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Author David Luebbert
Posted 8/31/10; 12:57:39 AM
Msg# 5766 (top msg in thread)
Prev/Next 5765/5767
Reads 210


Below you'll see a custom version of the SongTrellis Chord Grid, that lists only three chord types: the minor seventh (mi7), the dominant 7th (MA7) and the Major seventh (MA7).

The entire chord grid, with its 44 types of chords listed, can be a daunting beast because there are so many different kinds of harmonic sensation packed in there that's its difficult to hear the relationships between all of those different sounds

To make it possible to present grids that list with a tighter focus a smaller subset of chord types, there's a new gridTypes parameter that can be added to Chord Grid URLS.

To make a grid, that includes all of the major sounding chord types, it suffices to add

?gridTypes=MA,MA7,MA9,6,6(add 9)

at the end of the stock chord grid URL (

Here's a link to a "Family of Major chords" chord grid, which reduces the 44 possible chord types usually listed to the five chord types specified by that URL's gridTypes parameter.

If you click on one column in the grid, you'll sense some common essence that is shared by all of the chord types listed, which you can think of as the "sound of Major chords"

Click here to scroll past the bottom of the grid, and I'll show you a few harmony experiments that you can perform for yourself in a few moments, now that you you have a chord grid available that you can play with.

Chord Grid - (Click on a root name in a chord type row to hear a chord
of that type built upon the selected root. Click on a chord type name to perform
the chord cycle generated by changing chord roots via the selected root motion,
starting the cycle with the leftmost root of that row)

Organize chord grid roots by:

Leftmost grid root: 
1 cycle of 12 roots
MA7    C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G
7    C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G
mi7    C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G

Lore for best use of the Chord Grid page

Chord List:
Once you've clicked on a grid square, and have heard a chord you like, press the Add To Chord List button to add the chord here.
You can type comma separated chord names here also.
Press the Play Chord List button to perform the list.

    Tempo:  beats per minute



Performance type:   Play the chord only
                          Play chord with arpeggio 
                           Play arpeggio only

Arpeggio style:      Play arpeggios quickly Stretch arpeggios to fill chord duration
Arpeggio direction: Arpeggiate from bottom to top Arpeggiate from top to bottom

First experiment:

Choose one of the three chord type rows in the grid, either the MA7 row, the 7 row or the mi7 row. Click on on every square in that row, starting with C over to G and then click back on the 'C' square a final time.

A second or so after you click on a grid square, SongTrellis will play you an instance of the chord type specified by the grid row you've chosen built upon the root name that labels the square you've clicked on.

What sensations will you experience?

All off the chords that sound as you click across the grid row have a similar sound. They were all built using a similar formula, which accounts for the sound similarity.

There are twelve different chord roots that a particular chord type can be built upon. By clicking each square in the row you are hearing all twelve of the ways that chord type can sound as its built on the different roots.

The chord roots are arranged so that as you move from one grid square to its next neighbor, you will hear the chord of that type that is in some sense its closest relative. If you click on a square, and then click on the squares that are just to the left and to the right of it, your ear will experience an easy to understand (and extremely frequently heard) transition from one chord to its neighbor.

No matter which row you decide to travel across, you are likely to hear a pattern that gives you the sensation of walking down a stairstep. Every successive pair of chords, will seem to move down in your ear when you compare them with the previous chord pair.The amazing thing is that if you follow this cycle through any of the 44 chord type rows listed in the full chord grid, you will hear this same kind of chord motion at play in each.

Second experiment:

Click on the C square at the beginning of a row. Then move to the G square on the far right and in sequence click on each square to the left until you click the C square again.

What will you hear?

Just as the overall sensation you experienced in Experiment #1 was of pairs of chords stairstepping downward, traveling in the opposite direction within a grid row produces a sensation of chord pairs stepping upward.

For a square within any row in the chord grid, it's very easy to calculate what the name of its right or left neighbor should be.

A Name for what you heard

There is a fixed relation, an easy to calculate formula, which determines which chord roots are neighbors in this chord grid.

For any square that you choose, the root name on the right will be a perfect fifth interval below that square's root name.

The root name on the left will be a perfect fifth interval above that square's root name.

Following the sequence in either direction from any starting grid square, and jumping to the other side of the list and continuing in the same direction when the list runs out, spells out a cycle of twelve different chord root names. It's a cycle, because after you've visited all twelve possible roots moving in either direction, you'll return to the grid square you started with.

When you follow a grid row to the right, the next grid square name will always be a perfect fifth below the current square that you visit. When you visit all of the twelve possible chord roots by continually moving to the right, you are following the cycle of descending perfect fifths, which gives you the impression of pairs of chords that step down.

When you follow a grid row to the left, the next grid square name will always be a perfect fifth above the current square that you visit. When you visit all of the twelve possible chord roots by continually moving to the right, you are following the cycle of ascending perfect fifths, which gives you the impression of pairs of chords that step up.

If you choose a chord and make larger skips to the left or to the right, you will likely recognize the sensation of making those jumps but you will experience more and more of a mental twist as you try to make sense of what you are hearing and figure out how they are related to each other.

If you jump to a grid square that is six squares to the left or right of one that you choose, you'll be visiting it's farthest relative of that type. If you click on C and then click on the square that is six positions to the right, Gb, you'll hear C's most distant relative. If you start with C, jump to the end of the list and march backward six positions you'll see that you are visiting Gb again, having traveled in the opposite direction.

As you skip to chords that are five, four, three, two, or one position away, you are visiting chords that are more closely related.

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Last update: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 12:46 PM.