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Good Diamonds Are Expensive (to) Buy
.s Glass Doors Are Easily Broken
.s Grand Divas Aren't Ever Bashful
Next, count out the keys in order on the fingers of one hand until you get to the key you need. For the key of A, count G, D, A. How many fingers are you holding up? Three. The key of A has three sharps.
The sharps in a key signature always appear in ascending 5ths, starting with F-sharp. Thus, the three sharps in the key of A are F-sharp, C-sharp, and G-sharp.
Filling Out Your Sound with Chords
In This Chapter
► Building chords
^ Reading chord symbols
► Flipping the notes around
Л quick glance through this chapter may have you thinking, “Why do I need to know how to build chords?” I have one answer you may like: to impress your friends. Wait, here’s another: to play like a pro.
Playing melodies is nice and all, but harmony is the key to making your music sound fuller, better, cooler, and just downright great. Playing chords with your left hand is perhaps the easiest way to harmonize a melody. Playing chords with your right hand, too, is a great way to accompany a singer, guitarist, or even a circus performer.
This chapter shows you step-by-step how to build chords and use them to accompany any melody.
Putting the Chords
Three or more notes played at the same time form a chord These notes can be played by one hand or both hands. Chords have but one simple purpose in life: to provide harmony. (Chapter 10 tells you all about harmony.)
To understand the power of harmony, listen to “Red River Valley” on Track 52 of the CD. The first time, the song is played as melody only, without any harmony. The second time, you hear the melody and harmony. Doesn’t that sound much better?
152 Part IV: Living in Perfect Harmony
You may have encountered chords already in a number of situations, including the following:
You see several musical notes stacked on top of each other on a printed sheet of music.
J* You notice strange symbols above the treble clef staff that make no sense when you read them: F#m7(-5), Csus4(add9).
J5 You hear a band or orchestra play.
J’ You honk a car horn.
Yes, the sound of a car horn is a chord, albeit a hideous-sounding chord. So are the sounds of a barbershop quartet, a church choir, and a sidewalk accordion player (monkey with tip jar is optional). Chances are, though, that you probably won’t use car horns or barbers to accompany your melodies — piano chords are much more practical.
Why the phone company hates me
Want to annoy the heck out of your friends? Call them up and play some songs with the touch-tone buttons on your phone. It's not exactly playing chords, but it's a whole lot of fun.
The following figure gives you the notations for three well-known songs. Under the notes are the phone numbers to press. Have fun!
A word of caution: Don't just pick up the phone and start playing the songs. You may end up dialing China, the police, or (even worse) your in-laws.
And you can stop wondering .. . 9-1-1 isn't a song, so don't "play" it.
    
  
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Chapter 12: Filling Out Your Sound with Chords
The Anatomy of a Chord
Chords begin as very simple little creatures. Like melodies, chords are also based on scales. (Chapter 8 gives you the skinny on scales.) To make a chord, you select a note, any note, and put other scale notes on top of it.
Generally, the lowest note of a chord is called the root note. (Think of this like trees — the roots are on the bottom.) The root note also gives the chord its name. For example, a chord with A as its root note is an A chord.
The notes you use on top of the root note give the chord its type, which I explain later in this chapter.
Most chords begin as triads, or three (tri) notes added (ad) together. Okay, that’s not the actual breakdown of the word triad, but it may help you remember what triad means.
A triad consists of a root note and two other notes — a 3rd interval and a 5th interval. (Chapter 10 tells you about all the fun and games involved in intervals.) Figure 12-1 shows you a typical triad played on the white keys C-E-G. C is the root note, E is a 3rd interval from C, and G is a 5th interval from C.
C, a simple
triad. 3rd interval
By altering this C triad in any of the following ways, you build new chords:
J' Raising or lowering notes of the triad by a half step or whole step.
J1 Adding notes to the triad.
S’ Both of the above.
)’ None of the above (some triads are perfectly good chords just as they are).
For example, you could use other intervals from the C major scale to change the C triad and make new chords all day long. Figure 12-2 shows you four different ways to change the C triad and make four new chords. Play each of these chords to hear how they sound. I’ve marked the note intervals in each chord. (Again, Chapter 10 explains these intervals and abbreviations.)