Scale tone chords

Scale tone chords are built out of the tones in a particular scale.

For a chord to be a scale tone chord for a scale, all of the tones in the chord must also be tones in the scale.

The C major chord are built of the tones C, E and G, which are all tones in the C-major scale, thus the C major chord is a scale tone chord of the C major scale.

For every tone in a scale, a scale tone chord can be constructed. A major scale has seven tones and therefore it’s possible to build seven chords for a major scale.

Because all of the tones of these scale tone chords are from the same scale they fit very well together and are therefore often used together in songs, both when a new song is created and when an existing melody is harmonized.

Scale tone chords in C-Major

Let’s build the triad scale tone chords of the C-major scale.

Checkout the chord construction section to learn about the theory of how chords are built.

The harmonized C major scale

When building scale tone chords for every note in a scale we’ll get the harmonized version of the scale. For the C major scale the result is the harmonized C major scale.

The C major scale: C D E F G A B.
The scale tone chords of the C major scale a.k.a. the harmonized C major scale:

Scale toneNo.QualityChordChord tonesExample
CIMajorCC E G
DIIMinorDmD F A
EIIIMinorEmE G B
FIVMajorFF A C
GVMajorGG B D
AVIMinorAmA C E
BVIIDiminishedBdimB D F

As you can see we have built seven chords, one chord for each tone in the scale.

All the tones are from the same scale – the C-major scale – and therefore the chords are the seven scale tone chords of the C-major scale.