The Best Chords For Modal/Exotic Scales | Music Theory Q+A

Tommaso Zillio

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best chords in key

When I was a child, I was a royal pain in the B.

I still am.

(“Are you still a pain in the B, or are you still a child?” Both of course!)

See, I could not leave my parents alone for a moment because I was always asking questions about anything and everything.

Yes, I know it’s normal for kids to ask “why” for every little thing, but I was taking it to another level.

Whenever my parents answered my “whys?” with a “because!” (like every parent does when they are exasperated)…

… I retorted “this is not a proper answer” :)

(Don’t worry, I’m being punished for this. My daughter seems to have inherited that very same behavior…)

Until the day my mother tried to divert my relentless onslaught by answering me: “Because… because it’s written in the book”

That stumped naive-7-year-old-me at first…

… but after a moment I asked: “ok… mmmh… but the people who wrote the book… how do THEY know?”

Reportedly, my father nearly chocked on his coffee while laughing.

The point is: it’s not a question of authority… I just want to know why :-) (and precisely how, and where, and when…)

And many kids are like that… and this is why these kids learn faster than adults :)

So imagine my reaction when I read this comment on my YT channel the other day:

“Why choose these chords to flesh out a Dorian b2? Is that in the manual?”

Forget for a moment the Dorian b2… the important point is not what scale or what chords…

… the ‘problem’ is the “in the manual” part.

When we go from “Why?” to “Is that in the manual?”… then the learning stops.

(To be clear, I do not blame the commenter - I blame the educational system that teaches people to ‘give the right answer to the test’ rather than ‘to find out why’)

So here in this video I explain why some chords in a scale are ‘better’ than other chords in a scale and why. And you can apply this to any scale:

In this video we also answer:

  • Could you suggest some music theory books to start with?
  • Negative Harmony: how did you arrive at half diminished from the G7?
  • Where do scales that share ethnic names accurately derive from?

And if your thirst of “why” and “how” and “when” and “where” is not satiated…

… and you want to know how to make actual music with all that theory…

… then come and drink at the source: Complete Chord Mastery guitar course


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