Tag Archives: tonality

The secret of really understanding modulations: the circle of fifths (part 1)


How to understand relations between keys

What does ‘to modulate’ mean?
‘Modulation’ is the switching from one key to another.

Up to now in our video lessons we have worked only in one key at a time, but when we compose we often need to switch from one key to another. In order to be able to modulate in the right way, we need to understand in depth relationships between the different tonalities which are all tied together.

For this reason today we will start learning relations between keys that will allow us to understand modulations in depth.

Learning material of this lesson

6 videos 29 mins
1. The relations between tonalities 3m 17s
2. Different keys, common notes 6m 40s
3. A typical feature of tonalities, the key signature 4m 52s
4. Flat keys 3m 55s
5. The key signature for minor keys: permanent and temporary accidentals 4m 18s
6. Relations between major and minor keys 6m 13s
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Harmony, how chords are built


How can you build chords?

Chords, defined as the simultaneous sounding of at least 3 sounds, are the skeleton, the  base on which you can write a song, more so in popular music.
We have already seen how chords are tied to the concepts of scale and tonality.

This kind of approach will allow us to answer the following questions today:

  • How can you build chords?
  • Is there a fool proof way to know all the chords relative to a certain tonality?

This method exists and today, in the three following videos, I will show it to you at the piano, applied specifically to major scales and tonalities.
I will also explain how to build chords, of any kind and of any complexity.

To achieve a better understanding of today’s lesson I personally advise, if you haven’t already, to wath the videos of the following lessons:

Musical intervals, how to properly name them (firts part)

The major scales: how to remember every note at any time

Let’s start by answering the first question: How can chords be built?

Learning material of this lesson

7 videos 30 mins
1. How to build chords 6m 57s
2. The seven chords of a major scale 2m 33s
3. The features of these chords 4m 26s
4. Naming chords 1m 29s
5. Practice: chords in E major key 5m 26s
6. Composing an easy harmonic base in E major key 3m 15s
7. Building more complex chords 7m 44s
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Scale and tonality, the two keys to really understand the chords


Scale and tonality

To better learn music theory, harmony and chords it’s important to introduce two essential concepts:

  • scale
  • tonality

So in the today videolesson I will try to explain the two concepts of scales and tonality that will be the concepts that wil enlighten us and allow us to understand the relationship between the different chords.

Via these two concepts you will see how chords will shine under a new light for you and most importantly you will be able to build all the chords you want easily.

These two concepts will also be the main tools to learn music theory in depth.

Then we will explain other important concepts as tonic, dominant and leading note. These all are some very important degrees of a scale and their knowledge will be fundamental to uderstand the world of Harmony and chords.

In the following videos we approach these concepts.

Learning material of this lesson

4 videos 18 mins
1. The musical scale 2m 39s
2. The tonality 3m 48s
3. The role of notes in different tonalities 4m 58s
4. Chords and tonality 6m 12s
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With a Free account you gain immediate access to 15 lessons of piano, theory, harmony, music reading and composition for a total of 36 videos.

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Chords – learn how to best use them

armonia1Have you ever been confronted with particularily complex chords asking yourself what its’ name was?

Have you ever heard a progression of chords and wondered which is the logic that makes one chord follow another and this succession is particularily pleasing to the listener.

There you go: today we begin our harmony video lessons, where we will discuss chords, trying to better understand their properties and traits to answer these questions you were having.


Why do we begin by discussing chords? There are multiple reasons to this, but the main reason is that most music and most songs lay their foundations on the correct use of chords.

How often have you wondered, after hearing a song that you liked, ‘What chords are these?’ and immediately went searching for them on the internet? I can only imagine this has happened quite a few times, just like it has happened to me and to many other music enthusiasts.

It was correct on your part to give the chords this importance, because once you found them, these chords gave you a solid idea of the song, which subsequently allowed you to play along with an instrument, while you sung the lyrics, and maybe it helped you to better learn the song and get to know it.

But there are other reasons that make chords, but most importantly a deep knowledge of chords, undisputedly important: that’s because chords make up the frame of a song, its’ exo-skeleton, and are also the starting point to being able to arrange a song.

You can clearly see the incredible importance of knowing chords as well as one can.

Keep in mind…

There is a very important aspect of chords, which I would like to introduce in this lesson. In contmporary and popular music, chords are seen, thought of and used as an independent entity, detached from one another.

Let me clear this up: let’s imagine you wanted to write and compose a song and you stumbled upon a progression of chords you liked, such as C major, Am7, Am, Dm, B7-, and so on..

But what is the correlation between these chords?

This is the crucial part of the issue!

Viewing chords as independent from one another and not understanding the link between them, which means what meaning does a chord have in regards to the previous one and the following one, and in general the way it relates to the whole song, is quite an elementary mistake, that often leads down a dead-end road. It also deprives you of a lot of tools that would allow you to fly higher than you usually do while playing.

It’s like fumbling around a dark room searching for the objects we need. We have to understand where the lights switch is, to be able to turn on the light in this metaphorical room and to be able to see everything clearly and precisely, to be able to master these chords and not be their slave.

The lights switch exists, actually there are two, and they have very precise names: these names are SCALE and TONALITY.

These are two fundamental elements, which will allow you, as previously stated, to understand these characteristics of chords:
•    where chords come from
•    how one can build chords
•    what is the correlation between chords in one tonality and with other tonalities
•    all kinds of chords, from the simplest to the most complex, will be clear and we will unveil the logic behind them by viewing them in the conctext of scale and tonality.

In the next video lessons we will begin to delve deeper into these subjects which will soon allow you to handle and dominate the world of chords.

The knowledge and the study of these elements are in fact one of the first steps one should take when trying to learn how to work with music, using your rationality and not only your instinct.

Trust me, if you will be able to fuse instinct and rationality together, you will be the holder of an explosive mix of creativity and musical energy!!