Triads and The Major Scale

Identifying Chords

The triads of the scale have a system of identification using roman numerals. Though there are different systems for this, the most common in the United States uses uppercase roman numerals for major chords, lower case for minor chords, and lowercase with a degree symbol for diminished chords. The number used corresponds to the scale degree of the chord's root. See the diagram above.

Diminished Triad

We have already studied the two most common forms of triads that the major scale constructs, major(M) and minor(m).

The major scale also produces one more form of traid called a diminished triad. The diminished triad only occupies the 7th degree of the major scale. . It is constructed with two minor thirds. The space between the outer notes forms a diminished(flattened) fifth. The leading tone chord is the diminished triad in the major scale.

The Leading Tone

In music theory, a leading-note (called the leading-tone in the US) is a note or pitch which resolves or "leads" to a note one semitone higher or lower, being a lower and upper leading-tone, respectively.

Generally, the leading note is the seventh tonal degree of the diatonic scale leading up to the tonic. For example, in the C major scale (white keys on a piano, starting on C), the leading note is the note B; and the leading note chord uses the notes B, D, and F: a diminished triad. In music theory, the leading note triad is symbolized by the Roman numeral vii°.

Expanding The Leading Tone Definition

As stated above, a leading-tone is a note which resolves or "leads" to a note one semitone higher or lower, being a lower and upper leading-tone, respectively.

Neo-Riemannian transforms present a basic grammar of harmony and voice-learning in pop-rock music. There are four fundamental operations in neo-Riemannian transforms for describing chord progressions: I (Identity, same chord), L (Leading-tone exchange), P (Parallel), and R (Relative), as shown in Figure.

For instance, a chord transition from C major to G major in the key of C major can be encoded in neo-Riemannian transform as LR (I-V).

Chord Progression

A chord progression (or harmonic progression) is simply a series of musical chords, or chord changes that "aims for a definite goal" of establishing (or contradicting) a tonality. The interchange of two chords may be thought of as the most basic chord progression and many well-known pieces are built harmonically upon the mere repetition of such a cadence

The Circle Of Fifths

The Circle of Fifths can help you easily construct hundreds of Chord Progressions, Lead Lines, Harmonies, and just about anything else once you get the hang of it. It has a long history.

The Circle of Fifths is an artifact arising from the study of music theory in the West, which dates back to the 5th-Century BCE Greek mathematician and music theorist Pythagoras. Pythagoras studied the vibrating properties of strings — a subject of obvious interest to a thinking guitarist — and was the first to document the structure of the harmonic overtone series.

He applied his findings about the overtone series to the tuning of a musical scale by a method which is still known as "Pythagorean tuning". Pythagoras worked out the circle of fifths using the perfect ratio of 3:2, and such a circle of fifths does not come out exactly true — there is a "leftover" interval which is now called the "Pythagorean comma".

The Circle of Fifths will be studied in more detail in later chapters.


A melodic configuration or series of chords marking the end of a phrase, section, or piece of music.

The "cadencing of chords" simply implies the creating and release of musical tension within a musical phrase. The various types of cadences we enjoy revolve around to what extent they define a particular pitch or chord as the tonal center within a piece of music.

If it's just a pause in the phrase, the cadence is softer, less definite in regards to key center. End of main musical section etc., usually a bit more definite. And although any chord can go anywhere, due to such concepts as artistic license and the modern approach, there are some common harmonic cadential motions that perhaps transcend style, era or national ethnic origin. The following harmonic ideas come from the common practice of composers, of working with the musical elements as provided by the equal temperament system, while mixing in a touch of the blues.