Welcome to episode 114 of the LJS Podcast where today we have on special guest Dan Carillo to talk about understanding minor tonality and building minor chord progressions. Minor tonality can be complicated because there are three minor scales at play. Dan gives a thorough explanation and unlocks this confusing topic. Listen in!
Listen to episode 114
Some of the questions I get from my audience time and time again have to do with minor chord progressions and how they work.
Major diatonic harmony is much easier to understand because you can simply harmonize a major scale with 7th chords or triads, and come up with a simple answer of what chords are in the harmonic series.
But minor tonality becomes complicated because there are three different minor scales at play: the natural, harmonic and melodic minor.
When you harmonize those minor scales separately, you will notice that the qualities of each chord are not always the same for each scale degree.
So which chord should you use for the given scale degrees? Is it a minor 7 for the V chord, or a dominant 7? Is it a diminished 7 for the VII chord or is it a dominant 7?
In this episode, guitarist, professor, and composer Dan Carillo unlocks this and gives us the answers. In fact, he leaves no stone left unturned.
Here’s some of what we talked about today:
1. Why minor tonality is so hard to understand.
2. The problem with understanding minor chord progressions with scales.
3. The importance of the V-I.
4. The common sets of chord choices in a minor key.
5. The alternate sets of chord choices in a minor key.
6. Some of Dan’s cool projects coming up.
Dan talks about two sets of chord options for minor keys, the common and the alternate. Here are the two sets spelled out.
Here is the common set notated in the key of A minor.
i chord: minor(major 7)- from the melodic minor
ii chord: half diminished- from the natural or harmonic minor
iii chord: major 7- from the natural minor
iv chord: minor 7- from the natural or harmonic minor
V chord: dominant 7- from the harmonic or melodic minor
VI chord: major 7- from the natural or harmonic minor
VII chord: dominant 7- from the natural minor
Here is the alternate set notated in the key of A minor.
i chord: minor 7- from the natural minor
ii chord: minor 7- from the melodic or harmonic minor
III chord: major 7(#5)- from the harmonic and melodic minor
IV chord: dominant 7- from the melodic minor
V chord: minor 7- from the natural minor
vi chord: half diminished- from the melodic minor
vii chord: diminished 7- from the harmonic minor