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For any major key there are seven chords that naturally exist. For example, if your song is in the key of C major, the likelihood is that you’ll be using chords selected mainly from the following:
C Dm Em F G Am Bdim
There’s a pattern of major-minor-diminished chords that’s the same no matter what major key you choose. In other words, for major-key songs, all chords built on the first (tonic) note of the key will be major; all chords built on the second note will be minor; and so on:
Any chord you choose to use that doesn’t come from that naturally-occuring list of chords is called an altered chord. And you likely use them all the time, especially the flat-VII, flat-III, and major-II.
One very nice altered chord to consider is the minor-IV chord in place of using the typical major-IV. To describe the difference, a major chord consists of an outer interval of a perfect 5th, with a major 3rd as the bottom interval:
Using a Minor-IV In Your Chord Progressions
A minor-IV chord can often be used anywhere you’d normally use a major-IV, but you’ll notice that especially in pop music, it’s common to start with a major-IV, and then switch to the minor-IV before moving on. For example, take this progression:
C Am F C (LISTEN) (Sound files open in a new tab or window. Close that window to return here.)
Simply changing the F to Fm adds a whole new mood to the progression: LISTEN
Another option is to keep the F, shorten the length of time it’s played, and then insert Fm: LISTEN
If you want to experiment with minor-IV chords, try the following progressions:
C G F Fm C (LISTEN)
C D F Am C/G F Fm C (LISTEN)
C Am Dm Fm C/E Fm C (LISTEN)
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.
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