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Creating tension and resolution—the V7 to I chord change April 17, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Chords, Guitar Lessons, Harmony, Intervals, Music Theory.
1 comment so far

(Before you read this lesson you should make sure you understand Diatonic Harmony and Buliding 7th chords)
Good composition is about creating music that has movement. Music that has peaks and valleys. If your chord progressions don’t go anywhere, they are just boring. The best way to create music with strong movement is to create tension and resolution in your compositions. How do you do that? Well the easiest and most common way is with V to I (“Five to One”) chord changes.

The V I change is great b/c the V chord create tension and the notes in the V chord push your ear to the I chord. So when you play the I chord your ear hears resolution. But you can even increase that tension and resolution if you play a V7 to I chord change. The V7 is also called the dominant 7 chord. Lets see why this change creates such great tension and resolution.

Lets start by taking a look at the notes of the I chord in the key of C major:
C major has the notes C, E, and G.
C major guitar chord

Now lets take a look at the V7 chord in the key of C, which is G7. G7 has the notes G, B, D, and F

G7 guitar chord
Lets compare the notes of those 2 chords to each other:
V7 to I guitar chord resolution

The blue lines indicate that the notes G to C and D to G are a perfect 4th or a perfect 5th apart (see the lesson on intervals if you don’t know what this means). And the strongest sense of movement occurs when two notes are a perfect 4th or perfect with apart. So G to C is a perfect forth as is D to G. C to G is a perfect 5th apart as is G to D.

The red line indicates that B and C are a half Step apart and E and F are a half step apart. Notes that are a half step apart lead your ear to the note a half step up or a half step down. The fact that the B note in the G chord is a half step away from the C note in the C chord, the F note in the G chord is a half-step away from the E note in the C chord, and the fact that there are two perfect fourth intervals (the G note of the G chord to the C of the C chord and the D of the G chord to the G of the C chord) all make for a wonderful sense of movement, contrast, and resolution.

Try playing G to C slowly and hear how nicely it resolves. Then they playing G7 to C and notice how there is a little more tension. You can apply this V7 to I chord change to any key. Add it to your compositions to give them come character!

As usual, if you have any questions please post them to the comments!

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Intervals March 23, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Beginner, Ear Training, Guitar Lessons, Intervals, Music Theory, Notes.
2 comments

An interval is the distance between two notes and it is calculated from the lower note. Different intervals have different sound qualities. Learning intervals will help you develop your ear and it is a great ear training exercise. For instance, if you can recognize the sound of a Minor 3rd interval then you will be able to hear when a melody you like uses it, thus you will be able to play it back.

There are two types of Intervals: harmonic intervals and melodic intervals. A harmonic interval is the distance between two notes played in unison. A melodic interval is the distance between two notes played in succession.

Here are some tabbed examples:

Harmonic Interval Melodic Interval
——————– ———————-
——————– ———————–
——————– ———————-
———–2——– —————-2——
———–3——— ——-3—————-
———————- ———————–

There are two characters for every interval: size and quality. Size refers to the distance between the two notes and quality describes the type of sound that interval has.

There are 13 common interval distances (numbers), intervals higher than 13 are rarely used. The first 8 intervals are called “simple intervals” because they are within an octave. Intervals 9-13 are called “compound intervals”. Interval distance is always counted from the 1st note of the scale:

interval distances on guitar (since that is hard to read, here are the numbers for each interval. the first number is the lower number, the 2nd is the one above it: Unison: 8, 3. 2nd: 3, 0. 3rd: 3, 2. 4th: 3, 3. 5th: 3, 5. 6th: 3, 2. 7th: 3, 4. 8th: 3, 5. 9th: 3, 3. 10th: 3, 5. 11th: 3, 1. 12th: 3, 3. 13th: 3, 5.)
There are 5 terms that describe the quality of intervals: perfect, major, minor, diminished, and augmented. These are the same types of sounds that are used to describe chords.

To figure out the quality of intervals we need to look at the interval numbers and qualities in the major scale.

The major scale has two qualities of intervals: perfect and major. The perfect intervals occur on the unison (1st), 4th, 5th, and octave. The major intervals are the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th. The compound intervals are the same as the simple intervals.
Interval qualities on guitar (since that is hard to read, here are the numbers for each interval. the first number is the lower number, the 2nd is the one above it: Unison: 8, 3. 2nd: 3, 0. 3rd: 3, 2. 4th: 3, 3. 5th: 3, 5. 6th: 3, 2. 7th: 3, 4. 8th: 3, 5. 9th: 3, 3. 10th: 3, 5. 11th: 3, 1. 12th: 3, 3. 13th: 3, 5.)

Minor, Diminished, and Augmented intervals are made by altering a perfect or major interval either by moving the second note a half step sharp or a half step flat (if you do not know what this means see my post on notes). By altering an interval you do not change the number, just the quality.

Whenever a perfect interval is raised a half-step it becomes augmented. So if we raise a P1st (perfect first) one half-step it becomes an A1st (augmented 1st).

Whenever a perfect interval is lowered by one half-step it becomes diminished. So a P5th lowered by a half-step becomes a d5th (diminished 5th).

When a major interval is raised a half-step it becomes augmented (just like a perfect interval). So a M2nd (major 2nd) raised by a half step becomes a P2nd.

When a Major interval is lowered by a half-step it becomes minor. So a M3rd lowered by a half-step becomes a m3rd (minor 3rd. Major gets a capital M miner gets a lower case m).

When a minor interval is lowered a half-step it becomes diminished. So a m3rd lowered a half-step it becomes a d3rd.

I know this is a lot to digest. I would say start with the intervals of the major scale and play those. Get your ear familiar with them. Once you are comfortable, have a friend play and interval from the major scale and try to guess what it is (no peeking). This is a good ear training exercise.

If you have questions please post them to the comments.