WHAT IS A CHORD ?

Nov 5, 2020MUSIC THEORY

What is a Chord?

A Chord is the superposition of 3 or more notes, if we superpose only two note we will get a Harmonic interval not a Chord.

Chords are build by superposing intervals of thirds, although there are chords using others intervals like fourths, we will learn the ones using thirds now.

If we play all the notes of a chord at the same time it´s called Plaque or block Chord , and if we played them separately it will be called arpeggio or broken chord.

Types of Chords

The chords using three notes are called TRIADS and they are constructed by two interval of a third.

As we learned on a previous article on intervals there are two types of thirds. The major third  that has two tones between the notes Ex. C – E, and the minor third that has a tone and a half Ex. C – Eb.

If we combine this intervals we will have 4 types of triads, and like before with the scale every chord type will have a specific intervallic design or formula.

Major Triad

The major triad has a Major third and a minor third and it´s formula is

Tonic – major 3rd – Perfect 5th  Ex. C – E  – G

Chord major triad

Minor Triad

The minor triad has a Minor third and a Major third and it´s formula is

Tonic – minor 3rd – perfect 5th Ex. C – Eb – G

chord minor triad

Minor b5 Triad

The minor b5 triad has to minor thirds and its formula is

Tonic – minor 3rd – diminished 5th Ex. C – Eb – Gb

chord minor b5 triad

Augmented Triad

The augmented triad has two major thirds and it´s formula is

Tonic – major 3rd – Augmented 5th Ex. C – E – G#

chord augmented triad

Chords Invertions

Chords can be played with diffent notes dispositions.

Root Position

If we play a chord with it´s tonic as the lower tone, it will be called ROOT POSITION.

On Popular music the notation will be the letter or name of the chord Ex. C or G

On Classical or academic music it will be represented with the degree of the scale Ex I or V and sometimes with the intervals

contained, first the outer interval and then the inner interval. Ex. I 53 this means that we have a 5th and a 3rd.

chord root position

First Invertion

If we play a chord with it´s  Third as the lower tone, it will be called FIRST INVERTION.

On Popular music the notation will be the letter or name of the chord a slash bar ( / ) and the letter or name of the bass note ( the Third ) Ex. C/E or G/B

On Classical or academic music it will be represented with the degree of the scale Ex I or V and the intervals contained, first

the outer interval and then the inner interval. Ex. I 63  this means that we have a 6th and a 3rd.

chord first inversion

Second Invertion

If we play a chord with it´s  Fifth as the lower tone, it will be called SECOND INVERTION.

On Popular music the notation will be the letter or name of the chord a slash bar ( / ) and the letter or name of the bass note ( the Fifth ) Ex. C/G or G/D

On Classical or academic music it will be represented with the degree of the scale Ex I or V and the intervals contained, first

the outer interval and then the inner interval. Ex.  I 64 this means that we have a 6th and a 4th.

chord second inversion

This are the simple version of the chords, on a future article we will learn chords using 4 notes, 5 notes and more.

Remember If we have 2 notes it´s an interval and if we have 3 notes or more is a chord.

As an assignment try to form all types of chords starting on different tonics and the try doing all the inversions.

Written by Max Neil

I really hope this given information is a kickstart to introduce you into the world of the guitar and music, because it´s a long way and it will be with you your whole life. Whenever you feel stuck with the instrument, theory or any subject contact me so I can help you to keep going on your musical journey.
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Published On Nov 5, 2020