In the last
we learned about the mediant iii chord (also known as the "3
chord") in the diatonic scale.
let's find out how we can modify the iii chord to give us more
variation when writing our chord progressions. Variation is good
because it gives you more creative options, freeing up your expression
as an original songwriter.
I'm aware I've probably repeated that a hundred times now!
Remember, a lot of the chord types used in these lessons can
be learned in the chords section of the main site.
major III chord
you know from the last part, the iii chord is naturally a minor chord.
What do I mean by "naturally"? This is a whole subject in itself
(diatonic theory) and I won't side track into that now. It's difficult
to even summarise without causing possible confusion!
you'll soon realise that using a major III
chord can be just as
compatible with the other chords in the scale as using a minor iii.
The mediant chord's overall function, in relation to other chords in
doesn't change when you make it a major chord.
For example, below is a typical I
progression in the key of E major (E major being our tonic chord).
You'll have probably heard this progression used in a lot of
So there's quite a bit more tension in the
chord, enhancing its
unresolved quality. It has a certain tendency to move to the IV or
in this example) vi chord,
but those are by no means the only options. There are no "rules" as
such, just musical conventions.
The idea is to experiment with both minor and major versions in your
progressions and take your pick, or even interchange them.
III as a
dominant 7th chord (III7)
In the supertonic
we learned that the II chord could be enhanced further by using a
(e.g. E7, D7, C7)? Well, we can do exactly the same with the III chord.
Let's hear that same I
progression from above, but this time with a dominant 7th III
chord. I'm just using a standard barre chord for this, but of course
there are several ways to play the chord Ab7...
I always find jazz a great genre for discovering interesting chord
extentions used in the positions we've been learning.
With the III chord, a typical jazzy alternative is to use an augmented 7th chord
(e.g. Baug7). Here's a common (although rather excited) use of it, in
an ascending pattern from the major I tonic up to the V7 chord...
So yet even more tension is added to the III chord by using both the
dominant 7th and the augmented (sharp) 5th. If you're scratching your
head wondering what "augmented" and "7th/5th" mean, this is all covered
in the chord theory series.
always, keep experimenting with different chord combinations and with
modifying each chord (major/minor, dominant 7th/major 7th etc.) based
on your knowledge from prior lessons.
By the end of the next
part, we'll have finally built our foundations! You'll see why it was
so important to spend a lot of time on this as you begin to build on these foundations
with chords outside the scale...