DulciTheory Newsletter -- Issue #7: Chords in the Keys of G and A

In this issue, we'll continue from #6 by actually building the main chords used for the Keys of G as well as A on our D-A-D tuned dulcimer. You may want to review #6 to make sure you have a strong foundation in knowing how the G and A major scales are mapped out on the D-A-D fingerboard.

CONTENTS:

  • 1.) Scale-Tone Triads in G Major: Steps ONE through FOUR
  • 2.) Scale-Tone Triads in A Major: Repeating the process used for G

1.) SCALE-TONE TRIADS IN G MAJOR

STEP ONE: Build a G Major Scale

Get yourself a piece of fresh staff paper and a nice sharp pencil. Draw out a complete G Major Scale starting on the G that is on the second line from the bottom, and winding up an octave higher on the G that sits right on top of the staff. [refer to p.17 in the Theory Book where I have done everything for the Key of D.]

STEP TWO: Stack Your Triads Up

Stack two notes on top of each note of the G Major Scale -- in Thirds, or line-line-line, space-space-space. [see the bottom of p.17] These are called The Scale-Tone Triads, and these three-note chords or "triads" comprise the essential harmonies of ANY scale or mode.

It was a real breakthrough for me when I discovered that certain chords have their GENESIS within the pitch resources contained in a particular scale. For example, the notes in the G Major Scale generate the G, C, and D7 chords -- the main chords used to harmonize melodies in the Key of G.

STEP THREE: Identify Each Chord

Above each chord, put its "POP" chord symbol, or the most commonly used symbol. For instance, instead of writing out "G Major", simply put "G". I usually abbreviate "A minor" as "Am", but there are a few other abbreviations. Refer to the Theory Book if you need to -- you can see how I did it with D.

STEP FOUR: Identify Each Chord With A Roman Numeral

Either next to the standard chord symbols, or above another G Scale-Tone Triads staff, identify each triad with a Roman Numeral. These are SO essential to understanding HIERARCHY and FUNCTION!!! I hope you eventually get where you see that its basically all ONE BIG HAPPY MAJOR KEY.

2.) SCALE-TONE TRIADS IN A MAJOR

If you can successfully map out your triads in G, I don't expect you to have any trouble at all applying the four steps to an A major scale -- so GO FOR IT!

To get the jump on next issue's content, go right ahead and apply the triads from this issue to your D-A-D dulcimer. HINT: it WON'T always be possible to voice the chords on the dulcimer in close-spaced root position as the scale tone triads are when we build them on the staff. You'll have all the notes you need on the dulcimer, but you'll just have to get creative with flipping them around, spreading them out, and mixing them up.