In my last article we looked at what basic chords are contained in a key. Now let’s expand upon these basic triads and make the chords slightly more interesting.
As we learnt, a chord is made up of every other note of the scale, so what happens if we add the next note in that sequence.
In the case of the C Major Scale our notes are:-
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
C D E F G A B
Starting on the C note, our chord would be made up of C, E, G and B. This gives us the chord C Major 7th. If we start on the note D, the chord consists of D, F, A, C, this is a D minor 7th.
If we repeat this of every note we can summarise it as follows:-
Scale Degree Starting Note Notes in Chord Chord Name Chord Type
1st C C E G B Cmaj7 Major 7th
2nd D D F A C Dm7 Minor 7th
3rd E E G B D Em7 Minor 7th
4th F F A C E Fmaj7 Major 7th
5th G G B D F G7 Dominant 7th
6th A A C E G Am7 Minor 7th
7th B B D F A Bm7b5 m7b5
We now have a bigger palette of chords we can use. We can mix and match, you can use majors and minors and throw in the odd extended chord here or there, you don’t have to stick to one ‘type’.
It can now get quite complicated with the terminology people use to refer to the chords. Often Roman Numerals are used. You will probably heard of a I-IV-V progression!
Roman Numeral Chord Chord Type Extended Chord Chord Spelling
I C Major Major 7th 1 3 5 7
II Dm Minor Minor 7th 1 b3 5 b7
III Em Minor Minor 7th 1 b3 5 b7
IV F Major Major 7th 1 3 5 7
V G Major 7th 1 3 5 b7
VI Am Minor Minor 7th 1 b3 5 b7
VII Bdim Diminished m7b5 1 b3 b5 b7
In the key of C, the I-IV-V progression would be the chords C-F-G.
So now if someone says this is a VI-II-V-I progression you know what chords to play and can work them out in any key.
There are some variations in the Roman Numeral terminology when written down, for example a II chord maybe written as IIm, ii, or iim. This signifies that it is a II chord and that is minor. Although this should be known anyway, and I personally think it can overcomplicate things, but it’s all personal choice, so just be aware.