Chords in Key

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by DW4LesPaul, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    I'm a little confused by the chords in a key. Why do they list these specific chords? Specifically, by Bdim? Are those just examples?

    Chords In The Key Of C
     
  2. HogmanA

    HogmanA Senior Member

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    Those chords are the actual chords in the key of C.

    Each note of the C major scale (or any scale, not just C of course) can be harmonized by 'stacking' thirds, or in other words, missing a note. eg stacking thirds on the C note results in C E G.

    Because of the pattern of tone/ semi tone in the major scale, that means that some chords are major, and others minor and one chord diminished.

    That chart you have the link to is not just showing the triads formed (3 notes) but has extended that with the 7ths as well, which is yet another stacked 3rd: C E G B.

    The B diminished is called that because that is the name of the triad formed (three stacked minor 3rds), or B - m3 - dim5. When adding the 7th to that, it is naming convention to call it Bm7b5.
     
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  3. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    Here's how it works:
    Code:
     Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  | 
    Major scale: C     D     E  F     G     A     B  C     D     E  F 
    TRIADS:
      I = C      C  .  .  .  E  .  .  G
     ii = Dm           D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A
    iii = Em                 E  .  .  G  .  .  .  B
     IV = F                     F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C
      V = G                           G  .  .  .  B  .  .  D
     vi = Am                                A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E
    vii = Bdim                                    B  .  .  D  .  .  F
    .
     Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
    Major scale: C     D     E  F     G     A     B  C     D     E  F     G     A
    SEVENTH CHORDS
      I = Cmaj7  C  .  .  .  E  .  .  G  .  .  .  B
     ii = Dm7          D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C
    iii = Em7                E  .  .  G  .  .  .  B  .  .  D
     IV = Fmaj7                 F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E
      V = G7                          G  .  .  .  B  .  .  D  .  .  F
     vi = Am7                               A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E  .  .  G
    vii = Bm7b5                                   B  .  .  D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A
    You can see that the chord types are dictated by the number of half-steps between root-3rd, root-5th, and root-7th.

    major 3rd = 4 half-steps (disregarded in chord symbol)
    minor 3rd = 3 half-steps ("m")
    perfect 5th = 7 half-steps (disregarded in chord symbol)
    diminished 5th = 6 half-steps ("dim" or "b5")
    minor 7th = 10 half-steps ("7")
    major 7th = 11 half-steps ("maj7")
     
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  4. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    I understand basic chord building in a basic way, 1-3-5 for triads, and then add step and you get a dom7 chord, 1-3-5-(b)7 and since a dominant 7th adds a flat 7, you just add the b to the 7th note, right? e.g., C-E-G-Bb. Or if you want minor chords, just change to the minor scale and count off the same way.

    I think what has thrown me, again borrowing from the above ink, is:

    --Major key chord sequence:
    Maj min min Maj Maj min dim

    Chord sequence?

    That is new to me.
     
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  5. Quill

    Quill Senior Member

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    HogmanA and JonR have both explained this so perfectly, I wonder if perhaps you're just having trouble with the terms? It's happened to the best of us, believe me. And even though their explanations are perfect, that doesn't mean it won't take a little time before they can be fully comprehended. Actually these are big concepts, and theoretically informed players with a lot of experience forget just how abstract it all is to someone who's never thought in those terms before.

    What is a "sequence" ... it's a special word, "sequence", and can mean one thing to someone working in mathematics and another thing to someone ... well, practically anyone else. For most people I suppose it mostly just means a bunch of things that happen to be in a certain order, usually a predictable order. In music, a "chord sequence" is a bunch of chords in a certain predictable order - in this case, it refers to all the chords that can be made in the key of C, laid out in alphabetical order - that is, according to the notes in the scale. It's a special musical alphabetical order, not starting on "A" like the rest of the world but starting on "C" and running up to "G" and then starting on "A" and continuing until we hit C again.

    It's worth noting how completely ridiculous that sounds written out, but in fact we accept that musical alphabet all the time, without really thinking about it. Kind of the same deal with the terms. You just get used to them, after a while.

    As we lay out the notes in the key of C, in an alphabetical sequence of notes,

    C D E F G A B C

    So we also lay out the chord sequence, with a chord made on each of those notes:

    C major, D minor, E minor, F major, G major, A minor, B diminished, C major
     
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  6. Quill

    Quill Senior Member

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    Now, "progression", that is another special word - maybe that's where the confusion is coming in - and listen: I'm not making fun of you or anyone else! certain words demand special attention and that's just a fact of life - we either give those words that time and work hard to understand them or we just never, ever get it, and that's that - anyway - "progression" is another special word that outside of music usually means something similar to "sequence"; but inside music, we usually use "progression" to refer specifically and precisely to the way one chord will create the feeling of needing to move, in time, to some other chord, in the context of a piece of music. In many cases, we hear chords moving not along the scale in alphabetical order, but instead ascending in intervals of a fourth, or descending in intervals of a fifth. Just one example but it's a strong example. Play a C major chord for a while, and eventually you will kind of want to hear not a D minor chord, but actually an F major chord. (From C, with C = 1, count up four: C, D, E, then F.) If you want to get back to the C major chord, jump to a G major chord and play that for a while ... and before long you will want to hear that G major chord followed by a C major chord.

    C to F, then G to C. We call that a chord progression. It's one possibility, anyway. This is different from what we usually mean when we talk about a chord sequence.

    I don't know if that helps, I usually just make a mess when I come in here. Good luck and keep asking questions.
     
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  7. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    As Quill says, this is an unhelpful (but quite common) use of the word "sequence". Some people use "progression" in the same (silly) way.
    All they mean is the diatonic chords in numerical order. Nothing to do with "sequence" or "progression" as we use those words to describe the order of chords in a song.

    BTW, there is yet another meaning of the word "sequence" in music theory, referring to a melodic phrase that is repeated in a different register. But you generally only find that in classical theory, describing something in classical music. (I've seen it used occasionally in jazz theory.)

    As always, beware of possible alternative meanings of theory terms ("modes" anyone???! :naughty::shock::Ohno::eek::confused: :facepalm: :slap:, and check the context. ;) (Context ought to make it clear, but some writers don't explain contexts fully enough.)
     
  8. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    I understand progressions as you have explained it. A progression is or was easier for me because a progression is what sounds good, which means how chords musically relate to each other. Easy. It just is what it is because of how the human ear and brain work. It either sounds good, or it does not. The theory behind it can tell us before hand, even if we have never heard a progression, which chords played ina sequence will sound good. I get that.

    My confusion is with "Chords in a Key." lol

     
  9. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    Starting to make sense now. So you can count off chords in a logical way just like you would count off notes in a scale/key? You see, I've really never seen that or this theory! No wonder it caught me completely unaware. It was a hole in my knowledge.

    So can I ask, are these chords the same for all keys and chord types, just like the notes (including major/minor differences), just in a different "sequence" depending on the key itself? In other words, triads will all have the same chords, regardless of key, same for 7th, etc?

     
  10. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    Just want to say thanks to everyone posting. I'm getting it now.
     
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  11. Quill

    Quill Senior Member

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    A major scale has a certain pattern or "sequence " of intervals between the notes that is always the same - this is why, when we start that scale on notes other than C, we use sharps or flats.

    In C, the major scale is:

    C.D.EF.G.A.BC

    The pattern (or "sequence") of intervals is,

    Whole tone, Whole tone, Half Tone, Whole tone, Whole tone, Whole tone, Half Tone
    - or this way is clearer to say or write:

    tone tone semitone tone tone tone semitone

    And the chords are :

    C Dm Em F G Am Bo C

    Start that in F, there's a Bb in F major:

    F.G.ABb.C.D.EF

    The intervals between those notes gives the same pattern or sequence of intervals:

    tone tone semitone tone tone tone semitone

    And the chords:

    F Gm Am Bb C Dm Eo F

    Or in G major, which has an F#:

    G.A.BC.D.E.F#G

    Intervals:
    tone tone semitone tone tone tone semitone

    Chords:
    G Am Bm C D Em F#o G

    Keep going!
     
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  12. JCarpenter

    JCarpenter Senior Member

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    This is something I still struggle with, I love these threads because I always get a little something I have missed before!!!! Thanks to the OP and all that have Chimed in.
     
  13. Quill

    Quill Senior Member

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    I think it's really important to recognize that no-one will ever be able to explain music. Think about this: if music could be fully explained, there would be no need for music. The experience of music would be completely encased within the explanation, and in fact the explanation of music would replace that experience.

    But the experience of music cannot be encased within an explanation. Not yet, anyway.

    What does that mean?

    We refer indirectly to music, using words. We know there is this thing called music out there somewhere ... and over the centuries we have sorted out several ways to analyze and discuss that experience, and these means and methods we have devised for analysis and discussion - music theory - allow us to work with music in ever-expanding ways (really? really? hmmm ...) But. We cannot make use of those means and methods until we find ways of connecting the terms with the experience.

    What I'm saying is that we have to sit down at a keyboard or maybe a guitar with paper and pencil and puzzle out as far as we can - read a bit, pick up a few more ideas, then get back to work.

    Sometimes an explanation will suddenly open up something that was puzzling us before, blocking us in some way ... but that only happens when we've worked to prepare for that connection to be made.

    ON this topic

    ... sitting down with the white notes of the piano keyboard and perhaps with paper and pencil or maybe a guitar,

    ... looking at the intervals between each note,

    ... noticing where there are whole tones - or just "tones" - between notes and where there are semitones,

    ... observing the pattern of tones and semitones,

    ... understanding that that pattern of tones and semitones across the white notes creates naturally the sound of the key of C major;

    Pause on that;

    ... then, taking the leap of separating that pattern of tones and semitones from the white notes,

    ... abstracting it with the understanding that this pattern is actually independent of the white notes,

    ... reflecting on how that is possible,

    ... what special conditions of tuning must exist for that abstraction to be realizable (what is it, to realize an abstraction?),

    - and with the qualified acceptance that the pattern of tones and semitones has some independence from the white notes,
    - and also given that we somewhere have noticed the special qualities that intervallic movement of a fourth,

    ... what do we have to do to take that pattern of tones and semitones and create it beginning not on C, but instead on F;

    - what do we have to change, and then, given F major, what do we have to change to create a Bb major sound

    ... then, from there, how can we make that sound on Eb
    ... then on Ab
    ... on Db
    ... on Gb,
    - and at Gb, we notice that all notes but one have a flat sign in front of them now, and they are all black notes except for one
    - and that we could also spell out that exact same sound using notes with sharps, calling it F# instead of Gb
    ... and then from F# major, how can we change that to create the sound starting on B
    ... then on E
    ... on A
    ... on D
    ... finally, on G
    ... then we are back to C;

    ... and then after working through all the possible notes what do we have to do to build the chords in each of those keys?

    This is the beginning.
     
  14. Sinster

    Sinster Senior Member

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    This is where I get confused.
    Lets keep it on C and triades. Why when you move to the D it's a minor? Isn't that a tone or two semitone from the ROOT of C? Or is that because the "D" is now the root and "F" is 3 semi from the root. If I was to play the "A chord" in the C Major scale then A to F is 3 semitones and which makes it a minor. "A" is the root of that chord with in the C Major scale.

    Will ii-iii-vi always be "minor" and vii be "diminished" in any scale? <---- NM answered my own question this.. They change with the modes.

    Modes are what really scrabble my brain. Again lets take the C Major Scale. If I was to play the "G" of the "C Major Scale" I would be playing the Mixolydian (G.A.B.C.D.E.F.G) of "C Major Scale". It's the same notes as the Ionion mode (C.D.E.F.G.A.B.C). If I'm playing the same notes how does the emphasizes change? Do have to start and end on G if I'm playing a solo in Mixolydian? What if I started on "A" of Mixo why wouldn't that be the Ionion? So "G" scale has a b7, why wouldn't that be G major scale? Or the Modes based off the "C Major Scale?
     
  15. Quill

    Quill Senior Member

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    ... do you really have a Cygnus 7 amp? That is a thing to cherish forever.

    But let's not get distracted. I think JonR's code diagram offers as good an opportunity to lift any confusion on this point as we can hope for in an online forum. Here it is again:

    I'm going to take the quote out of this post - one level of boxing is enough - and just credit JonR's work as such. Ok?

    JonR's diagram:
    Code:
     Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  | 
    Major scale: C     D     E  F     G     A     B  C     D     E  F 
    TRIADS:
      I = C      C  .  .  .  E  .  .  G
     ii = Dm           D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A
    iii = Em                 E  .  .  G  .  .  .  B
     IV = F                     F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C
      V = G                           G  .  .  .  B  .  .  D
     vi = Am                                A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E
    vii = Bdim                                    B  .  .  D  .  .  F
    .
     Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
    Major scale: C     D     E  F     G     A     B  C     D     E  F     G     A
    SEVENTH CHORDS
      I = Cmaj7  C  .  .  .  E  .  .  G  .  .  .  B
     ii = Dm7          D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C
    iii = Em7                E  .  .  G  .  .  .  B  .  .  D
     IV = Fmaj7                 F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E
      V = G7                          G  .  .  .  B  .  .  D  .  .  F
     vi = Am7                               A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E  .  .  G
    vii = Bm7b5                                   B  .  .  D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A
    Each "." in this diagram represents a note. A fret on a guitar, a key on a keyboard. Each note is one semitone away from the next closest notes on either side (one above, one below). We know that the white notes give us the key of C major. We know that "major" is a sound that can be made off of C but also off of any other note. But then we have to use the black notes, too, and at the start that gets tricky. So. Build it all first by looking only at the white notes, learn the structures we find among the white notes really well and then apply those structures to other keys. But even in that first investigation of the major sound, even though we are staying on the white notes, we have to accept and remember that the black notes are still important - they are the negative spaces in the key. Just because we move three white notes from C to E does not mean we move three notes. Including the black ones, we move five notes. Five semitones. This is what JonR's diagram is trying to indicate.

    Triads? From C to E, we move five semitones. From E to G, we move four semitones. Those three note played all together gives a quality of sound we call "major".

    (C C#/Db D D#/Eb E) + (E F F#/Gb G)

    C E G - a C major triad.

    Let's take that same structure of (five semitones) + (four semitones) and build it from D.

    (D D#/Eb E F F#) + (F# G G#/Ab A)

    D F# A - a D major triad

    Ok, same quality of sound, the major sound, this time starting on D, but wait - there's a black note in there. We've left the key of C. We know we need all white notes. (If this was in person, I'd be gripping the lapels on your jacket, shaking you, screaming and probably spitting all over you. Eyes wide, teeth gnashing ... this is why I don't teach anymore. It's not pretty. I'd be in terrible trouble, all the time, or just locked up for good somewhere.)

    So to stay in the white notes, and using only white notes, making a triad off of D must make a chord structure that is different from a triad off of C. Ok so forget the semitones and just look at the white notes ...

    ... to get a third from D, count up three white notes and we get F natural. Count up three white notes from F and we get an A. All right, a triad off of D that is still in the key of C. What structure of semitones does it have?

    (D D#/Eb E F) + (F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A)

    D F A - a D minor triad.

    Different sound, from the triad on C. This one has the quality of "minor".

    So that's another process to try. Work through all the white notes, but remaining aware of the black notes - build thirds counting along the white notes, but then study and learn the number of semitones in each interval in each triad by including the black notes. Get through all the chords in C, look at all the relationships in every way you can think of, and then try to do move the structures you have discovered into other keys.

    Mountains of paper, thousands of pencils, uncountable hours of practice. There's just no way around it.
     
  16. Sinster

    Sinster Senior Member

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    I do own one and it's the one that I played when I went to visit him.
     
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  17. DW4LesPaul

    DW4LesPaul Senior Member

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    Quill, thanks.

    So I get the pattern of

    tone tone semi tone tone tone

    And I understand why we have to add sharps--to keep the same pattern.

    What I guess I'm not getting is where does the chord pattern come from?

    C Major chords:

    C Dm Em F G Am Bo C

    Here is my problem: I don't see the relevance between tone tone semi tone tone tone and the chord sequence. The only way I can make sense of it is to imagine that the sound of the Dm chord is one tone away from C chord.



     
  18. Quill

    Quill Senior Member

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    I think ... first, the typo you made suggests that the interval pattern isn't as firmly in your mind as you need it to be, in order for it to be useful.

    tone tone semitone tone tone tone semitone.

    The next point that comes to mind is, to imagine that the D minor chord is one tone away from the C major chord is perhaps to forget that there are three notes in each chord. Maybe your thinking, or perhaps your awareness, is limited to one single line; this is common among guitar players. I struggle with it, myself.

    The roots of a C major triad and a D minor triad are indeed one tone apart.
    ~ but ~
    The third of C major and the third of D minor are a semitone apart,
    ~ and ~
    The fifth of C major and the fifth of D minor are a tone apart.

    Writing out "C E G" and "D F A" kind of encourages single-line thinking ... let's try something else. In the text below, the bottom line is the lowest note, the middle line is above that, and the top line is ... on top. In the key of C:

    G - A - B - C - D - E - F - G
    E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E
    C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C


    That's one way to represent what it looks like to move from C major to D minor to E minor to F major to G major to A minor to B diminished to C major.

    Sooner or later, we need to stretch our awareness so that we are aware of all that movement. I had one person explain to me that there is a way of looking at music that is vertical - the single line created by playing notes one at a time, one after another - and another way that is horizontal - the harmony created when different notes are played at the same time - and then we take those two perspectives, the vertical aspect of melody and the horizontal aspect of harmony and bring them together.

    Step by step.
     
  19. Quill

    Quill Senior Member

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    Hmmm ... the relevance of the pattern, tone tone semitone tone tone tone semitone is that both melody and harmony are built out of that pattern.

    This is really, really hard to both explain and understand without some understanding of music notation, or a piano keyboard, or better, both. The thing is, you need hardly any physical skill to see it on the piano keyboard, but you have to be well on your way to being a very accomplished guitar player, really quite an advanced student, to see this on the fretboard.

    So we take,

    C D E F G A B C

    And we pull the first, third and fifth notes out of that to get the first chord in the key of C major:

    C E G

    Let's start on the second note, or D. From D, which is the second note of C, we pull the second, fourth and sixth notes out of C to get a triad in the key of C that starts on the second note.

    D F A.

    On the third note, which is E, we pull the third, fifth and seventh notes out to get a triad on E in the key of C, and that chord is E minor.

    E G B

    (I hope you aren't just messing with me ...)

    From the fourth note, which is F, we pull the fourth, sixth and first note out (because it repeats again at the eighth note, the eighth note becomes the first note again) which makes, in the key of C, a triad from F which has a major sound and has the notes

    F A C

    From the fifth note, we pull out the fifth, seventh and second note to form a G major triad, in the key of C major, with these notes:

    G B D

    From the sixth note, we pull out the sixth, first and third notes to make a triad that, in the key of C, has a minor sound off the root of A and has these notes:

    A C E

    From the seventh note, we pull the seventh, second and fourth note out of the key of C to create a chord on B with a diminished sound and the following notes:

    B D F

    Looking at it vertically, it is as though we are playing three scales at once, one on top of another; in the lowest voice, we are playing a scale in C major starting on C and going step-wise up to C:

    C D E F G A B C

    Then we are playing another scale in C major starting on E and going step-wise up to E, while we are playing our scale from C to C in C major at the same time:

    E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E
    C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C

    Then, on top of all that, we are playing another scale in the key of C, this time starting on G and running up to G:

    G - A - B - C - D - E - F - G
    E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E
    C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C

    That's C major, D minor, E minor, F major, G major, A minor, B diminished, C major.

    Without sitting down with you at a piano with a mountain of paper and a thousand pencils, I'm not sure what else I can think of to help with this. I've done a gazillion posts with suggestions on how to put triad scales on the guitar neck, but it always falls flat and that might be too much right now anyway. HTH.
     
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  20. JonR

    JonR Senior Member

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    Well yes, that's it! - except it's nothing to do with sound. That comes later.

    I can't really explain it better than in the chart I posted, but try this excerpt:
    Code:
    C MAJOR SCALE
              |  T  |  T  |ST|  T  |  T  |  T  |ST|
              |  W  |  W  |H |  W  |  W  |  W  |H |
              C  .  D  .  E  F  .  G  .  A  .  B  C
    I chord:  C  .  .  .  E        G
              \_major 3rd_/
    ii chord:       D  .  .  F           A
                   \minor 3rd/
    The C chord is major because its 3rd is 4 half-steps from the root;
    The D chord is minor because its 3rd (D-F) is only 3 half-steps.
    "Major" = bigger
    "Minor" = smaller
    - merely describing the size of the 3rd intervals - nothing to do with sound! (Obviously they sound different, but that's because of their size.)

    It's the fact that the scale is an irregular structure that produces different chords on each step.
    SIX of the chords have perfect 5ths (7 half-steps from root to 5th), so the difference between them is their 3rds: major (4 half-steps) in 3 cases, and minor (3 half-steps) in the other three.
    The last chord has a "diminished 5th" (6 half-steps from the root) which is what makes it a diminished triad.

    BTW, the scale itself (like the C chord) is called "major" because of its 3rd step. It just happens to have major 2nd, 6th and 7th degrees as well (along with perfect 4th, 5th and octave).
     
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