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#952557 - 11/03/05 11:20 PM I'm Having Difficulty In Memorizing Chord Names
Sipry Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/05
Posts: 91
Loc: Arizona
I seem to be having trouble just remembering chord names. In my old notes from years ago, my teacher had written that when you have line-line-line or space-space-space, the bottom note will be the name of the chord. I understand that but her other "helpful hints" are totally confusing to me. Is there some way that would help in remembering the other types - F Major, D7, G7, etc.? I don't seem to have trouble recognizing what notes to play with chords when I'm reading a piece but if I had to actually say what chord it is,,,,,well, that's another story.

Sipry

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#952558 - 11/04/05 09:00 AM Re: I'm Having Difficulty In Memorizing Chord Names
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
Not a teacher but here's what helped me with that stuff...

Memorize (and practice playing) all your major triads first (there are only 12 of them). Everything else is just modifications of these. For Domninant 7th chords (D7,G7,C7) you should practice moving from the V7 to the I chord.

Try practicing this is all keys:

Play the chord progression C, F, G7, C. You should note that there is a specific way to play this that is easy and requires minimal shifts in hand position. Play the C chord in root position (C-E-G), the F chord in its 2nd inversion (C-F-A) and the V7 chord in its 1st invesion with the 5th omitted (B-F-G). This is called a "I-IV-V7-I" progression. Learn to play it in all keys.

Also, a quick trick if you memorized all your major triads you automatically know what the V degree of any major or minor scale is (hint: it's the note your thumb plays when playing a major triad in your left hand).

Also all domninant seventh chords contain an interval of a second. The top note of that interval is the root of the chord. For instance G7 = B-(D)-F-G : the second is the interval between F and G so the root is the top note (G) therefore the chord is a G7.

When forming a dominant sevent chord you can find the flat seventh by going down 2 half-steps from the root. E.g. for A7, find A, go down 2 half-steps to G, thats the "flat-seventh". Or you can think about it like what is the seventh degree of the A major scale (answer G#), now flat it = G natural, either way works.

~pianocliff

ps> For memorizing the major triads you don't really have to memorize the note names that make up a chords. These will always be "skips" in the musical aplphabet (e.g. f-a-c). What you do have to memorize is whether those note names have sharps or flats (for instance EM = E-G#-B). try to burn both the the note names and the chord shape on the piano into your head by playing and reciting the name at the same time.

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#952559 - 11/04/05 11:59 AM Re: I'm Having Difficulty In Memorizing Chord Names
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianocliff:

ps> For memorizing the major triads you don't really have to memorize the note names that make up a chords. These will always be "skips" in the musical aplphabet (e.g. f-a-c). What you do have to memorize is whether those note names have sharps or flats (for instance EM = E-G#-B). try to burn both the the note names and the chord shape on the piano into your head by playing and reciting the name at the same time. [/b]
Another good way to find chords is to measure the distance between the notes in semitones (half steps).

MAJOR CHORD from any note - go up 4 semitones then 3 semitones.

MINOR CHORD - go up 3 semitones then 4 semitones.

AUGMENTED CHORD - up 4 ST's then 4 ST's

DIMINISHED CHORD - up 3 ST's then 3 ST's


Chords are based on scales. Take the scale of C major for example and number each note:

C D E F G A B C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

The root position chord on the key note (C) is made up of the 1st, 3rd and 5th degrees of the scale - C E G.
If you play chords or triads on every note in the key of C major you will get the following chords:

I C Major - C E G
II D Minor - D F A
III E Minor - E G B
IV F Major - F A C
V G Major - G B D
VI A Minor - A C E
VII B Diminished - B F A

The most common chords as Pianocliff rightly says are chords I - C E G, IV - F A C, and V - G B D and you should learn to play (and memorise) these first.
The '7' in the chord of G7 refers to the interval above the bottom note. Start on G and count up 7 letter names:

G A B C D E F
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

So a chord of G is G B D,
and a chord of G7 is G B D F

These 7th chords are used to fully establish the key when playing a 'perfect cadence' or in other words the chord progression V-I (and V7-I). You should certainly learn to play and hear this progression in each key.

Start as Pianocliff said in the key of C major plaing chords I, IV, and V7. Concentrate on that progression V7-I which forms many phrase endings. Then try them in some of the other simpler keys like G major, F major, D major.
You could also try these cadences (phrase endings):

PLAGAL IV - I (Often heard in hymns - AMEN)
IMPERFECT I - V or IV - V (anthing ending in chord V but try these first).

Hope this is of use. :p
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#952560 - 11/04/05 01:56 PM Re: I'm Having Difficulty In Memorizing Chord Names
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
Chris makes some very good points. When I first started with piano I thought you had to memorize
every chord there was. This really isn't true and there are so many chords (esp when you take altered chords into account) that this is all but impossible. What you need to focus on is how to form chords and how chords function within a specific key, that (to me at least) is the real value of knowing your chords.

Also, don't just approach this as an intellectual or "technique" exercise, it isn't. It is important to listen to the sounds different diatonic (chords that are in the key you are playing) chords make and understand aurally how those sounds set up tension and resolve it. Playing cadences like Chris mentioned will help out and so will playing Major-Minor-Dimished-Augmented triads on every root note. Eventually you can move on to 7th and higher order chords where the principle is basically the same but you are adding more thirds to the stack. If you get bored with your cadences start improvising over them in different keys.

~pianocliff

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#952561 - 11/04/05 02:06 PM Re: I'm Having Difficulty In Memorizing Chord Names
Schumann Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Bloomington, IN
Couple of quibbles --
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
VII B Diminished - B F A [/b]
"B D F"

 Quote:
These 7th chords are used to fully establish the key when playing a 'perfect cadence' or in other words the chord progression V-I (and V7-I).[/b]
"Authentic Cadence". ("Perfect" means that both chords are in root position and you have the tonic in the upper voice at the end; "Imperfect" means that one or both of these is/are not the case.)

 Quote:
IMPERFECT I - V or IV - V (anthing ending in chord V but try these first).[/b]
"Half Cadence".

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#952562 - 11/04/05 02:20 PM Re: I'm Having Difficulty In Memorizing Chord Names
hgiles Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/05
Posts: 736
Loc: Charlottesville Virginia
Just stack the notes up in consecutive thirds (adjacent lines and/or spaces) and the note on the bottom is always the root.

E-F-A-C

E-F is not a consecutive third, so rearrange like this.

F-A-C-E -- this is an F chord.

Now play an F major scale. Since A, C, and E occur in the major scale, then this is an F major 7th chord.

If the E was Eb then you have a Dominant 7th chord. F, A, C (1st, 3rd, 5th) are part of the F Major scale. Eb is not.

If you have Ab and Eb then it is F-7 chord. Neither the third nor the seventh are part of the F major scale.

If you have Ab, Eb, and Cb (B), then you have a half-diminshed chord. The bottom part (F-Ab-Cb)of the seventh chord is a diminshed triad. The top part of the seventh chord (Ab-Cb-Eb) is a minor triad.

Learn these four forms first. But as you can see it helps to know your major scales!
_________________________
Haywood
-------------

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#952563 - 11/04/05 02:48 PM Re: I'm Having Difficulty In Memorizing Chord Names
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Schumann:
Couple of quibbles --
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
VII B Diminished - B F A [/b]
"B D F"

 Quote:
These 7th chords are used to fully establish the key when playing a 'perfect cadence' or in other words the chord progression V-I (and V7-I).[/b]
"Authentic Cadence". ("Perfect" means that both chords are in root position and you have the tonic in the upper voice at the end; "Imperfect" means that one or both of these is/are not the case.)

 Quote:
IMPERFECT I - V or IV - V (anthing ending in chord V but try these first).[/b]
"Half Cadence". [/b]
Yes I'll give you the first one. The diminished chord on the 7th degree of C major is B D F, I typed it in wrong! I did try to check the post for errors but this one slipped by, sorry.

However..... I am afraid that a 'PERFECT' cadence simply means a progression from chord V (or V7) to chord I. Likewise the 'IMPERFECT' cadence is any chord followed by chord V. According to what Schumman is saying a chord progression Vb (B in the bass with G D F above) falling to I (Cin the bass with G C E above would be 'IMPERFECT'. I'm afraid this isn't so. I hate it when people go through posts nitpicking and finding fault rather than offering any useful advice.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#952564 - 11/05/05 03:40 AM Re: I'm Having Difficulty In Memorizing Chord Names
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
OK, I get it now. Before anyone jumps on my previous post.......

Here is the definition of cadence given in the Concise Oxford dictionary of music.

'cadence or close. Any melodic or harmonic progression which has come to possess a conventional association with the ending of a comp., a section, or a phrase.


The commonest harmonic cadences are: (a) Perfect cadence (or full close). Chord of the dominant followed by that of tonic. (b) Interrupted cadence. Chord of the dominant followed by that of submediant. (c) Imperfect cadence (or half close). Chord of the tonic or some other chord followed by that of dominant. (d) Plagal cadence. Chord of the subdominant followed by that of tonic.


To any of the dominant chords above mentioned the 7th may be added. Any of the chords may be taken in inversion, but if that is done in the case of the perfect cadence its effect of finality (i.e. its ‘perfection’) is lost.


The term Phrygian cadence is applied by various writers to (i) in major key a cadence ending on the chord of the dominant of relative minor (e.g. in key C major E-G#-B), or (ii) any sort of imperfect cadence (half close) in minor mode, or (iii) first inversion of subdominant chord followed by dominant chord (e.g. in key C the chord A-C-F followed by the chord G-B-D). (It seems best to confine the name to the cadence (i) above, which is fairly common in J. S. Bach and for which no other name is available, whereas (ii) and (iii) are simply varieties of the imperfect cadence.)


For the cadence employing the tierce de Picardie see under that term.


Other terms are:


Abrupt cadence = interrupted cadence (see above). Amen cadence = plagal cadence (see above). Authentic cadence = perfect cadence (full close; see above). Avoided cadence = interrupted cadence (see above). Broken cadence = interrupted cadence (see above). Church cadence = plagal cadence (see above). Complete cadence = perfect cadence (full close; see above). Deceptive cadence = interrupted cadence (see above). Demi-cadence = imperfect cadence (half close; see above). Dominant cadence = imperfect cadence (half close; see above). Evaded cadence = interrupted cadence (see above). False close = interrupted cadence (see above). Greek cadence = plagal cadence (see above). Half cadence = half close (see imperfect cadence, above). Inverted cadence = perfect or imperfect cadence (full close or half close; see above) with its latter chord inverted. (Some confine the name to the perfect cadence thus changed; others extend it to all cadences having either chord, or both, inverted.) Irregular cadence = interrupted cadence (see above). Mixed cadence. The term is used in 2 ways—both of them superfluous. (1) A ‘mixing’ of the plagal and imperfect cadences, consisting of subdominant-dominant, this being merely the imperfect cadence in one of its commonest forms. (2) A mixing of the plagal and perfect cadences, consisting of the perfect cadence preceded by the subdominant—making 3 chords, instead of the usual two. This is merely the perfect cadence led up to in one of its commonest manners and should not require any special name. Radical cadence = any cadence of which the chords are in root position, i.e. the roots of the chords in the bass. Semi-perfect cadence = perfect cadence (see above) with the 3rd or 5th of the tonic in the highest part. Surprise cadence = interrupted cadence (see above). Suspended cadence = a hold-up before the final cadence of a piece, as that in a conc. (or, in former times, an aria) for the solo performer to work in a cadenza.


The above definitions accord with Brit. terminology. Amer. usage is different and inconsistent.'


It seems that the terminology varies according to which part of the world you live/study.
In the UK we use just 4 types of cadence:
PERFECT V-I (OR V7-I)
IMPERFECT anything-V
PLAGAL IV-I
INTERRUPTED V-VI (OR V7-VI)

In other parts of the world the 'PERFECT' cadence is known as the 'AUTHENTIC' cadence of which there are 2 types outlined in Schumman's post. Our 'IMPERFECT' cadence (which we sometimes call 'Half-close') is someone elses 'HALF' cadence. What I know as an 'INTERRUPTED' cadence others call 'DECEPTIVE'. As you can see above there is also a 'PHRYGIAN' cadence which has many definitions.

I was not aware of all this. I know that the majority of posters are in the US so I try to use terms like 1/4 note instead of 'crotchet' and Half-step instead of 'semitone'. This is a new one on me!

Getting back to the original question. If you want to 'memorise' chords you can't look at them in isolation. You need some understanding of keys, common progressions and cadences to make them relevant. The other week a student asked this question, 'If G major has F# in it then why does the chord G7 not have F#?'. In the piece they were learning the G7 chord was the dominant 7th in the key of C major which doesn't have F#. This was followed by the tonic chord (C major) to form a 'PERFECT' (or 'AUTHENTIC') cadence. Once they understood the cadence it made sense.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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