Harmonic Analysis Tool
• See below for explanations, examples and other details
The harmonic analyzer tool understands these chords:
|Major add 9th
|Minor 7th b5
|Dominant 7th #9
|Dominant 7th b9
|Dominant 7th #5
|Dominant 7th b5
|Major 7th #5
|Major 7th b5
How to use the harmonic analyzer tool
The tool helps you analyze and
understand chord progressions.
It allows you to enter a sequence
of chords and read the following
- Chord notes – The notes that make up the chords.
- Intervals – The chords' internal interval structure.
- Voicings – A graphic that shows how the
notes move from one chord to the next.
- Parent Scales – All the scales
that are related to the chords.
- Tonal Centers –
The tonal centers (and related key changes)
implicit in the progression.
Here are all the details:
Entering the chords
You can write a chord progression in the above text area and click
the [Analyze] button to see the results.
Use spaces to separate the different chords.
Don't use spaces inside chords. You can enter up to
20 chords at a time.
The supported types of chords are listed above.
The tool also understands a few common variations of the
chord types. For example, Cm7, C-7, and Cmin7 are
all understood. If in doubt, use the codes
in the chord table above.
The tool understands both C-D-E and
Do-Re-Mi chord notations.
The results are displayed with the
same notation used as the input.
The tool skips the chords that it cannot
After analyzing a progression, the first thing that
the tool reports is simply the name of the notes
that constitute the chords.
So, for example, if you enter a Cmaj
(C major) chord the analyzer writes the notes
C E G under it, which are the
notes that produce the C major chord.
You don't need to read all the chord notes
to understand the progression, but sometimes
it can be useful to have them written there.
Ideally, though, a competent musician should know
the notes that make up the various chords pretty
much effortlessly and automatically.
Having those notes always written there
can help you gradually familiarize with
them even without making special efforts.
Right below the chord notes are the
intervals that define the chord, i.e.
the chord structure.
For example, the C major chord
is made of the notes C-E-G, and its
structure is R-M3-P5 which is shorthand
for "Root", "Major 3rd", and "Perfect 5th".
This means that the C major chord is made of the
note C (the Root, or "R"), the note E (a Major 3rd,
or "M3", up from C), and the note G (a Perfect 5th,
or "P5" up from C).
A table with all the intervals is displayed
in Appendix 1
at the bottom of the page.
Like with chord notes, it's very desirable
for a musician to know the structure of
all the chords that one uses.
Having this structure always
available in front of your eyes
is both a useful reference when you
need it, and also a
way of gradually memorizing it
without conscious effort.
The voicings row contains 12 lines
representing one octave of notes
(from C on the bottom to B on the top).
Under each chord, the chord's notes
are highlighted in red.
This graphic helps you literally see how
the various notes -- the various "voices" --
move up and down from one chord to the next.
Seeing the chord progression visualized
in this way gives you a lot of information
in an intuitive and easily understandable way.
For example, one useful piece of information
that is clearly visualized in this graphics is
the "distance" between one chord and the next.
In particular, when two nearby chords have
two or three notes in common, they can be
considered closely related and most likely
belong to the same tonal center.
Furthermore, if while watching the graphic
you can also play or listen to the chord progression,
you will probably get many other insights.
As another example, if you are experimenting
with a chord progression, and you are not
completely satisfied with a certain chord
or a certain modulation, having a visual display
of the chords' notes could give you a tip on
which note to change to produce a different
and better effect.
A "parent scale" of a chord is simply a
scale whose notes can produce the given chord.
For example, the C major scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B)
is a parent scale of the C major chord (C-E-G)
because all the chord notes are present in the scale.
The G major scale (G-A-B-C-D-E-F#) is also
a parent scale of C major chord because it
also contains the C-E-G notes. On the other
hand, the A major scale (A-B-C#-D#-E-F#-G#)
is not a parent scale of the C major chord
because it doesn't contain all the chord
tones (it contains the E but it doesn't contain
C or G)
Major and minor chords have several
possible parent scales. For example, the
C major chord can be derived from the
C major scale, from the G major scale,
from the F major scale, and from the
E minor harmonic scale. Other chords,
such as the Dominant seventh, have
only one major and one minor harmonic
parent scale. All these scales are
listed in the Parent Scales row.
In general, for composition or improvisation
purposes, the relationship between scales and
chords is fundamental. And in particular, when
you have a chord progression and you need
to compose or improvise a melody on it,
one of the first things you'll need to know
is which scale or scales you may use
as the primary source of notes.
The more you familiarize
with this type of harmonic analysis,
the easier it will become for you
to instantly know which scales
are related to the different chords.
When two or more successive chords have
a parent scale in common, that common underlying key is
called a "tonal center".
A tune may have a single
tonal center from beginning to end
(like many pop and rock songs for example)
or have a few different ones
(for example, the verse and chorus
parts could be in different keys and therefore
produce different tonal centers).
In Jazz sometimes the key changes very often
and the improviser has to be constantly
changing tonal center accordingly.
When analyzing the chords, this tool
explores all the possible tonal centers and
displays them as different colored blocks.
The parent scale of that tonal center
is written inside each block.
So, for example, if the analyzer
finds that the first three chords
can be grouped as a C major tonal center
and that the next three chords can be
grouped in a D minor harmonic tonal center,
it will place a colored block with
"C" under the first three chords,
and another colored block
marked "D mh" under those other three chords.
(mh stands for Minor Harmonic scale.
If no scale is indicated, it means
a standard major scale)
Determining the tonal centers of a chord progression
is a fundamental step when preparing for improvisation
on those chords. If this process is still difficult
for you, use the analyzer tool with different chord
progressions, observe the relationship
between chords, parent scales and tonal centers,
and you will soon learn to do it by yourself.
Here are a few common chord progressions.
You can click and see how they get analyzed.
progression, C major, triads:
progression, C major, seventh chords:
two consecutive II-V-I progressions, in D and in C
Common pop-rock progression in C
Common pop-rock progression in D minor (F major tonal center)
Pachelbel Canon in D
Note on major vs. minor tonal centers
Every major key, or major tonal center,
is associated to a corresponding relative
minor key and tonal center.
For example, the relative minor key of C major
is A minor, and the relative major key of
C minor is Eb major. (A relative minor key
is always a minor third below the relative major key)
This analyzer tool shows the tonal center
always as the major scale, but depending
on the melody of the tune (not analyzed here)
the tonal center may be equally described in
terms of either the major or relative minor
In practice this makes little difference --
when you see a C major tonal center, you'll
know that you can use the C major scale,
or the A minor scale, which is the same thing.
A table with the list of all the corresponding
major and minor keys is displayed
in Appendix 2
at the bottom of the page.
While I avoided writing both the major and
minor relative keys in the tonal center blocks
for simplicity, I may add that feature if
there is a significant request for it.
Related MTC Courses
These principles of harmonic analysis are
uses in several places in the Musician Training Center
By Degrees course, for example, trains you
extensively in mastering the chord notes and the parent
scales as the basis for improvisation.
Scales Method includes a play-along tool where
you train play the parent scales of all kinds of chords,
until the mechanism becomes effortless and automatic.
For more details, and to see these interactive
courses in action,
download Musician Training Center
and try it for yourself.
If you have any questions, or if you'd like
to suggest some additions to this harmonic
analyzer, please contact email@example.com
Appendix 1 -- Intervals table
Appendix 2 -- Relative Major and Minor Scales table
P.S. Thanks to Thomas Creveaux for dim7 improvements.