lessons you've seen examples of how the tonic in a major key
interacts with other chords in the scale and defines the key of the progression
(e.g. A major, E major, C major etc.).
What we still need to look at is
how that major tonic can be enhanced/modified, just like we've done
with other chords in the scale.
So, we already know that the first chord in the scale is a major
and how this chord is important as the root (or "home") of a major key
progression. But there are different types of major chord that can work
this position (similar to how there was with the IV major chord).
idea is to experiment
with these variations. Just as an artist might experiment
with different textures and colours on the canvas.
Remember, chords are covered in their own section, so please make
sure you've explored that section, but
let's go through some examples now...
7th tonic (Imaj7)
Major 7th chords give your major tonic a relaxed
and "safe" resolution. Without going too deeply into the theory behind
it, the major 7th interval is seen as a "natural" extension of the major triad,
because of the 7th's position in the major scale (which is what this
chord scale is based upon).
For example, here are two common major
7th forms, the first built on an E string root note, the
second on the A string...
There's also the major
9th, which is an extention of the major 7th...
7th tonic (I7)
The staple tonic in blues and jazz progressions. The dominant 7th chord
(also used commonly in the IV and V positions as we learned
previously), provides a more unstable tonic (i.e. it's not
quite like home!), but with its own distinct
A typical blues progression would use the dominant 7th tonic chord.
Again, the two most common forms...
You can also use a dominant 7th chord to "destabalise" the tonic before
resolving to the IV chord. Here's an example...
You'll notice I also turned that major IV into a minor iv, which is one
the variations we looked at for the IV chord.
There are also extentions of these dominant 7th chords which are most
commonly used in jazz and blues.
One of my favourites is the dominant 9th chord (e.g. C9)...
a 13th chord (e.g. C13) - a very "full" sounding chord (note: the fingering is a
bit more awkward for this one, as you need to barre both your index and
as these are dominant 7th chords, they can also be used in the V
position, as we learned in past lessons that the 5 chord is naturally
using dominant 7th chords (hence why this 5th degree chord is called the dominant!).
More specifically on "jazzy" chords in another lesson.
Added tone chords don't use the 7th like in the examples above, so these
provide more neutral major chord flavours for your tonic. It's always
good to add some colour to those basic major/minor triads.
I often like to use suspended 2nd chords because they provide a more
neutral sound that you can dress with lead harmonies quite freely. For
tonic chords rooted on the A string...
You could also use suspended 4th (sus4) chords in the tonic position,
however, these chords perhaps sound too unresolved on their own and are
most often resolved to a major chord in the same position, or at least
interchanged with a regular major tonic, like below...
More on using the major tonic as an ending chord...
tonic as the ending chord
When we talk about "resolution" we are simply talking about the ending
of a musical
phrase within a song. The tonic is often used as the ending chord to
reaffirm that return
home for the last time.
As a result, it's common to "big up" that final tonic chord by
extending the major chord and perhaps playing it in a different way so
it sounds more vibrant. One way to attain this is to use
open chords (chords which use open strings) to give the song more of a
grand and conclusive finish. Simply play around with the basic chord
shapes you know and see if you can beef up that ending chord.
For example, a really lush open Eadd9 chord can be built simply by
adding our 4th finger to the D string at the 4th fret...
Listen to any classical or jazz piece and you'll hear how the ending
milked for all its worth! This tradition carried right through into
rock and pop, and for songs that don't simply fade out, the bigged up
tonic is a popular choice for concluding the song.
However, there are also certain tensions you can add to that tonic
chord to give it a more unorthodox, unpredictable or even unsettled
conclusion to your
For example, this jazzy flat 5th chord provides us with a rather
unsettling and confused ending...
To me, that says "is this really the end...?"
Then there's the "big" blues ending, which uses the dominant 7th from
earlier, but with an added #9, often referred to as the "Hendrix chord"
because it was (apparently) popularised by Jimi Hendrix...
Here's the thing - from the past lessons on building the diatonic
scale, you should know the root note positions. It's now up to you to
experiment with the different chords you can build on these root notes.
Explore the chord section for ideas.
Of course, sometimes simply using that basic major barre/open chord
will worj well for your song, but having these creative
you the variation you need, from one song to the next.