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Old 09-18-2009, 11:25 AM
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cafeguy cafeguy is offline
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Default Chord Construction

Got a ? that rolls round my brain and falls out every now and then.

A major chord consists of 3 notes or triad...the root, the third, and the fifth.
I constantly use the terms when harmonizing etc. However, In order to find the right 3rd or 5th I have to think in semitones or half steps. So a 3rd is 4 semitones and the 5th is 7 semitones. Wouldn't it be easier to use semi tone reference and skip the 3rd, 5th terms? Help clear my clouded mind.
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:57 AM
daleyfolk daleyfolk is offline
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Everybody's brain works differently. A lot of us think in terms of scale degrees and have memorized how they layout on the fretboard. We learn to visually see a major 3rd interval, or 5th or a minor 3rd etc.

I guess your way of counting semitones would make sense if you were playing linearly up one string.
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Old 09-18-2009, 12:07 PM
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There's probably a better explanation, but I look at it this way - the major scale is made of mostly whole steps except for a couple of half steps (like the e and f and b and c in C major). So it just seems like less work to count with whole numbers to me.

It'd take me ages to get used to how you do it! Pretty neat to hear you take the approach you do, always interesting to read how other people look at things like this.
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Old 09-18-2009, 01:51 PM
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I really believe this counting interval 'business' is not efficient. Just learn a scale and/or any scale for that matter, and, learn to know each interval instantly.
We don't want to lag behind...or do we ?
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Old 09-18-2009, 04:38 PM
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My question really originates when I am transposing or working on a harmony part. When playing within a scale I've just been doing it long enough that my fingers just know where to go. Also, now that I'm older questions like "does a bird have lips" just seem to come out every now and then.
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Old 09-18-2009, 05:07 PM
Malcolm Malcolm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cafeguy View Post
A major chord consists of 3 notes or triad...the root, the third, and the fifth.
I constantly use the terms when harmonizing etc. However, In order to find the right 3rd or 5th I have to think in semitones or half steps. So a 3rd is 4 semitones and the 5th is 7 semitones. Wouldn't it be easier to use semi tone reference and skip the 3rd, 5th terms? Help clear my clouded mind.
Something like this?
R+4+3 = Major chord --- notice the 4 and 3 total to 7
R+3+4 = minor chord

R+4+3+3 = dominant seven chord
R+4+3+4 = maj7

Your thinking is exactly how chords are/can be taught on the keyboard. Root plus 4 black or white keys is the same as what you are saying, i.e. the 3rd is 4 semitones and the 5th is 7 semitones. R+4+3 same thing.

Only problem on the guitar there are six strings. But other than the 6 strings your way of thinking has merit. I also have given this some thought and have come to the conclusion it's just not practical on the guitar, works great on the keyboard. Plus you'd have to scrap all those how to books.

Last edited by Malcolm; 09-18-2009 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 09-22-2009, 01:06 PM
solidwalnut solidwalnut is offline
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Like Dalyefolk says, everyone's brain works a bit differently on this.

My take is that there is no better trainer than:
  • Your ear
  • The major scale and it's intervals
  • Learning CAGED
  • How those major scale intervals are found within each of the five basic chord formations
As far as the guitar is concerned, I just don't believe there is any substitute for marrying basic music theory with basic fretboard mechanics. The most important one on this list: Your ear! Listen to how others play and learn to identify what they are playing.

For me, I had to begin to visualize harmony. It helped that I used to sing in barbershop quartets and choruses, imo. But that's a part of it: singing. At least begin to hum the melody and the harmony so you can train your ear/brain/hand connection.

Learning music theory is fine. It has a place in communication, but it is not music.



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