Scales and Chords
Defining a Scale
There are various in-depth and very involved explanations on what scales are. To read a few of the definitions, simply click on the links below. They are informative and should be examined, reviewed, and applied in any musicians playing repertoire. To simplify, I will quote from the Harvard Concise Dictionary which says:
A scale is “the underlying tonal material of some particular music, arranged in an order of rising pitches … The basic scale of European art music is the diatonic scale. It consists of five whole tones (t) and two semitones (s) in the following arrangement: t t s t t t s (e.g., c d e f g a b c’). This scale is usually referred to as a major scale (in this illustration, the C major scale) as distinguished from the pure minor scale, in which the arrangement of intervals is: t s t t s t t (e.g., c d e(b) f g a(b) b(b) c’)…” (in this case the (b) symbol represents flats).
Essentially, you have notes played one after another in order in a pattern (in the most basic form it is alphabetically – A – G) moving up and down the piano.
You may also visit these sites to create various scales and modes:
Defining a Chord
Many people generally agree on the definition of a chord. I have compiled a few links below of various chord definitions. To read a few of the definitions, simply click on the links below. They are informative and should be examined, reviewed, and applied in any musicians playing repertoire. To simplify, I will quote from the Harvard Concise Dictionary which says:
A chord is “Three or more tones sounded simultaneously, two simultaneous tones usually being designated as an interval. The most basic chords in the system of tonic-dominant (or triadic) tonality are the major and minor triads and their inversions (ie., sixth chords and six-four chords). Other chords that play an important, though subordinate role, are the seventh chord, the ninth chord, the augmented sixth chord, and the diminished triad, each of which is regarded in this context as dissonant.”
Essentially, you have two or more notes played one after another (melodic chords) or together at the same time (harmonic chords) that create a certain mood. I like to help students understand the feeling of chords. A simple way to explain chords is to talk about the quality of chords. Chords are like emotions. Sometimes we are happy, sad, devastated, excited, elevated, tense like we want something to happen or change, cool and collected, or any other emotions you can think of, describe, or feel.
Each of these emotions can also be expressed through the chords. Happy chords are major chords, sad ones are minor chords. When we think of extremely devastated and depressed emotions we think of diminished chords, excited and elevated emotions lead us to think of augmented chords. When we feel tense like we want something to happen or change we can refer to suspended chords. Cool and collected chords can be expressed by major sixth and seventh chords. When students think of chords as emotions instead of little black dots on a page they understand the feeling of the piece and know how to play the songs. They think about the emotions and can play the piece with feeling.
For a more in-depth explanation, click on these examples:
You may also visit these sites to create various chords: