editing disabled

previous top next (This page is part of a series on Kite's color notation)

In chord progressions, the root of the chord is indicated by a color before a note name/scale degree (unless the note or scale degree is 1, 4 or 5, in which case it's assumed to be white).
For example, your basic C – Am – F – G7 becomes Cy – yAg – Fy – Gyb, or C yellow, yellow-A green, F yellow, G yellow blue. In relative notation, I – VIm – IV – V7 becomes Iy – yVIg – IVy – Vyb, or one yellow, yellow-six green, four yellow, five yellow blue. This progression uses white and yellow roots. Root colors are a big part of the feel of a chord progression. Obviously, every progression has at least one white root, since the tonic is always white.
More examples from pop music, all in D:
Table 7.1 Examples of Chord Progressions
Iy – yIIy – IVy – Iy
Dy – yEy – Gy – Dy
“You Won't See Me” verse (The Beatles)
Iy – IVyb – Iy – IVyb –
Iy – wIIy – Vy – Iy
Dy – Gyb – Dy – Gyb –
Dy – wEy – Ay – Dy
“Brain Damage” verse (Pink Floyd)
(a different II chord than in the previous example)
Vy – yIIIy – yVIg – IVy – I
Ay – yF#y – yBg – Gy – Dy
“Tears of a Clown” chorus
Ig – gVIIy – gVIy – gVIIy
Dg – gCy – gBy – gCy
“All Along The Watchtower” (Dylan)
Ig – gIIIy – gVIIy – gIVy – gIg
Dg – gFy – gCy – gGy – gDg
“Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” verse (Green Day)

The last one is an example of a comma pump, which changes the tonic from white D to green D.
To find a chord's notes, add the color of the root to the colors of the chord: a green chord = w1, g3, w5 therefore yBg = yB, wD & yF#. More examples: ryF#g,gg5 = ryF#, rA & grC. yIIIyb,9 = y3, yy5, y7, yb9 & y11.
Here's a simple method I've used for finding interesting chord progressions: proceed from chord to chord so that the new chord has exactly two notes in common with the old one. Unless the root moves by a 4th or a 5th, in which case there can be either one or two notes in common.
For example, from the Iyb chord, you could go to any IV chord: IVyb, IVbb, IVgr, IVrg, IVgg, IVy,y7, etc. You could go to any V chord except Vby, because it has three common notes with Iyb. For non-white motion, yVIgr or yVIgg,bg5 or gVIy,y7 or bIIIgr or bIIIrg or bVIIrr would all work. However yVIgg and yIIIgg,bg5 would have too many common notes.
You can create a simple song by alternating between two such chords. Their notes will generally create a 6 or 7 note scale. Or you can modulate quite far by stringing together a number of such chord changes.
This method suggests some unusual progressions: Igg to gIIIbb, or Iyb to ybVgr. Then there's also the kind of chord change in which the root doesn't change but the colors do. These work well with up to three common notes and just one shifting note, as in the classic Iy to Iy,y7 to Iyb. This also works with two common notes and two shifting notes.
Like chords, chord progressions can be classified by the number of colors they contain. Presumably fewer colors creates more coherence. For example, compare Igr – Vyb to Igr – Vrg. While the rg chord is more dissonant than the yb chord, it makes the overall progression tricolored rather than quinticolored, and perhaps more consonant as a whole.

Scales are named after the colors of their notes. If a scale consists of only white notes, it's called a white scale, otherwise white is assumed to be present and not mentioned. Because you can make different scales out of the same colors, these scale names are not unique. Hence there are several versions of yellow major.
Here's some example scales; as always, 1, 4 & 5 are assumed to be white.

Table 7.2 – Examples of scales
white major
1, w2, Lw3, 4, 5, w6, Lw7
white minor
1, w2, w3, 4, 5, sw6, w7
yellow major
1, w2 or y2, y3, 4, 5, y6, y7
green minor
1, w2, g3, 4, 5, g6, g7 or w7
blue minor
1, w2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7
red major
1, w2, r3, 4, 5, r6, r7
Pentatonic scales: The next table is somewhat similar to the list of tetrads in Table 6.4. Indeed, the last four scales are named after the I tetrad they contain. Blue yellow pentatonic is a mode of yellow blue pentatonic, and red green is a mode of green red.
Table 7.3 – Examples of pentatonic scales
white minor pentatonic
1, w3, 4, 5, w7
white major pentatonic
1, w2, Lw3, 5, w6
yellow pentatonic
1, w2, y3, 5, y6
green pentatonic
1, g3, 4, 5, g7
blue pentatonic
1, b3, 4, 5, b7
red pentatonic
1, w2, r3, 5, r6
yellow blue pentatonic
1, w2, y3, 5, b7
blue yellow pentatonic
1, b3, 4, 5, y6
green red pentatonic
1, g3, 4, 5, r6
red green pentatonic
1, w2, r3, 5, g7


For example, “Ash Grove” uses yellow & white notes and has a yellow scale. “La Bamba” uses mostly yellow and white notes, but it has a V7 chord, and the melody uses that 7th heavily. If the V7 chord is intoned Vy,w7, the scale is yellow. If it's Vyg, the scale is yellow green. If it's Vyb, it's yellow blue.
To write out absolute scales, just add letters. “La Bamba” in A: wA wB yC# wD/bD wE yF# yG#


The key of a song is the note name plus the color(s) of the scale: B green, D yellow blue, etc. Just as you can modulate to the relative or parallel major or minor, you can modulate to the relative/parallel yellow, green, blue or red:
Table 7.5 – Examples of relative modulation

verse
chorus or bridge
A green to green-C yellow
Ag – gGy – gFy – Eg – gGy
gCy – gGy – gFy – gGy (“Like a Hurricane”)
A blue to blue-C red
Abb – Dbb – Ebb – Abb
bCrr – bFrr – bGrr – bCrr
A yellow blue to blue-C green red
Ayb – Dyb – Eyb – Ayb
bCgr – bGgr


Table 7.6 – Examples of parallel modulation

verse
chorus or bridge
D yellow to D green
Dy – wCy – Gy – Dy
Dg – Gy – Dg – wEg – Ay (“Norwegian Wood”)
D yellow-blue to D green-red
Dyb – Gyb – Ayb – Dyb
Dgr – Agr


Tuning tip: If you have a yellow blue scale, and you want to modulate to the relative green, tune your tritone and semitone reddish, so that you can use them in your green chords (e.g. yVIgr which uses ry4, and yIIIgr which uses ry1). If you want to go to the relative red, tune them bluish (for bIIIgr using bg5, or bIIIrg using bg2).
Some songs, for example "And I Love Her" (The Beatles) and "El Condor Pasa" (Simon & Garfunkel), flip between relative major/minor so fluidly that it's hard to define the tonic, and hence the key or scale. While conventional music notation can duck the issue via absolute notation, color notation unfortunately forces us to take a stand. We must pick a tonic and make it white.


previous top next