Most music in a major key has a bright sound that people often describe as cheerful, inspiring, exciting, strong, or happy. Music that is in a minor key is sometimes described as sounding more solemn, sad, mysterious, or ominous than music that is in a major key. This is called the Tonality of a chord (whether it is major or minor). If we wanted to enhance … Read More

Triad Inversions

We have seen that major and minor chords are made up of three notes, the 1st note (root), the 3rd note and the 5th note. Chords are usually constructed by playing the root note as the lowest note of the chord, and then have the 3rd and the 5th notes stacked on top of this. For example, when playing a C major chord, the note C would usually be … Read More


Polychords (or slash chords as they are sometimes known) may sound fancy, but are really quite simple. They are basically just major or minor chords with a different bass note added to the chord. They are written, for example, as C/B, where C is the chord you play (C Major) and B is the bass note added to the chord, usually … Read More

Seventh Chords

Major and minor chords are made up of three notes – the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale. The 7th chord adds the seventh note of the major or minor scale to the existing triad. So it will contain the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of the relevant scale. We can therefore have a major 7th, a minor 7th, and one other, a dominant 7th … Read More

Diminished Chords

The diminished chord is made up of four notes. When compared to the major scale they are: 1st, b3rd, b5th, and bb(double flat) 7th So once again if we look at the A major scale: We find that ‘A diminished’ would be composed of the notes A (1st), C (b3rd), Eb (b5th), and Gb (bb7th). The fingering would be: Listen (root notes on 5th fret): The diminished chord has a unique … Read More

Min/Maj 7 Chords

The min/maj7 chord is a minor triad (1st, b3rd, 5th) with a major 7th added on top. So it is kind of the opposite of a dominant 7, which is a major triad with a minor 7th on top. Here’s some examples of how we could finger it on the guitar: Listen (root notes on 5th fret): The min/maj 7th chord can be used as a root … Read More

Suspended Chords

There are two types of suspended chords, the sus4 and the sus2. As the name suggests, these chords imply a sense of suspension of the sound, and tend to want to be resolved. These are useful preceding a resolution in the progression to create a suspended feel. In both cases, the 4th or 2nd note replaces the 3rd note of the triads, so really they are neither … Read More

Sixth Chords

Sixth chords add the 6th note of the scale to a major or minor triad. We can therefore have a major 6 and a minor 6 chord. These chords can be substituted for the major or minor chord itself, to add more colour, and are usually used in conjunction with the major and minor 7th chords. Here are some examples of major 6 and minor 6 chords on … Read More

Extended Chords

Extended chords are basic major 7, minor 7 or dominant 7 chords which have other notes added to create a more colourful sound. If we keep stacking thirds onto our 7 chords, we end up with some more notes to include in the chord. These notes are the 9th‘s, 11th‘s and 13th‘s. NINTH CHORDS 9th chords will add the 2nd note of the scale … Read More

Altered Chords

In some instances we can flatten or sharpen certain notes in the chords to create even more ‘colour’. A typical use of altered chords is where we want to create a chromatic (or melodic) progression through the harmony. This is used a lot in jazz where altered chords are voiced so that a chromatic melody line will appear through the … Read More