11/10/2014 5:00:00 AM
Music theory has been something I’ve been teaching myself as much as I can when I can. I want to compose music, and understanding how it all fits together, while not required, makes things a bit easier than just hitting a bunch of notes and hoping for the best.
I’ve been focusing on chords a bit because I enjoy chord-first writing even though it does cause my melodies to wander a bit, if I ever get to them. I’ve been trying to ‘teach’ my ear to hear the basic triads – Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished, & Suspended – and understand the difference between a strong progression and a fragile one, so that I can create better chord sequences.
Over the course of reading the basics behind the scales, I also wandered over to the Dominant 7th. I always know it as “Tonic, Maj 3rd, Perfect 5th, and a half step below the tonic” but I never understood why they called it the dominant 7th. Then I figured it out.
I was trying to build dominant 7ths on the fly. You add a flatted 7th of whatever scale you’re on & bam – dominant 7th. For example, in the key of G you have G A B C D E F# G, so G-B-D-F is your G7 chord. Which made little sense to me. Why call it a dominant 7th when you have to flat the 7th note?
Then I realized, G is the dominant (5th) note of C. If you stick with the notes in C and use the Mixolydian (GABCDEF) the 7th note is your F.
I also realized the dominant 7th was the diminished chord with the 5th as the root.
Music is pretty much just math you listen to. When you suddenly realize the formulas, it’s amazing.