Harmony: Chords and How to Build Them

How harmony works in western music. Traids formed out of scales, common harmonic progressions, nature of modulation. Listening skills for determining regular or irregular change rates. Wide variety of examples.



Harmony in music refers to the combination of different musical elements, such as chords, melodies, and rhythms, to create a pleasing and coherent sound. Chords are fundamental building blocks of harmony, consisting of three or more notes played simultaneously.

Here’s a basic overview of how chords are constructed and some common chord types:

1. **Major Chords**: Major chords are characterized by their bright and happy sound. They consist of three notes: the root, the major third, and the perfect fifth. For example, the C major chord consists of the notes C, E, and G.

2. **Minor Chords**: Minor chords have a darker and more melancholic sound compared to major chords. They also consist of three notes: the root, the minor third, and the perfect fifth. For example, the C minor chord consists of the notes C, Eb, and G.

3. **Seventh Chords**: Seventh chords add an additional note to the basic triad, creating a richer and more complex sound. There are several types of seventh chords, including major seventh chords, minor seventh chords, and dominant seventh chords. For example, the C major seventh chord consists of the notes C, E, G, and B.

4. **Extended Chords**: Extended chords include additional notes beyond the basic triad and seventh. Common extended chords include ninth chords, eleventh chords, and thirteenth chords. These chords add even more color and complexity to the harmony.

To build chords, you’ll need to understand intervals, which are the distances between two notes. The basic intervals include:

– **Major Third**: Four half steps (or two whole steps) above the root.
– **Minor Third**: Three half steps above the root.
– **Perfect Fifth**: Seven half steps above the root.

To construct a major chord, start with the root note and add a major third and a perfect fifth above it. For a minor chord, use a minor third instead of a major third. Seventh, extended, and altered chords follow similar principles but include additional intervals.

Understanding chord construction allows musicians to create harmonies, progressions, and arrangements in their compositions. Experimenting with different chord types and voicings can lead to diverse and interesting musical textures and moods.

Leave a Comment