Counting From Key Centers

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Counting From Key Centers

Numbering Scales and Chord Progressions

The major scale has seven notes, which serve as the root notes for seven different chords. Any of these chords could function as the tonic of a progression. A song can focus on the I, ii, iii, IV, V or vi chord. You rarely find the vii chord as the tonic. The focus of a progression on any one of these chords will result in different sound qualities of the progression, which are described as different modes.

In the first volume of Fretboard Theory I identified chord progressions relative to the parent major key regardless of which chord was functioning as the tonic, or the resulting mode. For example, if the progression was in a Mixolydian mode, the tonic chord was still identified as the V chord, rather than renaming it to I. The other chords in the progression were identified similarly. I identified the chord progressions in this manner to show you how the same major scale patterns and chords are used in the different modes. Thus a Mixolydian progression such as G-F would be identified as V-IV so that you could easily determine its parent key of C major. Believe it or not, this is not how most musicians think about chord progressions! Instead, they usually think of the tonic chord as “one” and number the rest of the chord progression from this starting place. The G-F chord progression then becomes I-bVII, as you come to understand in Fretboard Theory Volume II Chapter 2.

In Fretboard Theory Volume II Chapter 2 we will look at using a new number system, one where we number keys and chord progressions by starting from the tonic pitch (key center) rather than using the numbers as they occur in the parent major scale. Counting from key centers like this reveals important details about keys, scale formulas, chord movement and harmony. We cannot advance to higher forms of music theory without first laying this groundwork. Many of the advanced concepts we explore in other Fretboard Theory Volume II chapters, like dominant function, modal mixture, and the harmonic minor scale, necessitate that we think and count from key centers.

Fretboard Theory Volume II

Fretboard Theory Volume II picks up where the first book leaves off and takes your guitar playing and musical knowledge to a whole new level. You learn new musical concepts and explore advanced applications. There is information for rhythm guitarists, lead guitarists, improvisers and composers. Each chapter focuses on applications found in popular music and includes familiar song references.

Take Your Guitar Playing to the Next Level!

  • Gain new perspective on keys and tonalities
  • Apply new number systems
  • Bring dominant function and voice leading into play
  • Change keys, borrow chords and mix modes
  • Employ chromatic passing, diminished and augmented chords
  • Use the lead patterns preferred by the pros
  • Target chord tones and outline chord progressions
  • Discover the harmonic minor scale
  • Play pedal point and pedal tones

Discover the Secrets to Guitar Songs By:

Led Zeppelin
Eric Clapton
The Beatles
The Eagles
Grateful Dead
The Rolling Stones
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Guns N” Roses
Fleetwood Mac
Tom Petty
Jimi Hendrix
Van Morrison
Allman Brothers Band
U2 and many more!


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