Blues Mastery Lesson 5 - 5 4 1

I was working on this track just now and started hearing this in the fifth harmonic environment. Does anyone ever experience this? The notes I was singing involved 4 5 b7 1 2. I was listening to an Albert King song and he switched to these notes when chord 5 came. When I play around with these notes it switches the harmonic environment to the fifth for me.


That’s really interesting. That could be happening to me at times, but I may not have enough awareness of the root shifting in order to know. Does he stay on the 5 chord for quite a while? I think this is a common cause of hearing a new root note.


Hi Brock, I’m not sure I understand your question. That is likely because I don’t have a clear definition of “harmonic environment”. When the 5th chord is being played, are we not supposed to be hearing the 5th harmonic environment? I imagine the harmonic environment changing at each chord change, but the tonal center of the song doesn’t change. It happens sometimes that I mistakely identify the 5th of the scale as the tonal center of a song, but that’s a different issue I suppose.

No he doesn’t stay on it a long time. I believe it’s the notes I’m selecting to play with. If I stick with the standard blues pentatonic scale it doesn’t happen. I guess the whole point of IFR, or at least partially, is the be comfortable in all harmonic environment cause you never know when it’s gonna switch on you.


When I say harmonic environment I mean tonal center. For this particular track when I use these specific notes the tonal center/harmonic environment is the 5th (all pitches being felt in relation to 5D). But if I play different lines then sometimes it’s in the first harmonic environment.

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Today I’m hearing it in the first harmonic environment. Really, the answer is both. Something that I constantly have to remind myself of haha. The duality of music.

So just to clarify my thoughts to this. This be both heard and labelled in different ways!
1.It can be labelled as 5D 4D 1D and heard in the first harmonic environment.
2.This could be labelled as 5D 4D 1D but heard in the fifth harmonic environment.
3.This could be labelled in a different key! 1D b7D 4D (different key) and heard in the first harmonic environment of that key.

Note: 1 and 2 have the same labels but the sound is perceived differently to the individual. 2 and 3 Have different labels but the sound is perceived the same.

These are just my thoughts. Let me know what you think!


It would be nice if you could record and upload here some examples so I can hear what you describe :slight_smile:

@Dave I’d prefer not to post a video, but if you need me to explain something let me know. Also do you have the actual IFR courses? They explain harmonic environment in the course.

Racha, I think I understand what you mean. You are feeling this chord progression in two different ways: sometimes you feel the tonal center in the first chord of the line, and sometimes you feel it in the last chord of the line. So yes, you can label these chords in two different ways to represent these two ways of feeling them: 5D, 4D, 1D, 1D; or 1D b7D 4D 4D.
I see that in your case this feeling can shift depending on what melody notes you play. You sometimes feel more gravity towards the first chord, and sometimes you feel more attracted to resolve your melodies in the last chord. It’s great that you are playing in a way that allows you to observe these different ways of feeling the chords!
In the Blues Mastery Course, we use these chords in Lesson 5 as a “chord study” to understand the last line of the blues. So when you study these chords isolated like this, it’s when you can feel the chords in these two different ways you described. But I think that when you hear them in the context of the 12-bar blues, you will feel the last line more clearly like 5D, 4D, 1D, 1D, feeling gravity towards 1D. Because in the first two lines of the blues we spend a long time in the 1D chord, and that sets the tonal center for our ear.
Another great example of a situation like this, where you can perceive a chord progression in two different ways, is the song Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The chords in this song are D, C, G, G. Some people understand them and feel them like 5, 4, 1, 1 (with the tonal center in the last chord of the line), and other people perceive them more like 1, b7, 4, 4 (with the tonal center in the first chord of the line).
Here’s an interesting video about this topic:
There are many situations in music where we can feel the same chords in different ways. It’s up to us to decide which labels are more helpful to understand the chords in each situation.
I think you made a cool discovery! :slightly_smiling_face: