It was discovered centuries ago in Europe. Harmony that is and it’s ‘secrets.’ You see, someone discovered that a certain ‘tension’ exists between certain chords.
Especially between the Tonic and Dominant chords. In the Key of C Major, the Tonic would be C Major and the Dominant would be G Major.
Roman numerals were assigned to these chords and they are still used today. For example, the tonic chords would be written as l while the dominant would be notated as V.
Now that’s out of the way and we can focus on what’s really important here and that is THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CHORDS!
Especially between the 1 and V chords. Classical composers used that very special relationship between these chords to create ’tension’ in their music. This is called ’functional harmony’ and it’s still being used today!
The other important chord in this equation is something called the sub-dominant chord. This is the lV chord and in the Key of C Major, this would be F Major. These chords … l - lV - and V comprise the backbone of 99% of western music. It’s called functional harmony because the chords function as tension and release - beginning and end.
Interesting isn’t it? Yet this is the most important thing you can learn when it comes to harmony. Learn the basic 3 chords in the Key of C Major and you’ve effectively stripped harmony down to it’s essentials.
Now, how that tension is used is where it gets really interesting! I’ve been using this in most of your lessons when I end an 8-bar phrase in the Key of C Major with a G Major chord.
You can add even more tension when you play the G major as a G7 chord. This ’seventh’ chord has the most tension in it and easily resolves into the tonic or C Major chord.
In your next lesson this Friday, I’m going to illustrate this so you can hear exactly what I’m talking about, and more importantly, how to use it in improvisations and compositions of your own!
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