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Understanding Songwriting

Close Keys

What follows is extremely complex.  However in terms of songwriting, I believe that what follows is of infinite importance.  For the first five or so years of playing I really didn’t understand these concepts, partly because they were never really explained to me properly.  However I don’t think it is as complex as it is often perceived.  I hope my explanation is better than that which was given to me. 

During a major song, sometimes the 7th is flattened.  This is probably the most important thing to know.  If a major scale is played with the seventh flattened, it is called the Mixalydian mode.  Simple enough?

It becomes more complex when one tries to explain what is happening when the seventh is flattened.  Below in line 1 is all the notes from 1, to 1 an octave higher (a full chromatic scale).  On line 2 is a major scale using notes from line 1.  Below this is the Mixalydian Mode using notes from line 1.  (Remember that the 3rd and 4th notes and the 7th and 8th notes of the major scale are next to each other, the others are all two notes, ie. a tone, apart.  See Keys and Chords – Foundations for Understanding Music article on this website for full explanation of major scale.) 

Chromatic Scale

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9         10         11         12          1

Major Scale

1                      3                      5          6                       8                     10                 12          1

Mixalydian Mode

1                      3                      5           6                      8                     10         11                       1

As you can see, the 7th note played in the scale has been flattened in the Mixalydian mode (when compared to the Major Scale) so that it is “note 11” rather than “note 12” (which in both scales are the 7th note played).  (You may need to re-read this paragraph a couple of times.  There may be confusion since I talk about the 7th note played in the major scale which is called “note 12” in the above diagram.  This is because the 7th note played in the major scale is “note 12” in the chromatic scale, since not all the notes from the full chromatic scale are played in the major scale.  Only some of the notes taken from the full chromatic scales are played in the major scale.  If you grasp this then hopefully you will understand the above paragraph.)

Here’s the complex bit – so concentrate hard for the next part.  In the first line below is 2 octaves of full Chromatic Scale.  The second line is 2 octaves of a major scale.  Line 3 is the complex part.  Line 3 is another major scale but this time it begins on “note 6” – which is the fourth note of the major scale found in line 2. 

Chromatic Scale

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   1

Major scale (2 octaves)

1        3        5   6        8        10      12    1       3        5    6        8        10          12   1

Major scale beginning on 4th note (called “note 6” from the Chromatic Scale)

                         6        8        10    11          1       3        5     6 

If you look at line 3, the major scale beginning on the 4th note of the line 2 scale, you will see that the only difference with this and the major scale on line 2 is the note between “note 10” and “note 1” (that is “note 1” just above “note 10”).  In the major scale on line 2, the note is 12 whereas in the major scale beginning on the fourth note of the line 2 scale (ie. line 3), the note is 11 – the rest of the scale is exactly the same.  Of course, as we saw above, this change of note is what turns the Major scale into the Mixalydian Mode. 

What is the point of explaining this?  Basically, the point is that when the major scale is changed to the Mixalydian Mode, it is borrowing the notes of a different Major Scale, namely the Major Scale that is formed when you play a major scale beginning on the 4th note of the original scale (the original scale as seen on line 2 above).  I will call this Key 4, since it is a major scale beginning on the fourth note of the original scale.  So, to repeat again, when changing the Major Scale into the Mixalydian mode, you are borrowing the notes from another Major Scale, namely the Major Scale that is found if you begin playing a major scale starting on the fourth note of the current scale.  This is seen on the diagram above these last two paragraphs.  Line 3 shows a major scale beginning on the 4th note of the Major Scale found on line 2.  As you can see, the Major Scale on line 3 uses notes found on line 2, except that is uses “note 11” instead of “note 12” (from the Chromatic Scale).  This is the note change that is needed to change the Major Scale found in line 2 into the Mixalydian Mode.  This note change occurs on the seventh note of the Major 
Scale and causes the seventh note to be flattened. 

New Chords

From now on I will refer to each note as the number (which is how I usually refer to notes) found in a standard major scale rather than the Chromatic scale seen above.  When the major key changes into the Mixalydian Mode (when the 7th is flattened) this means that any chord in the key that contains note 7 will be altered.  Most significantly, a very important new chord is formed, which is the most frequently found new chord – b7.  This is a major chord, the notes of which are b7, 2 and 4 (bear in mind I am now referring to the note numbers as found when the Major scale is numbered 1 through to 7 and back to 1 again rather than using the full Chromatic Scale to number the notes).  Notes 2 and 4 are already in the major scale and using them with b7 forms a major chord.  So chord b7 is major.  Chord 5 would also become minor since the middle note in chord 5 is 7 and if you flatten the middle note of a major chord it becomes minor (See Keys and Chords – Foundations for Understanding Music ) – but in practice I hardly ever see chord 5 becoming minor.  In Rock/Pop music the Mixalydian mode usually only occurs for one chord in a song (every time this chord is used in the song) and this is usually when chord b7 shows up – if you were improvising over a major song using the major scale and a b7 chord occurred, you would have to switch to the Mixalydian Mode in order to accomodte the b7.  But the key usually returns to the normal Major Scale once this chord finishes and a new chord is played.  So you would move to the Mixalydian Mode just for the one chord.  Sometimes a whole song is in the Mixalydian mode but this is rarer.  In this case the only thing that would make the song feel like it is in the Mixalydian mode rather than Key 4 (the major key that begins on note 4 of the current key), would be the fact that the main chord sequences of the song all settle on chord 1.  This usually includes the song beginning on chord 1, the chorus beginning on chord 1 and song ending on chord 1. 

Other Close Keys

Another change of note that often occurs is a #4.  However, it usually only happens for one chord of the song (each time this chord is played).  I don’t think I have ever seen a whole major song with #4.  I think this is because it is an unstable movement.  Just as when a major song moves to the Mixalydian mode it is borrowing its notes from another key (or scale – namely Key 4 or the major scale that would occur if a major scale was played beginning on note 4 of the current key), when the 4th is sharpened, notes are being borrowed from another key or scale – namely Key 5 (or the major scale that would be found if a major scale was played beginning on note 5 of the current scale).  A major scale with a #4 is called the Lydian Mode, but I will emphasise once again that it is an unstable mode – it does not last for a whole song, it only lasts for one chord at a time.  This is in contrast to the Mixalydian mode, which can last for a whole song. 

Why can a whole song not be in they Lydian mode (constant #4)?  A good example for the purposes of this discussion is Mariah Carey’s song We Belong Together.  The entire song uses the chord sequence 4534 (other than the introduction).  Chord 1 is never used.  This must be a very powerful sequence in my mind since it is strong enough to be used for the entire song with no variation.  I will discuss in another article why I believe this is such a powerful sequence, but to explain briefly, I believe that (and this is just my own theory) chord 4 is more powerful in a major song than chord 1 and that using it to root the sequence and end the sequence (as in this example) is therefore very powerful.  But the key question here is, why does this song not sound like 1,2j,7m,1?  This would be exactly the same sequence but would be assuming that the first chord in the sequence is chord 1 and the song is in the Lydian mode (constant #4). 

From my understanding, a scale (or key) has 3 unstable or movable notes.  These are the 3rd, 6th and 7th notes of the scale.   If you take a major scale and flatten the 3rd, 6th and 7th it becomes a minor scale, or to put it another way, a minor scale is a major scale with the 3rd, 6th and 7th flattened.  The closest key to the major scale is the Mixalydian mode, which is a major scale with the 7th flattened.  This is a stable key and an entire song can have the seventh flattened.  Within a song, the 3rd can also be flattened.  However, in my mind, a flattened 3rd is one of the primary distinguishing factors of the minor scale: if the 3rd is flattened it sounds like a minor scale.  (Also, if you play just the 6th and 7th flattened – which I feel is the best scale to play over chord 4m: I call this scale the Philian scale since I have not come across another name for it – then the first half of the scale sounds major but the second half sounds minor.  So b6 and b7 toghether also create a strong minor feel.)  So, if the song is to sound major the 3rd cannot stay flattened.  But in a major song the 3rd can flatten for just one chord.  This doesn’t happen very often in Pop, but when a b3 chord is introduced it sounds great.  (Incidentally, chord b3 necessatates b7 because chord b3 is b3, 5 and b7.)  Chord b3 is also a major chord, so even if a song uses b3 and thereby is moving towards the minor key, within the minor key chord b3 is one of the major chords (as is b7) so the effect of using b3 for just one chord in a major sequence is in fact to just add more major chords to the song, even though b3 is technically turning the song into the minor key (that is the minor key formed beginning on note one as opposed to the relative minor which begins on note 6).  A good example of a song that uses b3 and b7 is Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet.  The next note to be flattened is b6.  (Chord b6 also necessatates b3 since chord b6 is b6, 1 and b3).  b6 to b7 to 1 is a nice sequence which would be 4, 5, 6j if the key was minor and the use of these three chords in this order creates that effect (as though the key was now the minor).  An amazing song, which I noticed recently, that uses all these flats (b7, b3 and b7) is Lazy Days by Guy Chambers and Robbie Williams.  It is worth having a listen to this whilst looking at the chord numbers because it is absolutely fantastic (the use of b3 then changing back to 3 then immediate b3 again at the end of the chorus sounds amazing).  So as you can see, as the flats are increased in the major key, the major key is moving towards the minor key (turning into the minor key with the root note staying the same – as oppose to the relative minor).  Now the Lydian mode uses #4 and this is not one of the movable notes (b3, b6 or b7) and is not found in the major or the minor key (that is the minor key found when beginning on note 1 as oppose to note 6).  So this, in my understanding, is why the Lydian mode, or #4 is not stable.  In fact, I think that using b7 forms the only key that is stable for a whole song. 

Close keys when in the minor

However, if the key is minor (settling on chord 6), then #4 becomes stable ie. an entire song can have #4 in it (and it would be borrowing the notes of Key 5).  (The following is a little confusing since I refer to #4 as being the sixth note in the minor scale since the first note of the minor scale is note 6 and if you count up six notes you end up at note #4.  The confusion may arise because in our system of understanding, the note is called #4 – that’s its name – but it is the sixth note of the minor scale, not the fourth.)  Beginning a scale on note 6, #4 is the 6th note of the scale, and this creates the Dorian Mode (a minor scale with a #6).  Remember that a minor scale is a major scale with b3, b6, and b7, so by sharpening the 6th note of a minor scale it is moving towards the major scale.  (It is the first note to change in the minor scale moving to the major scale [beginning on note 6], and is close since the notes are borrowing from Key 5, which is the only other key other then Key 4 to have only one note different from the starting key.)  To repeat: in order for the minor scale to become a major scale the reverse must occur to the situation spoken about earlier in this article, ie. the 3rd, 6th and 7th must be sharpened.  So sharpening the 6th note of the scale is the first movement towards the major key occurring – that is the major key that would occur if you begin playing on note 6.  Don’t forget that in the normal state of affairs (in our scheme) if you play a scale beginning on note 6 and ending on note 6 an octave higher you have the minor scale.  This is important to understand at this point in order to understand the current concepts.  Another point to understand, is that the 3rd, 6th and 7th notes in the minor key are called (in our scheme) notes 1, 4 and 5.  So for the minor key to become major, notes 1, 4 and 5 would have to be sharpened.  However, since sharpening the third note of the minor scale would make the beginning of the scale sound major, it isn’t often sharpened.  Where it is sharpened, I think it usually sounds like the minor key has moved to the major key as found when note 6 is the first note of the scale (the major key that would be found if a major scale was played beginning on note 6).  So 1 is not often sharpened.  However, 3 and 4 (the 6th and 7th notes of the scale beginning on note 6) are often sharpened.  When these notes are sharpened they are often the middle notes of the chord being played and so change chords 2 and 3 from minor chords into major chords.  Therefore 2j and 3j are common.  #5 usually occurs during the last chord of a sequence and thereby seems to like to lead back into chord 6 (which is usually the first chord in a minor sequence).  When a minor key uses #4 for the entire song (this song would therefore be in the Dorian Mode) then chord 7 becomes minor (as opposed to mb5) throughout the song, and chord 2 becomes major. 

© 2006 Phil Warren

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Chord 4: ‘The Hit Maker!’

Is there one chord that is needed to make a catchy chorus?  I took all the songs in my database, and looked at each chord individually, investigating what chords tended to follow each chord.  For example, I took chord 5 and looked at how often it was followed by chord 1, then how often it was followed by chord 2, then how often it was followed by chord 3,… etc and so on for each chord.  Most chords were quite random – any could be found to follow them.  However, two chords had notably high volume of certain chords following them. 

Chord 1 liked to be followed by chord 4 and chord 5.
Chord 4 liked to be followed by chord 1 and chord 5.

What was notable (to me) by its absence was chord 5, which seemed to be followed by any chord with no notable favouritism.  There also seemed to be a clear predominance of major chords over minor chords.  However, this may be due to the fact that I think there tend to be more major pop songs than minor ones and as a result my database contains perhaps 2 thirds major sequences in it and 1 third minor songs.  Perhaps if I had done the test (which took a significant amount of time since I have struggled to find a way for the database to answer my query and convert the answers into percentages all in one query: I had to do much of the work in stages – I’m not the greatest computer wiz!) with just major songs and then just minor songs, the results would have been even more significant than those already found and perhaps if I had isolated minor songs I might have found chords that demonstrated clearer patterns in minor songs.  I will do the amended tests at a later date. 

With all the above in mind, it is surprising I found any significant results at all.  However, it seemed that chord 1 and chord 4 have some special characteristic.  As a hypothesis, it would seem that the most significant chords (also I think shown by frequency of occurrence) are 1, 4 and 5,  (again, remember that this may be primarily in major songs) and that 1 therefore likes to move to 4 or 5 and 4 likes to move to 1 and 5, which in both cases are the other 2 significant chords (other than the starting chord).  However, again, this begs the question, why is 5 not seen to like to be followed by 1 and 4?

Eventually, I came up with a theory that chord 1 and chord 4 are what I call ‘rooting chords’.  My reasoning was as follows.  It is notable that if a major mode occurs in a song, it is usually the Mixalydian mode and I don’t think I have ever seen a case where any other major mode remains stable for an entire song.  As discussed in the article ‘Close Keys’ (found elsewhere on this website), when the Mixalydian mode occurs, the root key is borrowing its notes from Key 4, (i.e. it is using the notes of the major key found by playing a major scale rooted on the fourth note of the current scale – if you wish to understand better I suggest that you read the article Close Keys – this is a complex yet very important issue).  It is borrowing its notes from the standard major key that is rooted on note 4.  So, I will re-state: within a major song, the key can be Major or Mixalydian mode, and the root note of the Major key that the Mixalydian mode borrows from is note 4.  So, if the key moves to the Mixalydian mode, note 4 may have special significance as the root note of the key that the notes are being borrowed from.  Bear in mind songs can switch from major to Mixalydian mode just for one chord, in each repetition of a 4-chord sequence (for example if b7 appears for just 1 chord of a four chord sequence).  Bearing in mind this possible fluidity of movement within a song, it might make sense that chord 4 (as the root note of the borrowed key when moving to the Mixalydian mode) has a special ‘rooting’ quality. 

 I like to think of chord 4 as a root chord (its the root of the borrowed key in the Mixalydian mode) with a difference.  It isn’t the root, but perhaps as the root of the borrowed key that the major scale likes to move to and easily moves to, perhaps it has certain qualities of a root chord.  Standard Classical theory tells us that a section usually ends with chord 1 being preceded by chord 5 (or something along those lines): perhaps chord 5 is demonstrating a characteristic of pointing away from itself – and that it is unsettled – it wants to move to something else.  I see chord 1 and 4 differently, far more settled.  I see chord 4 as the next most settled place after chord 1.  Its not completely settled, but its quite settled, and it feels quite rooted, especially when found on the strong bars (ie position a or c in a four chord sequence).  The obvious next point to make (in backing up my theory) is that major choruses tend to start on one of two chords: chord 1 or chord 4.  Need I say more?  This would seem to strongly back my hypothesis that chords 1 and 4 are ‘rooting chords’: major choruses begin on one of these two chords!  If choruses like to begin on chord 4 as well as chord 1 (which is the true root) then it would again suggest that this chord has a quality alongside chord 1 for beginning a section – or, in my understanding, rooting it.  Incidentally, I am beginning to notice that many of the most catchy and highest charting songs have choruses that begin on chord 4!  This should be noted!!  (It may be that I am biased and subject to selective thinking here – its just something I’ve noticed recently when listening to songs – at which point I always say to my poor fiancée, who’s probably had enough of my music analysis obsession and is probably filing for divorce as we speak, ‘Guess what chord this chorus begins on honey’ at which point she dutifully responds ‘chord 4’.)  Yesterday I heard ‘Man-eater’ by Nelly Fertado, chorus beginning on chord 4, as a recent example and I think this was a no.1 this week, and I noticed that recent Pink song ‘Who Knew’ which I bought last week and I think is really catchy has a chorus beginning on chord 4.  You will also see on the website the song No Tomorrow by Orson has a chorus beginning on chord 4. 

 The song that was the first song to really grab my attention with regard to the importance of chord 4, and possibly was the trigger for me to develop this whole theory, was We Belong Together sung by Maria Carey.  This song is extremely interesting because I regard it as Major, but chord 1 never turns up!  The intro begins on chord 6 and so you could argue that this helps the listener to get rooted around the 1 and 6 rooting points.  However, I think this is not relevant – had the song begun with no into, I don’t think the musical listener would have any trouble recognising which note is the root.  I thank What to Listen for in Rock by Ken Stephenson for helping me understand how we recognise keys because I have not studied how we determine where the root is: I have always just determined the root innately.  Ken lists various ways in which a listener perceives the root, but I think the key one here (bearing in mind chord 1 never turns up, which is usually one of the things that helps us determine the root: a piece settling on chord 1) is that the melody centres around notes 1, 3, and 5 (he says 1 and 5 are the important ones, I have added note 3 to this) and possibly also the key fact that the vocal end ‘cadences’ (i.e. where the vocals ‘fall’ or settle at the end of verse and chorus) fall on note 1.  (I think perhaps these 2 things are the real general key determiners – centring on notes 1, 3, and 5 and vocals settling on 1, or in the minor perhaps, 6, 1 and 3 and vocals settling on note 6, but I reserve the right to review this statement later since how a listener determines a key is not something I spend much time studying).  Another thing that points to the fact that the intro is not the key to determining the root in the song being discussed, is that the song settles on note 1, but the intro starts on chord 6: technically this is suggesting a minor key and the vocals clearly settle on note 1 suggesting the major key.  Anyway – I’ll stop rambling now and get to the point: chord 1 never turns up!  In fact, other than in the intro, the same four-chord sequence is used for the entire song: 4534.  I love this song and I think it is one of the best songs of 2005, and an amazing ballad.  Mariah blows me away in this song with her amazing vocals.  But my point is this: perhaps there is something very special about this chord sequence in order for it to be able to be used for the entire song with no change.  I personally feel that there is something really powerful in this song regarding the fact that the sequence never settles: there is a little tension held for the whole song – and I think here lies the key to the power of chord 4: chord 4 is a rooting chord but due to the fact it is not chord 1, which is the chord where the whole piece feels settled and rested, it maintains an air of tension, which I think is a very powerful effect.  What I am trying to say is that, functionally, chord 4 can do some of the job of chord 1: it can root a chord sequence.  However, it does not have the other characteristic of chord 1 which is that it settles the piece and brings it to a sense of completion and rest: therefore it roots but maintains a sense of tension.  This is why the Mariah Carey song does not need chord 1 – chord 4 operates the function of rooting the song and the chord sequence.  However, it has the added power of not settling or resting the piece.  Therefore the piece maintains a sense of tension and never settles. 

As a result of this hypothesis, and the incredible power that chord 4, in my mind, appears to have in this song, and due to the fact that chord 1 never appears in this Major song, I then went on to consider whether chord 4 might be more important than chord 1 in a chord sequence.  Amazingly, I discovered that all the chorus Major chord sequences in my database contain chord 4 (there are 2 types of exception to this rule but where this exceptions occur there seems to be good reason and I will explain this in a moment).  This is significant since as we have seen in the Mariah song, chord 1 is not necessary in a catchy chorus sequence!

To add weight to this theory, I noticed a Snow Patrol song on the radio recently, which used the sequence 1414 for the verse and the chorus and I think 4545 for the bridge.  This is a very simple sequence and really means that most of the song is just 14.  I haven’t seen a 1515 sequence as a chorus and I think this again demonstrates the difference between chords 4 and 5.  1 and 4 are all that are necessary for a good song.  1 and 5 don’t do the job. 

I have already stated that I see chords 1 and 4 as ‘rooting chords’.  In light of what I have outlined above, I also wonder if chord 4 is necessary to a chorus because of the tension it creates.  I have begun to consider the following model.  It seems clear that vocal melodies in a major song settle around notes 1, 3, and 5 and in terms of frequency (as in Hz frequency) these notes harmonise extremely powerfully with the root.  Chord 6 is the relative to chord 1.  In my currently hypothetical model, I consider 1, 3, 5, and 6 on one continuum.  In Classical music theory, (as best I can remember), chord 1 likes to be proceeded by chord 5 at the end of a section.  Perhaps this nature of chord 5 leading back to chord 1 demonstrates their movement along the same continuum and that chord 5 has a close relationship with chord 1.  Imagine for a moment, as suggested above, that 1, 3, 5 and 6 are on a continuum.  In this hypothesis, I then consider chord 4 as a movement off of this continuum, or plane.  I like to think of a line drawn through notes 1, 3, 5 and 6 with chord 4 not on this line. 



I see chord 4 as moving onto a different continuum and a movement off of the original line.  (Yes I also include chord 2 but I will explain this later).  I hypothesise that in order for a chorus to be catchy, its chord sequence must move from the root continuum of 1, 3, 5, and 6, otherwise it will just sound too monotonous and samey.  It is at the point of this movement, in my mind, where the magic happens!  This is why all major chorus chord sequences must contain chord 4 (or 2) and why a sequence doesn’t even need chord 1.  The reason it doesn’t need chord 1 is that no magic happens on chord 1.  The root continuum has already been established by the melody notes.  There is therefore no need for chord 1.  Interestingly, chord 4 is not found in all major verse chord sequences; but neither are various other key characteristics that are found in choruses.  It seems increasingly clear to me that in order for a chorus to be catchy and become a hit chorus, various criteria need to be met, whereas since the verse is not the catch – it is the precursor, or introduction to the catch – it really doesn’t need to follow the chorus rules.  Verses seem to have far less rules followed than choruses, and now I have realised this I realise I need to do more work studying just choruses rather than previously where I have been studying verse and chorus sequences together, which has therefore watered down my findings, many of which would probably be far more clearly demonstrated if I had studied chorus sequences exclusively.  But you only figure this stuff out by trying and making mistakes and then learning through these mistakes!

I did, however, also find two types of exception to the chord 4 rule.  I firstly noticed that most major chorus sequences that didn’t contain chord 4 contained chord 2.  This makes sense since chord 2 is the relative minor chord to chord 4 and so I hypothesise that chord 2 can create a similar sense of movement away from the 1, 3, 5, 6 continuum as chord 4 creates, even if chord 2 is not a Major key rooting chord. 

Bearing in mind this hypothetical need for change and movement away from the 1, 3, 5, 6 continuum, the other notable time where chord 4 does not necessarily show up in the sequence is in a chorus sequence where there is a non-diatonic (non-diatonic meaning the use of notes that do not fit the current key) chord present, usually a chord containing #4.  The use of a chord containing #4 or any other non-diatonic note will of course create a strong sense of movement away from the 1, 3, 5, 6 continuum and in my mind creates a sense of temporary movement away from the whole key.  One recent notable chorus sequence where chord 4 does not show up is Girl Put Your Record On by Corinne Bailey-Rae, which utilises the sequence 1, #4mb5, 5, 1.  In my mind, the #4mb5 creates a strong sense of movement away from the 1, 3, 5, 6 continuum.  (The chord chart for this song can be found on this website). 

You will probably notice that I have only proposed this theory for Major choruses.  It is only in Major sequences where I have noticed that chord 4 or 2 always show up.  As I said earlier in this article, Minor choruses appear to demonstrate different characteristics.  If I had done the original test (which I spoke of at the beginning of this article) on just Major songs perhaps the results would have been even clearer than those already found.  In order to find out if there is a chord in Minor keys that has similar characteristics to the 4 and 2 chord pair in the Major key, or perhaps if there is any rooting chords in the Minor key (other than chord 6 obviously) I would perhaps need to run the same test as I spoke of at the beginning of the article, but using only Minor sequences.  I have had a look at Minor chorus sequences to see if there is a chord that always turns up, and at the moment, it seems that chord 5 always appears to be present.  Perhaps chord 5 is necessary for all Minor catchy chorus sequences?  In fact I only noticed one Minor chorus that didn’t contain a 4 or a 2 and it was I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor by Arctic Monkeys, which is 6156.  I will one day run the tests again, but bearing in mind how long they took me to do in the first place, I think I will wait until I have more chord sequences in my database so that the results will be more significant. 

My fiancée’s nephew who is around 5 asked me to play him his new favourite song on guitar last week.  It was Open Your Heart to Me – Maddonna.  Good taste, that was one of my favourite pop songs of the 80s (I love cheese pop).  Assuming I guessed the chords right, I noticed something that really struck me in the verse.  1,b7,1,b7 repeated a few times then the verse lifts to a beautiful 4, b3, 4, b3 repeated a few times.  It seemed to me like a powerful demonstration of chord 4’s ability to mimic the job of chord 1.  The second sequence seems like a repetition of the first sequence but beginning on chord 4, as though key 4 was being played in the Mixalydian mode (in imitation of the beginning of the verse being in the root key Mixalydian mode).  And it seemed to me to powerfully demonstrate chord 4’s rooting power alongside chord 1 operating in the same manner as chord 1 but in its alternative position. 

© 2006 Phil Warren

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