23: Using Diatonics
Get Future Lessons
Lesson 23: Using DiatonicsThis lesson offers activities to help you use the diatonic triads you learned about in Lesson 22: Diatonic Triads. You can add these activities to your "writing exercises" (from Lesson 2: Practicing Songwriting).
1. Experiment. Create short chord progressions (2, 4, or 8 measures long, 1 or 2 chords per measure) from these diatonic chords. Do this in different keys. Try different combinations of the diatonic chords. Keep the ones you like in an "idea notebook".
If you don't play a chord instrument or you don't have one handy, here's a web-page tool you can use to play these chords. Just choose a key and play the chord buttons:
Choose a key:
2. Play the sequence. Practice playing the sequence of diatonic triads (I - IIm - IIIm - IV - V - VIm) in several different keys. Eventually, you should learn to play this sequence of chords in all the major keys.
3. Analyze songs.
4. Learning by ear. When you're figuring out a song's chords by listening to the song—trying different chords, looking for the chords which "sound right"—it's a good bet to try diatonic chords in the song's key, because the diatonic chords are used so often in songs. With practice, you may get a feel for when a chord in a song "sounds diatonic" or not, even before you try to find which specific chord it is.
Finally, to learn more about the different effects of the different diatonic triads, go on to Lesson 24: Tonic Function.