Chords within scales

Chords In A Scale

In this article we will take a look at how to determine which chords you should play with a scale. If you want to learn more about music analysis in general, we would recommend reading this article.

Chords Within The Scale

Keys and scales are closely related. The scale determines which chords are in the key, and you can determine which chords are in the scale by making triads of the notes. In other words, for every note in the scale, add the third and fifth notes after it, and you will have your chords.

Take a look at the C major scale, pictured below. By making triads on each of the seven notes, we get the chords which are appropriate to play with this scale.

Here is another example, this time using the A minor scale, which contains the same notes as C major. As such, it will contain the same chords.

Chords Outside Of The Scale

Many songs contain chords which do not fit with the scale that the key is based on. This does not necessarily mean that they are outside of the key - they are merely outside of the scale! This is often done to "spice things up" when writing music.

For example, the chord progression C - Am - Dm - G7 can be substituted with the progression C - A7 - D7 - G7, even though both the A major and D major chords contain notes which are not in the C major scale. The key, however, is still C major. If a song starts in one key, and then moves on to another key, it is called modulation.

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