Need Help Understanding "Chord Scales"

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by CrazyFingers, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. CrazyFingers

    CrazyFingers Member

    Apr 12, 2007
    The Garden State
    Could somebody help me understand chord scales? I was going through a funk guitar book the other day and this topic was covered but they did a poor job explaining it. The two examples below are given as "chord scales in G mixolydian"

    It sounds great when you play these shapes in order. I've seen them used many times in funk music but I would like to understand what's going on. I am pretty good at visualizing the fretboard but I cannot see how this relates to G mixo.

    In the first example, I see the triads Em, Am, G, C, F, G, etc. All I can see is that the triads relate to the Gmixo scale but nothing more. What am I missing? I have a feeling it's something very obvious but the book doesn't really explain it.

    G Mixolydian


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  2. JonR

    JonR Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    You're not missing anything:). The phrase "chord scales" does have other meanings*, but here they simply mean the chords harmonised from the scale. Triads in this case.
    You can harmonise 7ths, 9ths, sus chords, anything you want. Just limit your notes to the scale in question.

    The triads shown are also useful as rootless 7th voicings, btw:
    Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Em7 Am7   G9  Cmaj7   G9   Cmaj7
      G7   Am7  Dm7  Em7  Dm7   Em7   Dm7
    In modal music, it's quite common to play various random harmonisations - somewhat like the above - from the mode in use, rather than specific chords (or one specific chord throughout). Modal harmony is static, and this can help it sound more fluid and interesting.
    It's not "chord progressions" as such, because the order you play them in doesn't matter - unlike in key-based music, where the order is crucial, and chords "lead" from one to another.
    In this context (G mixolydian), provided the bass is playing G, or some riff based on G, that series of shapes (in any order you like) will outline the sound of the mode.
    (The shapes containing F notes will be most significant: IOW the Dm7 (F triad), G7 or G9 (Dm triad) shapes shown above.)

    * The main other meaning of "chord scale" is the jazz system of associating a specific scale (or scales) with a specific chord type.
    Eg, a maj7#11 chord means lydian mode, while 7#11 means lydian dominant, and 7#9 means altered.
  3. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    West Village, NYC
    "chord scales": a term used to make something relatively simple more complex.

    What you show above is a scale harmonized in triads. Call it a harmonized scale.

    The other uses of "chord scale" are BS too. There's chords (more than 2 notes played simultaneously), there's scales (a collection of notes that contain a recipe for obtaining a certain sound), and there's chord tones (the individual tones that make up chords, which themselves are derived from scales). Calling it anything fancy is pure masturbation.
  4. CrazyFingers

    CrazyFingers Member

    Apr 12, 2007
    The Garden State
    Thanks for your insights. I need to look closely at the notes in the examples, but are you saying that EVERY note in ALL these triads are in G mixo (G, A, B, C, D, E, F)?

    Finally: In terms of learning these, would you suggest eschewing theory (I'm not a theory expert and don't want to make things harder than necessary) and simply memorizing the shapes?

    I found that you can create all sorts of grooves just messing around with them. If it's a matter of memorizing (and then transposing to other keys), I would be all for it.
  5. vhollund

    vhollund Member

    May 30, 2004
    I think we are complicating things here

    The Mixolydian scale is the Major (Ionian) scale played from the 5th step
    Thats what they are trying to explain

    Take C major and harmonize it
    7: B C D E F G A
    5: G A B C D E F
    3: E F G A B C D
    1: C D E F G A B

    If you read from down and up
    those chords are
    Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 Hm7b5

    The most important chord is most commonly Cmaj7 here (if we are not in Am) , the rest of the chords are varius chords that create different kind of tension leading back to Cmaj7

    The notes from C to C
    is the scale C major

    The same notes from G to G
    is G Mixolydian

    thats the theory

    In practice
    Learn 3 pos. of the G7 chord
    and then learn the Mixolydian scales in the same positions

    Google for
    Mixolydian scale TAB
    and you'll probably find them

    oh yeah
    If you harmonize G mixolydian , C (4th) is avoid note
  6. willhutch

    willhutch Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2006
    I doesn't fit my particular definition of a "chord scale" because the middle voice gets repeated.

    I notice that the top and bottom voices move sequentially up the scale in diatonic sixths.

    In his book Chord Khancepts, Steve Khan shows a similar system. He derived it in order to have access to chord tones that lie below a melody note on the first string.

    I can't really see a mathematical derivation, per se, of the your chord sequence.

    What the hell. It sounds cool. Thanks for sharing. BTW What book is it from?

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