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Thread: Please help me find the right term or description for these chords.

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018

    Please help me find the right term or description for these chords.

    The group of chords called "natural chords" are: I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - and vii diminished. But what term would you use to describe the group of chords if they were "flipped" as in i - II - III - iv - v - VI and VII ?

    ( the major chords are now minor and the minor chords are now major chords.)
    I was calling them "altered chords", but I have a feeling that is the wrong term.

    I'm writing my own piano music theory book, mainly for the benefit of my students and grand children. I illustrate how the "natural" chords (triads) are played on the piano in the Key of C. Then I show how each one of these "natural" chords can be "altered" 5 more ways: C minor, C diminished, C augmented, C suspended 2nd and C suspended 4th. Technically I'm telling / showing how to modulate the "mediant" and "dominant" fingered positions to get the chord tone.

    So, I was trying to tag a name on these chords or this group of chords to distinguish them from "natural" chords. Maybe there isn't a name for this.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by Dave Draper; 04-04-2018 at 03:38 PM. Reason: additional information and clarification

  2. #2
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    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Sioux Falls South Dakota
    I wouldn't call them "Altered Chords" because that term is often used to describe chords that are used over an "Altered Scale" i.e. the 7th mode of Melodic Minor Ascending. Berklee College of music refers to the changes you have made to chords as "Modal Interchange." A fancy word for changing chord types i.e. Major to minor for instance. Basically you are borrowing the chord from a parallel mode. So if you are in C major and use a C minor chord you borrowed it from C Dorian, Aeolian could be other possible modes too that you could name as your source for your modal interchange.

  3. #3
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    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Thank you John.

    I watched several long and boring videos on YouTube about "altered chords", and they did use the term "borrowed chords" when going from a C Major to a C minor chord.

    I writing a book to help kids learn these deeper things of Music Theory, and this is how I would explain what an "altered chord" is (now that I know) (and so everyone else doesn't have to sit through long boring videos like I did)

    Altered Chord: Two different chords played at the same time over two octaves! Example: on piano, left hand plays a C 7th chord and the right hand plays an E minor chord an octave higher( or any thing else that isn't a C Major chord)
    This is a very pretty chord, sometimes referred to the "love chord", depending, of course, whose "dead guy's" music theory book you read.

    A child could understand that definition.
    Last edited by Dave Draper; 04-07-2018 at 09:11 PM. Reason: typo / deleted "major" in line 3

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Sorry but I don't recognise that definition. An altered chord is a 7th chord with an altered 9th (b9 or #9) and an altered 5th (b5 or #5).

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Hi nuffink,

    Thanks for that, because that seems to clear up some questions I was still struggling with.
    However, when I play the C7 with an inverted Flatted 5 chord I'm hearing the altered chord. At least I think I am. Just to make sure, I'm playing C-E-G-Bb- (C7) with Db-Gb-Bb. (which is an inverted flatted 5 chord). Thus I'm still seeing my hands playing two different chords at the same time. Maybe I'm struggling with what it looks like instead of what it sounds like.

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