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Christopher Nicholas

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Music Theory: An Introduction


Compiled by Christopher Nicholas

Table of Contents
What Is Music? ...................................................................................................... 4
What Is Music Theory? ........................................................................................... 4
Staves and Clefs ..................................................................................................... 5
The Treble Clef .................................................................................................................................................... 6
The Bass Clef ........................................................................................................................................................ 7
Movable Clefs (C Clefs) .................................................................................................................................... 8

Tempo ................................................................................................................... 9
Names of Tempos .............................................................................................................................................. 9

Note Length ......................................................................................................... 10
Pitched Note Lengths ..................................................................................................................................... 10
Rest Note Lengths ............................................................................................................................................ 11

Meter/ Time Signatures ....................................................................................... 12
Simple Time ........................................................................................................................................................ 12
Compound Time ............................................................................................................................................... 12
Complex Time ................................................................................................................................................... 12

Flats, Sharps and Naturals .................................................................................... 13
Sharp & Double Sharp .................................................................................................................................... 13
Flat & Double Flat ............................................................................................................................................ 13
Natural .................................................................................................................................................................. 14

Dynamic Marks, Accents ...................................................................................... 15

Key Signatures ..................................................................................................... 16
Sharp Key Signatures ("Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle") .................................. 17
Flat Key Signatures ("Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles's Father") ................................... 18

Intervals .............................................................................................................. 19

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 2

Scales ................................................................................................................... 20
Major Scales ........................................................................................................................................................ 20
Minor Scales ....................................................................................................................................................... 21
Melodic Minor Scales ...................................................................................................................................... 21
Harmonic Minor Scales ................................................................................................................................. 21
Whole Tone Scales ........................................................................................................................................... 22
Major Pentatonic Scales ................................................................................................................................ 22
Minor Pentatonic Scales ................................................................................................................................ 22

Triads ................................................................................................................... 23
Major Triad ......................................................................................................................................................... 23
Minor Triad ......................................................................................................................................................... 23
Diminished Triad ............................................................................................................................................. 23
Augmented Triad ............................................................................................................................................. 23

Chord Construction .............................................................................................. 24
Seventh Chords ................................................................................................................................................. 25
Extended Chords .............................................................................................................................................. 26
Altered Chords .................................................................................................................................................. 27
Added Tone Chords ........................................................................................................................................ 27
Suspended Chords ........................................................................................................................................... 28

Modes ................................................................................................................. 29
Ionian Mode (I) ................................................................................................................................................. 30
Dorian Mode (II) ............................................................................................................................................... 31
Phrygian Mode (III) ......................................................................................................................................... 32
Lydian Mode (IV) ............................................................................................................................................. 33
Mixolydian Mode (V) ...................................................................................................................................... 34
Aeolian Mode (VI) ............................................................................................................................................ 35
Locrian Mode (VII) .......................................................................................................................................... 36
Remembering Modes ..................................................................................................................................... 37

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 3

Introduction to Basic Music Theory


What Is Music?
Music is an art form whose medium is sound. Common elements of music are pitch
(which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter,
and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture.

What Is Music Theory?


The theory of music, sometimes called the "rudiments" traditionally concentrates on the
study of the elements of the notation of music, in other words, how it is written down.
However, it also includes underlying concepts of music such as structure, organization,
history and, to some extent, physics.
These underlying concepts are included for a number of reasons:
Some of the concepts of the notation of music are difficult to understand without
knowledge of the underlying concepts; for example, the use of key signatures and
accidentals is far easier to understand when the concepts of key and scale are fully
understood.
Since music and its notation has grown and evolved over many years (and this process
is still going on), an understanding of the underlying principles is helpful in understanding
the reasons for things, rather than just being told "this is the way it is done".
The theory of music therefore includes the following:

The basic elements of standard music notation such as:


Staves,
Clefs,
Flats, Sharps and Naturals
Note Lengths,
Note Pitches,
Key Signatures,
Time Signatures (Meter),
Beats & Bars (Or Measures)

Basic underlying concepts such as scales, keys, intervals, rhythm, modes etc.

More advanced elements such as dynamics, phrasing (notated with slurs) etc.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 4

Staves and Clefs


A staff is what music is traditionally written on. It denotes the note pitch and the rhythms
of the notes. It is important to know the notes on the staff and the duration of the note
symbols.
A staff looks like this:

There are three different symbols used for clefs in music:

Treble Clef (G Clef)

Bass Clef (F Clef)

Alto/Tenor Clef (C Clef)

The most common clefs are Treble Clef and Bass Clef. These are what you traditionally
imagine when picturing written manuscript. Alto Clef and Tenor clef are used for
orchestral instruments such as violas. Each type of clef assigns a different reference note
to the line on which it is placed.
Different clefs are used because different instruments have different ranges. Below are
exactly the same notes written on different clefs. Which one is easier to read?

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 5

The Treble Clef

A treble clef symbol tells you that the second line from the bottom (the line that the
symbol curls around) is "G". On any staff, the notes are always arranged so that the next
letter is always on the next higher line or space. The last note letter, G, is always followed
by another A.
Among the instruments that use treble clef are the violin, flute, oboe, English horn, all
clarinets, all saxophones, horn, trumpet, cornet, euphonium (and occasionally baritone),
vibraphone, xylophone, Mandolin, recorder and guitar.
Treble clef is the upper stave of the grand stave used for harp and keyboard instruments.
It is also sometimes used, along with tenor clef, for the highest notes played by bass-clef
instruments such as the cello, double bass (which sounds an octave lower), bassoon,
and trombone.
The viola also sometimes uses treble clef for very high notes. Treble clef is used for the
soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, contralto and tenor voices. The tenor voice sounds an
octave lower, and is often written using an octave clef (see below) or double-treble clef.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 6

The Bass Clef

A bass clef symbol tells you that the second line from the top (the one bracketed by the
symbol's dots) is F. The notes are still arranged in ascending order, but they are all in
different places than they were in treble clef.
This clef is used for the cello, euphonium, double bass, bass guitar, bassoon,
contrabassoon, trombone, baritone, tuba, and timpani.
It is also used for the lowest notes of the horn, and for the baritone and bass voices.
Tenor voice is notated in bass clef when the tenor and bass are written on the same
stave.
Bass clef is the bottom clef in the grand stave for harp and keyboard instruments. The
contrabassoon, double bass, tuba and electric bass sound an octave lower than the
written pitch.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 7

Movable Clefs (C Clefs)


Most music these days is written in either bass clef or treble clef, but some music is
written in a C clef. The C clef is moveable: whatever line it centers on is a middle C.

The bass and treble clefs were also once moveable, but it is now very rare to see them
anywhere but in their standard positions. If you do see a treble or bass clef symbol in an
unusual place, remember: treble clef is a G clef; its spiral curls around a G. Bass clef is
an F clef; its two dots centre around an F.
This clef (sometimes called the viola clef) is currently used for the viola, the viola da
gamba, and the alto trombone. Formerly, it was used for the alto voice and for
instruments playing a middle part (such as oboes and recorders).
This clef is used for the upper ranges of the bassoon, cello, euphonium, double bass,
and trombone (which all use the bass clef in their lower and middle ranges, and in their
extreme high ranges, the treble clef as well).
Formerly, it was used by the tenor part in vocal music but its use has been largely
supplanted either with an octave version of the treble clef when written alone or the bass
clef when combined on one stave with the bass part. The double bass sounds an octave
lower than the written pitch.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 8

Tempo
The tempo of a piece regulates how fast its played (using the measure of beats per
minute). This is usually counted using a metronome of using the performers best
judgment. The tempo is written at the beginning of the piece using this symbol:

That notes that the piece should be played at 120 bpm (beats per minute).



Names of Tempos
Tempos can often be written as words (especially in classical music) leaving it up to the
performer to choose a tempo within certain boundaries.
Larghissimo
Grave
Lento
Largo

Very, Very Slow


Slow And Solemn
Slowly
Broadly

(20 bpm And Below)


(20 - 40 bpm)
(40 - 60 bpm)
(40

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 9

Note Length
Pitched Note Lengths
Each note has a duration that is specified by its appearance when it is written down.
This duration is not an absolute one (it does not define how many seconds it should last),
but is relative to the tempo of the piece. A note of a certain length played at 120bpm
would sustain for half the length of the same note played at 60bpm.
The duration will always be closely related to the speed of the beats such as:

a whole number of beats

a simple fraction like a half or a quarter of a beat

an additive combination of the above two

The notation tends to limit the possible durations that can be written, but in traditional
music, this is not a problem.
Notes symbols have different names according to their lengths. The first name is the
traditional name, the second being the American name. The lengths are according to a
piece in common time. The breve is uncommon in popular music.

Breve/
Double Whole Note

1
Notes Per 2 Bars

Semibreve/
Whole Note

1
Notes Per Bar

Minim/
Half Note

2
Notes Per Bar

Crotchet/
Quarter Note

4
Notes Per Bar

Quaver/
Eighth Note

8
Notes Per Bar

Semi-quaver/
Sixteenth Note

16
Notes Per Bar

Demi-semi-quaver/
Thirty-second Note

32
Notes Per Bar

Hemi-demi-semi-quaver/
Sixty-fourth Note

64
Notes Per Bar

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 10

Rest Note Lengths


There are signs for rests corresponding to each note length
A note indicates a sound will be heard for a specified period of time, whereas a rest
indicates that a silence will be heard for the specified period of time.
If there is more than one part on a stave, the rest symbol may be moved up or down on
the stave.
If there is only one part on the stave, the vertical positions below are normally used. Note
that a breve rest is pretty unusual, but sometimes also used to indicate a whole bar or
measure rest (A semibreve rest is also used for a whole bar or measure rest, even if the
bar is not a semibreve long). Also note that a hemi-demi-semi-quaver rest is very rare.

Breve Rest/
Double Whole Note Rest

1
Notes Per 2 Bars

Semibreve Rest /
Whole Note Rest

1
Notes Per Bar

Minim Rest /
Half Note Rest

2
Notes Per Bar

Crotchet Rest /
Quarter Note Rest

4
Notes Per Bar

Quaver Rest /
Eighth Note Rest

8
Notes Per Bar

Semi-quaver Rest /
Sixteenth Note Rest

16
Notes Per Bar

Demi-semi-quaver Rest /
Thirty-second Note Rest

32
Notes Per Bar

Hemi-demi-semi-quaver
Rest /
Sixty-fourth Note Rest

64
Notes Per Bar

A dotted note (a note or rest accompanied with a dot after the symbol) indicates that the
note length or rest length is increased by half the original length of the note or rest.
For example; a dotted crotchet (quarter note) would last the same amount of time as a
crotchet plus a quaver (a quarter and an eighth note).

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 11

Meter/ Time Signatures


Time signatures (also known as meter signature) is a notational conventionally used in
Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which
note value constitutes one beat.
In a musical score, the time signature appears at the beginning of the piece, as a time
symbol or stacked numerals immediately following the key signature (or immediately
following the clef if theres no key signature). Below is a time signature showing that the
piece is in 3/4 time:

Simple time signatures consist of two numerals, one stacked above the other:

- the lower numeral indicates the note value which represents one beat (the beat unit)
- the upper numeral indicates how many such beats there are in a bar.

A piece in 4/4 shows that there are 4 beats to the bar, with each beat being a
crotchet in length.

A piece in 3/4 shows that there are 3 beats to the bar, with each beat being a
crotchet in length.

A piece in 6/8 shows that there are 6 beats to the bar, with each beat being a
quaver in length.

There are various types of time signatures, depending on whether the music follows
simple rhythms or involves unusual shifting tempos. The most common are:

Simple Time

Time signatures include but arent limited to: 2/2, 3/2, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/8.

Compound Time

Time signatures include but arent limited to: 6/8, 9/8, 12/8.

Complex Time

Time signatures include but arent limited to: 5/4, 7/4, 5/8, 7/8.
Not that several time signatures can be present in a piece of music (called syncopation).

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 12

Flats, Sharps and Naturals


Not all songs are conveniently written in C Major (which consequently has no sharps or
flats), therefore sharp and flat symbols are used in music notation.

Sharp & Double Sharp


In music, sharp, dise (from French), or diesis (from Greek) means higher

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 13

Natural

A note is natural when it is neither flat nor sharp (nor double-flat or double-sharp either).
Natural notes are the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, and are represented by the white
notes on the keyboard of a piano or organ. On a modern concert harp, the middle
position of the seven pedals which alter the tuning of the strings gives the natural pitch
for each string.

In musical notation, a natural sign () is an accidental sign used to cancel a flat or sharp
from either a preceding note or the key signature. If a bar contains a double sharp or
double flat accidental and the composer wishes to denote the same note with only a
single sharp or flat, a natural sign traditionally precedes the (single) sharp or flat symbol.
Naturals are assumed (by default) in key signatures and mentioned only in key signature
changes.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 14

Dynamic Marks, Accents


Not only is it essential to know how fast to play a piece but its noted how to loud and
quiet the piece should be played:

The two basic dynamic indications in music are:

p or piano, meaning "soft".


or forte, meaning "loud".

More subtle degrees of loudness or softness are indicated by:

mp, standing for mezzo-piano, meaning "moderately soft".


m, standing for mezzo-forte, meaning "moderately loud".

Beyond f and p, there are also

pp, standing for "pianissimo", and meaning "very soft",


, standing for "fortissimo", and meaning "very loud",

Velocity defines the steps set on a MIDI interface that control the dynamics notes.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 15

Key Signatures
In musical notation, a key signature is a series of sharp or flat symbols placed on the staff,
designating notes that are to be consistently played one semitone higher or lower than
the equivalent natural notes unless otherwise altered with an accidental. Key signatures
are generally written immediately after the clef at the beginning of a line of musical
notation, although they can appear in other parts of a score, notably after a double
barline.
Key signatures are used to make reading music easier. A sharp on the staff line means
that any notes on that line are sharp (unless naturalized). For example a sharp on the F
staff line would result in all Fs being played as F for the duration of the piece.
Below is a B Major scale with no key signature at the beginning.

And then with a key signature at the beginning

Key signatures follow rules just as the other elements of music theory.
A key signature is not the same as a key; key signatures are merely notational devices.
They are convenient principally for diatonic or tonal music. Some pieces that change key
(modulate) insert a new key signature on the staff partway, while others use accidentals:
natural signs to neutralize the key signature and other sharps or flats for the new key.
Key signatures can be placed into two catergories. These are

Sharp Key Signatures

Flat Key Signatures

The key of C Major (which has no sharps or flats) and atonal music are exceptions.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 16

Sharp Key Signatures ("Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle")

Relative major:

1 Sharp:

G Major

Relative minor:
E Minor
Relative major:

2 Sharps:

D Major

F, C

Relative minor:
B Minor
Relative major:

3 Sharps:

A Major

F, C, G

Relative minor:
F Minor
Relative major:

4 Sharps:

E Major

F, C, G, D

Relative minor:
C Minor
Relative major:

5 Sharps:

B Major

F, C, G, D, A

Relative minor:
G Minor
Relative major:

6 Sharps:

F Major

F, C, G, D, A,
E

Relative minor:
D Minor
Relative major:

7 Sharps:

C Major

F, C, G, D, A,
E, B

Relative minor:
A Minor

Sharp key signatures consist of a number of sharps applied in the order: F C G D A E B

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 17

Flat Key Signatures ("Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles's Father")

Relative major:

1 Flat:

F Major

Relative minor:
D Minor
Relative major:

2 Flats:

B Major

B, E

Relative minor:
G Minor
Relative major:

3 Flats:

E Major

B, E, A

Relative minor:
C Minor
Relative major:

4 Flats:

A Major

B, E, A, D

Relative minor:
F Minor
Relative major:

5 Flats:

D Major

B, E, A, D, G

Relative minor:
B Minor
Relative major:

6 Flats:

G Major

B, E, A, D, G,
C

Relative minor:
E Minor
Relative major:

7 Flats:

C Major (B Major)

B, E, A, D, G,
C, F

Relative minor:
A Minor

Flat key signatures consist of a number of flat applied in the order: B E A D G C F

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 18

Intervals
An interval is a term used in music to describe the relationship between two notes. These
can be shown as:

Number of
Semitones

Diatonic Interval

Short

Example

Perfect Unison

P1

minor Second

m2

C/ D

Major Second

M2

minor Third

m3

D/ E

Major Third

M3

Perfect Fourth

P4

Diminished Fifth/ Augmented Fourth

d5/A4

F/ G

Perfect Fifth

P5

minor Sixth

m6

G/ A

Major Sixth

M6

10

minor Seventh

m7

A/ B

11

Major Seventh

M7

12

Perfect Octave

P8

A semitone is defined as the interval between two adjacent notes in a 12-tone scale (e.g.
from C to C).
Therefore:
- a note of E would be the Major Third in the key of C.
- a note of G would be the Perfect Fifth in the key of C.
- a note of G/ A would be the Minor Sixth in the key of C.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 19

Scales
Music can be separated into families. Within a key - some notes sound harmonious
together and some sound dissonant. Understanding how notes relate to each other is
crucial to writing music. Notes that belong together within a key are called scales. From
these scales, chords are constructed.

Major Scales

Above is the C Major scale. The C Major scale uses all the white notes on a piano (no
sharps or flats - black notes) This can be calculated using the following interval sequence
(where a tone is equal to two semitones and a semitone is defined as the interval
between two adjacent notes in a 12-tone scale (e.g. from G to G):
TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

So starting on the note C. A tone up from C is D, a tone up from D is E, a semitone up


from E is F.
Using the interval sequence its easy to calculate the notes of a major scale in any key:
C

E
G

F
A

G
B

A
C

B
D

C
E

D
F

E
G

There are 8 notes in every major scale. These have different names in accordance to
their relativity to their position within the scale:
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
7th
8th

Tonic
C

Supertonic
D

Mediant
E

- Tonic / Keynote
- Supertonic
- Mediant
- Subdominant
- Dominant
- Submediant
- Leading Tone
- Tonic/ Octave

Subdominant
F

Dominant
G

Submediant
A

Leading
Tone
B

Octave
C

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 20

Minor Scales
Minor keys are sometimes said to have a more interesting, possibly sadder sound than
plain major scales. Its possible to play in a minor key by playing the relative major key
but starting 3 semitones down.
For example: An A natural minor scale can be played by playing the C Major scale but
starting on A (refer to Aeolian Mode).

Melodic Minor Scales


A melodic minor is essentially a major scale with the third flattened.

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

Using the interval sequence its easy to calculate the notes of a melodic minor scale in
any key:

E
G

F
A

G
B

A
C

B
D

C
E

D
F

E
G

Harmonic Minor Scales


A harmonic minor is the darkest sounding a minor scale with the third and the sixth
flattened.

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

3 SEMI
TONES

SEMI
TONE

Using the interval sequence its easy to calculate the notes of a melodic minor scale in
any key:

E
G

F
A

G
B

A
C

B
D

C
E

D
F

E
G

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 21

Chord Construction
In addition to playing the standard triads, the chords can be inverted. The C Major chord
can be played as:
C
E
G

E
G
C

G
C
E

1st
3rd
5th

3rd
5th
1st

5th
1st
3rd

By looking at the notes in the major scale, chord families can be discovered. Playing the
1st, 3rd and 5th gives a C Major chord. Playing the 2nd, 4th, and 6th gives a D Minor chord.
Therefore C Major and D Minor both contain notes from the C Major scale and can be
classed in the same chord family.
Using the major scale, its easy to understand the different chords used in that key:

Maj

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 24

Chord Construction
In addition to playing the standard triads, the chords can be inverted. The C Major chord
can be played as:
C
E
G

E
G
C

G
C
E

1st
3rd
5th

3rd
5th
1st

5th
1st
3rd

By looking at the notes in the major scale, chord families can be discovered. Playing the
1st, 3rd and 5th gives a C Major chord. Playing the 2nd, 4th, and 6th gives a D Minor chord.
Therefore C Major and D Minor both contain notes from the C Major scale and can be
classed in the same chord family.
Using the major scale, its easy to understand the different chords used in that key:

Maj

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 24

Seventh Chords
The seventh note in a scale is imperative in jazz, blues and funk music (in addition to
many other forms). Jazz typically uses the natural seventh (the major seventh). Blues
and funk tend to flatten the seventh (the minor seventh - or dominant seventh).

CHORD NAME

FIRST

THIRD

FIFTH

SEVENTH

EXAMPLE

Major Seventh (maj7, 7, 7, 7)


Minor Seventh (m7,min7, 7, 7)

Root
Root

Major
minor

Perfect
Perfect

Major
minor

minor Major Seventh (m maj7)


Dominant Seventh (7, 7, dom7)

Root
Root

minor
Major

Perfect
Perfect

Major
minor

C, E, G, B
C, E, G, B

C, E, G, B
C, E, G, B

Diminished Seventh (o7, dim7)

Root

minor

diminished

diminished

Half-Diminished Seventh (7)

Root

minor

diminished

minor

Augmented Seventh (aug7)

Root

Major

Augmented

minor

Augmented Major Seventh (M7


5)

Root

Major

Augmented

Major

C, E, G,
B
C, E, G,
B
C, E, G, B

C, E, G, B

Adding the seventh note only causes the chord to become a seventh chord. For it to
become a minor or diminished seventh, the third (mediant) HAS to be flatted. In order for
a seventh chord to be a major of augmented, the third (mediant) HAS to remain natural.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 25

Extended Chords
Jazz relies heavily on extended chords. The basis of all jazz extended chords are
seventh chords - whether major, minor or dominant, with the added notes on top.

CHORD NAME

FIRST

THIRD

FIFTH

SEVENTH

Major Seventh (maj7, 7, 7,


7
)

Root

Major

Perfect

Major

9th

11th

13th

Major
Major
Major

Perfect
Perfect

Major

CHORD NAME

FIRST

THIRD

FIFTH

SEVENTH

EXAMPLE

minor Seventh (m7,min7, 7, 7)

Root

minor

Perfect

minor

C, E, G, B

9th

11th

13th

Major Ninth (maj9, 79)


Major Eleventh (maj11, 11)
Major Thirteenth (maj13, 13)

Major

minor Eleventh (min11, 11)


minor Thirteenth (min13, 13)

Major
Major

Perfect
Perfect

Major

FIRST

THIRD

FIFTH

SEVENTH

Root

Major

Perfect

minor

9th

11th

13th

Major
Major
Major

Perfect
Perfect

Dominant Seventh (7, 7, dom7)

Dominant Ninth (9)


Dominant Eleventh (11)
Dominant Thirteenth (13)

C, E, G, B

C, E, G, B, D
C, G, B, D, F
C, G, B, D, A

minor Ninth (min9, 9)

CHORD NAME

EXAMPLE

C, E, G, B,
D
C, G, B, D, F
C, G, B, D, A
EXAMPLE
C, E, G, B

C, E, G, B, D
C, G, B, D, F
C, G, B, D, A

Major

Just like the major scale, chords can be constructed to see which chords fit within the key.
This is constructed around the 13th chord quality:

Maj13

min13

m713

7913

minor
second

maj13
11
Major
Fourth

13

Major
Unison

m79
13
minor
third

Major
Fifth

minor
sixth

diminished
seventh

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 26


Altered Chords
Although the third and seventh of the chord are always determined by the symbols
shown above, the fifth, ninth, eleventh and thirteenth may all be chromatically altered by
accidentals). The augmented ninth is often referred to in blues and jazz as a blue note,
being enharmonically equivalent to the flat third or tenth. This chord is more colloquially
known as The Jimi Hendrix Chord due to his prolific use of it.

CHORD NAME
Dominant Seventh (7, 7, dom7)

FIRST

THIRD

FIFTH

SEVENTH

Root

Major

Perfect

minor

9th

11th

13th

EXAMPLE
C, E, G, B

C, G, B, D,
C, G, B, D,
C, G, B, D, F
C, G, B, D, A

Seventh Flat Nine (79)


Seventh Sharp Nine (79)
Seventh Aug. Eleventh (711)
Seventh Flat Thirteenth (713)

minor
Augmented
-

Augmented
-

minor

CHORD NAME

FIRST

THIRD

FIFTH

SEVENTH

EXAMPLE

Seventh Augmented Fifth (7+5)

Root

Major

Augmented

Dominant

C, E, G, B

Half-diminished Seventh (, m75)

Root

Major

diminished

minor

C, E, G, B

Added Tone Chords


An added tone chord is a triad chord with an added, non-tertian note, such as the
commonly added sixth as well as chords with an added second (ninth) or fourth
(eleventh) or a combination of the three.

CHORD NAME
Add Nine (add9)
Major Fourth (4, add11)
Major Sixth (6)
minor Sixth (min6, m6)
Six-Nine (6/9)

FIRST

THIRD

FIFTH

ADDED

Root
Root
Root
Root
Root

Major
Major
Major
Minor
Major

Perfect
Perfect
Perfect
Perfect
Perfect

Major 9th
Major 4th
Major 6th
minor 6th
Major
6th/9th

EXAMPLE
C, E, G, D
C, F, G, C
C, E, G, A
C, E, G, A
C, G, A, D

Personally I would rather use add9 as opposed to sus2 to describe a chord where the
third (mediant) is present and the added note lies above the triad. I would opt to use sus2
when the third (mediant) has been substituted for the suspended second (supertonic).

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 27

Suspended Chords
A suspended chord, or "sus chord" (sometimes wrongly thought to mean sustained
chord), is a chord in which the third is replaced by either the "second" or the "fourth." This
results in two main chord types: the suspended second (sus2) and the suspended fourth
(sus4).
The chords, Csus2 and Csus4, for example, consist of the notes C D G and C F G,
respectively.
There is also a third type of suspended chord, in which both the second and fourth are
present, for example the chord with the notes C, D, F, G.

CHORD NAME
Suspended Second (sus2)
Suspended Fourth (sus4)

FIRST

THIRD

FIFTH

ADDED

Root
Root

Perfect
Perfect

Major 2nd
Major 4th

EXAMPLE
C, D, G, C
C, F, G, C

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 28

Modes
There are seven different modes in music - one for each white note. These are:

Ionian
Dorian
Phrygian
Lydian
Mixolydian
Aeolian
Locrian

The modes were typically used in chant music (Gregorian Chant). Each of the different
modes creates a different feel. Various interpretations of the "character" imparted by the
different modes have been suggested.
Note that the names and mode numbers have been modernized.

Name
Ionian
Dorian
Phrygian
Lydian
Mixolydian
Aeolian
Locrian

Mode
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII

Perfect
Serious
Sad
Mystic
Harmonious
Happy
Devout

Description
Of Knowledge
Any Feeling
Serious
Vehement
Tender
Happy
Pious

Very Happy
Happy
Tearful
Inciting Anger
Delightful
Happy
Tearful

Example
Ad cenam agni providi
Veni sancte spiritus
Jesu dulcis amor meus
Kyrie, fons bonitatis
Conditor alme siderum
Salve Regina
Ubi caritas

Its easier to understand modes by applying interval sequences.


To show examples, only the white keys will be used:

Name
Ionian
Dorian
Phrygian
Lydian
Mixolydian
Aeolian
Locrian

Mode
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII

Key
C
D
E
F
G
A
B

So for example:
A C Major scale that begins on E and ends on E an octave higher is E Phrygian mode.
A C Major scale that begins on G and ends of G an octave higher is G Mixolydian mode.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 29

Ionian Mode (I)


The Ionian mode is the basic major scale. It follows the following interval sequence:

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

So for example; the Ionian scale for the following keys would be:

E
G

F
A

G
B

A
C

B
D

C
E

D
F

E
G

Note

Relation To Key

Short

Tonic

P1

Major Second

M2

Major Third

M3

Perfect Fourth

P4

Perfect Fifth

P5

Major Sixth

M6

Major Seventh

M7

Upper Octave

P8

Tonic Triad
Tonic Seventh Chord
Dominant Triad
Dominant Seventh Chord

C
C Major 7 (Cmaj7)
G
G7

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 30

Dorian Mode (II)


The Dorian mode can be calculated using the interval sequence:

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

So for example; the Dorian scale for the following keys would be:

E
G

F
A

G
B

A
C

B
D

C
E

D
F

E
G

Note

Relation To Key

Short

Tonic

P1

Major Second

M2

minor Third

m3

Perfect Fourth

P4

Perfect Fifth

P5

Major Sixth

M6

minor Seventh

m7

Upper Octave

P8

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 31

Phrygian Mode (III)


The Phrygian mode can be calculated using the interval sequence:

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

So for example; the Phrygian scale for the following keys would be:

E
G

F
A

G
B

A
C

B
D

C
E

D
F

E
G

Note

Relation To Key

Short

Tonic

P1

minor Second

m2

minor Third

m3

Perfect Fourth

P4

Perfect Fifth

P5

minor Sixth

m6

minor Seventh

m7

Upper Octave

P8

The modern minor scale has a minor third, sixth, and seventh. The minor second in addition here makes
the scale Phrygian, not Aeolian (natural minor)

Tonic Triad
Tonic Seventh Chord
Dominant Triad
Dominant Seventh Chord

E minor (Em)
E minor 7 (Em7)
B diminished (B)
B half-diminished (Bm75/ B)

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 32

Lydian Mode (IV)


The Lydian mode can be calculated using the interval sequence:

TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

So for example; the Lydian scale for the following keys would be:

E
G

F
A

G
B

A
C

B
D

C
E

D
F

E
G

Note

Relation To Key

Short

Tonic

P1

Major Second

M2

Major Third

M3

Augmented Fourth

A4

Perfect Fifth

P5

Major Sixth

M6

Major Seventh

M7

Upper Octave

P8

Tonic Triad
Tonic Seventh Chord
Dominant Triad
Dominant Seventh Chord

F
F Major 7 (FMaj7)
C
C Major 7 (CMaj7)

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 33

Mixolydian Mode (V)


The Mixolydian mode can be calculated using the interval sequence:

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

So for example; the Mixolydian scale for the following keys would be:

E
G

F
A

G
B

A
C

B
D

C
E

D
F

E
G

Note

Relation To Key

Short

Tonic

P1

Major Second

M2

Major Third

M3

Perfect Fourth

P4

Perfect Fifth

P5

Major Sixth

M6

minor Seventh

m7

Upper Octave

P8

Tonic Triad
Tonic Seventh Chord
Dominant Triad
Dominant Seventh Chord

G
G7
D minor (Dm)
D minor 7 (Dmin7)

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 34

Aeolian Mode (VI)


The Aeolian mode can be calculated using the interval sequence:

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

So for example; the Aeolian scale for the following keys would be:

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 35


Locrian Mode (VII)
The Locrian mode can be calculated using the interval sequence:

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

SEMI
TONE

TONE

TONE

TONE

So for example; the Locrian scale for the following keys would be:

E
G

F
A

G
B

A
C

B
D

C
E

D
F

E
G

Note

Relation To Key

Short

Tonic

P1

minor Second

m2

minor Third

m3

Perfect Fourth

P4

diminished Fifth

d5

minor Sixth

m6

minor Seventh

m7

Upper Octave

P8

Tonic Triad
Tonic Seventh Chord
Dominant Triad
Dominant Seventh Chord

B diminished (B)
B half-diminished (Bm75/ B)
F
F Major 7 (FMaj7)

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 36

Remembering Modes
How to remember the interval sequence (Tone is represented as T, Semitone as s):

Name

Mode

Ionian
Dorian
Phrygian
Lydian
Mixolydian
Aeolian
Locrian

I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII

Interval Sequence
T
T
s
T
T
T
s

T
s
T
T
T
s
T

s
T
T
T
s
T
T

T
T
T
s
T
T
s

T
T
s
T
T
s
T

T
s
T
T
s
T
T

s
T
T
s
T
T
T

These are the accidentals within the scale (in accordance to the major scale of that key):

Name

Mode

Ionian
Dorian
Phrygian
Lydian
Mixolydian
Aeolian
Locrian

I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII

Accidentals
Flattened
Flattened
Augmented
Flattened
Flattened
Flattened

3rd & 7th


2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th
4th
7th
3rd, 6th, 7th
2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th

The modes can be arranged in the following sequence, which follows the circle of fifths.
In this sequence, each mode has one more lowered interval above the tonic than the one
preceding it. Thus taking Lydian as reference, Ionian (major) has a lowered fourth;
Mixolydian, a lowered fourth and seventh; Dorian, a lowered fourth, seventh, and third;
Aeolian (Natural Minor), a lowered fourth, seventh, third, and sixth; Phrygian, a lowered
fourth, seventh, third, sixth, and second; and Locrian, a lowered fourth, seventh, third,
sixth, second, and fifth. Put another way, the augmented fourth of the Lydian scale has
been reduced to a perfect fourth in Ionian, the major seventh in Ionian, to a minor
seventh in Mixolydian, etc.

The first three modes are sometimes called major, the next three minor, and the last
one diminished (Locrian), according to the quality of their tonic triads.

MUSIC THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION 37