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Thread: neo soul chords/scales/progressions

  1. #1
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    neo soul chords/scales/progressions

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    Hey guys, I have been really trying to get get started w/ learning how to make those jazzy, neo-soul sound in my beats. D'angelo, Musiq Soulchild, esque rhodes sounds..
    I even asked the music teacher at college and he just kept trying to give me examples of the conception of the triad in the catholic church in the middle ages....

    could someone please point me in the right direction? not asking for someone to write me a book on neo soul chords but to just give me a starting point

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    Well, I just listened to a whole swag of D'Angelo on youtube (thanks for that) and Buddy's Musiq Soulchild and there is one thing that stands out:

    They all use extended harmony: i.e. they use scale-tone based 7th and 9th chords in place of ordinary triads. The rest of the chord progressions are based on the originals where they exist.

    Musiq soulchild is simply F#m7 (F#AC#E) and Bm7 (BDF#A) with the odd E9 (EG#BDF#) thrown in for good measure as a link back to the Bm7.

    I heard the following chord types in use with scale appropriate usage of each type of 7th chord:
    Maj7 ~ 1357 ~C-E-G-B
    7 ~ 135b7 ~ C-E-G-Bb
    min7 ~ 1b35b7 ~ C-Eb-G-Bb
    m7b5 ~ 1b3b5b7 ~ C-Eb-Gb-Bb
    o7 ~ 1b3b5bb7 ~ C-Eb-Gb-Bbb


    Scale appropriate usage means chords are built above a scale degree and the extension naturally occurs in that key/scale (no need to add sharps or flats).

    In C major these would be:
    1 ~ I7 ~ C-E-G-B ~ CMaj7
    2 ~ ii7 ~ D-F-A-C ~ Dmin7
    3 ~ iii7 ~ E-G-B-D ~ Emin7
    4 ~ IV7 ~ F-A-C-E ~ FMaj7
    5 ~ V7 ~ G-B-D-F ~ G7
    6 ~ vi7 ~ A-C-E-G ~ Amin7
    7 ~ vii7b5 ~ B-D-F-A ~ Bmin7b5

    In A harmonic minor (the minor scale for building chords) these would be
    1 ~ i7 ~ A-C-E-G# ~ Amin-Maj7
    2 ~ ii7b5 ~ B-D-F-A ~ Bmin7b5
    3 ~ III7#5 ~ C-E-G#-B ~ C7#5 (C Augmented 7)
    4 ~ iv7 ~ D-F-A-C ~ Dmin7
    5 ~ V7 ~ E-G#-B-D ~ E7
    6 ~ bVI7 ~ F-A-C-E ~ FMaj7
    7 ~ viio7 ~ G#-B-D-F ~ G# diminished 7
    Last edited by bandcoach; 04-26-2011 at 06:32 PM.
    BC: I've been making music since Before Computers were common in music
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  4. #3
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    Wow thank you so much..
    and just fyi the song is buddy by Musiq Soulchild : )

    So basically, in a less educated way of putting it; can I take standard chord progressions and just voice them with 7ths, 9ths, etc until it sounds good to achieve that nice neo-soul sound?

    That was very useful though, thanks a lot

    ---------- Post added 05-01-2011 at 04:33 PM ---------- Previous post was 04-27-2011 at 02:57 PM ----------

    hey can you explain how A minor is the minor key for building chords?

    @ 3:20... so ill

    would someone simplify that @ 320

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoundSplash View Post
    Wow thank you so much..
    and just fyi the song is buddy by Musiq Soulchild : )

    So basically, in a less educated way of putting it; can I take standard chord progressions and just voice them with 7ths, 9ths, etc until it sounds good to achieve that nice neo-soul sound?

    That was very useful though, thanks a lot

    hey can you explain how A minor is the minor key for building chords?
    OK, so when we go to a minor key, we have at least three ways to create chords, based on the three main minor scales: Natural minor, the same as the major scale with the same notes, Harmonic minor, where the last note is raised one key/sharpened, sot make chord V a major chord instead of the minor chord it would be if built in the natural minor, and Melodic minor which is mostly used for creating melodies,but can be used for chords as well as it is used running up and down in jazz and known as the jazz minor.

    I have posted this a few times so I'm going to link to the posts rather than rewrite it again

    This one talks about it C minor: http://www.futureproducers.com/forum.../#post49116360

    This one talks about it in F# minor: http://www.futureproducers.com/forum.../#post49084031

    @ 3:20... so ill

    would someone simplify that @ 320
    He's talking about playing minor 11th chords. the chords used are

    FACEGDC - Amin11/F
    GCEDB - CMaj9/G
    GCECF - C11 (NO 7)
    FADAC - Dmin7

    etc.
    BC: I've been making music since Before Computers were common in music
    Abnormal thoughts and insights available here
    Tutorials and other ideas available here
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    Man, thanks so much.. I have a pretty BASIC understanding of theory, lots to learn but you've really cleared up some questions I've had lingering for AWHILE...

    I've been messing around with harmonic minor now, before when ever I would compose stuff it would always be in a natural minor key.. but now trying harmonic minor, (A harmonic minor) it seems like every time I hit that G# in a chord it sounds terrible.

    do you have an e-mail or aim or anything? I will also visit your site, thank you so much for the help

  7. #6
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    Yeah the G# in A harmonic minor is really meant to be used with the E chord, it doesn't sit well being the 7th or the 9th. It's OK if it is prepared and exited properly as in the progression Am ///| Am/G# /// | Am/G /// | Am/F# /// || Which is the start to several well-known songs including Masquerade, Stairway To Heaven.
    BC: I've been making music since Before Computers were common in music
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    I bought these amazing DVD's from ebay called play by ear and they do explain the fundamental of neo soul..its by the same dude with the videos posted on top

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    This thread was a good read, thanks Bandcoach.

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    Surprised no one mentioned tritones. Yeah M7s are a big part of it, but what most people don't really realize is that neo-soul / jazz keys is just as much (if not more) about turnarounds than the actual chord you plan on landing on. I can land on an F Maj 7 10 different ways, and each turnaround chord is going to give that FM7 totally different feel! Also, don't get in the habit of just playing the typical bass note with your left hand. If you really want to be playing neosoul, you should play on using at least two fingers with your left and four with your right (other than turnarounds). Good luck.

  11. #10
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    Cool, so it is just a new way of talking about jazz.

    Turnarounds are a great way to move - they are the basis of so many songs in their own right.

    As for tritones, I'm sure that you mean tritone substitutions,which is a whole other level of thinking about chords.


    How toi use tritone substitution
    To simplify it for now, think of a typical circle of fifths progression such as Em7-Am7-Dm7-G7-CMaj7





    A tritone substitution in this progression would usually take the form of

    Em7-Eb7-Dm7-Db7-Cmaj7





    It could also take the form:

    Bb7-Am7-Ab7-G7-Cmaj7





    You can use any extensions to the chord that you like, as long is "works" with what you are playing

    Why tritone substitution works


    Initial Tonic note Tritone Sub Tonic note
    C F#/Gb
    C#/Db G
    D G#/Ab
    D#/Eb A
    E A#/Bb
    F B
    F#/Gb C
    G C#/Db
    G#/Ab D
    A D#/Eb
    A#/Bb E
    B F

    In both substitution progressions we substituted chords that led to a semitone movement in the bass. The chords that we used were 6 semitones away from the original chord, a tritone. The fluidity of movement that using semitone chordal movement also known as planing or parallel chording is also, surprisingly, musically satisfying to the ear, at least in equal temperament.
    BC: I've been making music since Before Computers were common in music
    Abnormal thoughts and insights available here
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