Chord Stories, Music Theory, Songwriting

Mozart’s Alarm Clock

The Wheel of Chord Story, (the circle of fifths), maps out what chords “like” to do, but it doesn’t really explain why.  

The jump of a fifth between two notes is actually pretty stable. The only jump between notes which feels more stable is the interval between two notes with the same name, G to another G for instance. What is the jump between notes with the tension to really move you? 

There’s a story that Mozart’s father had a secret to getting young Wolfie to the piano to practice. He’d tinkle out the notes of a major scale on the harpsichord: do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti and . . . wait. Supposedly Wolfgang would come running from any room in the house to complete the scale and kill the tension.   

The modest jump from ti back to do is what really moves things in music.  It’s the jump of one fret on the guitar. It’s called a half-step. The first few notes of the Jaws theme move a half-step.

The first notes strummed in Led Zeppelin’s “Rain Song” descend a half-step from do to ti.   

 

Now, look at the notes of a G and C chords spelled out below, (G to C is an antagonist/hero pairing on The Wheel of Chord Story). Do you see Mozart’s Alarm Clock going off?  

G major: sol ti re
C major: do mi sol 

The “ti” of the G chord desperately “wants” to resolve to the “do” that is the foundation of the C chord.  (“Do” by the way is just the just another name for a C note).

Mozart’s alarm clock, (the “longing” of the final note of a scale to resolve to the root of that scale is named after), is built right into every Hero/Antagonist chord story.  If you love music, it’s probably what gets you out of bed in the morning.  

 

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