Music Theory

Here is a preview of some of the lessons included in Musicopoulos

Diatonic Chords

Understanding Chords Related to the Major Scale

When you were introduced to the Major scales, you first learnt how to construct them from the chromatic scale, and then discovered the relationships between all of the Major scales. Now that we have learnt how to build our basic triads, we are now ready study the relationships between them.

When we built our Major scales, we restricted the notes to a specific subset of the chromatic scale. Each note within the Major scale is considered diatonic to that scale. For example, all the notes of the C Major scale C-D-E-F-G-A-B are considered to be diatonic to the C Major scale. When the notes of a given Major scale are played together, they sound “right” to the ear.

It follows that, if we construct our triads from the notes of a given Major scale, the chords will also sound “right” to the ear. These triads are called diatonic chords.

If you take each note of a given Major scales as the root note of a triad, we will be able to construct 7 different chords that are diatonic to the given Major scale. The root note of the triad within the Major scale is called the degree. For example, if we build our triad diatonic to the C Major scale with:

Diatonic Chords Table showing the degree of each chord in the major scale

Each triad is constructed by selecting every other note of the Major scale from the root note.

For example, the chords diatonic to the C Major scale are:

The triad at I degree of C Major is

Diatonic Chords 1 degree chord

The triad at II degree of C Major is

Diatonic Chords 2 degree chord

The triad at III degree of C Major is

Diatonic Chords 3 degree chord

The triad at IV degree of C Major is

Diatonic Chords 4 degree chord

The triad at V degree of C Major is

Diatonic Chords 5 degree chord

The triad at VI degree of C Major is

Diatonic Chords 6 degree chord

The triad at VII degree of C Major is

Diatonic Chords 7 degree chord

Given that all the Major scales are constructed using the same pattern, this pattern of chords will be consistent for all the Major scales.

table of major scale chord type pattern