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Theory and Beyond

Click on the lesson number below to view the respective lesson in this three part series by Judy Letostak.

1 | 2 | 3

Theory and beyond Part 1 (Chords and Keys)
letostak@ix.netcom.com (Judy Letostak)
Metal Edge (619)423-4970 24/7 Guitar/Bass tab, MP3s, Appz

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b= flat
#= sharp

Major Keys
	I	ii	iii	IV	V	vi	vii	VIII
G	G	A	B	C	D	E	F#	G
D	D	E	F#	G	A	B	C#	D
A	A	B	C#	D	E	F#	G#	A
E	E	F#	G#	A	B	C#	D#	E
B	B	C#	D#	E	F#	G#	A#	B
F#	F#	G#	A#	B	C#	D#	E#	F#
F	F	G	A	Bb	C	D	E	F
Bb	Bb	C	D	Eb	F	G	A	Bb
Eb	Eb	F	G	Ab	Bb	C	D	Eb
Ab	Ab	Bb	C	Db	Eb	F	G	Ab
Db	Db	Eb	F	Gb	Ab	Bb	C	Db
Gb	Gb	Ab	Bb	Cb	Db	Eb	F	Gb

These are the major scales in the cycle of 5ths.  
The roman numerals represent the scale steps. 

I Major
ii Minor
iii Minor
IV Major
V Major
vi Minor
vii Diminished
VIII Major
* The VIII is an octave higher than I  (same note)

The minor key, has a flat 3, 6 and 7 as compared to the 
major scale.
So, if you took the E Major scale, E F# G# A B C# D#
and flatted the 3, 6 and 7 you would have:
E F# G A B C D which is the E Minor Scale 
This is the foundation of which you can build a song 
or scale from.  This isn't a rule, it's just a foundation
do not take music theory as the written law, it is only
there to guide and help you along your musical path.  It's
never intended to follow strictly.

The Minor Keys are as follows:
	i	ii	III	iv	v	VI	VII	viii
E	E	F#	G	A	B	C	D	E
B	B	C#	D	E	F#	G	A	B
F#	F#	G#	A	B	C#	D	E	F#
C#	C#	D#	E	F#	G#	A	B	C#
G#	G#	A#	B	C#	D#	E	F#	G#
D#	D#	E#	F#	G#	A#	B	C#	D#
D	D	E	F	G	A	Bb	C	D
G	G	A	Bb	C	D	Eb	F	G
C	C	D	Eb	F	G	Ab	Bb	C
F	F	G	Ab	Bb	C	Db	Eb	F
Bb	Bb	C	Db	Eb	F	Gb	Ab	Bb
Eb	Eb	F	Gb	Ab	Bb	Cb	Db	Eb

i=minor  ii=diminished III=Major IV=major v=minor
VI=major VII=major

These tables are also the basis for the Modes as well.
To make a major chord, you would take the I III and V
C Major =  C E G  add the VII for a 7th chord  C E G B
The same for the minor chords

I am assuming that you have the basic knowledge of open major
and minor chords as well as barre chords.  There are many great
lessons for these on the internet.

These are triads...Not usually used in rock music, but they
should be used more.

  Major              Minor
---------------    -----------
--1------------    ---1-------
--2------------    ---3-------
--3r-----------    ---3r------
---------------    -----------
---------------    -----------

  Major        Minor

  Major     Minor

  Major     Minor

These can be used anywhere on the neck.  I prefer these to open
chords, or barre chords.  Barre chords will muddy up the sound
especially with a lot of distortion.  Use these along with power
chords, it'll give your progressions a little more flavor.

If you take the same chords above, and just use the root and 3rd, 
you have a diad, which is a two note chord as opposed to a triad 
which is a 3 note chord.  You can add other notes for different

This next thing is inverted chords.  I touched upon this 
briefly in my "Beyond Power Chords" lesson (1995).  This is
just taking a major or minor chord and putting another note from 
the chord in the bass (it's not as complicated as it sounds)

A Major      A/C#
Eegads!  An inverted chord!!!!  Quick!  Get the bug spray!!! :)

The A Major Chord consists of:  A C# E with the A as the bass note.
the inverted chord still has A C# E, but the C# is in the bass.
play it, you'll see what I mean.

Here's some more.

  F         A Minor       C

Bb          Dm        Eb

Fminor       F Major

Try playing these with a bass player or tape a bass line
with your guitar on tape and play some inverted chords.  You'll
hear a difference between inverted and straight major or minor.

Here's a little ditty that I did with my last band...It's a ballad,
sort of, and most of the chords are strange type of chords.


The chorus wen't something like this.


That last chord fingering is like this...get ready!

-------p3-------pinky  like an A Minor but add your 4th finger and get
-------t2-------thumb   that thumb on the F#  Ugly chord, but effective

Oh yeah, your left hand thumb can be really useful for chords.
If you can get it around the neck...It takes practice to stretch
the little guy, but Hendrix did it, Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie
amongst many other players...You can get an extra note in there
without resorting to "barre chords".  

Here's a little exercise...Take a major triad (any one you 
want to) and play the triad, then take away a note, add another
totally unrelated to the chord...i.e.


You'll find that you'll come up with all sorts of kewl kords to
mess with.  Hey, may even inspire you to write something different
from what u usually write...

Here's a little tip.  If you find yourself getting stale (playing stale,
not smelling stale), hide all the albums that you usually listen to and 
listen to some of yer parents stuff, or grandparents stuff, or whatever.
Anything that's totally unrelated to what you usually listen to.  If you're
a Metal fanatic (rah rah), then put away the Metallica albums and listen
to some Jazz for a while.  It'll totally give you a new perspective on 
music.  But, listen for like a month or better, don't listen to anything
you normally listen to....And don't get tempted to pull `em back out either.
Stick to it, and really listen to the lines that the lead instruments play.
You can try to figure out what they're doing (or a reasonable facimilie), 
it'll help your playing quite a bit.
End Commercial

Here's a little bit of info...

Key Signatures:
Those funny little bs and shift 3s on the keyboard :)
These tell you what notes are altered in a key.  see below for
order.  If you can read music, you should be able to tell the 
key by how many sharps or flats are next to that really funny
looking big S with a tail (Treble Clef).

Order of sharps and flats
Sharps go F C G D A E B 
Flats  go B E A D G C F
in order of what's sharped or flatted within a key or scale.

Relative Keys
Pairs of major and minor keys that share the same key signature.
To find a major key's relative minor count down 3 within the 
scale.  To find the minor's relative major, count up 6.
A Minor's relative Major is C
E Minor's relative Major is G

Enharmonic Equivalents:  
Really easy, easier to describe than to say :)  
G# and Ab are Enharmonic Equivalents.  Same note (to guitar
players) but not exactly.  It depends on the key signature.

There's a really heated debate about this, technically, G# and 
Ab aren't the same note, but to a guitar player it is...the same
fret, but...anyway, not to confuse me or anything...I'm already
really confused.

Here's another good exercise:

Play chords up the cycle of 5ths.  (See begining of lesson).  Play
in every key, memorize the cycle, we're gonna use it for the scales
and arpeggios in the next lesson.  This will also help you memorize
the shapes for the major and minor chords and what chords are major
and minor (or diminished) in the major and minor keys.  You can
just play a minor substitute for diminished.  

Diminished chords

Move these up 3 frets and it's the same chord (huh?)

Augmented (One truly nasty sounding chord)


If you're into metal, I'd like to recommend a few bands who I think
are excellent musicians:

Helloween  fantastic band!!!! everyone in that band is great!
Pick up Keeper of the 7 keys Part 1 and 2.  No, they are NOT
speed metal.

Tnt - another great band, killer guitarist.

Dream Theater - Another killer band.

Rush - Anything by them...

Triumph - Great guitarist, great band...

Michael Schenker (sp?) fantastic guitarist

Steve Morse - Dixie Dregs...great guitar player.

Newayz, that's it for me for this time...(glad?).  Suggestions
are needed, I'm running outta ideas for these lessons.  Feel free
to ask if I wasn't clear on something, or screwed something up
royally...  ANY suggestions for future lessons are more than 
welcome...Ask, and I will tell :)  If I know it, that is...

Don't forget to call my board!!!  It Rocks!!!

Metal Edge BBS (619)423-4970  (San Diego, CA  USA)
Over 15,000 Guitar Tabs, Bass tabs, lessons 
MP3s, Appz   Running Iniquity v.a27, 4.6Gigs, 28.8
RioT Member and Distro
h = hammeron                          ps = pick scrape
p = pulloff                           % = repeat phrase
~ = vibrato                           letostak@ix.netcom.com
b = bend                              + natural harmonic
/\ = Slide                            tr = trill
* = Artificial Harmonic               x = ghost note
t = tap note w/right hand             w/bar = with bar

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