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Chord Reading: Book 2

by Joe Bates
Table of Contents
Core Knowledge: Playing With Black Notes 3
Stage 1: G major, 2nds and 3rds 4
Stage 2: G major 5
Stage 3: F major, 2nds and 3rds, interrupted cadences 6
Stage 4: F major 7
Stage 5: E minor, 2nds and 3rds 8
Stage 6: E minor, Imperfect Cadence 9
Stage 7: D minor, 2nds and 3rds 10
Stage 8: D minor 11
Stage 9: D major, 2nds and 3rds 12
Stage 10: D major 13
Stage 11: G minor, 2nds and 3rds 14
Stage 12: G minor, all intervals 15

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Core Knowledge: Playing With Black Notes
In Book 1, we learnt how to play chords with proper voice leading, how to understand Roman
numerals and cadences, and how to sing the top line of a chord sequence. Throughout that process,
we always used white notes. That’s because we were playing in the keys of C major and A minor,
which don’t use any black notes.
In this book, we’ll be playing in keys that do use black notes. There are two ways of thinking about
using black notes in chords: using chord qualities and using key signatures.

Chords Qualities
In Book 1, we learnt that a major chord’s third is a semitone higher than in a minor chord. We’ve
also learnt that a chord built on D, using just white notes, is a minor chord. So if we see a D major
chord, we know that we need to raise the third of the chord a semitone higher.

In other words, if we keep an eye on the quality of the chord – major, minor, or diminished – we
can decide whether we need a black note.
This works well if you can remember which chords use all white notes, and how you’d want to
change them if appropriate. But it can be hard to keep track of this. In simpler music, we often
don’t need to use this approach and can use a simpler one.

Key Signatures
Each key has a key signature that tells you which set of notes to use. In C major and A minor, that
is all the white notes. In G major, there is a black note: F sharp. As most songs only use chords
within the key signature, the easiest way to think about chords is to make sure that you’re always
playing within the given key.
For example, the F sharp in G major means that we would know to play the D chord with a black
note in it, as a D chord contains an F. Below you can see all the chords in G major – we’ll call this
the chord scale. Three of them use and F and are thus affected by the key signature. All the Fs are
marked in the note heads so you can see them clearly.

As you become more familiar with different keys, you’ll build up a memory of which chord
qualities require which black notes. In this book, we will use the same techniques as in Book 1, but
in keys with one or two black notes.

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Stage 1: G major, 2nds and 3rds
In G major, you need to watch out for the F. This new note appears in three chords: B minor, D
major and F diminished. You can see all the chords of G major below, with the Fs coloured in
black. Play through the chord scale, in all three inversions, before you begin the stage.

You can also see which chord have which chord numbers. Before you begin, make sure you know
which chords are I, IV and V, so that you can play them when prompted.

1. G Em C Am Bm G Em Fo I

2. G Am C D Bm C D Em I

3. G Am C B C Em G Em V

4. G Fo Em D Bm C Am IV V

5. G Bm D Bm C Am IV Bm I

6. G Em C D Bm G Am Fo I

7. G Fo D Em G Fo D IV V

8. G Bm Am C Bm D C Em V

9. G Bm C D Fo G Am F#o I
Sing the tune!
10. G Am Fo G Em Fo D Em I

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Stage 2: G major
Before you begin, recap which chords will make up the Perfect and Plagal cadences.

1. G Em C Am D Em C V I

2. G C Am D Em Am D IV I

3. G Am Em Bm Fo C D I V

4. G C D Am Bm Em G IV V

5. G C D Bm Em G IV V I

6. G Em Am D Em Am V IV I

7. G Am C Em G D C Perfect

8. G D Am Em G D Am Plagal

9. G Am D Fo G Am C Perfect

10. G D Em Am Bm Em D Plagal

11. G Fo Em D Am Em Bm Plagal


Sing the tune!
12. G Am Bm C G D Am Perfect

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Stage 3: F major, 2nds and 3rds, interrupted
cadences
Here we’re going to introduce a new cadence: the interrupted cadence. An interrupted cadence is
a cadence that moves from chord V to any other chord. This creates a surprise, as we’re expecting
chord V to move to chord I, in a perfect cadence.

While an interrupted cadence can end on any chord, the most common chord for it to end on is
chord vi. This is because chord vi has two notes in common with chord I, and because its root is a
step higher than chord V, creating a smooth movement.

Here are the chords in F major. In F major, you need to watch out for the B. This new note appears
in three chords: G minor, B major and E diminished. You can see all the chords of F major above,
with the Bs marked in the note heads. Make sure you know which chords are chords I, IV, V and
vi before you begin, and play through the chord scale in all three inversions.

1. F Dm C Am B Gm F Am I

2. F Gm B Dm C Dm F Am I

3. F Am C B Dm C Am B V

4. F Eo Dm C Am F Dm IV V

5. F Dm B C Dm B G Am I

6. F Am C Dm F Eo Dm Interrupted

7. F Dm B Am C Gm B Interrupted
Sing the tune!
8. F Gm B C Dm B Am Interrupted

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Stage 4: F major
Here we combine the all chords in F major, along with our new cadences and our old ones.

1. F C Dm Eo F Gm B V I

2. F Am C Dm Bb Gm C IV I

3. F B G C Am Dm C vi V

4. F Dm Am C Gm B F IV V

5. F Dm B C Dm B G IV I

6. F Am F Am Dm C Dm IV I

7. F Gm Am Dm C Dm B V I

8. F Gm B C Dm B Am V vi

9. F Eo Dm C B F IV Interrupted

10. F B C Dm F B V Plagal

11. F B Dm C Am Gm IV Perfect
Sing the tune!
12. F C Dm Gm F C vi Plagal

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Stage 5: E minor, 2nds and 3rds
We’ll now have a go at the minor keys, using those same cadences. We’ll start in E minor, which
has the same key signature as G major – they are relative keys. Here are all the chords in E minor:

The Fs are marked within the note heads. We don’t have any new chords here: because the key
signature is the same as in G major, it has the same seven chords as G major, but in a different
order. Make sure you know which chords are chords i, iv, v and VI before you begin, and play
through the chord scale in all three inversions.

1. Em D C Am Bm G Em C i

2. Em C Bm Am Fo G Em D i

3. Em Fo G Bm Am C Bm VI v

4. Em G Am G Bm C Bm D i

5. Em D Em G Bm Em D C v

6. Em D Fo G Am G Am G i

7. Em D C Em D Bm G Interrupted
Sing the tune!
8. Em G Am Fo G Bm Am Interrupted

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Stage 6: E minor, Imperfect Cadence
In this chapter we’ll introduce our final cadence: the imperfect cadence. A perfect cadence is all
about getting to chord I, via chord V. An imperfect cadence is the opposite: it’s all about getting to
chord V. As such, an imperfect cadence is any cadence that ends on chord V. While a perfect
cadence sounds final and finished, an imperfect cadence sounds unfinished, or questioning. The
most common version is I-V, but ii-V and IV-V are also common. You may use any of these
versions.

We’ve now learnt all four common cadences. I like to think of cadences as being like punctuation,
bringing a musical clause or sentence to an end. To extend this metaphor: a perfect cadence is like a
full stop, a plagal cadence is like a semicolon, an interrupted cadence is like a question mark, and
an imperfect cadence is like a question mark.

1. Em D G C Am C Bm i v

2. Em Bm C G Am Em D iv v

3. Em Fo G D Em Fo G VI v

4. Em Am C Bm Em Am C i v

5. Em Bm D Am Em C Am Imperfect

6. Em G C D G C Am Perfect

7. Em C Am G Em C Am Interrupted

8. Em C G Em C Am Em Plagal

9. Em D Fo G Am Em Am Interrupted

10. Em Am Bm Em Bm C Am Imperfect

11. Em Bm C G Am D Bm Plagal
Sing the tune!
12. Em D G Fo G C Am Perfect

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Stage 7: D minor, 2nds and 3rds
Our new key, D minor, is the relative of F major. Like F major, it has a B in the key signature. Here
are the seven chords, with the Bs marked in the note heads as before:

Make sure you know which chords are chords i, iv, v and VI before you begin, and play through
the chord scale in all three inversions.

1. Dm F Am Gm F Am B C i

2. Dm Em F Am Gm Eo C B i

3. Dm C Am F Gm B Dm VI v

4. Dm B Gm F Am C B C i

5. Dm F Eo G F Am B Gm v

6. Dm Em C Am B Gm Eo F i

7. Dm C B Am C Am Gm Interrupted
Sing the tune!
8. Dm B Gm Eo F Am C Interrupted

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Stage 8: D minor
1. Dm B F Eo F Gm B v i

2. Dm C F Gm Dm C F v i

3. Dm B F C Dm B F iv v

4. Dm Gm C F B C Am i v

5. Dm F Gm B Gm B C Imperfect

6. Dm F Am Gm F Am C Perfect

7. Dm B Gm Am Gm Eo F Plagal

8. Dm G B Am Dm B Gm Interrupted

9. Dm Eo F C F Gm B Interrupted

10. Dm F Gm Eo F Am C Imperfect

11. Dm Am C Gm Am Eo F Plagal
Sing the tune!
12. Dm Gm Am Dm F Gm B Perfect

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Stage 9: D major, 2nds and 3rds
D major is our first key with two accidentals: F and C. This adds three new chords: F minor, A
major and C diminished. F minor is a little tricky, as it has two black notes in it, on both the root
and the fifth. Here are those chords, with their chord numbers:

Make sure you know which chords are chords I, IV, V and vi before you begin, and play through
the chord scale in all three inversions.

1. D Fm A Bm G Bm D Fm I

2. D Em Co D Bm G A Co I

3. D Co Bm Co D Fm A Co I

4. D Bm A Co D Em G Bm V

5. D Fm Em G Fm A G Bm V

6. D Bm G Em D Bm A Fm I

7. D Fm Em G Bm A G Interrupted
Sing the tune!
8. D Bm G E Fm D Bm Interrupted

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Stage 10: D major
1. D Bm A Co D G Em V I

2. D Fm A G D A Bm IV I

3. D A Bm Fm G A D IV V

4. D G Bm Fm A D Fm vi V

5. D Em A G D Em G Imperfect

6. D G Bm Em A D G Perfect

7. D Fm A Bm G Em A Plagal

8. D Bm A Co D Fm G Interrupted

9. D G Bm Em Fm D Bm Interrupted

10. D Bm Em G Em A Co Imperfect

11. D Co Bm A D Fm A Plagal


Sing the tune!
12. D Em G A D Bm Em Perfect

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Stage 11: G minor, 2nds and 3rds
G minor is our first key with two flats: B and E. This gives us three new chords: A diminished, C
minor and E major. Here are all the chords in G minor:

Make sure you know which chords are chords i, iv, v and VI before you begin, and play through
the chord scale in all three inversions.

1. Gm F Ao B Gm E Cm E i

2. Gm E Cm B Gm E Cm B v

3. Gm B Dm F E Gm B Ao i

4. Gm B Gm F Am C B C i

5. Gm Ao B Ao B Dm F E v

6. Gm E Dm F Gm F E F i

7. Gm B Dm F Dm B C Interrupted
Sing the tune!
8. Gm B Cm E Dm F E Interrupted

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Stage 12: G minor, all intervals
1. Gm Dm E B Cm Gm Cm v i

2. Gm Cm F Ao B E Cm v i

3. Gm Dm F B Cm B F iv v

4. Gm F E Dm Gm Cm Dm i v

5. Gm B Dm F Cm E B Imperfect

6. Gm F B Cm Dm Gm Cm Perfect

7. Gm Cm Ao B E Dm Gm Plagal

8. Gm Dm Gm F Gm Dm Cm Interrupted

9. Gm B F Ao B Cm Gm Interrupted

10. Gm F Cm Gm Gm F Cm Imperfect

11. Gm B Cm Dm E B Dm Plagal
Sing the tune!
12. Gm Dm Ao B Cm Gm E Perfect

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