Understanding Diatonic Chords
We’ll look at how they’re made on the piano, then on guitar.
Points to Remember:
• Quick Theory Review
The Major Scale (foundation of music theory) has 2 whole steps, a half step, 3 whole steps, and a half step.
Major Third = 2 whole steps
Minor Third = 1.5 steps
Most chords are made by playing every other note of a scale at the same time.
There are three kinds of triads (3-note chords), in the diatonic series: Major (1-3-5), Minor (1-b3-5) and Diminished (1-b3-b5).
• The Diatonic Series:
Maj (I), min. (ii), min. (iii), Maj. (IV), Maj. (V), min. (vi), dim. (viiº)
• Close Voicing: Playing the notes of a chord directly in a row. Example: 1-3-5
• Open Voicing: Leaving more space between the notes of a chord. Example: 1-5-3
• It's easier to play close-voiced chords on a piano than it is on the guitar.
• In the key of C, the diatonic chords are:
C maj, D min, E min, F maj, G maj, A min, B dim
• One very common chord progression is I, vi, IV , V (1, 6, 4, 5). "Stand By Me," for example, uses this progression.
• I, IV and V are called the "primary chords," since they are, by far, the most commonly used chords. As we saw, these are all Major chords.
• Knowing the Diatonic Series makes it easy to transpose a song to a different key (say, to fit your voice)!