Musicianship Group Class #5

Here is a question that came in from last nights class.  This answer, in a sense, summarizes what was presented in class.

The question is, what chords are found in the C major scale (or really any scale, but let’s use C major)?  To do this, you can only build the chords from the notes of the C major scale.  Chords that use notes that are outside the scale (like G# for instance) would not fit,  because they are not part of the scale.

So in C major, you would build your first chord starting on the note C, the second chord starting on the note D, the third chord starting on E, and continuing until you built a chord on every note of the c major scale.

Every chord will need a root (the starting note), a third (which could be major or minor), and a fifth (which is usually a perfect fifth, but could be a flat 5).  Remember, when you build each chord, you have to use notes that come from C major.  So here is what you end up with:

Chord number one: C Major (notes: C, E, G)
Chord number two: D minor (notes: D, F, A)
Chord number three:  E minor (notes: E, G, B)
Chord number four: F Major (notes: F, A, C)
Chord number five:  G Major (notes: G, B, D)
Chord number six:  A minor (notes: A, C, E)
Chord number severn: B diminished (notes: B, D, F)

We use Roman numerals to identify the quality (major, minor, or diminished) of each chord in the scale.  Upper case roman numerals are major chords, lower case roman numerals are minor chords.  Here is what we get:  I   ii  iii   IV   V   vi     vii (diminished).  This is a formula that can be applied to any key.

Hope this helps!



  1. Great summary and a perfect review / refresher of the class!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed each class in your music theory series and am looking forward to more. For me, I need to know how something works at a fundamental level to thoroughly understand it... and you've done just that! I started out trying to learn all the chords and scales from huge tables and reference materials. I thought that was the way to build my foundation but it was a very daunting task and I began to grow increasingly frustrated. Your classes to the rescue! They have given me the understanding needed to actually build scales, chords and ultimately songs in any key! You've given me a very clear road map for learning music theory, now I just need to start by memorizing my scales! Thank you!


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