Music Theory Quiz and tutorial - Test your knowledge of Chords

Test your knowledge of chords with this simple music theory quiz. The questions have multiple choice answers. Explanations of the answers are given below, in case you get any wrong.

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In case you got any answers wrong, the following tutorial explains the answers in the quiz.

The answers explained

  1. Which of the following notes is NOT contained in the chord G major?
    The answer is C. To find the notes of the chord, G major, take the 1st, 3rd & 5th notes of the G major scale, (GABCDEF#G). That gives you G, B & D. There's no C note in the chord as C is the 4th note of the scale.
  2. What type of chord is a minor chord, such as G minor?
    It's a triad. Triads are chords containing three differently named notes that are separated by intervals of 'thirds'. (the distance between two notes spanning 3 letter names and 3 or 4 semitones or half steps, such as A to C.) The four triad types are major, minor, diminished and augmented. Any of the notes may be doubled at any octave, but no other notes can be included or it will no longer be a triad.
  3. What do we call the note that a chord is named after?
    It's called the root. The root of C minor 7th, for example, is C. All C notes in any particular arrangement of C minor 7th, are root notes, and the same logic applies to all chords. If the lowest sounding note of any chord is the root, the chord is said to be in root position. If not, the chord is said to be inverted.
  4. If the chord C major is played in first inversion, what will the lowest note be?
    First inversion means that a chord is arranged with its '3rd' as the lowest (bass) note. The notes of C major are: C, E & G, (1st, 3rd & 5th) so, the 3rd of C major is the note E, and it will be the lowest sounding note. The order of any C, E & G notes above the E doesn't matter. Only the bass note determines the inversion.
  5. How many differently named notes are contained in a power chord?
    A power chord (also called a 5th chord) contains two differently named notes separated by the interval of a perfect fifth (e.g. C with G above) or its inversion, a perfect 4th, (G with C above). Either of the notes can be doubled at one or more octaves. It's called a power chord due to its popular use in powerfully amplified and overdriven rock guitar, where the perfect 5th or 4th intervals within the chord remain stable, unlike major, minor and other chords, which tend to sound discordant when played with heavy distortion.
  6. Which note when added to the chord, G major will convert it to G major 7th?
    F sharp is the answer. The word major in the chord name isn't referring to it being a major type chord, but to the added note being a major 7th interval above the root, i.e., the 7th note of the G major scale).
  7. Adding which note to the chord A minor will convert it to A minor 7th?
    To convert a minor chord to a minor 7th chord, we add a note that is a minor 7th interval above the root. Only G in the choices given is 7 letter names (and therefore a kind of 7th) above the root, A. To confirm that it's a minor 7th, you can compare it with the 7th note of the A major scale (which is a major 7th, and is G#) and then lower it by a semitone or half step (G# > G) to make it a minor 7th.
  8. The notes of which chord are exactly the same as those of E minor 7th?
    G6th, is the answer. It contains notes: G, B, D & E, while E minor 7th contains: E,G B & D. They have the same notes, but different roots (G & E). It can be said that one is simply an inversion of the other.
  9. The chord type that's popularly nicknamed the Hendrix chord is more correctly called a...
    7th sharp 9th (7#9). C7#9, for example, consists of notes: C, E, G, Bb & D#. (1, 3 5 b7 #9). It acquired the nickname of the Hendrix chord after Jimi Hendrix's powerful use of it in the song Purple Haze, but it has had a long use in jazz before that.
  10. The correct names for the '3rd & 7th' of the chord C sharp major 7th are what?
    E sharp and B sharp. Because the root is C sharp, a 3rd & 7th above that must be called E something and B something. (3 and 7 letter names, respectively.) The scale of C sharp major is the same as the scale of C major except that every note is sharp. C#, D# E#, F#, G#, A#, B#, C#. So, the chord notes of C sharp major will be notes 1, 3, 5 & 7 of the C sharp major scale (C#, E#, G# & B#).

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