This article will describe the difference between a number of chord variations. Learning guitar chords with variations like chromatic mediants, (secondary) dominants and borrowed chords is difficult if you don´t have any prior knowledge about guitar chords. To understand the concepts in this article, please make sure you have some basic knowledge about guitar chords.
Ok, let´s continue with our chord variations. First it will be helpful to know what the word “diatonic” means.Diatonic means: the notes within the key signature. In C major, this would be for example: C D E F G A B.
Chromatic Mediants Chromatic mediants is a relationship between two chords whose roots contain one common tone, are related by a major third or minor third and share the same quality (for example major or minor). In the key of C major, the diatonic median and submediant are E minor and A minor. At the same time, parallel majors are E major and A major. The mediants of the parallel minor of C major and C minor are Eb major and Ab major and their parallel minors are Eb minor and Ab minor. This results in six chromatic mediants for this one key. When you play chromatic mediants, you should usually do this in root position.
Secondary dominants Concept of the secondary dominant is relatively new. Before the 20th century, a secondary dominant was considered to be a modulation or a “transient modulation.” Walter Piston first started to use the term “secondary dominant” in his 1941 work called “Harmony.” When learning these guitar chords, it is important to know that the secondary dominant refers to a function (like a dominant) of a chromatically altered chord. This chord is built on a scale degree other than the fifth of the prevailing key. Most frequently used is V7/V. A normal diatonic major scale defines six basic chords. For example: in the key of C major, the six basic chords are I, ii, V, IV, V and vi where V is being the dominant of C major.
Borrowed chords A borrowed chord is a chord, borrowed from the parallel key. This could be a minor or major scale with the same tonic. Borrowed chords provide variety, by using contrasting scale forms (major and minor). A lot of rock musicians use borrowed chords to construct chord progressions. For example, grunge bands like Nirvana and Bush, use or used to construct chord progressions this way. Borrowed chords have common positions and progress in the same manner as the diatonic chords they replace. Learning borrowed chords can help you greatly to understand how to play music of your favorite bands.