Tuesday, July 8, 2014

C Major/Minor

As I wrote earlier (late last night), I'm starting a series of articles about each chord, major and minor, thought not its scale. I'm not yet perfectly familiar with the minor scales yet (harmonic or melodic or natural) so I'll just keep it simple and stick with just the chords and root notes. I get a simpler synesthetic reaction and personality, etc. with the basic chord or note than the range I get with, well, a range of notes/harmonies in a scale with their context.

There are seven regular notes in music, aligned with the first seven letters of the alphabet: ABCDEFG. However, because it's the easiest to learn with your fingers in a natural position (and it's considered the tonal middle of the piano, and piano is generally the main instrument musical theory is usually practiced or learned on) everything starts with C, or middle C. CDEFGAB. Then you have the flats and sharps, which is just the same note a semitone higher/lower, with a little sign next to it (#/b). I will be starting with C.

A note on major/minor:

There is an obvious difference between a major and a minor. Wikipedia naturally describes a minor chord has differing "from a major chord in having a minor third above the root instead of a major third." In other words, the third key from the first on a keyboard (not in the chord or scale) would simply be moved a key to the left. In C major, the notes are C-E-G. E is three keys from C; move one key to the left and you're now on E flat or D sharp. Hence C minor. The "minor third" just means the third note in a minor scale.

Ear-wise, the difference is also obvious because minor chords sound darker and moody and tentative while major chords are bright and happy and powerful in contrast. If you've heard any sad songs, they're likely built around a minor scale progression and use minor chords. 'Not Home Today' uses mostly minor chords (E minor and B minor) and is a song about an unfortunate circumstance, with a doom-filled ending. 'Around the Bend' uses largely major chords and is a happy song about friendship and good times. Of course, not all songs operate this way - both 'Steal my Sunshine' and 'Pumped up Kicks' use upbeat, bright chords mixed with sad or threatening lyrics, 'Steal my Sunshine' about forlorn romance and 'Pumped up Kicks' about a kid that wants to shoot up his peers at school.

Inversions
The thing about inversions - where the root note is not the lowest or first note played in the chord - is that it's all the same for every chord major or minor: It's either darker or brighter, in terms of colour as well as personality (though slightly, and it's perhaps more on the main personalities' view or opinion or feeling on something).


So on to C.

Major

Colour: Golden yellow
Light: Lit from behind, afternoon sunlight. Like looking through a bottle of apple juice held up to the afternoon sun, but not harsh.
Texture: Like a grain field is embossed very slightly into it, lines of grain stalks. Depends.
Spatial Direction: Depends on context in music. Usually east.
Gender: Masculine

On that Signature Series, the narrator describes the chord as 'innocent' and ascribes both male and female pronouns. It's reserved for the final episode.

I don't really have too much idea on physical appearance, but C major is a male, boy or man (age doesn't really matter in my characterizations) and could possibly have bright blonde hair. He's a positive go-getter, studious but not geeky, good-looking. Moves through the days easily. In my perspective of him, I could place my cousin Tom in this chord. I'm thinking of known music that I like that uses this chord a lot, and I end up with 'Our House' by Madness. All the verses start with C major, and the rhythm in which it's played accentuates that 'moving through the days' feeling. He's delightful and bright, but down to earth. Very simple.

Minor

Colour: Pale, milky yellow
Light: In front, shined on it, white florescent light.
Texture: Slightly grainy.
Spatial direction: Depends, but usually east.
Gender: Masculine

The Signature Series described it as a male adult misanthropic genius that hates error and values only intellectualism and knowledge, yet is awfully lonely.

C minor is a depressed, anxious guy who perhaps does keep to his own intellectual games, like chess or studying for class in university all while worrying about whether he'll pass. He's pessimistic and has a head of dark hair. He longs for a closer friend, or a girlfriend, but is too fatalistic to really keep anyone for long. He's kind of similar to B minor, but they wouldn't work out because that combined negativity would only contribute impatience and dullness to a relationship where both would work against the other. He's also skeptical. He's the kind of person who might invent problems in his head, or animosity from other people. I think of someone I knew in my prof. writing class last year, though his hair colour changes all the time so I don't know if it's dark. I can't think of any song that uses a C minor chord, at least at this moment.

Root Note

As the root note, I have much less dynamics to hear so I largely just get the yellow colour/texture, plus most of the characteristics of the major chord.

Well, that's all I have to say really. I'm pleased I was able to think of real people I know or knew in the process, because I think that's neat and the Signature Series did the same thing, though using celebrities and fictional characters. I may do D major/minor today or tomorrow.

Red Cloud
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