It looks complex, but your part is easy!

All you have to do is Click, and then hold the mouse

button down like you would hold down a note on a piano.

So Tell Me About The Big Map.

How Does It Work?

Copyright 2009 Steve Mugglin

Okay, you just sat down with your guitar,

or maybe you are sitting at your keyboard...

...and you decide to start playing something - let’s say, in the key of D.  So you’re strumming or playing a D chord when this question comes.

What chords are available in this key, and how do they flow from one to another in ways that sound good?

That was my question once.  I remember searching in music stores, hoping to find a book that would explain to me what I wanted to know.  But I didn’t find it.  Years went by.  I took some music theory classes.  Then I started teaching.  I wondered, “How can I make music theory easy enough for young students to understand?”

Then the idea came to draw a map!

The first maps were very simple.  I drew a house and called it “Home.”  In the key of D, when you play the D chord, you are at home.  When you play a different chord, you have gone on a trip.  The trip can be short or long, but either way, you eventually want to come back home.  So I drew other locations, where you could go on trips, with arrows showing how to get back home.

The Simple Map eventually looked like this.

Have you ever wondered?

With this Tool, You Can Play a Lot of Chords!

Music Tools for People

Like You and Me

How do you use the Map?

The idea is to start at “Home,” which is the large box at the bottom of the map, and then jump anywhere you like.  After that, let GRAVITY pull you back toward home.

Let’s say you start at I and jump to vi, then follow the arrows to IV, then V, then back to I.  You would have followed the progression...

I - vi - IV - V - I   (illustrated in the blue diagram to the right)

Looking at the gray box (above) which lists chords in various keys, and looking at the row for D, the progression I - vi - IV - V - I would be played...

D - Bm - G - A - D

Let’s try another one.  How about I, then jump to IV, then down to ii and V and then home.  This time we followed the progression...

I - IV - ii - V - I   (illustrated in the blue diagram to the right)

In the key of D this would be played...

D - G - Em - A - D

(By the way, if you look carefully, you’ll notice that ii and V each appear in two places on the map.  Imagine a hidden tunnel connecting both boxes labeled ii, and another tunnel connecting both boxes labeled V.  Both ends of each tunnel are really the same location.  So if you are in the box labeled V, for example, you can come home to the I chord, or you can follow the arrows to vi or iii.  And if you are in the box labeled ii, you can go to iii or V next.)

You might wonder... do I have to start at “Home?”

No.  You may start anywhere.  For example, you can follow the path V - iii - vi - IV or you can try iii - vi - ii - V.

You might also wonder... do I have to follow the arrows?

No.  You may play any sequence of chords that sounds good to you.  But we suggest getting the arrow progressions into your mind first, because it’s a strong place to begin.  

Imagine. What If?

The maps are interesting, but you can’t hear them.

What if you could choose any major key you liked... point to a location on the map and hear the chord... see the name of the chord... and also see which notes are being played on a virtual piano keyboard?

That’s what “Yours To Play It!” does.

But it’s a bigger map now.  It has been expanded to include chord variations like 2, 6, M7, m7, 9, 11 13, sus4... as well as secondary dominants and diminished chords, which are placed outside the Simple Map, with arrows leading back in.  The Big Map may surprise you when you first see it, because it looks complex.  So as you scroll down, remember that your part is easy.  All you have to do is play...

One click at a time.

“Yours To Play It!” - The Big Map