Music theory question i-bvi-i

Does anyone know what is going on here? It is a super typical black metal chord progression. It doesn’t really fit any scale I know unless you look at the b3 of the bvi chord as the #7 of the i resulting in a harmonic minor or Hungarian minor sound? Maybe the 3rd of the bvi chord is actually a #2 instead of a b3? I dunno.

Could you be more specific with an exple? I might be too tired or know too little, but I can’t seem to follow you…:confused:

If it doesn’t fit, could it be some sort of modulation?

Hah, Google is indeed my friend!

This might be what you’re looking for:

So in this case by bvi I mean a minor chord with the minor 6th as a root. So example, Emin (i) > Cmin (bvi) - Emin(i) instead of a bVI which would be C major.

Couldn’t go to sleep because of this… :slight_smile: I think that it fits the bill of a chromatic mediant: roots related by a major or minor third, sharing one common tone and same quality (minor). Black Metal indeed, albeit more in the vein of Disco Borgir. :wink:

I am going to have to read about chromatic mediants because I have no idea what that is!

Hi! This is called mediant. It’s a simple concept. For every chord ( M or m) you can go Major 3rd up Minor 3 up ( M or m) or Major 3rd or minor 3rd down ( M or m).
Example Root C or Cm. You can use E, Em, Eb, Ebm. A, Am, Ab, Abm.
Now you know… Welcome to modern music and black metal… Enjoy the new sounds you will discover. ; )

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And if I understand it right it is called chromatic because diatonic chords a third apart would have different qualities one being minor and the other major, right?

My read-up of the day will be the bvi, still not sure what to make of that notation as a chord.

This peer learning stuff really seems to work! :joy:

Thank you so much @kiko for your response. I found this video is well on the subject now that I knew what it was called.

@nexion218 check the video, I think you are right that it is a chromatic mediant specifically. But according to him it is because they only have one common tone, in this example I gave, the common tone would be G.

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Cool vid! He even took it one step further with the “double chromatic” (very trippy sounding, I love it!) and I also dig that sped-up cartoon stuff. :slight_smile:

Hey that video is awesome!! Funny and full of good explanations! Thanks for the link! I guess there are even more treasures in there!

What it doesn’t tell you is, what scale you can use!

When it comes to borrowed chords we normally try to make the progresssion from one chord to another as smooth as possible. A lot of borrowed chords in Jazz music, so this is nothing new: We use as many of the shared notes as possible and change only the intervals, we really need to.

Of course there are options - there are always options!

For instance: If you take the A minor and go to F minor you could from A aeolian to F dorian or even to F melodic minor (which is half-tone related, dorian with a b7 and melodic minor with a maj7, the rest is equal).
F dorian sounds a bit more “consequent”, but there are more shared tones between A aeolian and F melodic minor. Best way is to try and see which color suits best for your song!

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Hey @nilsrocks! Awesome info! There’s one thing that keeps popping up in my head though… When I read @alexanderrobert mention Black Metal chord progression, my instant gut feeling was “it’s gotta be chr. med.!”, but then the flat vi chord thing got me confused because I did not know what it was. Then based on his example I got sorta convinced that is indeed a chr. mediant ( though I hate calling it Black Metal, as BM should be ugly and chromatic mediants are beautiful. Trve fukkin blakk metul doesn’t have beautiful in it :rofl: ). So today I had some off time at work and read up on the flat six chord stuff and based on that -finally :slight_smile: - comes my question:

Is it correct to call chromatic mediants a type/subset of borrowed chords?

We are getting here pretty deep into theory! If there’s a right answer to that Kiko will know it.

As for now: Whether the chromatic mediants would be just partly borrowed or not: it would make no difference because the notes are still not the same in the chords except for the third in the A minor and the fifth in the F minor (both C) - to stay in our example. As long as you only deal with those three notes per chord!

Now we normally play with harmonies in the songs! At least we use chords and melodies and often the melodies use more notes than just the chord notes. So now we have to decide what notes we want to use!
You could use the diatonic system like in my example above or you could work modal and take the mode with you when you change the chord. There are even more possibilities but those are the most common.

In this (modal) case you would for example play: A dorian, F dorian. Sounds great as well! Developed out of bebop. Miles Davis stuff like “So What”.

hmm, regardless of what I should play, in the context of metalizing it, I hear an F Lydian #2 when you go down to the Fmin for example. This kinda of goes back to my original thought about it just harmonic minorizing the sound of the key we were in. Even though the Fmin is spelled with an Ab, you could hear it as a G#. This keeps all the same notes from Amin, changing only the one that changes when you switch chords. (sort of). This is probably mostly a result of me being stuck in that sound from listening to too much metal, clearly more options actually exist.

Yes! What you feel is the C ionian system and you go F lydian because it’s the fourth pitch.

One kind of make it smooth is the diatonic approach and to really only change what you need to. This would NOT be a borrowed chord, but simply a change of gender of the chord.

So: Normally A aeolian to F lydian, but because F is minor, you play F lydian minor, aka melodic #11, fourth scale of melodic major!

As I said, many ways to play this! But important is, what you feel! This is the only thing that matters!
You can try different voicings, even different instruments. Play this progression on a piano and it will sound different in ways of harmonic!

oo, just tried the F melodic minor #11, I like the sound of that over this chord

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