Film composers rely on chord progressions that don’t fit traditional tonal analysis to produce their captivating music.
Let’s dive in and dissect Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings”. First, select C Major as the Note Ring key; next, in the Chord Ring we can see that C, F and G chords diatonically belong to this key.
As its name implies, the major scale is a major mode. Pop music often features various major-mode progressions using this mode; most commonly these include double plagal and mixolydian cadence schemas featuring a passing VII chord as well as subtonic shuttle, aeolian cadence and lament schemas in major keys; such as Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” featuring an i-VII-VI-v progression found here (Example 7).
The circle of fifths provides an easy way to pinpoint your song’s key. The innermost ring, called Note Ring, displays all seven notes found within that key; its outer ring, Chord Ring, displays what type of three-note chord is present at each note rooted therein; finally the black arrow points to tonic of that key.
The Circle of Fifths features notes that are enharmonic, or equal in terms of flat and sharp versions, such as those found in G Major without any flats or sharps, meaning there are no tonic modifications needed in G Major. As soon as you rotate one step counter-clockwise however, F Major features two flats while D Major contains four sharps. As soon as further rotation takes place however, B minor and then chromatic minor will require tonic modifications for tonal harmony to occur properly.
Play the same notes from a minor scale but in reverse order, and you get a natural minor scale – the one used in 7 Rings! This exercise provides an effective way of practicing major and minor chord differences by closing your eyes, and seeing which chord it corresponds with.
Try playing your song in relative minor – as is what the actual sound of the song – which forces you to focus more on individual notes rather than how they connect or relate together; an invaluable skill when learning any form of music.
To change from G Major to C Minor, simply switch the key of the Circle from G Major to C Minor – this should be easy as the Circle automatically translates degrees into chords! Doing this will cause G to become the root of dominant seventh chord and F become its root of major triad – this means rotating counter-clockwise will correct this error by shifting F into D Major while moving D to C Minor respectively.
The seventh chord, more commonly known as a dominant or V chord, can be found across various genres and is frequently used as the second chord in progressions. When placed next to its tonic chord it tends to sound dissonant or unstable but this issue can usually be remedied by moving either to home chord or another dominant.
Ariana Grande’s song 7 Rings features an effective descending bassline over Gmaj7 chord that employs both diatonic and chromatic notes; this phrase works particularly well on higher strings of an acoustic guitar fretboard.
Dominant chords require adding an additional tone, which can be tricky for beginners. Thankfully, the Circle of Fifths provides an effective method for analyzing tonal centers within music. It features two rings: (1) Note Ring which lists scale degrees of highlighted notes while (2) Chord Ring shows which chord type (major or minor) they belong to.
Gmaj7 chords consist of the notes G, B and D – however only two out of the three major keys contain all four of these notes simultaneously; therefore the inner ring indicates that the song belongs to G major.