Using Degree Names (4 note chords) (Part 2) / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Using Degree Names when Changing Keys

We will be looking at how to use degree names of 4 note chords in continuation of our previous article.

In this article we will be starting with key changes as well.
By using degree names, you can easily change between keys.

Though non-diatonic chords are found in “Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)” from our last article,
now that we know that the roman numeral signifies the root, we can use it to change the key.

✳︎ This article primarily focuses on knowledge learned up until this point, and non-diatonic chords will be looked at in more detail in a future article.

This time lets try raising the key by “+2”.


✳︎ This is a common parameter on synth pitch, but +1 is a half-step up, and -1 is a half-step down.
+12 is 1 octave up, -12 is 1 octave down, +7 is a P5th up.
As we are changing the key, the starting note of a scale and all notes that follow will be adjusted the same amount.

Now, we have already tried analyzing using degree names in our previous article.


Though I7 or III7 aren’t diatonic chords,
in the Key of C, C=I and E=III so we can notate them as “I7” and “III7”.

In addition, because we are moving to the Key of D major, simply replace the roman numerals with their D major scale note equivalents.


The first half chord progression of “Fly Me to the Moon” in the key of D major would look like below:



As shown, even if you don’t know the purpose of the chord,
you can use this knowledge to still utilize it to an extent.

When practicing song analysis and modulation, try challenging yourself to being unrestricted by the bounds of diatonic/non-diatonic.
We will touch upon more complicated theory as we move on, which will allow you to fill in the gaps in your understanding later.

Variation Using Triads and 7th Chords

We took a look at very common chord progression in our 23rd article.

  • IV→V→IIIm→VIm

Lets try making these 7th chords (4 note chords).

Use the diatonic chord chart if needed.



  • IVmaj7→V7→IIIm7→VIm7

This has a different kind of feel to the previous one.

In addition, the 2nd chord V7 is a dominant 7th chord and contains a tritone.

If the “tension” found in the tritone doesn’t seem to match with the song’s melody, you could switch it to a V triad,

  • IVmaj7→V→IIIm7→VIm7

and use this progression instead.

In addition, if the final chord feels too subtle as a m7 chord, you could change it back to a triad as well.

  • IVmaj7→V→IIIm7→VIm

Not only can changes be made by chord types but variations in the voicing and top note can greatly impact the sound, so be sure to try these techniques out as well.

Now that you’ve heard this progression about 3 times at this point, give a listen to the following audio.

Doesn’t it feel like the song “concludes” beautifully?

By listening to various song, you will discover a sense of story to the way progressions flow.
An introduction, tension, and conclusion can all be depicted through music.

When analyzing songs, keep this “story” idea in mind.
We will be applying theory to this idea as our series progresses.

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.