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Thread: Key of Bb

  1. #1

    Default Key of Bb

    I know that in the Bb key, there is Bb, Eb, F. What other chords are in this key? What is considered the alternate chord?

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Main chords besides those you mentioned are Cm, Dm, Gm, Adim. For modal songs youíll need Ab. Iím not sure what you mean by ďalternate chord.Ē (Iím not sure why didnít Google this. You could have gotten an immediate answer.)
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Key of Bb

    I did google it and got that info plus more, but no mention of an "alternate" chord which is, I've been told a chord that is used along with or instead of one of the I, IV, V chords, l like maybe the I, IV, V, & VI.

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Hmm. I’ve never heard of an “alternate chord” in this context. The Gm would be the vi chord and is called the relative minor.

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    Hmm. Iíve never heard of an ďalternate chordĒ in this context. The Gm would be the vi chord and is called the relative minor.
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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    There are a lot of good YouTube videos about basic music theory and they might be worth your time. I was a music major and enjoy the theory, but I understand a lot of people would rather go to the dentist than learn music theory!
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Tom, in general, you would use the seven alphabet letters to name each chord in any key. So you will have 7 chords in the key named after the seven letters A - G, in alphabetical order.

    In a major key, the I, IV & V chords are always major chords. The ii, iii & vi are always minor, the vii is diminished.

    So in Bb, as Doug wrote, you have these 7 chords following the alphabet:

    Bb - Cm - Dm - Eb - F - Gm - Adim

    Please let us know what you mean by alternate chord, or more to the point, why are you looking for this alternate chord?

    Maybe we can answer, but there is no “alternate chord” without some context.
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    The way many musicians understand chords and progressions is via harmonized scales. Basically what happens is we begin with a scale, let's use Bb as per your question:
    Bb-C-D-Eb-F-G-A-Bb
    now we build a chord on each note of the scale, but using only the scale tones we started with. Let's start with a 3 note chord, a/k/a as a triad. That yields
    Bb-D-F, C-Eb-G, D-F-A, Eb-G-Bb, F-A-C, G-Bb-D, A-C-Eb, then Bb-D-F again. The 3 note chords form conform to a golden mean pattern,in other words following this process in any major key results in the same type of chords. Here in Bb we have Bb major, Cminor, Dminor, Ebmajor, Fmajor, Gminor, Adiminished, Bbmajor. If we had used the key of C we get C major, Dminor, Eminor, Fmajor, Gmajor,Aminor, Bdiminished, Cmajor...
    But as a method for understanding chord functions, progressions, etc. we form 4 note chords rather than 3 note chords. When we add a third above each triad, again using only tones of the parent major scale, here's what we get:
    Bb-D-F-A, C-Eb-G-Bb, D-F-A-C, Eb-G-Bb-D, F-A-C-Eb, G-Bb-D-F, A-C-Eb-G, Bb-D-F-A. These four note chords( and this is important) are Bbmajor 7th, Cminor7th, Dminor7th, Ebmajor 7th, F7th, Gminor 7th, Aminor7b5(a/k/a A half-diminished) and again Bbmajor7th. Now we have arrived at that golden mean pattern used to number chords, find them in progressions, etc. : 1 is always a maj7, 2 is always a min7, as is 3, 4 is always major, 5 is a dominant chord like in this case F7, 6 is always a min7, and 7 always a half-diminished(m7b5)
    Often these numbers are notated in Roman numerals, with upper case denoting major and lower indicating minor: I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-viidim-I(eight same pitch as 1) as triads, the four notes(which tell us more about chord functions)are Imaj7-iim7-iiim7-IVmaj7-V7-vim7-viim7b5-I.
    The "Nashville Number System" does all this with "regular" numbers, with minus indicating minorness, like this I think: 1,2-, 3-,4,5(assumed to be a 7th chord)6-, 7m7-5 or maybe it's 7dim-5, 1
    As you can see, numbers for chord progressions such as "One-Four-Five" or ii-V7-I or I-vi-ii-V or 1,6-,2-,5,1 are drawn from this system.
    It's math that is worth doing.
    We also do it in minor keys but the results as far as the resulting chords are different since the minor scale is different, plus there are three of them. Let's save that discussion for the next time we get together.
    Going back to your original question, the chords available or commonly used in Bb major would be Bb-Cm7-Dm7-Eb-F7-Gm7-Am7b5-Bb.
    Keep it fun, cuz it really is, especially when you start recognizing common progressions in all your favorite tunes.

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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Tom, are you perhaps talking about inversions of the chord? When you play a chord as a triad (3-note chord) then if you begin with the root, then add in 3rd and 5th, you are playing the root position. If you have the 3rd as the lowest note then add the 5th and the octave you are playing 1st inversion. If you have the 5th as the lowest note then add octave and 3rd above the octave you are playing 2nd inversion. In key of C major. root is C-E-G; 1st inversion is E-G-C(octave); 2nd inversion is G-C(octave)-E(3rd above octave). Hope this does not add to your dilemma!
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Man, after reading these posts, I'm beginning to understand theory a little. When I was playing music back in the day, our bass player when learning a song would always ask about an "alternate chord" so I just figured it was an added chord in a three chord song other than the I, IV, V. I guess what I was asking is in the key of Bb what is the most used chord with the I,IV,V in the key of Bb?

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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    In a "folk music" setting (BG, for example) the most commonly used chords other than the I-IV-V are the II and the VI. In the key of Bb, these would be C and G. They can be either major or minor depending on the nature of the song.
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  13. #11

    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Quote Originally Posted by Torpedotom View Post
    I guess what I was asking is in the key of Bb what is the most used chord with the I,IV,V in the key of Bb?
    I = Bb. It's bound to get a lot of use if that's the key you're playing in.
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    There really isn't a definitive answer to this question. If you had to pinpoint one chord besides the I, IV and V of any key which shows up the most, I would say the vi. In Bb it is G minor. You could make a case for the ii (C minor) as well.
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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    I'm wondering if the use of 'alternate' chords are dominant substitutions? - as in replacing a scale chord with a dominant chord - so, for example, in Bb, the Eb might be replaced by Eb's fifth - which is a C major chord (not C minor). There are many other dominant substitutions you can do, of course.. but that's a V of IV...
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Quote Originally Posted by Torpedotom View Post
    I guess what I was asking is in the key of Bb what is the most used chord with the I,IV,V in the key of Bb?
    Sorry, I misunderstood the question. You're asking which chord other than the I,IV,V in the key of Bb is the most used. Tough call but I'll vote for the II chord (C in this case).
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Taking a guess they may be referring to chord substitutions, chords that can be used in place of chords in the key while still maintaining the key or used to modulate into another key. There are tomes written on the subject and jazz players can talk your ear off on it.

    Common substitutions would be playing the vi chord instead of the I chord, usually after the key is well established. Playing the V of V which in this case is CM, not minor, in place of the V chord (EbM) or in conjunction with the V chord. E.G., if you have four beats of EbM playing two beats of CM followed by two of EbM. Also extended chords can be altered to very nice effect. A common example would be to play a chord with the major 6th added instead of the seventh. It is also common practice to play a dominant seven chord instead of a major seven chord (Eb7 instead of EM7).

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    In an actual tune or song in Bb you could encounter any number of chords "outside the key" - that is, chords other than Bb-Cm-Dm-Eb-F-Gm-Adim-Bb - there could be chord substitutions, especially in jazz, or the song can modulate to a different key, etc.

    The folks above who are listing Bb-Cm-Dm-Eb-F-Gm-Adim-Bb, or in Don Stiernberg's case "Bbmajor 7th, Cminor7th, Dminor7th, Ebmajor 7th, F7th, Gminor 7th, Aminor7b5(a/k/a A half-diminished) and again Bbmajor7th" ... all these folks (including my own post) are talking about the chords belonging to the key, built by stacking thirds within the key of Bb. Understanding that simple musical formula is a big help. It doesn't mean that you won't find other chords in a Bb tune sometimes that fall outside of those chords, like C major for instance.

    Knowing a bit of music theory is good, if for no other reason, because you can talk about music in a way other musicians can understand. Most people would not call chords in a known chord progression "alternate chords" just because they are not the I, IV or V. But this question can be answered:

    in the key of Bb what is the most used chord with the I,IV,V in the key of Bb?
    In the vast majority of popular music played in a major key, after the I, IV & V, the most commonly used chords would be vi and ii. A person who knows the I, IV, V, ii and vi can play many thousands of songs without encountering a iii or vii*. But of course, the iii and vii* are used to great effect in some songs, as well as chord modulations outside the key, and chord substitutions as well, so context - and the type of music you want to play and type of sound you want to get - is of most importance on deciding how much to learn about the music you want to enjoy most.

    If you want to learn more about chords "within the key" read up on musical keys and diatonic harmony. You will need a rudimentary understanding of that before moving to chord substitutions.


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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    One must be careful when interacting with the theory twinkies. they will take you to task and you will soon learn the lingo that goes with theory. Carry on!

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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    I consider myself more of a theory dweeb. Heavy on the chord theory. Light on the notation. 😊

  22. #19

    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    I'm wondering if the use of 'alternate' chords are dominant substitutions? - as in replacing a scale chord with a dominant chord - so, for example, in Bb, the Eb might be replaced by Eb's fifth - which is a C major chord (not C minor). There are many other dominant substitutions you can do, of course.. but that's a V of IV...
    I am not sure I understand what you are saying here. According to my counts the V of the IV is right back to the I chord. The V of Eb is Bb not C unless I am missing something here.

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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    I am not sure I understand what you are saying here. According to my counts the V of the IV is right back to the I chord. The V of Eb is Bb not C unless I am missing something here.
    Itís a V of V Iím thinking of. Apologies for my idiocy.
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    It’s a V of V I’m thinking of. Apologies for my idiocy.
    Thanks. That makes more sense.

    We all do it. As I get older I find my wife and I getting into strange discussions where we both do things like that in a conversation and finding our discussion heading off into the twilight zone.

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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    It's also useful to think of the functions of the chords. Of course the I is tonic, a resolved sound with no tendency to move. The iii and vi chords can also function as tonic. The IV chord functions as a subdominant, and tends to move to the dominant. The ii chord can also function as subdominant. The V chord is dominant, and tends to resolve to the tonic. The vii can also function as a dominant chord, as can the, unusual in bluegrass, flat ii chord. (really a tritone sub).

    Tunes can move to different key centers, so you can have chords that are non diatonic to the key. And in some styles, bluegrass is one, the songs are often built out of the mixolydian mode rather than ionian and feature a slightly different harmonized scale. That's why, in bluegrass, when you go to a vii chord, it is often built on the flatted seven of the key you think you're in. In other words, for a song in C, you might have a Bb7 chord where you would expect a B half-diminished chord.

    The chords you most often play, in bluegrass, after the I, IV, and V, will be in order of frequency, the ii, then the vi, then the (flatted) Vii.

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    Registered User mmuussiiccaall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Here's all the diatonic chord extensions of the key of Bb
    Bb Eb F BbM7 EbM7 F7 Cm Dm Gm Bbsus Csus Dsus Fsus Cm6 Bb+9 Eb+9 F+9 G+9 F9 BbM9 EbM9 Bb6/9 Eb6/9 Bb6 Eb6 F6 Cm7 Dm7 Gm7 Cm+9 Am7b5

  27. #24

    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    Tunes can move to different key centers, so you can have chords that are non diatonic to the key. And in some styles, bluegrass is one, the songs are often built out of the mixolydian mode rather than ionian and feature a slightly different harmonized scale. That's why, in bluegrass, when you go to a vii chord, it is often built on the flatted seven of the key you think you're in. In other words, for a song in C, you might have a Bb7 chord where you would expect a B half-diminished chord.

    The chords you most often play, in bluegrass, after the I, IV, and V, will be in order of frequency, the ii, then the vi, then the (flatted) Vii.
    In the key of C, you will find Bb way more than Bb7.

    You also find the secondary dominant, which is D or D7. Sometimes a string of secondary dominants: E - A - D - G - C, or E7 - A7 - D7 - G7 - C

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of Bb

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    I'm wondering if the use of 'alternate' chords are dominant substitutions? - as in replacing a scale chord with a dominant chord - so, for example, in Bb, the Eb might be replaced by Eb's fifth - which is a C major chord (not C minor). There are many other dominant substitutions you can do, of course.. but that's a V of IV...
    In Eb the "fifth" or V chord is Bb. A C chord is the V of F.

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    Sorry, I misunderstood the question. You're asking which chord other than the I,IV,V in the key of Bb is the most used. Tough call but I'll vote for the II chord (C in this case).
    See below about the "II" chord.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    Itís a V of V Iím thinking of.
    Yes, the V of V...or the V of any chord. It's a secondary dominant, particularly the V7 versions. It's a V chord borrowed from another key.

    Many folks call a C major chord in Bb a "II" chord but the ii chord in Bb is a Cm.

    The borrowed major II chord is a V of V or secondary dominant. I understand that it's easier to call it a II chord, like at a jam session, but technically it's a V of V.

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