ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Creating Chords Beginner to Advanced

Updated on July 14, 2015
Guitar Wizard profile image

Music School Owner, Recording Artist, Guitarist, Composer, Performer & Educator. My goal is to make good music, make and keep good friends.

Free Video Guitar Lessons

Subscribe to GuitarSchool1 on YouTube for more free lessons

Naming Chords

Major Family

The following is a general list of some of the commonly used chords and their formulas. All of the examples are in root position for convenience, but the notes could conceivably be arranged in any order.

C (C major)—1, 3, 5. The letter name with nothing after it automatically implies 1, 3 and 5 (except on sus chords). Notice how in the following examples we are “stacking” 3rds onto the basic 1, 3, and 5 of the triad.

Cmaj7—1, 3, 5, 7

Cmaj9—1, 3, 5, 7, 9

Cmaj11—1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11. This is not generally considered a functional chord because of its dissonant sound. I have included it to show how the addition of successive thirds keeps building larger chord forms. The conflict is the minor 9th interval between E and F, as well as the augmented 4th interval of B and F. It’s not unusual to substitute the #11 for the 11th, especially in a jazzier context. This alteration gets rid of the offending intervals. Of course, the chord is no longer diatonic to C, but still works in many of the instances where C major type chords are used.

Cmaj9#11—1, 3, 5, 7, 9, #11

Cmaj13—1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13. Again, not very pretty with the 11th; but, in this case, Cmaj13 is taken to mean without the 11th. Sometimes it is written Cmaj13(omit 11). Notice that each successive chord above the triad also includes the notes from the previous chord. Cmaj13#11 is also possible.

Sus chords (short for suspended), are substituting the 4th or 2nd for the third.

Csus4—1, 4, 5

Csus2—1, 2, 5

Add chords are used to designate the addition of a specific pitch to a chord. Sometimes the / symbol is used instead of the word “add.”

Cadd9 (C/9)—1, 3, 5, 9. This is a C triad, with an added 9th, without the 7th, as opposed to Cmaj 9 which includes the 7th.

C6 (Cadd6)—1, 3, 5, 6. In the case of the 6th or 6/9 chord, the word “add” is rarely used.

C6/9 (C6add9)—1, 3, 5, 6, 9

Cadd4—1, 3, 4, 5

Cadd9sus4—1, 4, 5, 9

Dominant 7th Family

The dominant 7th family is major with a flattened 7th. The scale for diatonic dominant chords is the Mixolydian scale. The word major is never used in the spelling of dominant chords. When you see a 7th, 9th, 11th or 13th without “major” preceding it, assume b7.

C7—1, 3, 5, b7

C9—1, 3, 5,b7, 9

C11—1, 5, b7 , 9, 11. To avoid the minor 9th clash between E and F, the third (E) has been eliminated.

C13—1, 3, 5, b7 , 9, 13. To avoid the minor 9th clash between E and F, the 11th (F) has been eliminated.

C7sus4—1, 4, 5,b7

C9sus4—1, 4, 5, b7, 9

Lydian Dominant

Lydian dominant chords contain the # 4. The scale is similar to the Mixolydian except the 4th/11th degree is raised. The #11 eliminates the minor 9th clash between E and F.

C7#11—1, 3, 5, b7, #11

C9#11—1, 3, 5, b7, 9, #11

C13#11—1, 3, 5, b7, 9, #11, 13

Altered Dominant

Other possibilities in the dominant family include what are known as the altered tones. These refer specifically to the tones above the 7th: b9, # 9, #11 and b13/#5. In spelling these altered chords, think: 1) triad, 2) b7 , and 3) the alterations in the chord symbol. Eliminate the 5th in any of the chords with a b13.

C7b9#9#11—1, 3, 5, b9, #9, #11

C7b9, C7#9, C7b13, C7b9#9, C7b9#11, C7#9#11, C7b9b13, C7#9b13, C7#11b13, C7b9#9b13, C7b9#11b13, C7b9#9#11, C7#9#11b13, C7b9#9#11b13, C7#5b9, C7#5#9, C7#5#11, C7#5b9#9#11 and are examples of altered C dominant chords.

Minor Family

The b3 must be in the chord for it to be minor. Cm--Cm-11 can be thought of being harmonized from the Dorian or natural (Aeolian) minor scale. Anything with a 13th or 6th is from the Dorian or melodic minor scale.

Cmi—1, b3, 5

Cmi7—1, b3, 5, b7

Cmi9—1, b3, 5, b7, 9

Cmi11—1, b3, 5, b7, 9, 11

Cmi13—1, b3, 5, b7, 9, 11, 13

The “add” chords in minor work the same way as in major.

Cmi6 (C minor add 6)—1, b3, 5, 6

Cmi6/9 (Cm6add9)—1, b3, 5, 6, 9

Cmi add9—1, b3, 5, 9

Cmi add11—1, b3, 5, 11

Cmi7add11—1, b3, 5, b7, 11

The major 7th can be included in a minor chord. Remember, the use of the word “major” indicates the major 7th. The scale for m/maj7 chords is either the melodic or harmonic minor.

Cmi/maj7—1, b3, 5, 7

Cmi/maj9—1, b3, 5, 7, 9

The b5 is a very common alteration. The scale commonly used is either Locrian, if the 9th is flat, or the 6th mode of the melodic minor scale, if the 9th is natural.

Cmib5—1,b3, b5

Cmi7b5—1,b3, b5, b7

Cm9b5—1, b3, b5, b7, 9

Cm11b5—1, b3, b5, b7, 9, 11

Diminished Family

Cdim—1, b3, b5

Diminished 7th is a diminished triad with an added double flatted 7th (which is really a natural 6th).

Cdim7th (Cdim7or Co7)—1, b3, b5, bb7

Augmented Family

Caug—1, 3, #5

Augmented 7th is an augmented triad with a b7

Caug7 (C+7)—1, 3, #5, b7

Inversions. If another note besides the root (usually 3rd, 5th or 7th) is used as the bass, then the chord is called an inversion and is written: name of chord/bass note. The C major chord with an E in the bass is written C/E. The upper tones can be in any order.

Main points to remember:

The majority of chords are built up from triads, and contain some version of a 1, 3 and 5.

  • Major = 1 3 5
  • Minor = 1 b3 5
  • Diminished = 1 b3 b5
  • Augmented = 1 3 #5

The 3rd determines whether a chord is major or minor.

If the 7th is natural, then the word “major” will appear in the chord symbol (e.g., Cmaj7, Cmaj9, except for maj6, which is 1,3, 5 and 6).

If the 7th is flat, then the word “major” is not used (e.g., C7, C9, Cmi7 means the 7th is flat).`

The notes in a chord can appear in different orders than the ones shown.

The higher extensions imply the inclusion of some or all of the lower ones (e.g., 9th implies the inclusion of the 7th).


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)