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Stupid "theory" question!


Nu2Keys

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Okay, I'm basically a self-taught play by ear player, but I did study upright bass in college so I have some music knowledge, enough, at least I thought, to think and speak with some knowledge about notes, scales, chords, etc. But something recently upset my apple card. Here's my question: The chord that we know as (for example) G7 (GDBF) was recently explained to me as actually being G with a FLATTED 7th. And the chord known as Gmaj7 (GDBGb) is in reality the true G7? These ideas BOTH make perfect sense when I think thru the G major scale. Why are the called what they're called? It doesn't seem logical, or does it? I haven't thought far enough to worry about what other chord names might also be "wrong" as well. Can someone help me wrap my brain around the reasoning behind this situation, and maybe why we call chords what we call them? Help!
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You are incorrect there Nu2Keys. Those are G dominant 7 (G7) and G Major 7 (GM7) respectively. Those are not two interpretations of G7.

 

The G major scale has the F# (don't call it Gb or Dave Horne will be all over you ;) There's no Gb in a G major scale. ).

 

The G major seventh chord would have G B D F# which are all found in the G Major scale. A dominant 7 is always a flatted version of the 7th note in the scale (F# becomes F). An F is not in the G major scale.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Originally posted by Nu2Keys:

The chord that we know as (for example) G7 (GDBF) was recently explained to me as actually being G with a FLATTED 7th. And the chord known as Gmaj7 (GDBGb) is in reality the true G7?

Have you been listening to the guitar player again? You're supposed to just nod and smile. The listening part gets you into trouble every time.

 

;)

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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The reason why the dominant 7 is given the simpler notation is that its use in classical music is older.

 

At first the 7 was treated as a passing tone but its use became accepted as part of the chord itself.

 

According to Piston, non-dominant 7ths (ie, the Maj 7) did not come into use as an independent chord (ie rather than as a passing note) until the 19th Century. In classical music one tends to associate the major seventh with Grieg since that is where the piano student generally first hears it.

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OK I'll do it.

 

So Nu2Keys. What distinguishes a dominant 7 from a major seven is the specific interval between the 3rd and 7th of the chord.

 

In a major 7 chord this interval is a perfect fifth (5 whole steps). The dominant 7 has a particular interval that's unique. It's 4 whole steps and a half step (tritone interval). This interval, previously known as the 'Devil's interval' has a particularly unsettling sound. It is a tension sound. The simple presence of a 3rd and b7th of a dominant 7 chord is enough to imply this sound. This tension is used in music to lead the release chord, which in the case of a G7 is usually wanting to go to the C chord (or C maj 7).

 

This is why you cannot mix up a G7 and a Gmaj7. The Gmaj7 does not have a sound that wants to go anywhere. The G7 is a sound that says "don't leave me here", take me to a sound that's less tense.

 

Thus you can see why the distinction between a flat 7 and a major 7 makes all the difference in the world here.

 

The term 'dominant' relates to the position of the chord as a degree of the scale. A dominant is the V chord or the fifth degree and it wants to go to the I chord (called the tonic).

 

What Dave Horne will almost certainly tell you is to do a little study of music theory as that will explain everything. Simply constructing chords from a chord book without knowledge of the underlying theory will set you back in understanding how to vary these chords to good effect. As an example of this, as I said earlier, simply playing the 3rd and b7th in the G7 chord is enough to imply the G7 in the ear. The theory teaches you why that is.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Thanks Jazzwee--I'm really too tired right now to explain.

 

Originally posted by Jazzwee:

The Gmaj7 does not have a sound that wants to go anywhere.

Well, depends on its function (e.g. as the IV "subdominant" chord in the key of D major)... and the maj7th extension itself is a tension.

 

BTW, I strongly recommend anyone not up to speed with this stuff plays G7->C ("perfect cadence") over and over until they "get" it.

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Just to add to the classical theory bit:

 

In the key of C major, G is the 5th note of the scale - known as the "dominant". As we know, the major triad is G - B- D. The dominant seventh adds the minor seventh interval above the G, in this case the F (natural). In classical harmony, seventh chords built on V, IV, and sometimes flat VI, are seen.

 

In the classical resolution of the V7 (dominant seventh) chord, the leading note, here the B, is expected to rise to the tonic ©. The seventh, here the F, is expected to fall. Thus, if V7 is resolving to I (C-E-G), we have B moving to C in the same voice, and F moving to E in the same voice in the following chord.

 

When this V7 - I progression is repeated in different keys, using the circle of fifths, one hears a classic baroque progression. It works, since the series of "perfect cadences" resolves in each key. Ex. A-C#-E-G to D-F#-A-C to G-B-D-F to C-E-G-C, which is V-I in D, G, and C respectively.

 

Hope that helps. It's easier to play than explain!

Tom F.

"It is what it is."

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In from a job .... I can't add anything to this thread but I have come across a theory text book that explains chords like this in a very confusing manner.

 

Completely unrelated - I was working out in the gym this morning and caught Louis Black on Larry King Live. Very funny!

 

A G7 chord (G,B,D,F) does contain the interal of a minor 7th and that's perhaps where things went astray in labeling. Explaining how chords are labeled is a confusing issue for most students.

 

(The theory text book in question labels a dominant 7th chord as a major minor 7th chord ... or something like that. I found that confusing, a dominant 7th chord is a .... well, you get the idea.)

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

(The theory text book in question labels a dominant 7th chord as a major minor 7th chord ... or something like that. I found that confusing, a dominant 7th chord is a .... well, you get the idea.)

Ouch. As it is I sometimes accidentally (no pun intended) call minor major 7th chords major minor 7th chords.
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Originally posted by Jazzwee:

This interval, previously known as the 'Devil's interval' has a particularly unsettling sound.

BTW, I read somewhere recently (it may even have been this forum) that that the Tritone was considered "bad" back then because it's hard to sing.
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Originally posted by soundscape:

The Gmaj7 does not have a sound that wants to go anywhere.

Well, depends on its function (e.g. as the IV "subdominant" chord in the key of D major)... and the maj7th extension itself is a tension.

 

 

 

I'm back...Soundscape, I'll just elaborate on your comment.

 

A Major 7 chord, or the Gmaj7 chord, even in it's function as a subdominant (IV chord) by itself will not have a tendency to go anywhere. But the character of a IV chord in my mind is defined by where it came from. If it came from the I then it will sound like a IV chord. If it didn't it wouldn't sound like that. Which implies that there's no inherent tension in it I think.

 

But if you change the IV chord to a IV7 as in a blues progression, then here the tension is apparent.

 

This special non-tension move between a I chord and a IV chord (both major 7 chords) is utilized a lot in modulations in tunes because it is a seamless transition. It is interesting how this is an example of a modulation that can be achieved without going through the tension of ii-V relationsip which is the usual modulation device. This I-IV transition appears to be an exception that composers often make use of. (Autumn Leaves is an example of this).

 

I've always been intrigued by this interval and relationship between I and IV chords. This may relate to the typical effect of movement by fourths, even in improvisation because it does not imply any specific tonality. If one moves from I to IV, is it really a IV chord now? Not necessarily because the IV chord could immediately change function and turn into another I chord. So it is a chameleon chord changing function even without an alteration. Interesting isn't it?

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Originally posted by soundscape:

Originally posted by Jazzwee:

This interval, previously known as the 'Devil's interval' has a particularly unsettling sound.

BTW, I read somewhere recently (it may even have been this forum) that that the Tritone was considered "bad" back then because it's hard to sing.
Perhaps, but I think the main concept in the middle ages is that it sounded out of tune (dissonant) them at the time. It is interesting how tastes have changed over the years.

 

I wonder what sounds we currently label as 'outside' (probably in some jazz music) now will be common at some point of the future and found in all sorts of music.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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Regarding a IV chord - there are some who look at the middle chord in the following progression (in C major) C, F/C, C as being a melodic embellishment of the chords embracing it.

 

Does the middle chord really represent a IV chord or is it just flourish in this example?

 

(This is a rhetorical question. ;) )

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

Regarding a IV chord - there are some who look at the middle chord in the following progression (in C major) C, F/C, C as being a melodic embellishment of the chords embracing it.

 

Does the middle chord really represent a IV chord or is it just flourish in this example?

 

(This is a rhetorical question. ;) )

This is in fact a IV chord (since all flourishes would still be chords). Specifically, this progression would be found as a flourish in the blues (first 3 bars). Right?

 

I would define a flourish as optional and in the blues, it is.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1

 

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The example I gave really had the progression taking place in one bar or so. There are some theorists who would say the F/C (in this instance) does not represent the parent triad - it's just melodic movement, nothing more.

 

It's just another way of looking at this. Everyone can look at anything in many diferent ways.

 

... also, not everything is the blues. :wave:

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

The example I gave really had the progression taking place in one bar or so. There are some theorists who would say the F/C (in this instance) does not represent the parent triad - it's just melodic movement, nothing more.

Depends on the context. You could call it pedal point.
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Originally posted by Jazzwee:

Major 7 chord, or the Gmaj7 chord, even in it's function as a subdominant (IV chord) by itself will not have a tendency to go anywhere. But the character of a IV chord in my mind is defined by where it came from. If it came from the I then it will sound like a IV chord. If it didn't it wouldn't sound like that. Which implies that there's no inherent tension in it I think.

Granted if you decide you're in the key of C and just play an F major chord, it won't have any sense of direction (or at least only a bit if you add in the major 7th extension) but you haven't established the key, of course. If you play C-G7-C-G7-F there will be a need to go somewhere... more so if you thrown in the major 7th or other extension/alteration.

 

So certainly it's all about context.

 

Originally posted by Jazzwee:

If one moves from I to IV, is it really a IV chord now? Not necessarily because the IV chord could immediately change function and turn into another I chord. So it is a chameleon chord changing function even without an alteration. Interesting isn't it?

Certainly. If it's a pivot chord that's I in the key you're modulating to, then it's only "retrospectively" the I chord, right?
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Originally posted by Jazzwee:

I wonder what sounds we currently label as 'outside' (probably in some jazz music) now will be common at some point of the future and found in all sorts of music.

Probably not a whole lot, unless you believe in 100% "cultural" explainations of music, but even then many elements show up consistently in cross-cultural studies, the brain seems to be hard-wired to some extent and certain stuff is by definition "less accessible" (or just a plain mess, depending on the piece in question and/or your point of view.)
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Time for another dose of classical theory....kinda like your daily dose of vitamins!

 

The C - F/C - C progression is an example of the "passing 6/4", and is also commonly used in baroque and classical music. The 6/4 refers to the second inversion of the chord, in this case the F major triad, because the other notes are a 6th, and a 4th above the bass note, i.e., A and F above the C. Usually, it's notated as two superscripts, one above the other, but I can't type that properly, so I put in the slash mark.

 

Keeping the C in the bass (like a pedal point), one can go from E-G to F-A and back to E-G in the upper voices, in parallel thirds (or sixths), which was thought to be a very pleasing sound.

 

Passing 6-4's are also commonly seen in the V- I 6/4 - V progression.

Tom F.

"It is what it is."

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Originally posted by Tom Fiala:

Time for another dose of classical theory....kinda like your daily dose of vitamins!

Gulp!

 

 

Originally posted by Tom Fiala:

The C - F/C - C progression is an example of the "passing 6/4", and is also commonly used in baroque and classical music.

I'd just call it a comp... I guess it's time for a dose of classical reading.
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Originally posted by Tom Fiala:

It's one of those cases where, once you know about how these progressions are constructed, you'll pick them out all over the place.

I know about that progression. I just wouldn't use the classical terminology.

 

e.g., here's the full set of chords used in the chorus of a song I know in the key of C:

 

F - C/F - F - G - F/G - G - Em - C/E - Em - F - Dm - G - C - F/C - C

 

But, I wouldn't be sure how to analyse that lot using the classical terminology.

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You can go through it and notate it with chords (like you have), orou can notate it with the classical harmony method - Dealer's choice really.

 

An advantage of notating it in the classical format, related to the tonic key, is for transposing it. If you know, as in your example, the final chords are IV - II- V - I - IV6/4 - I, you can easily work those out in any key you like.

Tom F.

"It is what it is."

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