8.12 Chord scheme

 

Category: Harmony | Tags: Chords

Theory

In this chapter you will learn how to create a chord scheme using a chord chart. On the basis of two examples I explain how you can apply this chord chart. I also show you how to search for chords in Mad World by Gary Jules.


1. What is a chord scheme?

The chords you play in a piece of music have a certain order. Often chords are repeated. To get an overview of the chords, you can put them in a scheme. A chord scheme is mainly used in pop music or jazz. There are several ways to do this. The most common way is to use chord symbols. In classical music you can make a chord scheme by using a chord chart.


2. Chord chart

To get a good overview of which chord connections are possible, we can set up a chord chart, starting from the cadenza I - IV - V - I. This system is from E. Kittel from 1965. This chord chart is intended as an aid, not as a rule.

The idea of this chord chart is that the chord connections usually sound natural when:

  1. the change of functions progress from left to right (tonic-subdominant-dominant-tonic).
  2. the change of degrees from top to bottom progress with the same function
    (for tonic I, VI, III; for subdominant IV, II; for dominant V, VII, III).

 

Chord chart

Function Tonic Subdominant Dominant Tonic
Primary degrees I IV V I
Secondary degrees VI
III
II VII
III
VI
III

Chord chart: first example

Here you see an example of progression from top to bottom with the same function, as in the progression I - VI from chord 1 to 2. Also shown is an example of progression from left to right, as with the progression VI - IV from chord 2 to 3.

 

Chord: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Function: T T SD SD D D T SD D D T
Degree: I VI IV II V III VI II C6/4 V I

 

chord chart
An example of chord connections using the chord chart.


Chord chart: second example

Here you see an example of progression from top to bottom with the same function, as with the progression IV - II from chord 2 to 3. Also shown is an example of progression from left to right, as with the progression III - VI from chord 11 to 12.

 

Chord: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Function: T SD SD D D T SD D D T D T SD SD D D T
Degree: I IV II V V7 VI II C6/4 V I III VI IV II C6/4 V I

 

chord chart
An example of chord connections using the chord chart.


3. How do you find chords to a melody?

Are you looking for chords for a melody you thought up yourself or do you make use of an existing melody? First find out in which scale the melody is. You do this by determining the tonic of a melody. Then you'll also know the chords that belong to your melody. The chords you can try first are the first, fourth and fifth degree. They often fit best. If in doubt, try the second and sixth degree. If you are still not successful, try the third and seventh degree.

 

Chord Search for Mad World by Gary Jules

Mad World by Gary Jules is written in a scale in which the B, E and A are lowered to B flat, E flat and A flat. This scale has three flats. This means that with the basic chords, you should also play a B flat, E flat and A flat.

 

The table below shows which chords you will play. Because the song ends with a B flat chord, B flat is the tonic. Therefore, we start the table with the chord on the B flat.

  Tone Triad
1 B flat Bb D F
2 C C Eb G
3 D D F Ab
4 E flat Eb G Bb
5 F F Ab C
6 G G Bb D
7 A flat Ab C Eb

 

1. The first chord

The most important chord is the first chord, the B flat chord. You already have a clue, the song ends with this chord. Would the song also start with this? Try it out by playing along with the song. Do you hear that the B flat chord doesn't match the first chord of the song? Don't randomly try another chord now. First try the fourth degree, the E flat chord. Do you hear that one doesn't fit? Then try the fifth chord, the F chord. Bingo, that's where it starts!

 

2. The second chord

After the fifth chord very often comes the first chord, so here the B flat chord. Is that right? Yes, you already have two chords! And these are repeated.

 

3. The first phrase consists of four chords

Then the vocals begins with the first sentence. Listen to this entire phrase and a few phrases after that. Do you hear the chords repeated over and over for each phrase? This is very common in music. We are going to figure out the chords of the first phrase. Do you hear that these are four different chords?

 

4. The first and fourth chords of the phrase

It is not difficult to find that the phrase begins with the fifth chord, the F chord. And that the phrase ends with the first chord, the B flat chord. Of the four chords, you already know two.

 

5. The third chord of the phrase

We will now look for the third chord of the phrase. Would this be an F chord again? No, unfortunately. Then we try the fourth chord from the table, the E flat chord. Bingo, that sounds right!

 

6. The second chord of the phrase

Now for the second chord of the phrase. Try the second chord from the table. Unfortunately, no. The sixth chord, no, the third chord, no... then it must be the seventh chord, the A flat chord. Bingo!.

 

7. And everything is repeated

We have now found all the chords of the first phrase. These are the fifth, seventh, fourth and first chords from the table. In other words, F chord, A flat chord, E chord and B flat chord. Done! As you go along you will see that you have now found all the chords of this song.

 

The chord scheme of Mad World

The chords found at Mad World are Fm, Bb, Eb and Ab. The chord scheme looks like this:

Intro: Fm Bb; 2x

1st Couplet: Fm, Ab, Eb, Bb; 4x

Chorus: Fm, Bes; 6x

2nd Couplet: Fm, Ab, Eb, Bb; 4x

Chorus: Fm, Bb; 8x

This is the simplest way to write down a chord progression. You can also write out the complete text and then put the chord symbols in the text. Then you can see exactly when to play a chord.