Understanding chords in motion

Whenever one of us high school music theory students didn’t understand the function of a particular chord, our teach, Mr. Pasqua, would remind us: “It’s not where the chord is, but where it came from and where it’s going to.”

I still use this piece of advice all the time (Thanks Mr. Pasqua!), and it’s true in all types of music and at all levels.

“Where did the chord come from and where is it going to?”

This single sentence can help us understand the A7 chord in the chorus of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” The E7 chord at the beginning of Wayne Shorter’s “ESP,” and the diminished 7th chords that permeate Bach’s famous Prelude in C major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol.1.

“Where did the chord come from and where is it going to?”

Answer this question and you’ll learn a lot about harmony, and music in general.

As always, enjoy the journey and “let the music flow!”

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