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Basic and Advanced Chords





guitar-chords-finger-placement.png

Chords

The starting point in many music theory tutorials is the C major scale:

amg2o_c_major.png
amg2o_c_major.png


The C major scale (also called the Ionian scale) is the foundation on which the most of Western music is built.

The letters in the scale are the note names: C is do, D is re, E is mi, F is fa, G is sol, A is la and B is si. The numbers are what we call the function of the note in the scale or chord. The 1 is also known as the 'root'. The first type of chord we'll have a look at is the triad. A triad is a chord that has 3 different notes. Triads are built by stacking thirds. A third (also written like 3) is a particular interval between two notes.

amg2o_c_major_thirds.png
amg2o_c_major_thirds.png


We'll construct our first chord by stacking 2 thirds on the first note (C or 1) of the C major scale. First we count 4 half notes beginning from the first note: from C to C# to D to D# to E. Then we count 3 half notes from the E: from E to F to F# to G.

amg2o_c_major_thirds_CEG.png
amg2o_c_major_thirds_CEG.png

amg2o_c_major_thirds_CEG_piano.png
amg2o_c_major_thirds_CEG_piano.png



This results in a C major triad. C to E makes a major third and E to G a minor third : this structure is typical for every major chord and can be written in a chord formula.
Note number
position
Example 1 - C Major
Example 2 - D Major
1
root
C
D
3
two full tones up
E
F#
5
full tone and semitone up
G
A

Minor chords are very similar, yet the structure of the triad is such that from Root you progress Tone/Semitone - to the 3rd, then Tone Tone Semitone to the 5th

Note number
position
Example 1 - C minor
Example 2 - D minor
1
root
C
D
3
two full tones up
D#
F
5
full tone and semitone up
G
A

amg2o_c_major_thirds_chords.png
amg2o_c_major_thirds_chords.png



More detail to triads and sevenths


Triads form the foundation for modern music. There are 4 ways to write a triad:

1. Major triad. It has a major third (4 semitones), then a minor third (3 semitones) in determining the triad. E.g. C triad has root C, then 4 semitones higher is E, then 3 semitones higher is G so C-E-G
amg2o_C_triad.png
amg2o_C_triad.png

C major triad


2. Minor triad. It has a minor third (3 semitones), then a major third (4 semitones). E.g. C minor triad has root C, then 3 semitones higher is D# (or E flat), then 4 semitones higher is G so C-D#-G or C-Eb-G
amg2o_C_minor_triad.png
amg2o_C_minor_triad.png

C minor triad


3. Augmented triad. It has 2 major thirds (i.e. 4 semitones, then another 4 semitones). So a C aug. is root C, then E, then G#
amg2o_C_augmented_triad.png
amg2o_C_augmented_triad.png

C augmented


4. Diminished triad. It has 2 minor thirds (i.e. 3 semitones, then another 3 semitones). So a C dim. Is root C, then D#, then F#
amg2o_C_diminished_triad.png
amg2o_C_diminished_triad.png

C diminished triad


Sevenths

When we extend out the triad another interval we include the seventh. The seventh chord has another interval after the 5th.

1. Major Minor Seventh (also known as dominant 7th): As guitar players we typically see the 7th written as G7, or E7 This is in fact the Major Minor seventh. We count 3 semitones higher than the 5th and play this note. So a G7 would be G, B, D, F where F is the major/minor 7th. E7 would be E, G#, B, D
amg2o_E_major_minor_seventh_triad.png
amg2o_E_major_minor_seventh_triad.png

E major-minor (or dominant) 7th triad

2. Major Seventh: the default seventh in guitar is the major minor seventh. The major seventh is less common, so when written we add “maj” or a capital M to the chord root. EM7 or Emaj7, CM7 or Cmaj7. A major seventh includes the note 4 semitones higher than the 5th to the chord. Gmaj7 thus is G, B, D, F#. EM7 is thus E, G#, B, D#
amg2o_E_major_seventh_triad.png
amg2o_E_major_seventh_triad.png

E major 7th triad

3. Minor seventh is the minor triad plus the minor seventh (3 semitones higher than the 5th) as in case 1. Note the minor seventh has a small m and the number 7. E.g. Gm7 is G, A#, D, F. Em7 is E, G, B, D
amg2o_E_minor_seventh_triad.png
amg2o_E_minor_seventh_triad.png

E minor 7th triad


rarely used sevenths
  • Half-diminished seventh. Is a diminished triad that also includes a diminished triad as well as 4 semitones higher the 7th.
  • Diminished seventh, is the diminished triad AND a diminished 7th (three semitones higher than 5th)

How to read music


amg2o_Reading_music.png
amg2o_Reading_music.png

amg2o_Reading_music2.png
amg2o_Reading_music2.png

amg2o_guitar_fretboard.jpg
amg2o_guitar_fretboard.jpg

On the guitar - a sharp indicates you will play the note a fret higher while a flat means you will play the note a fret lower than the natural note. Looking at the guitar neck above, let's say you are going to play low G. That's 6th string 3rd fret. A G# (Ab) is 6th string 4th fret while a Gb (F#) is 6th string 2nd fret.

Timing


What is Timing? In order for music to flow and sound even, you must develop your sense of timing. There are other terms that are used to describe timing in music such as: rhythm, beats, and note values. A rhythm is a pattern of beats, usually repeated in a song for predetermined length of time. The beats are also played for a set amount of time. These are called note values. There are common note values that you can look at and memorize:

Notice that the largest value here is the Whole note. To get the next note value, you just divide the whole note by 2. This produces the Half note. In the example the notes a broken down until the Sixteenth note. But you can go further to a very small value like a 128th note, which is a very short period of time. In guitar, the smallest note value you will probably play is a 32nd note (not in this course).

Rhythms from beats


To play a rhythm, you must first place beats in to a pattern:

external image Srm0023.GIF
external image Srm0023.GIF

external image counting_rhythm_1.gif
external image counting_rhythm_1.gif

The above diagram illustrates a rhythm made up of: Whole, Half, Quarter and eighth notes. Notice that the count is in groups of 4 beats. These beats that are put into groups called bars or measures. The example has a total of 4 Bars (or measures).

Time Signatures

In order to determine how many beats can be placed in a bar, you must place a Time Signature at the beginning of each section:


Simple time signatures consist of two numerals, one stacked above the other:



The lower numeral indicates the note value that represents one beat (the beat unit). [clarification needed]

The upper numeral indicates how many such beats there are in a bar.



For instance,
external image Common-Time-Signatures.jpg
external image Common-Time-Signatures.jpg


Triad qualities

To find a triad’s quality, identify the interval between the root and the other members of the chord. There are four qualities of triads that appear in major and minor scales, each with their own characteristic intervals.
  • major triad: M3 and 5 above the root
  • minor triad: m3 and 5 above the root
  • diminished triad: m3 and d5 above the root
  • augmented triad: M3 and A5 above the root
Four qualities of triads.
Four qualities of triads.

Lead-sheet symbols

A triad can be summed up by a single symbol, such as a lead-sheet chord symbol. A lead sheet symbol includes information about both root quality, as well as which pitch class occurs in the lowest voice (called the bass regardless of who is singing or playing that pitch).
A lead-sheet symbol begins with a capital letter (and, if necessary, an accidental) denoting the root of the chord. That letter is followed by information about a chord’s quality:
  • major triad: no quality symbol is added
  • minor triad: lower-case “m”
  • diminished triad: lower-case “dim” or a degree sign “°”
  • augmented triad: lower-case “aug” or a plus sign “+”
Finally, if a pitch class other than the chord root is the lowest note in the chord, a slash is added, followed by a capital letter denoting the pitch class in the bass (lowest) voice.
A C-major triad’s lead-sheet symbol is simply C. A C-minor triad is Cm. A D-sharp-diminished triad with an F-sharp in the bass is D#dim/F#. And so on.
Four qualities of triads with lead-sheet symbols.
Four qualities of triads with lead-sheet symbols.


Seventh chords

A four-note chord whose pitch classes can be arranged as thirds is called a seventh chord.
Like with a triad, the pitch classes belonging to a seventh chord occupy adjacent positions (a four-pitch-class clump) on the circle of thirds. The four members of a seventh chord are the root, third, fifth, and seventh.
There are five qualities of seventh chords that appear in diatonic music: major seventh, dominant seventh, minor seventh, diminished seventh (also called fully-diminished), and half-diminished seventh. They are comprised of the following intervals above their roots:
  • major seventh: M3, 5, and M7 above the root (or major triad with a major seventh)
  • dominant seventh: M3, 5, and m7 above the root (or major triad with a minor seventh)
  • minor seventh: m3, 5, and m7 above the root (or minor triad with a minor seventh)
  • diminished seventh: m3, d5, and d7 above the root (or diminished triad with a diminished seventh)
  • half-diminished seventh: m3, d5, and m7 above the root (or diminished triad with a minor seventh)
Following are the lead-sheet abbreviations for seventh-chord qualities:
  • major seventh: maj7 or △7 (Gmaj7 or G△7)
  • dominant seventh: 7 (B7)
  • minor seventh: m7 (F♯m7)
  • diminished seventh: dim7 or °7 (Ddim7 or D°7)
  • half-diminished seventh: ⦰7 (A⦰7)

Ninth Chords

Is formed from either a dominant 7th, major 7th or minor 7th chord by adding the ninth. There are three commonly used types of ninth chord:

1) Dominant 9th Chord (ex. C9) - Formed by playing the 1st + maj 3rd + 5th + flat 7th + 9th. Simply put, you start with a dominant 7th chord then add the 9th. (e.g. you make a C7 and add the 9)
external image C-9th-C-x,3,2,3,3,0.png
2) Major 9th (Ex. CM9)- Formed by playing the 1st + maj 3rd + 5th + maj 7th + 9th of a major chord. In other words you start from a major 7th chord and then add the 9th.
external image C-Major%209th-C-x,3,2,4,3,x.png
3) Minor 9th (Ex. Cm9) - Formed by playing the 1st + min 3rd + 5th + flat 7th + 9th of a minor chord. Simply put, you start with a minor 7th chord then add the 9th.
external image c-minor9.gif