced, and it was especially good for "relativity" (the dominant of anything - that's a relationship).

But even Bach's music gets more complicated than music "of Bach's period", and one book warns us not to break the rules that Bach broke while teaching what Bach "did". (!) And then with an overview of music history I saw that musical form existed and evolved before the Baroque period, and continued evolving afterward. So we're being taught from a model which is in a key period of music's development, but it is a period.

One of my theory books tried to address this: it went with the RCM exams until those exams changed recently. This book stated that they were teaching theory based on the Baroque period, because our music grew out of it, but that it has evolved since then. Once in a while you'd see them try to sneak in other periods, and they tried to give ideas of how music worked beyond the official rules. They'd try to get into physics, and tritones, and general patterns. But they were still bound to the exam system.

The RCM itself tried to expand past the limitations you mentioned. The new edition has not only Roman Numerals, but figured bass, and solfege names. Still, it's tied into four part (vocal) harmony.

The old (1904) book by Goetschius goes past this, by having us always look at the interplay of melody, harmony, and rhythm. But how many students would work through every single movement of every composer that he assigns, and do so by playing it, and listening? Then there is a 1960's "Oxford" harmony that tries to escape the stiff, artificial, academic approach to music theory. It goes on a different tack (which I rather like).

I dunno. Experiencing music in a very raw way without preconception leaves us open to finding patterns we might not know are there. But without some kind of a framework, it can seem random without order. But with two much order, we have boxed in music and made ourselves blind to what is.

I think that maybe all these different systems give us different ways of seeing music - knowing that music is multifaceted. RN gives us degrees, where there is such a thing. Figured bass gives us a relationship from the bottom, which actually works nicely with the N6 (six from the bottom). Letter names for chords lets us hear the cord purely for what it is. But somehow these things should not take over, becoming rules and formulas, and materials for tests. Or?


Edited by keystring (01/08/12 04:27 PM)
Edit Reason: fixed accidental quotes

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#1820927 - 01/08/12 02:23 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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About the bII phenomenon. When I first learned about diatonic chords of regular major and minor chords (harmonic, natural and melodic as they are taught), we began first by observing which were major and minor. Only later did I memorize the I ii iii IV etc. It had meaning rather than being a formula. Taking a ii chord, bringing the bottom note down a half step automatically widens the gap between the bottom note and the middle note to a major third, (and ofc the top note comes down too) making it a major chord, hence the II, with the bII in front. If we experience and explore it first, then maybe the shortcut names if they are needed are just memory joggers. They hardly matter. To me bII is a fast way of saying "up a half step from the tonic" - it's a little reminder telling me what happened. the problem comes if we are now in a tonality of Db (for C major key) in a quasi-modulation, and hear it as such. We no longer really have this 2nd degree --- and that is the downfall of Roman Numerals.

Is the solution to experience music first, pick up the patterns without a bunch of fancy names in the beginning, and then carefully give/get the labels so we have them, instead of the labels taking over?


Edited by keystring (01/08/12 04:30 PM)

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#1821209 - 01/08/12 10:35 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
RonO Offline
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When arranging or improvising I sometimes use a technic which I think is called a half tone (HT) prechord, or a HT approach chord, or a HT slide. It produces the same or similar effect (depending on the inversion) as using an N6 chord but you don’t have to know anything about N6 chords. It can also produce the same effect as a tritone substitution, but you don’t have to know anything about tritones. It is not only easier to understand and use it is more versatile. It is a very simple concept that is easy for students to learn and apply, and it can be very effective.

If we were sitting together at the piano this would be very easy to explain and would only take a couple of minutes. It will be difficult to explain in a short post. I am also probably wasting my time as well because everyone already knows about this. However:

When a change of chord is about to occur you can play a chord that is a HT away from the new chord on the beat before the new chord. Put another way: the change of chord probably occurs on the first beat of the bar, so the HT prechord could be used on the last beat of the previous bar. The prechord can be a HT above or a HT below the target chord. Which chord to use depends entirely on which one will work with the melody note at that point. Sometimes either will work, sometimes one or the other will work, and sometimes neither will work. Usually a 7th chord sounds best.


In this example the second 2 bars have a HT prechord inserted on the melody note B. The target chord in this case is C so the options for a HT prechord to use with the melody note B are a Db7 or B chord. Melody note B will obviously work with a B chord, and it will also work well with a Db7 chord because the B is the 7th in Db7. So in this case there is a choice. It just depends on which you think sounds the best.
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#1821241 - 01/08/12 11:40 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Minaku Offline
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Hey, there's the Db7b5 Gary was talking about! :P
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#1821290 - 01/09/12 02:42 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: RonO]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: RonO
When arranging or improvising I sometimes use a technic which I think is called a half tone (HT) prechord, or a HT approach chord, or a HT slide. It produces the same or similar effect (depending on the inversion) as using an N6 chord but you don’t have to know anything about N6 chords. It can also produce the same effect as a tritone substitution, but you don’t have to know anything about tritones. It is not only easier to understand and use it is more versatile. It is a very simple concept that is easy for students to learn and apply, and it can be very effective.

I NEVER talk about N6 chords to my students unless they bring up the subject. Nor do I talk about tritone substitutions. My words are "morphing" and slithering. Seriously! smile

I can't tell a nine-year old, "This is a tritone substitution." I suppose I could, and EVENTUALLY it might sink in, but I would explain what you are talking about in a very practical way. I stress that moving by fifths, even tritones, in the bass line, always creates very strong movement. This is why Dm G C is so strong and is very prominent in everything from Bach right up to the present.

An equally effective bass movement, also from Bach right up to the present, is a chromatic bass movement. So if you take Dm G C and switch it to Dm7 Db7 C, that is both smooth and subtle. The idea I teach is that any time you move from one chord to another, and EVERYTHING either moves by a step, a half step or stays in place, the sound is interesting and works like magic somewhere, and you can go on doing this forever.

Cm to Abm, using C Eb G to Cb Eb Ab is a typical movement between two minor chords where the top slips up, the bottom slips down, and the middle does not move. Not only is that sound used again and again to create moods in movies and TV shows that want to establish a feeling of mystery and something vaguely scary, it's the first two chords in the Darth Vader March. Transpose to whatever key John Williams wrote it in.

The Chopin E Minor Prelude is a study in chromaticsm, where you have nearly a page of one note of each chord descending by 1/2 step, slithering down and down and down until finally he reaches a B7, dominant 7th chord.

So Bach did, Chopin did it, Wagner did it, and any number of great jazz standards do it.

That was my point. In the key of C, G7-5 and Db7-5 are simply two inversions of the same chord, and because they both sound like they are in root position when EITHER the G OR the Db is in the bass, they are just cool. smile

But I do think that at some point you need to know that:

1) This works because X7-5 is part of a whole tone scale.
2) A tritone, no matter what you call it is also part of a whole tone scale.
3) When very traditional, simple chords are altered in this manner, all SORTS of cool things happen.
4) All the theory books in the universe can't begin to describe possible chord progressions that start with basic concepts but sort of mutate into music that is unique.
5) Composers are exploring this idea when they write things like Tristan, Debussy's "Faun", the first movement of Bartok's Music for String Percussion and Celesta, Rite of Spring, or any number of things by Miles.

And I do think we all have to start out with basics, so I am not really trashing theory books. I am just pointing out their limitations. smile
Quote:

Put another way: the change of chord probably occurs on the first beat of the bar, so the HT prechord could be used on the last beat of the previous bar. The prechord can be a HT above or a HT below the target chord. Which chord to use depends entirely on which one will work with the melody note at that point. Sometimes either will work, sometimes one or the other will work, and sometimes neither will work. Usually a 7th chord sounds best.

What you call HT prechord I call slithering down a 1/2 step. The chord(s) that will work best before a "target" chord will be fairly predictable if the target chord is a final chord, in very tonal music. So there is no mystery about the fact that Ipanema ends with Gm9 to Gb7-5 to Fmaj7.

If, however, your "target chord" is not a final chord, but simply a chord at the end of a phrase, itself creating tension that needs to be released, then any chord under the sun can be used in the same manner, sliding down a HT.

Also, at any point the melody note may or may not be considered part of the chord, depending on how you notate your chords. If an A is in the melody and does not resolve to a G or Bb, and the chord otherwise is C7, the A is not really part of the chord. You don't have an C 13, because D and F are missing. I notate this precisely as C7 *add 13*, to show voicing and how the A in the melody works, harmonically.

Then there are chords, like a "#9" chord, where the function of the melody note (if the "#9" is in the melody, is totally misleading. Often I see such chords spelled like this, using a typical open voicing:

C (G) C// E G C Eb, and the reason is that you have a chord that is both major and minor at the same time. It is ambiguous and contains the hard major 7th (interval) but can resolve just like an ordinary C7 to F. Of course the F chord will end up with color tones of its own, a 6, a maj7, etc.

My apologies to people we are losing here. The evolution from Bach to Debussy to Thelonious Monk, to me, is much clearer moving BACKWARDS, to Bach, than trying to get from Bach to Monk.

But I may just be weird. smile
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#1821293 - 01/09/12 02:47 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Minaku]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Minaku
Hey, there's the Db7b5 Gary was talking about! :P

Yes. Such a cool chord, contains two tritones, contains two major 3rds, always works for two keys a tritone apart, and you can lay in a whole tone scale right over it. wink
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#1821345 - 01/09/12 05:30 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
RonO Offline
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Posts: 115
Loc: New Zealand
The beauty of the HT slither concept is its simplicity. Easy to understand, easy to apply, easy to teach. (I am happy to call it a HS slither) Here in Amazing Grace is another example.



In the 3rd bar there is a Bb chord. A HS slither before that could be a B7 chord or an A7 chord. Although I agree with you Gary that the melody note does not have to be a chord note the melody note has to live with the chord. In this case the G melody is not comfortable with the B7 chord but works well with the A7 chord. I have inserted another slither before the F chord.

The A7 and E7 chords are not in the original music but I think they add a lot.

I think I may have posted this example some time ago.
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#1821423 - 01/09/12 10:16 AM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Gary D.]
Minaku Offline
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Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: RonO
When arranging or improvising I sometimes use a technic which I think is called a half tone (HT) prechord, or a HT approach chord, or a HT slide. It produces the same or similar effect (depending on the inversion) as using an N6 chord but you don’t have to know anything about N6 chords. It can also produce the same effect as a tritone substitution, but you don’t have to know anything about tritones. It is not only easier to understand and use it is more versatile. It is a very simple concept that is easy for students to learn and apply, and it can be very effective.

I NEVER talk about N6 chords to my students unless they bring up the subject. Nor do I talk about tritone substitutions. My words are "morphing" and slithering. Seriously! smile

I can't tell a nine-year old, "This is a tritone substitution." I suppose I could, and EVENTUALLY it might sink in, but I would explain what you are talking about in a very practical way. I stress that moving by fifths, even tritones, in the bass line, always creates very strong movement. This is why Dm G C is so strong and is very prominent in everything from Bach right up to the present.

An equally effective bass movement, also from Bach right up to the present, is a chromatic bass movement. So if you take Dm G C and switch it to Dm7 Db7 C, that is both smooth and subtle. The idea I teach is that any time you move from one chord to another, and EVERYTHING either moves by a step, a half step or stays in place, the sound is interesting and works like magic somewhere, and you can go on doing this forever.

Cm to Abm, using C Eb G to Cb Eb Ab is a typical movement between two minor chords where the top slips up, the bottom slips down, and the middle does not move. Not only is that sound used again and again to create moods in movies and TV shows that want to establish a feeling of mystery and something vaguely scary, it's the first two chords in the Darth Vader March. Transpose to whatever key John Williams wrote it in.

The Chopin E Minor Prelude is a study in chromaticsm, where you have nearly a page of one note of each chord descending by 1/2 step, slithering down and down and down until finally he reaches a B7, dominant 7th chord.

So Bach did, Chopin did it, Wagner did it, and any number of great jazz standards do it.

That was my point. In the key of C, G7-5 and Db7-5 are simply two inversions of the same chord, and because they both sound like they are in root position when EITHER the G OR the Db is in the bass, they are just cool. smile

But I do think that at some point you need to know that:

1) This works because X7-5 is part of a whole tone scale.
2) A tritone, no matter what you call it is also part of a whole tone scale.
3) When very traditional, simple chords are altered in this manner, all SORTS of cool things happen.
4) All the theory books in the universe can't begin to describe possible chord progressions that start with basic concepts but sort of mutate into music that is unique.
5) Composers are exploring this idea when they write things like Tristan, Debussy's "Faun", the first movement of Bartok's Music for String Percussion and Celesta, Rite of Spring, or any number of things by Miles.

And I do think we all have to start out with basics, so I am not really trashing theory books. I am just pointing out their limitations. smile
Quote:

Put another way: the change of chord probably occurs on the first beat of the bar, so the HT prechord could be used on the last beat of the previous bar. The prechord can be a HT above or a HT below the target chord. Which chord to use depends entirely on which one will work with the melody note at that point. Sometimes either will work, sometimes one or the other will work, and sometimes neither will work. Usually a 7th chord sounds best.

What you call HT prechord I call slithering down a 1/2 step. The chord(s) that will work best before a "target" chord will be fairly predictable if the target chord is a final chord, in very tonal music. So there is no mystery about the fact that Ipanema ends with Gm9 to Gb7-5 to Fmaj7.

If, however, your "target chord" is not a final chord, but simply a chord at the end of a phrase, itself creating tension that needs to be released, then any chord under the sun can be used in the same manner, sliding down a HT.

Also, at any point the melody note may or may not be considered part of the chord, depending on how you notate your chords. If an A is in the melody and does not resolve to a G or Bb, and the chord otherwise is C7, the A is not really part of the chord. You don't have an C 13, because D and F are missing. I notate this precisely as C7 *add 13*, to show voicing and how the A in the melody works, harmonically.

Then there are chords, like a "#9" chord, where the function of the melody note (if the "#9" is in the melody, is totally misleading. Often I see such chords spelled like this, using a typical open voicing:

C (G) C// E G C Eb, and the reason is that you have a chord that is both major and minor at the same time. It is ambiguous and contains the hard major 7th (interval) but can resolve just like an ordinary C7 to F. Of course the F chord will end up with color tones of its own, a 6, a maj7, etc.

My apologies to people we are losing here. The evolution from Bach to Debussy to Thelonious Monk, to me, is much clearer moving BACKWARDS, to Bach, than trying to get from Bach to Monk.

But I may just be weird. smile


Gary, a question. How is an Eb considered a #9 in a C chord? I know we don't work with b10 but not seeing a D# is making me frown

I have often wondered why we continue to use Roman numerals when jazz notation makes more sense, but you can see sequences and cadences much easier with a Roman numeral analysis.

As for the "HT slither", for Ron's example I just see it as another take on a vii-I (or VII7/IV-IV in this case). Chromatic approach to destination keys is fun to play around with.
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#1821595 - 01/09/12 03:35 PM Re: scales or chords? [Re: Minaku]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
A quick answer:

Chords are not just chords but also bridges between chords proceeding and following.

That's why a G7 is spelled G B D F before C E G but G B D E# before F# B D F#.

The spelling you want to use is VERY common, and you should feel free to use it any time you wish.

So if C E G Bb D# seems more logical to you (after it then you truly have a sharp 9), use it. And you will see it.

But remember that G B D E#, a German 6th, still a G7 in letters. Lettered chords do not pay any attention to enharmonic spelling.

I'll try to do more research for you. I always think of "Spinning Wheels" as a perfect example of the chord (Blood Sweat and Tears), so I'll see if I can get a copy of the music to see how that is spelled. smile
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Old Wurlitzer (circa 1940s) baby grand, Worth Picking Up?
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