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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chord Theory: It's Still a C Chord!

Chords can be tricky!  They each have 3 notes and 3 positions they can possibly be in.  For the last year and 1/2 we have seen the Red, Yellow, and Blue chords like this:
                                                                    Red,             Blue,           Yellow

However, these chords do not always have to be in the positions above!  Our Red chord can look top heavy (like the Blue chord) or even bottom heavy (like the Yellow chord).  Let me show you how this happens.

When the chord is stacked up in our snowman shape, using thirds, with no spaces in between, we have a root position chord and the root is on the bottom.  Our Red chord is in root position!  The root is the C.  I will color it orange so you can see how our Orange Roots can move :).
                                          (sol) G
                                          (mi) E
                                          (do) C

We have already learned that a Red chord stays a Red chord as long as it has a do, mi, and sol in it.  It can be in any order.  We can sing it do-mi-sol or mi-sol-do or even sol-do-mi.  The notes are always do, mi, and sol but they can jump around in different orders.  Now let's see how this looks on the staff!

                       (do) C       (mi) E      (sol) G
                       (sol) G      (do) C      (mi) E
                       (mi) E       (sol) G     (do) C

If you notice the notes do not change!! Do is still C but it can jump up an octave to a different C.  This is where our song "Let's Find the Root" is brilliant.  It tells us, "the note above the gaps the root, it just has rearranged."  If C jumps from being Middle C to Treble C the chord only changes its position.  It doesn't change that it is a red chord or the fact that the root is still C!  

So even though it doesn't look like a snowman anymore, it actually might look like the shape of a blue chord or a yellow chord, we have to focus on which notes are actually in the chord.  That is the key to understanding Chord Theory.  The rules are that you cannot change the original notes of the chord.  You can move them anywhere on the staff, but an E must be an E.  Always!  No exceptions.  The G must stay a G!  

That is why we must focus on naming the root.  "The note above the gaps the root, it just has rearranged."  In the key of C our Red chord's root is C, our Blue chord's root is F, and our Yellow chord's root is G.  In the key of F our Red chord's root is F, our Blue chord's root is Bb, and our Yellow chord's root is C.

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