When it comes to understanding most modern music, probably the most powerful tool in a theorist's belt is the concept of functional harmony. By breaking chords up into families depending on the specific roles they play, we can much more precisely understand what each one is doing within a progression, and we can learn more about the underlying structures of modern harmony as well. Why do certain chords feel at rest while others compel motion? How do some chords tell us what's coming next, setting up powerful, emotional resolutions? All that and more comes down to just three primary chord functions.
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