Guide To Chord Formation

Discussion in 'Beginner's Q&A Forum' started by mani_manu, May 27, 2009.

  1. mani_manu

    mani_manu New Member

    Hi Guys, I would like share this very useful info which I found some where on the internet while reading about the chords. Most of the guys or beginners who started playing guitar don't have the knowledge of the chords formation. We just see that this is the way of that C chord is formed, do we ever think that why C has been formed this way not that way.
    So please have a look at this tutorial.
    P.S. This article is not written by me. So don't come after reading that i did the copy paste thing. Yes I did but I m not taking the credit, I m just sharing this very useful info with the IGTians.

    1. Introduction
    2. Intervals
      • Interval flavors
      • Table of Intervals
    3. Triads:
      • Major and minor triads
      • Suspended triads
    4. 7th chords:
      • Minor 7ths
      • Major and dominant 7ths
    5. 6th chord
    6. 9ths, 11ths, 13ths:
      • 'normal' 9th, 11th and 13th chords
      • minor 9th, 11th and 13th chords
      • major 9th, 11th and 13th chords
    7. X/Y type chords
    8. 'Add' chords and chromatic notes
    9. diminished, half diminished and augmented chords
    10. Appendix A: The Chromatic Scale
    11. Appendix B: List of all major and minor triads
    12. Appendix C: Circle of 5ths and Key Signatures
    1. [highlight]INTRODUCTION[/highlight]

      The idea of this FAQ is to give you the information you need to be able to work out and understand which notes make up a certain chord.
      Using this FAQ you will be able to:
      • Work out the notes you need for *any* chord.
      • Work out what chord name should be given to a particular bunch of notes.

      A lot of people are put off from delving into a little chord theory because there seems so much to learn, it often seems confusing, and it's hard to give hard and fast rules. When someone posts a chord shape and asks 'What is the name of this chord' there are usually at least four different replies given. It is true that in a lot of cases there is more than one way to look at things, and often a chord could be given two names, but it's still surprisingly easy to get to grips with the basics of chord names.

      What do you need to know to be able to work out chord names for yourself?

      Well it is hard to give 'Golden Rules' of harmony or music theory which can be followed to the letter always giving the right answer.

      However there are a small number of basic guidelines which you can follow that should take 95% of the mystery away from music theory as applied to chords.

      To work out chord names the first and most important skill is to be able to count. Hopefully everybody mastered this skill some years ago, so we're off to a good start.

      The second most important skill is to know the major scale. Most people will be pretty familiar with this too, but in any case it is very easy to learn.

      The scale is characterized by the distances between successive notes.
      If we choose G as our starting point, it goes like this:
      Note of the scale     Distance up from root note     Actual note
        1  (root note)         0                                          G
        2                          2 semitones             		 A
        3                          4 semitones             		 B
        4                          5 semitones              		 C
        5                          7 semitones             		 D
        6                          9 semitones              		 E
        7                          11 semitones             		 F#
        8                          12 semitones             		 G
      The pattern of tones and semitones is what characterizes the scale. Obviously you can choose whatever note you like to start on, but if you simply count up in semitones, using the middle column above, you will get the major scale of that note.

      It makes things easier if we refer to the notes of the scale as 'the 7th' or 'the 3rd'. If we know we are talking about a major scale and we know what the starting note is, then we can work out what the '7th' or '3rd' of that scale is. We use this idea to "spell out" chords
      - this is where you say something like:

      The major chord is made up of 1st 3rd 5th​

      This means choose your starting note (the 1st) find the 3rd and 5th of its major scale and you have the right notes for the chord. The advantage of this method is that it can be used to find *any* major chord - you just change the starting note.

      If you want to put in a little effort, you can quite easily learn the major scales of every key. That way you don't have to actually count up in semitones every time you want to find the 5th of a certain key. (See Appendix C)

      So, here is a little example.​
      • You want to find out what notes are in a D major chord.
      • Your starting note or root note is D (the 1st)
      • To get the 3rd of the major scale count up 4 semitones - F#
      • To get the 5th count up 7 semitones - A
      • So the notes are : D F# and A

      So all this chord stuffs come down to these 3rds, 5ths and so on. These are called INTERVALS.

    2. [highlight]INTERVALS[/highlight]

      This is a way of referring to notes by describing the 'distances' between them.

      In the G major scale above, we can see that the distance between the 1st note (and root note) and the 2nd note is 2 semitones - this is called a 2nd

      The distance between the root note (G) and the 3rd note in the scale is 4 semitones - this is called a 3rd

      All you need to do is count up from the root note using notes of the scale, and if you end up on the 5th note of the scale you have a 5th, if you're on the 7th note, you've got a 7th.
      Surely it can't be that simple?

        Well not quite. As well as major scales, there are minor scales. You could also have a 'weird' note or chromatic note that didn't fit into either scale.

        To cope with this, the intervals come in different flavors.
        • You can have a minor 3rd or a major 3rd.
        • You can have a normal 5th (perfect 5th) or an augmented 5th.
        • You can have a 9th or a flat 9th

        All that changes here is that the 'distance' or interval is either stretched or squeezed by one semitone (half step).

        So a minor 3rd is a semitone less than a major 3rd.
        An augmented 5th is a semitone more than a perfect 5th.

        You will see a few different terms her which mean the same thing.
        • An AUGMENTED or SHARP interval means one semitone higher.
        • A DIMINISHED or FLAT interval means one semitone lower.

        You also have minor and major intervals which differ by a semitone - the minor interval is one semitone lower than the major interval.
        Here is a table of intervals with their corresponding 'distances' in semitones.
        Semitones      Interval
           0               Unison
           1               flat 2nd
           2               2nd
           3               minor 3rd
           4               major 3rd
           5          	    perfect 4th
           6               flat 5th (diminished 5th or augmented 4th)
           7           	    perfect 5th
           8           	    minor 6th  (or sharp 5th/augmented 5th)
           9           	    major 6th
          10               minor 7th  (flat 7th)
          11               major 7th
          12               octave
          13               flat 9th 
          14               9th
          15               sharp 9th/minor 10th (just minor 3rd one octave higher)
          16               major 10th (just major 3rd one octave higher)
          17               11th
          18               augmented 11th
          19               perfect 12th (octave above perfect 5th)
          20               flat 13th
          21               13th
        So to work out any particular note, say the major 6th of an A major scale, start with A, find the distance for a major 6th (9 semitones) and just count up from A.
        You should end up with F#, so this is a major 6th up from A. (see chromatic scale - Appendix A)

        So, to recap. Chords are described or 'spelled out' using intervals. These intervals tell you far above the root note the other notes of the chord are. By using the table above you can find out how many semitones you need to move up for any given interval.

        Here is a simple example.​
        • Bm7 - the spelling for this is : 1st, minor 3rd, 5th, minor 7th
        • Start with B - count up 3 semitones for a minor 3rd - you get D.
        • Count up 7 semitones from B to get the 5th - F#
        • Count up 10 semitones to get the minor 7th - A
        • So the notes are : B D F# A

        So - if you know the spelling of a particular chord (i.e. the intervals which describe it) then it's simple to use the table above to find out what notes you need.

        What if you don't know the chord spelling?

        If you just have a chord name, like F#m9, then you need to know how this chord is built.
        The basic building blocks of *all* chords are triads.

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