Chord (music)

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A guitarist performing a C chord with G bass. Frets, guitar neck, C-major chord.jpg
A guitarist performing a C chord with G bass.

A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches/frequencies consisting of multiple notes (also called "pitches") that are heard as if sounding simultaneously. [1] [2] For many practical and theoretical purposes, arpeggios and broken chords (in which the notes of the chord are sounded one after the other, rather than simultaneously), or sequences of chord tones, may also be considered as chords in the right musical context.

Contents

In tonal Western classical music (music with a tonic key or "home key"), the most frequently encountered chords are triads, so called because they consist of three distinct notes: the root note, and intervals of a third and a fifth above the root note. Chords with more than three notes include added tone chords, extended chords and tone clusters, which are used in contemporary classical music, jazz and almost any other genre.

A series of chords is called a chord progression. [3] One example of a widely used chord progression in Western traditional music and blues is the 12 bar blues progression. Although any chord may in principle be followed by any other chord, certain patterns of chords are more common in Western music, and some patterns have been accepted as establishing the key (tonic note) in common-practice harmony—notably the resolution of a dominant chord to a tonic chord. To describe this, Western music theory has developed the practice of numbering chords using Roman numerals [4] to represent the number of diatonic steps up from the tonic note of the scale.

Common ways of notating or representing chords [5] in Western music (other than conventional staff notation) include Roman numerals, the Nashville Number System, figured bass, chord letters (sometimes used in modern musicology), and chord charts.

Definition

The English word chord derives from Middle English cord, a back-formation of accord [6] in the original sense of agreement and later, harmonious sound. [7] A sequence of chords is known as a chord progression or harmonic progression. These are frequently used in Western music. [8] A chord progression "aims for a definite goal" of establishing (or contradicting) a tonality founded on a key, root or tonic chord. [4] The study of harmony involves chords and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. [9]

Chord (music)
Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition "Promenade", is a piece showing an explicit chord progression. (Nattiez 1990, p. 218)

Ottó Károlyi [10] writes that, "Two or more notes sounded simultaneously are known as a chord," though, since instances of any given note in different octaves may be taken as the same note, it is more precise for the purposes of analysis to speak of distinct pitch classes . Furthermore, as three notes are needed to define any common chord, three is often taken as the minimum number of notes that form a definite chord. [11] Hence, Andrew Surmani, for example, (2004, p. 72) states, "When three or more notes are sounded together, the combination is called a chord." George T. Jones (1994, p. 43) agrees: "Two tones sounding together are usually termed an interval, while three or more tones are called a chord." According to Monath (1984, p. 37); "A chord is a combination of three or more tones sounded simultaneously," and the distances between the tones are called intervals. However, sonorities of two pitches, or even single-note melodies, are commonly heard as implying chords. [12] A simple example of two notes being interpreted as a chord is when the root and third are played but the fifth is omitted. In the key of C major, if the music comes to rest on the two notes G and B, most listeners will hear this as a G major chord.

Chord (music)
Claude Debussy's Première arabesque . The chords on the lower stave are constructed from the notes in the actual piece, shown in the upper stave.

Since a chord may be understood as such even when all its notes are not simultaneously audible, there has been some academic discussion regarding the point at which a group of notes may be called a chord. Jean-Jacques Nattiez (1990, p. 218) explains that, "We can encounter 'pure chords' in a musical work," such as in the Promenade of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition but, "Often, we must go from a textual given to a more abstract representation of the chords being used," as in Claude Debussy's Première arabesque .

History

In the medieval era, early Christian hymns featured organum (which used the simultaneous perfect intervals of a fourth, a fifth, and an octave [13] ), with chord progressions and harmony an incidental result of the emphasis on melodic lines during the medieval and then Renaissance (15th to 17th centuries). [14] [15]

The Baroque period, the 17th and 18th centuries, began to feature the major and minor scale based tonal system and harmony, including chord progressions and circle progressions. [16] It was in the Baroque period that the accompaniment of melodies with chords was developed, as in figured bass, [15] and the familiar cadences (perfect authentic, etc.). [17] In the Renaissance, certain dissonant sonorities that suggest the dominant seventh occurred with frequency. [18] In the Baroque period, the dominant seventh proper was introduced and was in constant use in the Classical and Romantic periods. [18] The leading-tone seventh appeared in the Baroque period and remains in use. [19] Composers began to use nondominant seventh chords in the Baroque period. They became frequent in the Classical period, gave way to altered dominants in the Romantic period, and underwent a resurgence in the Post-Romantic and Impressionistic period. [20]

The Romantic period, the 19th century, featured increased chromaticism. [16] Composers began to use secondary dominants in the Baroque, and they became common in the Romantic period. [21] Many contemporary popular Western genres continue to rely on simple diatonic harmony, though far from universally: [22] notable exceptions include the music of film scores, which often use chromatic, atonal or post-tonal harmony, and modern jazz (especially circa 1960), in which chords may include up to seven notes (and occasionally more). [23] When referring to chords that do not function as harmony, such as in atonal music, the term "sonority" is often used specifically to avoid any tonal implications of the word "chord"[ citation needed ].

Chords are also used for timbre effects. In organ registers, certain chords are activated by a single key so that playing a melody results in parallel voice leading. These voices, losing independence, are fused into one with a new timbre. The same effect is also used in synthesizers and orchestral arrangements; for instance, in Ravel’s Bolero #5 the parallel parts of flutes, horn and celesta, being tuned as a chord, resemble the sound of an electric organ. [24] [25]

Notation

Chord (music)
A C major triad in staff notation

Chords can be represented in various ways. The most common notation systems are: [16]

  1. Plain staff notation, used in classical music
  2. Roman numerals, commonly used in harmonic analysis to denote the scale step on which the chord is built. [4]
  3. Figured bass, much used in the Baroque era, uses numbers added to a bass line written on a staff, to enable keyboard players to improvise chords with the right hand while playing the bass with their left.
  4. Chord letters, sometimes used in modern musicology, to denote chord root and quality.
  5. Various chord names and symbols used in popular music lead sheets, fake books, and chord charts, to quickly lay out the harmonic ground plan of a piece so that the musician may improvise, jam, or vamp on it.

Roman numerals

Chord (music)
The chord progression vi–ii–V–I in the key of C major. Using lead sheet chord names, these chords could be referred to as A minor, D minor, G major and C major. [26]

While scale degrees are typically represented in musical analysis or musicology articles with Arabic numerals (e.g., 1, 2, 3, ..., sometimes with a circumflex above the numeral: Scale deg 1.svg , Scale deg 2.svg , Scale deg 3.svg , ...), the triads (three-note chords) that have these degrees as their roots are often identified by Roman numerals (e.g., I, IV, V, which in the key of C major would be the triads C major, F major, G major).

In some conventions (as in this and related articles) upper-case Roman numerals indicate major triads (e.g., I, IV, V) while lower-case Roman numerals indicate minor triads (e.g., I for a major chord and i for a minor chord, or using the major key, ii, iii and vi representing typical diatonic minor triads); other writers (e.g. Schoenberg) use upper case Roman numerals for both major and minor triads. Some writers use upper-case Roman numerals to indicate the chord is diatonic in the major scale, and lower-case Roman numerals to indicate that the chord is diatonic in the minor scale. Diminished triads may be represented by lower-case Roman numerals with a degree symbol (e.g., viio7 indicates a diminished seventh chord built on the seventh scale degree; in the key of C major, this chord would be B diminished seventh, which consists of the notes B, D, F and A).

Roman numerals can also be used in stringed instrument notation to indicate the position or string to play. In some string music, the string on which it is suggested that the performer play the note is indicated with a Roman numeral (e.g., on a four-string orchestral string instrument, I indicates the highest-pitched, thinnest string and IV indicates the lowest-pitched, thickest bass string). In some orchestral parts, chamber music and solo works for string instruments, the composer specifies to the performer which string should be used with the Roman numeral. Alternately, the note name of the string that the composer wishes the performer to use are stated using letters (e.g., "sul G" means "play on the G string").

Figured bass notation

Common conventional symbols for figured bass
Triads
Inversion Intervals
above bass
SymbolExample
Root position 5
3
None
Chord (music)
1st inversion 6
3
6
2nd inversion 6
4
6
4
Seventh chords
InversionIntervals
above bass
SymbolExample
Root position75
3
 
7
Chord (music)
1st inversion65
3
 
6
5
2nd inversion64
3
 
4
3
3rd inversion 64
2
 
4
2
or 2

Figured bass or thoroughbass is a kind of musical notation used in almost all Baroque music (c. 1600–1750), though rarely in music from later than 1750, to indicate harmonies in relation to a conventionally written bass line. Figured bass is closely associated with chord-playing basso continuo accompaniment instruments, which include harpsichord, pipe organ and lute. Added numbers, symbols, and accidentals beneath the staff indicate the intervals above the bass note to play; that is, the numbers stand for the number of scale steps above the written note to play the figured notes.

For example, in the figured bass below, the bass note is a C, and the numbers 4 and 6 indicate that notes a fourth and a sixth above (F and A) should be played, giving the second inversion of the F major triad.

Chord (music)
can be realized as
Chord (music)

If no numbers are written beneath a bass note, the figure is assumed to be 5
3
, which calls for a third and a fifth above the bass note (i.e., a root position triad).

In the 2010s, some classical musicians who specialize in music from the Baroque era can still perform chords using figured bass notation; in many cases, however, the chord-playing performers read a fully notated accompaniment that has been prepared for the piece by the music publisher. Such a part, with fully written-out chords, is called a "realization" of the figured bass part.

Chord letters

Chord (music)
Chord letters for triads on C

Chord letters are used by musicologists, music theorists and advanced university music students to analyze songs and pieces. Chord letters use upper-case and lower-case letters to indicate the roots of chords, followed by symbols that specify the chord quality. [27]

In most genres of popular music, including jazz, pop, and rock, a chord name and the corresponding symbol are typically composed of one or more parts. In these genres, chord-playing musicians in the rhythm section (e.g., electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, Hammond organ, etc.) typically improvise the specific "voicing" of each chord from a song's chord progression by interpreting the written chord symbols appearing in the lead sheet or fake book. Normally, these chord symbols include:

Chord qualities are related with the qualities of the component intervals that define the chord. The main chord qualities are:

Symbols

The symbols used for notating chords are:

  • m, min, or indicates a minor chord. The "m" must be lowercase to distinguish it from the "M" for major.
  • M, Ma, Maj, Δ, or (no symbol) indicates a major chord. In a jazz context, this typically indicates that the player should use any suitable chord of a major quality, for example a major seventh chord or a 6/9 chord. In a lot of jazz styles, an unembellished major triad is rarely if ever played, but in a lead sheet the choice of which major quality chord to use is left to the performer.
  • + or aug indicates an augmented chord (A or a is not used).
  • o or dim indicates a diminished chord, either a diminished triad or a diminished seventh chord (d is not used).
  • ø indicates a half-diminished seventh chord. In some fake books, the abbreviation m7(5) is used as an equivalent symbol.
  • 2 is mostly used as an extra note in a chord (e.g. add2, sus2).
  • 3 is the minor or major quality of the chord and is rarely written as a number.
  • 4 is mostly used as an extra note in a chord (e.g. add4, sus4).
  • 5 is the (perfect) fifth of the chord and is only written as a number when altered (e.g. F7(5)). In guitar music, like rock, a "5" indicates a power chord, which consists of only the root and fifth, possibly with the root doubled an octave higher.
  • 6 indicates a sixth chord. There are no rules if the 6 replaces the 5th or not.
  • 7 indicates a dominant seventh chord. However, if Maj7, M7 or Δ7 is indicated, this is a major 7th chord (e.g. GM7 or FΔ7). Very rarely, also dom is used for dominant 7th.
  • 9 indicates a ninth chord, which in jazz usually includes the dominant seventh as well, if it is a dominant chord.
  • 11 indicates an eleventh chord, which in jazz usually includes the dominant seventh and ninth as well, if it is a dominant chord.
  • 13 indicates a thirteenth chord, which in jazz usually includes the dominant seventh, ninth and eleventh as well.
  • 6/9 indicates a triad with the addition of the sixth and ninth.
  • sus4 (or simply 4) indicates a sus chord with the third omitted and the fourth used instead. Other notes may be added to a sus4 chord, indicated with the word "add" and the scale degree (e.g., Asus4(add9) or Asus4(add7)).
  • sus2 (or simply 2) indicates a sus chord with the third omitted and the second (which may also be called the ninth) used instead. As with "sus4", a "sus2" chord can have other scale degrees added (e.g., Asus2(add7) or Asus2(add4)).
  • (9) (parenthesis) is used to indicate explicit chord alterations (e.g., A7(9)). The parenthesis is probably left from older days when jazz musicians weren't used to "altered chords". Albeit important, the parenthesis can be left unplayed (with no "musical harm").
  • add indicates that an additional interval number should be added to the chord. (e.g. C7add13 is a C 7th chord plus an added 13th).
  • alt or alt dom indicates an altered dominant seventh chord (e.g. G711).
  • omit5 (or simply no5) indicates that the (indicated) note should be omitted.

Examples

The table below lists common chord types, their symbols, and their components.

ChordComponents
NameSymbol (on C)Interval P1 m2 M2 m3 M3 P4 d5 P5 A5 M6/d7 m7 M7
ShortLongSemitones01234567891011
Major triad C
P1M3P5
Major sixth chord C6
CM6
Cmaj6P1M3P5M6
Dominant seventh chord C7Cdom7P1M3P5m7
Major seventh chord CM7
C∆7
Cmaj7P1M3P5M7
Augmented triad C+CaugP1M3A5
Augmented seventh chord C+7Caug7P1M3A5m7
Minor triad CmCminP1m3P5
Minor sixth chord Cm6Cmin6P1m3P5M6
Minor seventh chord Cm7Cmin7P1m3P5m7
Minor-major seventh chord CmM7
Cm/M7
Cm(M7)
Cminmaj7
Cmin/maj7
Cmin(maj7)
P1m3P5M7
Diminished triad CoCdimP1m3d5
Diminished seventh chord Co7Cdim7P1m3d5d7
Half-diminished seventh chord Cø
Cø7
P1m3d5m7

Use

The basic function of chord symbols is to eliminate the need to write out sheet music. The modern jazz player has extensive knowledge of the chordal functions and can mostly play music by reading the chord symbols only. Advanced chords are common especially in modern jazz. Altered 9ths, 11ths and 5ths are not common in pop music. In jazz, a chord chart is used by comping musicians (jazz guitar, jazz piano, Hammond organ) to improvise a chordal accompaniment and to play improvised solos. Jazz bass players improvise a bassline from a chord chart. Chord charts are used by horn players and other solo instruments to guide their solo improvisations.

Interpretation of chord symbols depends on the genre of music being played. In jazz from the bebop era or later, major and minor chords are typically realized as seventh chords even if only "C" or "Cm" appear in the chart. In jazz charts, seventh chords are often realized with upper extensions, such as the ninth, sharp eleventh, and thirteenth, even if the chart only indicates "A7". In jazz, the root and fifth are often omitted from chord voicings, except when there is a diminished fifth or an augmented fifth.

In a pop or rock context, however, "C" and "Cm" would almost always be played as triads, with no sevenths. In pop and rock, in the relatively less common cases where songwriters wish a dominant seventh, major seventh, or minor seventh chord, they will indicate this explicitly with the indications "C7", "Cmaj7" or "Cm7".

Characteristics

Within the diatonic scale, every chord has certain characteristics, which include:

Number of notes

No.NameAlternate name
1 Monad Monochord
2 Dyad Dichord
3 Triad Trichord
4 Tetrad Tetrachord
5 Pentad Pentachord
6 Hexad Hexachord
7 Heptad Heptachord
8 Octad Octachord
9 Ennead Nonachord
10 Decad Decachord

Two-note combinations, whether referred to as chords or intervals, are called dyads. In the context of a specific section in a piece of music, dyads can be heard as chords if they have the most important notes that identify a certain chord. For example, in a piece in C Major, after a section of tonic C Major chords, if a dyad containing the notes B and D is played, listeners will likely hear this as a first inversion G Major chord. Other dyads are more ambiguous, an aspect that composers can use creatively. For example, a dyad with a perfect fifth has no third, so it does not sound major or minor; a composer who ends a section on a perfect fifth could subsequently add the missing third. Another example is a dyad outlining the tritone, such as the notes C and F# in C Major. This dyad could be heard as implying a D7 chord (resolving to G Major) or as implying a C diminished chord (resolving to Db Major). In unaccompanied duos for two instruments, such as flute duos, the only combinations of notes that are possible are dyads, which means that all of the chord progressions must be implied through dyads, as well as with arpeggios.

Chords constructed of three notes of some underlying scale are described as triads. Chords of four notes are known as tetrads, those containing five are called pentads and those using six are hexads. Sometimes the terms trichord, tetrachord, pentachord, and hexachord are used—though these more usually refer to the pitch classes of any scale, not generally played simultaneously. Chords that may contain more than three notes include pedal point chords, dominant seventh chords, extended chords, added tone chords, clusters, and polychords.

Polychords are formed by two or more chords superimposed. [28] Often these may be analysed as extended chords; examples include tertian, altered chord, secundal chord, quartal and quintal harmony and Tristan chord. Another example is when G7(119) (G–B–D–F–A–C) is formed from G major (G–B–D) and D major (D–F–A). [29] A nonchord tone is a dissonant or unstable tone that lies outside the chord currently heard, though often resolving to a chord tone. [30]

Scale degree

Roman Numerals and Scale Degrees for Major Keys
Roman
Numeral
Scale Degree
I tonic
ii supertonic
iii mediant
IV subdominant
V dominant
vi submediant
viio / VII leading tone / subtonic

In the key of C major, the first degree of the scale, called the tonic , is the note C itself. A C major chord, the major triad built on the note C (C–E–G), is referred to as the one chord of that key and notated in Roman numerals as I. The same C major chord can be found in other scales: it forms chord III in the key of A minor (A→B→C) and chord IV in the key of G major (G→A→B→C). This numbering indicates the chords's function.

Many analysts use lower-case Roman numerals to indicate minor triads and upper-case numerals for major triads, and degree and plus signs ( o and + ) to indicate diminished and augmented triads respectively. Otherwise, all the numerals may be upper-case and the qualities of the chords inferred from the scale degree. Chords outside the scale can be indicated by placing a flat/sharp sign before the chord—for example, the chord E major in the key of C major is represented by III. The tonic of the scale may be indicated to the left (e.g. "F:") or may be understood from a key signature or other contextual clues. Indications of inversions or added tones may be omitted if they are not relevant to the analysis. Roman numeral analysis indicates the root of the chord as a scale degree within a particular major key as follows.

Inversion

In the harmony of Western art music, a chord is in root position when the tonic note is the lowest in the chord (the bass note), and the other notes are above it. When the lowest note is not the tonic, the chord is inverted. Chords that have many constituent notes can have many different inverted positions as shown below for the C major chord:

Bass notePositionOrder of notes
(starting from the bass)
Notation
C root position C–E–G or C–G–E5
3
as G is a fifth above C and E is a third above C
E first inversion E–G–C or E–C–G6
3
as C is a sixth above E and G is a third above E
G second inversion G–C–E or G–E–C6
4
as E is a sixth above G and C is a fourth above G

Further, a four-note chord can be inverted to four different positions by the same method as triadic inversion. For example, a G7 chord can be in root position (G as bass note); first inversion (B as bass note); second inversion (D as bass note); or third inversion (F as bass note).

Chord (music)

Where guitar chords are concerned, the term "inversion" is used slightly differently; to refer to stock fingering "shapes". [31]

Secundal, tertian, and quartal chords

TypeComponent intervals
Secundal Seconds: major second, minor second
Tertian Thirds: major third, minor third
Quartal Fourth: perfect fourth, augmented fourth
Quintal Fifths: diminished fifth, perfect fifth

Many chords are a sequence of notes separated by intervals of roughly the same size. Chords can be classified into different categories by this size:

These terms can become ambiguous when dealing with non-diatonic scales, such as the pentatonic or chromatic scales. The use of accidentals can also complicate the terminology. For example, the chord B–E–A appears to be quartal, as a series of diminished fourths (B–E and E–A), but it is enharmonically equivalent to (and sonically indistinguishable from) the tertian chord C–E–G, which is a series of major thirds (C–E and E–G).

Harmonic content

The notes of a chord form intervals with each of the other notes of the chord in combination. A 3-note chord has 3 of these harmonic intervals, a 4-note chord has 6, a 5-note chord has 10, a 6-note chord has 15. [33] The absence, presence, and placement of certain key intervals plays a large part in the sound of the chord, and sometimes of the selection of the chord that follows.

A chord containing tritones is called tritonic; one without tritones is atritonic. Harmonic tritones are an important part of dominant seventh chords, giving their sound a characteristic tension, and making the tritone interval likely to move in certain stereotypical ways to the following chord. [34] Tritones are also present in diminished seventh and half-diminished chords.

A chord containing semitones, whether appearing as minor seconds or major sevenths, is called hemitonic; one without semitones is anhemitonic. Harmonic semitones are an important part of major seventh chords, giving their sound a characteristic high tension, and making the harmonic semitone likely to move in certain stereotypical ways to the following chord. [35] A chord containing major sevenths but no minor seconds is much less harsh in sound than one containing minor seconds as well.

Other chords of interest might include the

Common types of chords

Triads

Triads, also called triadic chords, are tertian chords with three notes. The four basic triads are described below.

TypeComponent intervals Chord symbol NotesAudio
ThirdFifth
Major triad major perfect C, CM, Cmaj, CΔ, CmaC E G Loudspeaker.svg play  
Minor triad minor perfectCm, Cmin, C−, CmiC E G Loudspeaker.svg play  
Augmented triad major augmented Caug, C+, C+C E G Loudspeaker.svg play  
Diminished triad minor diminished Cdim, Co, Cm(5)C E G Loudspeaker.svg play  

Seventh chords

Seventh chords are tertian chords, constructed by adding a fourth note to a triad, at the interval of a third above the fifth of the chord. This creates the interval of a seventh above the root of the chord, the next natural step in composing tertian chords. The seventh chord built on the fifth step of the scale (the dominant seventh) is the only dominant seventh chord available in the major scale: it contains all three notes of the diminished triad of the seventh and is frequently used as a stronger substitute for it.

There are various types of seventh chords depending on the quality of both the chord and the seventh added. In chord notation the chord type is sometimes superscripted and sometimes not (e.g. Dm7, Dm7, and Dm7 are all identical).

TypeComponent intervals Chord symbol NotesAudio
ThirdFifthSeventh
Diminished seventh minordiminished diminished Co7, Cdim7C E G B Doubleflat.svg Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Half-diminished seventh minordiminished minor Cø7, Cm75, C−(5)C E G B Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Minor seventh minorperfectminorCm7, Cmin7, C−7,C E G B Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Minor major seventh minorperfect major CmM7, Cmmaj7, C−(j7), C−Δ7, C−M7C E G B Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Dominant seventh majorperfectminorC7, Cdom7C E G B Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Major seventh majorperfectmajorCM7, CM7, Cmaj7, CΔ7, Cj7C E G B Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Augmented seventh majoraugmentedminorC+7, Caug7, C7+, C7+5, C75C E G B Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Augmented major seventh majoraugmentedmajorC+M7, CM7+5, CM75, C+j7, C+Δ7C E G B Loudspeaker.svg Play  

Extended chords

Extended chords are triads with further tertian notes added beyond the seventh: the ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth chords. For example, a dominant thirteenth chord consists of the notes C–E–G–B–D–F–A:

Chord (music)

The upper structure or extensions, i.e. the notes beyond the seventh, are shown in red. This chord is just a theoretical illustration of this chord. In practice, a jazz pianist or jazz guitarist would not normally play the chord all in thirds as illustrated. Jazz voicings typically use the third, seventh, and then the extensions such as the ninth and thirteenth, and in some cases the eleventh. The root is often omitted from chord voicings, as the bass player will play the root. The fifth is often omitted if it is a perfect fifth. Augmented and diminished fifths are normally included in voicings. After the thirteenth, any notes added in thirds duplicate notes elsewhere in the chord; all seven notes of the scale are present in the chord, so adding more notes does not add new pitch classes. Such chords may be constructed only by using notes that lie outside the diatonic seven-note scale.

TypeComponents Chord
symbol
NotesAudio
ChordExtensions
Dominant ninth dominant seventh major ninth C9C E G B D Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Dominant eleventh dominant seventh
(the third is usually omitted)
major ninthperfect eleventh C11C E G B D F Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Dominant thirteenth dominant seventhmajor ninthperfect eleventh
(usually omitted)
major thirteenth C13C E G B D F A Loudspeaker.svg Play  

Other extended chords follow similar rules, so that for example maj9, maj11, and maj13 contain major seventh chords rather than dominant seventh chords, while m9, m11, and m13 contain minor seventh chords.

Altered chords

Chord (music)
An altered chord on C with a diminished fifth and a minor seventh and ninth.

The third and seventh of the chord are always determined by the symbols shown above. The root cannot be so altered without changing the name of the chord, while the third cannot be altered without altering the chord's quality. Nevertheless, the fifth, ninth, eleventh and thirteenth may all be chromatically altered by accidentals.

These are noted alongside the altered element. Accidentals are most often used with dominant seventh chords. Altered dominant seventh chords (C7alt) may have a minor ninth, a sharp ninth, a diminished fifth, or an augmented fifth. Some write this as C7+9, which assumes also the minor ninth, diminished fifth and augmented fifth. The augmented ninth is often referred to in blues and jazz as a blue note, being enharmonically equivalent to the minor third or tenth. When superscripted numerals are used the different numbers may be listed horizontally or vertically.

TypeComponents Chord symbol NotesAudio
ChordAlteration
Seventh augmented fifth dominant seventh augmented fifthC7+5, C75C E G B Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Seventh minor ninth dominant seventhminor ninthC7−9, C79C E G B D Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Seventh sharp ninth dominant seventhaugmented ninthC7+9, C79C E G B D Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Seventh augmented eleventhdominant seventhaugmented eleventhC7+11, C711C E G B D F Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Seventh diminished thirteenthdominant seventhminor thirteenthC7−13, C713C E G B D F A Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Half-diminished seventhminor seventhdiminished fifthCø, Cø7, Cm75C E G B Loudspeaker.svg Play  

Added tone chords

Chord (music)
A suspended chord (sus2) and added tone chord (add9) both with D (ninth = second), distinguished by the absence or presence of the third (E). [36]

An added tone chord is a triad with an added, non-tertian note, such as an added sixth or a chord with an added second (ninth) or fourth (eleventh) or a combination of the three. These chords do not include "intervening" thirds as in an extended chord. Added chords can also have variations. Thus, madd9, m4 and m6 are minor triads with extended notes.

Sixth chords can belong to either of two groups. One is first inversion chords and added sixth chords that contain a sixth from the root. [37] The other group is inverted chords in which the interval of a sixth appears above a bass note that is not the root. [38]

The major sixth chord (also called, sixth or added sixth with the chord notation 6, e.g., C6) is by far the most common type of sixth chord of the first group. It comprises a major triad with the added major sixth above the root, common in popular music. [16] For example, the chord C6 contains the notes C–E–G–A. The minor sixth chord (min6 or m6, e.g., Cm6) is a minor triad, still with a major 6. For example, the chord Cm6 contains the notes C–E–G–A.

The augmented sixth chord usually appears in chord notation as its enharmonic equivalent, the seventh chord. This chord contains two notes separated by the interval of an augmented sixth (or, by inversion, a diminished third, though this inversion is rare). The augmented sixth is generally used as a dissonant interval most commonly used in motion towards a dominant chord in root position (with the root doubled to create the octave the augmented sixth chord resolves to) or to a tonic chord in second inversion (a tonic triad with the fifth doubled for the same purpose). In this case, the tonic note of the key is included in the chord, sometimes along with an optional fourth note, to create one of the following (illustrated here in the key of C major):

The augmented sixth family of chords exhibits certain peculiarities. Since they are not based on triads, as are seventh chords and other sixth chords, they are not generally regarded as having roots (nor, therefore, inversions), although one re-voicing of the notes is common (with the namesake interval inverted to create a diminished third). [39]

The second group of sixth chords includes inverted major and minor chords, which may be called sixth chords in that the six-three (6
3
) and six-four (6
4
) chords contain intervals of a sixth with the bass note, though this is not the root. Nowadays, this is mostly for academic study or analysis (see figured bass) but the Neapolitan sixth chord is an important example; a major triad with a flat supertonic scale degree as its root that is called a "sixth" because it is almost always found in first inversion. Though a technically accurate Roman numeral analysis would be II, it is generally labelled N6. In C major, the chord is notated (from root position) D, F, A. Because it uses chromatically altered tones, this chord is often grouped with the borrowed chords but the chord is not borrowed from the relative major or minor and it may appear in both major and minor keys.

TypeComponents Chord
symbol
NotesAudio
ChordInterval(s)
Add nine major triadmajor ninthC2, Cadd9C E G D Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Add fourthmajor triad perfect fourth C4, Cadd11C E G F Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Add sixth major triadmajor sixthC6C E G A Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Six-nine major triadmajor sixthmajor ninthC6/9C E G A D
Seven-six major triadmajor sixthminor seventhC7/6C E G A B
Mixed-thirdmajor triadminor thirdC E E G Loudspeaker.svg Play  

Suspended chords

Chord (music)
A Csus4 chord

A suspended chord, or "sus chord", is a chord in which the third is replaced by either the second or the fourth. This produces two main chord types: the suspended second (sus2) and the suspended fourth (sus4). The chords, Csus2 and Csus4, for example, consist of the notes C–D–G and C–F–G, respectively. There is also a third type of suspended chord, in which both the second and fourth are present, for example the chord with the notes C–D–F–G.

The name suspended derives from an early polyphonic technique developed during the common practice period, in which a stepwise melodic progress to a harmonically stable note in any particular part was often momentarily delayed, or suspended, by extending the duration of the previous note. The resulting unexpected dissonance could then be all the more satisfyingly resolved by the eventual appearance of the displaced note. In traditional music theory, the inclusion of the third in either chord would negate the suspension, so such chords would be called added ninth and added eleventh chords instead.

In modern layman usage, the term is restricted to the displacement of the third only and the dissonant second or fourth no longer needs to be held over (prepared) from the previous chord. Neither is it now obligatory for the displaced note to make an appearance at all, though in the majority of cases the conventional stepwise resolution to the third is still observed. In post-bop and modal jazz compositions and improvisations, suspended seventh chords are often used in nontraditional ways: these often do not function as V chords and do not resolve from the fourth to the third. The lack of resolution gives the chord an ambiguous, static quality. Indeed, the third is often played on top of a sus4 chord. A good example is the jazz standard, "Maiden Voyage".

Extended versions are also possible, such as the seventh suspended fourth, which, with root C, contains the notes C–F–G–B and is notated as C7sus4. Csus4 is sometimes written Csus since the sus4 is more common than the sus2.

TypeComponents Chord
symbol
NotesAudio
ChordInterval(s)
Suspended second open fifthmajor secondCsus2C D G Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Suspended fourth open fifthperfect fourthCsus4C F G Loudspeaker.svg Play  
Jazz sus open fifthperfect fourthminor seventhmajor ninthC9sus4C F G B D Loudspeaker.svg Play  

Borrowed chords

Chord (music)
Borrowed chords from the parallel minor key are commonly found in the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras.

A borrowed chord is one from a different key than the home key, the key of the piece it is used in. The most common occurrence of this is where a chord from the parallel major or minor key is used. Particularly good examples can be found throughout the works of composers such as Schubert. For instance, for a composer working in the C major key, a major III chord (e.g., an E major chord) would be borrowed, as this chord appears only in the key of C minor. Although borrowed chords could theoretically include chords taken from any key other than the home key, this is not how the term is used when a chord is described in formal musical analysis.

When a chord is analysed as "borrowed" from another key it may be shown by the Roman numeral corresponding with that key after a slash. For example, V/V (pronounced "five of five") indicates the dominant chord of the dominant key of the present home-key. The dominant key of C major is G major so this secondary dominant is the chord of the fifth degree of the G major scale, which is D major (which can also be described as II relative to the key of C major, not to be confused with the supertonic ii namely D minor.). If used for a significant duration, the use of the D major chord may cause a modulation to a new key (in this case to G major).

Borrowed chords are widely used in Western popular music and rock music. For example, there are a number of songs in E major which use the III chord (e.g., a G major chord used in an E major song), the VII chord (e.g., a D major chord used in an E major song) and the VI chord (e.g., a C major chord used in an E major song). All of these chords are "borrowed" from the key of E minor.

Related Research Articles

Figured bass

Figured bass, also called thoroughbass, is a kind of musical notation in which numerals and symbols indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones that a musician playing piano, harpsichord, organ, lute play in relation to the bass note that these numbers and symbols appear above or below. Figured bass is closely associated with basso continuo, a historically improvised accompaniment used in almost all genres of music in the Baroque period of Classical music, though rarely in modern music.

In music theory, the term minor scale refers to three scale patterns – the natural minor scale, the harmonic minor scale, and the melodic minor scale – rather than just one as with the major scale.

In music theory, a leading-tone is a note or pitch which resolves or "leads" to a note one semitone higher or lower, being a lower and upper leading-tone, respectively. Typically, the leading tone refers to the seventh scale degree of a major scale, a major seventh above the tonic. In the movable do solfège system, the leading-tone is sung as ti.

A seventh chord is a chord consisting of a triad plus a note forming an interval of a seventh above the chord's root. When not otherwise specified, a "seventh chord" usually means a dominant seventh chord: a major triad together with a minor seventh. However, a variety of sevenths may be added to a variety of triads, resulting in many different types of seventh chords.

In music theory, a diminished triad is a triad consisting of two minor thirds above the root. It is a minor triad with a lowered (flattened) fifth. When using chord symbols, it may be indicated by the symbols "dim", "o", "m5", or "MI(5)". However, in most popular-music chord books, the symbol "dim" and "o" represents a diminished seventh chord, which in some modern jazz books and music theory books is represented by the "dim7" or "o7" symbols.

Root (chord)

In music theory, the concept of root is the idea that a chord can be represented and named by one of its notes. It is linked to harmonic thinking—the idea that vertical aggregates of notes can form a single unit, a chord. It is in this sense that one speaks of a "C chord" or a "chord on C"—a chord built from C and of which the note C is the root. When a chord is referred to in Classical music or popular music without a reference to what type of chord it is, it is assumed a major triad, which for C contains the notes C, E and G. The root need not be the bass note, the lowest note of the chord: the concept of root is linked to that of the inversion of chords, which is derived from the notion of invertible counterpoint. In this concept, chords can be inverted while still retaining their root.

Augmented sixth chord

In music theory, an augmented sixth chord contains the interval of an augmented sixth, usually above its bass tone. This chord has its origins in the Renaissance, was further developed in the Baroque, and became a distinctive part of the musical style of the Classical and Romantic periods.

Supertonic

In music, the supertonic is the second degree of a diatonic scale, one step above the tonic. In the movable do solfège system, the supertonic note is sung as re.

The term sixth chord refers to two different kinds of chord, the first in classical music and the second in modern popular music.

Thirteenth musical interval

In music or music theory, a thirteenth is the note thirteen scale degrees from the root of a chord and also the interval between the root and the thirteenth. The interval can be also described as a compound sixth, spanning an octave plus a sixth. The thirteenth is most commonly major Play  or minor Play .

Eleventh chord

In music theory, an eleventh chord is a chord that contains the tertian extension of the eleventh. Typically found in jazz, an eleventh chord also usually includes the seventh and ninth, and elements of the basic triad structure. Variants include the dominant eleventh, minor eleventh, and the major eleventh chord. Symbols include: Caug11, C9aug11, C9+11, C9alt11, Cm9(11), C−9(11). The eleventh in an eleventh chord is, "almost always sharpened, especially in jazz," at least in reference to the third, with CM11 (major eleventh): C–E–G–B–D–F, Cm11 (minor eleventh): C–E–G–B–D–F, and C11 (dominant eleventh): C–E–G–B–D–F.

In music theory, a ninth chord is a chord that encompasses the interval of a ninth when arranged in close position with the root in the bass.

The ninth chord and its inversions exist today, or at least they can exist. The pupil will easily find examples in the literature [such as Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht and Strauss's opera Salome]. It is not necessary to set up special laws for its treatment. If one wants to be careful, one will be able to use the laws that pertain to the seventh chords: that is, dissonances resolve by step downward, the root leaps a fourth upward.

In music theory, a dominant seventh chord, or major minor seventh chord, is a seventh chord, usually built on the fifth degree of the major scale, and composed of a root, major third, perfect fifth, and minor seventh. Thus it is a major triad together with a minor seventh, denoted by the letter name of the chord root and a superscript "7". An example is the dominant seventh chord built on G, written as G7, having pitches G–B–D–F:

The diminished seventh chord is a four-note chord composed of a root note, together with a minor third, a diminished fifth, and a diminished seventh above the root:. For example, the diminished seventh chord built on C, commonly written as Co7, has pitches C–E–G–B:

Guitar chord

In music, a guitar chord is a set of notes played on a guitar. A chord's notes are often played simultaneously, but they can be played sequentially in an arpeggio. The implementation of guitar chords depends on the guitar tuning. Most guitars used in popular music have six strings with the "standard" tuning of the Spanish classical guitar, namely E-A-D-G-B-E' ; in standard tuning, the intervals present among adjacent strings are perfect fourths except for the major third (G,B). Standard tuning requires four chord-shapes for the major triads.

In music theory, the half-diminished seventh chord is a seventh chord composed of a root note, together with a minor third, a diminished fifth, and a minor seventh. For example, the half-diminished seventh chord built on C, commonly written as Cø7, has pitches C–E–G–B:

In music theory, an inversion is a type of change to intervals, chords, voices, and melodies. In each of these cases, "Inversion" has a distinct but related meaning. The concept of inversion also plays an important role in musical set theory.

In music theory, Roman numeral analysis is a type of musical analysis in which chords are represented by Roman numerals. In some cases, Roman numerals denote scale degrees themselves. More commonly, however, they represent the chord whose root note is that scale degree. For instance, III denotes either the third scale degree or, more commonly, the chord built on it. Typically, uppercase Roman numerals are used to represent major chords, while lowercase Roman numerals are used to represent minor chords. However, some music theorists use upper-case Roman numerals for all chords, regardless of chord quality.

Seventh (chord)

In music, the seventh factor of a chord is the note or pitch seven scale degrees above the root or tonal center. When the seventh is the bass note, or lowest note, of the expressed chord, the chord is in third inversion Play .

Musicians use various kinds of chord names and symbols in different contexts to represent musical chords. In most genres of popular music, including jazz, pop, and rock, a chord name and its corresponding symbol typically indicate one or more of the following:

  1. the root note,
  2. the chord quality,
  3. whether the chord is a triad, seventh chord, or an extended chord,
  4. any altered notes,
  5. any added tones, and
  6. the bass note if it is not the root.

References

  1. Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, pp. 67, 359. Seventh Edition. ISBN   978-0-07-294262-0."A chord is a harmonic unit with at least three different tones sounding simultaneously." "A combination of three or more pitches sounding at the same time."
  2. Károlyi, Otto (1965). Introducing Music. Penguin Books. p. 63. Two or more notes sounding simultaneously are known as a chord.
  3. Moylan, William (2014-06-20). Understanding and Crafting the Mix: The Art of Recording. CRC Press. ISBN   9781136117589.
  4. 1 2 3 Arnold Schoenberg, Structural Functions of Harmony, Faber and Faber, 1983, pp. 1–2.
  5. Benward & Saker (2003), p. 77.
  6. Merriam-Webster, Inc. (1995). "Chord", Merriam-Webster's dictionary of English usage , p.243. ISBN   978-0-87779-132-4.
  7. "Chord", Oxford Dictionaries.
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  9. Dahlhaus, Car (2001). "Harmony". In Root, Deane L. (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians . Oxford University Press.
  10. Károlyi, Ottó, Introducing Music, p. 63. England: Penguin Books.
  11. Arnold Schoenberg, Theory of Harmony, p.26: "It is required of a chord that it consist of three different tones."
  12. Schellenberg, E. Glenn; Bigand, Emmanuel; Poulin-Charronnat, Benedicte; Garnier, Cecilia; Stevens, Catherine (Nov 2005). "Children's implicit knowledge of harmony in Western music". Developmental Science. 8 (6): 551–566. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2005.00447.x. PMID   16246247.
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  15. 1 2 Benward & Saker (2003), p.70.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Benward & Saker (2003), p. 77.
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  20. Benward & Saker (2003), p.231.
  21. Benward & Saker (2003), p.274.
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  25. Tanguiane (Tangian), Andranick (1994). "A principle of correlativity of perception and its application to music recognition". Music Perception. 11 (4): 465–502. doi:10.2307/40285634. JSTOR   40285634.
  26. William G Andrews and Molly Sclater (2000). Materials of Western Music Part 1, p. 227. ISBN   1-55122-034-2.
  27. Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, pp. 74–75. Seventh Edition. ISBN   978-0-07-294262-0.
  28. Haerle, Dan (1982). The Jazz Language: A Theory Text for Jazz Composition and Improvisation, p. 30. ISBN   978-0-7604-0014-2.
  29. Policastro, Michael A. (1999). Understanding How to Build Guitar Chords and Arpeggios, p. 168. ISBN   978-0-7866-4443-8.
  30. Benward & Saker (2003), p. 92.
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Sources

Further reading