How to Play F Major and 4 of Its Relative Minor Forms (Plus Analysis on Brahms Cello Sonata No.2)
“My words are dual, they are swords or they are medicine,” said the last blog post I read.
I say… my words are my medicine. I need to write these. I need to express them. In order to free you. You and me, we are in this together. No one is alone. We are here for the taking.
In this article I will show you a ton of chords and a ton of possibilities for making music in a single key.
I have done a quick analysis of the first 8 measures of Brahms Cello Sonata No. 2 in F Major, Movement 1.
All formulas and chords have been added on pdf files as well as the entire sonata score… from imslp.org.
A Few Words Before We Begin
Im here by the bay, taking in the gentle rocking of the waves.
Theres a cool breeze in the air and something about the place I’m in.
Ive been here a thousand times and a thousand times I’ll be back.
Its the shoreline.
Land meets water here and theres something special about that.
You can see the lights of the city from here, the skyline.
Its dark out because its late, but its special.
There are these big trees all around.
Rooted for decades.
The strength of a tree comes from its roots and I take pride in that. My strength comes from my roots and If I don’t root myself I’ll never grow strong like the tree.
To some, a tree is just a tree.
To others, a tree is a symbol of power, strength and loyalty.
Trees produce fruit, just like we mortals do, we produce fruit.
Whether its shade or food, they provide.
Im here to provide for you some fruit, the fruits from my tree of knowledge.
My knowledge surpasses most. Soon they will see. What I know others do not. They say that you dont know if you don’t use. I will use and you will use and we will see who knows most.
But in the end none of that matters.
What matters is that we become free. Free to express in the utmost degree. Free to express musically with complete accuracy.
Without complete accuracy, one (a musician) cannot express truthfully. I will set you free if you just listen to me and do as I say, not because I am king, but because I am a bringer of musical knowledge.
I have spent my years gathering, now I will bring…to you.
I know right from wrong, and its all right.
F Major and Brahms Cello Sonata no. 2.
People think that this popular music culture is a phenomenon. Let me show you a real phenomenon. Johannes Brahms, one of the Great Composers, a real phenomenon. Not a popular hit song writer crying about his or her boyfriend.
Thats for the untrained ear.
Once your ear is trained to what music really is and where it came from, and all the possibilities, you’ll never want to go back.
Sure, I listen to popular music, when I have to.
I might listen to a song or two before I go back into a shred guitar record or some classical music. Im not saying pop is bad.
What I AM saying is that for guitar players, pop music is not for you. You will become bored unless you want to sing along to your songs.
Pop music plays the same boring chords over and over again. Of course, not all of pop music does this but for the most part it is what it is. Its 4 chords.
I’m trying to show you something more.
We’re musicians here. We’re after emotion-producing, self expression from the deepest corners of our soul.
Not the same 4 chords over and over again for an entire song.
Thats for chumps.
If you’re faint of heart, and thin-skinned this will rub you the wrong way.
If it does, you’re in the wrong place.
Im talking to you, the guitar player who wants MORE.
The player who wants to express himself in the greatest, fullest way possible with no holding back.
This aint for sissies.
This is every day. Multiple hours a day. Repetition to the 9th degree. Its blood, sweat and tears spilt across sheet music and fatigue ridden notes.
See, the stoic in me doesnt give a hoot about the easy stuff.
Its not complex, its easy, and we both know that it sucks and when something sucks it begins to suck the life out of you.
When you’ve listened to the best and the greatest, there is no going back.
You now shoot for virtuosity and greatness.
What Some Think is Not True
Some people think a Major key is major. And that you have to stay within a key. Most don’t have a good damn clue about what music theory is.
A lot of players shun music theory as some creativity defying stunt.
Nothing could be further from the truth, the only truth here is the laziness that these uneducated boys wallow in for their entire musical careers.
They dont strive for more, they dont aspire to be better, they are content with the status quo.
Get out of the way of these destructive morons.
They know nothing and want you to know nothing so that they feel good around you.
Once you show them the possibilities of a musical concept they jump around like sheep from a stable when the gate flies open.
They are not loyal, they are just sheep.
Lions are loyal, be a lion, fight for your pride.
A major key is not always major. It has a minor cousin. A relative, from the dark side and the dark side has 2 or more other friends.
Mr. Dark Side’s name is aka Minor.
Minor, has 3 other friends called Harmonic, Hungarian and Melodic.
They will blow your mind.
Not only can you use chords from all 3 of these families, you can go in and out of them as you please.
Like a whore uses a stick at night, use what you need and away with the rest.
Make your money, and forget the rest.
The F Major Key
F Major has 7 notes. So does D minor the cousin of this key.
The other cousins, D Harmonic Minor and D Melodic Minor and D Hungarian Minor, all use special arranging of the notes.
Here is F Major.
F G A Bb C D E
Here is D Minor. D E F G A Bb C
There is NO DIFFERENCE.
The differences start with Mr Dark Side’s cousins. Mr. Dark Side has 3 cousins. Harmonic, Hungarian and Melodic.
Here is D Harmonic Minor – D E F G A Bb C# – the 7th degree was raised a half step. (C to C#)
Here is D Melodic Minor – D E F G A B C# – the 6th and 7th degree were raised a half step. (Bb to B and C to C#)
Here is D Hungarian Minor – D E F G# A Bb C# – the 4th and 7th degree were raised a half step. (G to G#, Bb to B and C to C#)
So there you have it. Mr. Dark Side (The Natural Minor Scale and his 3 friends.)
Together they have wreaked havoc on the musical world.
Weaving in and out of these forms of the minor scale, composers throughout history have used and demolished each and every possibility with these forms of the minor scale.
Or have they?
You know whats missing?
Your take on the scale.
Meaning… your choice of chords, rhythm, notes and formed into your own musical masterpiece.
Speaking of masterpieces lets look at this next piece composed by Johannes Brahms.
Brahms Cello Sonata no. 2 in F Major Movement 1
Check out this musical masterpiece. Listen to it in its entirety. Don’t be a bonehead and think thats its just boring classical music.
Its far from it and your amateur ear has not been introduced to musical greatness.
The harmony, melody and other technical uses are foreign to your uninhabited brain.
You have an uninhabited brain because you don’t know that you must water it like you water your plants, like a tree needs water.
Your uninhabited brain is uninhabited because you have not heard the greatness.
I will now present you with the greatness.
The greatness must not be misunderstood.
It is to be respected.
It is also expected of you to use and abuse the greatness.
Morph it into your own little compositional bit of knowledge for later use, abuse and application.
Application is key.
If you don’t apply what you learn, its like trying to get a job without an application.
You need to apply what you learn.
What is this greatness?
Its the use of Harmonic Principles.
You listen to and love the music you love but you don’t know why.
I will show you why.
Why is everything and when you understand why, you understand deeply.
Its the same for every genre. Its formulaic. The music you hear moves you because of certain harmonies and the melodies played over those harmonies.
Learn your harmonies aka chords, and learn them well.
Harmony must not be disrespected, just like musical greatness must not be disrespected.
Here is one example of the use of harmony in the key of F Major to bring out the melody.
The rest is up to you. I can give you the rest and you will not use it because you have not learned how to use information.
You must USE, ABUSE AND APPLY everything you learn.
USING, ABUSING AND APPLYING musical concepts is the way of the musical hustler.
Chords in F Major
Chords in the Key of F – Same as D Minor (The Relative Minor Key)
The Notes in the F Major Scale are as follows:
F G A Bb C D E
Below are 8 progressions using the chords of F Major. Notice how all the chords start with an F chord except one. Progression numero 6 is a ii, ii7, V7 – I progression.
In other words a 2, 5, 1. This is a very popular progression that you can put to use right away. In fact, you can use this progression for an entire song and have fun creating melodies and licks over the chords for days on end.
Yeah it would be just like a jazz pop song but greatness has to start somewhere.
Give it a try.
- F C Dm C Bb C
- F Bb Am Edim Dm Gm C7
- Fmaj7 Bbmaj7 C C7
- F Bb Am Dm7 Bb C7
- F5 F5 Bb5 Bb5 D5 C5
- Gm Gm7 C7 Fmaj7
- F Dm C F Bb C Dm C
- F C Gm Dm Am Em7b5 Bb7 F (circle of 5th’s)
I like F Major because its the relative of a very dark key – D Minor. Its also the Parallel key (Same root note) as F Minor.
Listening examples in the Key of F Major:
Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 99 – Johannes Brahms
I love me a good sonata. I also love me some cello. The low brooding sounds make me feel good.
The piece is in 3/4 time and with a tempo of Allegro Vivace.
This means its lively and played pretty quickly, not super fast but pretty-fast.
Fast enough to keep you entertained and follow along with the music.
Some musical scores are hard to follow when the music is played at prestissimo speeds.
This one is fairly easy to follow along with and I would suggest you do so.
I decided to break down the first 8 measures.
There are 10 on the first picture but since the 8th measure is in the 3rd row I included the extra 2 measures, plus it lets us see where the piece is going. This post is meant for guitar players but anyone can benefit from this short analysis.
If there is demand for more analysis, leave a comment and I will gladly do it.
I’ve also included an electric guitar recording of the melody by itself, plus a recording of several variations of this motive to show you what is possible with a simple 2 note idea.
Take a look at the score while listening to the piece.
This will give you great ideas on how to proceed with your own musical masterpiece(s).
For now, listen to the first 8 measures as many times as you can by rewinding the video.
The more you do this, the more you will understand the piece and the more you will hear things you didn’t hear on the first couple of runs.
This is true for most all classical music.
Try to listen to other pieces as well, some are mentioned below, and take the same approach as I have discussed here.
Your ear hears what you focus on.
Focus on the melody and you will hear the melody, focus on the harmony (piano) and you will hear the piano.
A motive is a short, musical idea that can be repeated.
It has the same exact note values.
You can have a motive of 2 quarter notes and a half note and repeat that, but you can also have many others.
Below, I explain the motive for the beginning of this piece.
The motive (a short musical idea) is a 16th note followed by a quarter note tied to another quarter note in the 2nd measure.
This motive is repeated throughout the first 8 bars as you see in the pic below.
Listen to it…several times.
If you are really interested in this lesson, take it seriously. You will thank yourself later for having done so.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/3JkFNCePaAA?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Listen to the melody on an electric guitar…
Now listen to what I can come up with just simply taking this motive and moving it around to chords, riffs and other melodies. The possibilities are endless. There’s a short solo using the motive, then a short melody and then some heavy riffs. They all came from that simple 2 note motive.
And some more…heres a nice melody using different notes and movement. Then another short improvised solo. Again, they all derive from that 2 note motive. The ending is the same 2 note motive augmented. This means I augmented (increased the length of the notes). A nice somber melody came out of that.
Here is the entire score.
Feel free to take any rhythmic idea from the piece and apply it to the guitar. You might not understand how to go about this at first, just keep practicing and you will.Brahms Cello Sonata no. 2
Scroll down while listening to the entire piece and see if you can follow along.
Your Own Composition
Why not start your own musical masterpiece like this one.
Open up guitar pro, finale or whatever program you use and set it to 3/4 time and use this motive as a beginning idea.
Try and learn Johannes Brahms motive and listen back to the beginning measures over and over and over until its solidified in your head.
Once its solidified you now have the beginning of a masterpiece in your head.
You will now start to attract more masterful ideas to your composing and writing skills.
For more analysis or other questions, leave a comment below or send me an email at email@example.com.
Other Listening in the key of F Major.
The following pieces are all masterpieces in my humble opinion and thats why I chose them. They are all in F Major for part or most of the music.
Composers used to jump from key to key and back again and thats what made this music so complex and interesting to listen to.
Again this is my opinion but the first 2 pieces by Dmitri Shostakovich are amongst my favorites.
Then you have the all familiar “Autumn” by Antonio Vivaldi.
You hear this piece of music every holiday season I’m sure, along with the all too famous “Spring”, “Summer”, and “Winter.”
- Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102 – Dmitri Shostakovich
- String Quartet No. 3 in F major, Op. 73 – Dmitri Shostakovich
- String Quartet in F major – Maurice Ravel
- “Autumn” from The Four Seasons (RV 293) – Antonio Vivaldi
- Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major, K. 332/300k – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Assignment and Pdf with all the Chords:
- Pick a progression.
- Then, for the next section, pick a progression from either D minor or F minor and combine the two.
Should sound pretty cool. If not, it only means you are using the wrong chords. Try switching them around and making them work.
Go here if you are a complete beginner.
Chord Progression Mastery is available here.
The Rising – My Debut Album is available here.
AUDIOBOOK VERSION COMING SOON.
The Relative Minor Forms of F Major
All of the following chords can be used when composing in D minor.
The minor scale has 3 forms.
Although I included 4 here because I fail to find the D Hungarian Minor Form included when teaching the minor form of a scale.
Plus its really too cool to leave out.
Joe Stump uses this scale extensively and it sounds sinister to say the least.
So if you like that kind of sound then that scale is yours for the taking.
All you are doing is raising the 4th degree of the Harmonic minor scale.
- D Natural Minor Scale = D E F G A Bb C – 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
- D Harmonic Minor Scale = D E F G A Bb C# – 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 #7
- D Hungarian Minor Scale = D E F G# A Bb C# – 1 2 b4 #4 5 b6 #7
- D Melodic Minor Scale = D E F G A B C# – 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7
Below are the chords for each form of the minor scale we have discussed.
I would suggest playing through the scale and chords of all of them, and then pick the one you like most so that you can study it deeply.
You can always come back and study the others as this post will still be up.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with studying each form all in one day.
Thats an amateurs mistake and you’re not an amateur.
I’ll leave you with this…
Music is not about talent, there are too many talented people out there who are simply too afraid or lazy to put out music.
Its about work ethic…and belief in yourself.
These are the guys who make it.
Once you realize this, you will see loopholes in statements like…”get a real job”, or “starving artist? you really want to be one?”
It ain’t about any of that.
Its all about work ethic.
Its about the guy in the arena, marred by dust and sweat, versus the guy in the stands… criticizing.
Get to work, write your songs and show them what you’re made of.
Chords Using D Natural Minor Scale
Chords Using D Harmonic Minor Scale
Chords Using D Hungarian Minor
Chords Using D Melodic Minor
I highly suggest you practicing these chords and scales to a metronome or drum beat.
Open up your DAW and practice using it.
Chord Progression Mastery is available here.
The Rising – My Debut Album is available here.
AUDIOBOOK VERSION COMING SOON.