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How To Construct Basic Major and Minor Chords (Triads)

Updated on August 9, 2014

Constructing Basic Chords (Triads)

There are many different types of chords, from simple power chords used for rock music to more complex types used for Jazz and Classical, which contain extensions, additions, substitutions and altered voicing. But before we run we must first learn to walk so we’ll begin with the basic construction of chords.

Triads. These are the most common chords, and is the process of stacking thirds from a scale.

For example, if we wish to construct a C major chord we take the ‘C’ Major scale…

C D E F G A B

… and take our tonic note, ‘C’, which is known as the ‘first’ in the chord. The third note from ‘C’ is ‘E’, which is called the ‘third’ in the chords construction. Finally, we take the third note from ‘E’ which is ‘G’. This is called the ‘fifth’ in the chord.

So for the ‘C’ major chord, the notes are - C E G

  • An easier way to look at this is to just take the first, third and fifth note from the scale of the same tonic we wish to create a chord for. An ‘E’ major chord takes the first, third and fifth notes from the E major scale. A ‘G’ major chord takes the first, third and fifth notes from the G major scale.
  • The stacking of triads come more into play when we move into extended chords what include 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, etc.

C Major Chord

If we want to construct an ‘E’ Major chord we’d take the first, third and fifth note from the ‘E’ Major scale we have E, G#, B

E Major Chord

Minor Chords

Minor chords are constructed in the same way, by taking the first, third and fifth notes from the minor scale.

If we want to make a ‘D’ minor chord we’d take these from the ‘D’ minor scale and we have the notes D, F, A.

A Major
A Major
A Minor
A Minor
B Major
B Major
B Minor
B Minor
C Major
C Major
C Minor
C Minor
D Major
D Major
D Minor
D Minor
E Major
E Major
E Minor
E Minor
F Major
F Major
F Minor
F Minor
G Major
G Major
G Minor
G Minor

How To Read a Chord Diagram

The thicker line on the left indicates the end of the fret board before the headstock.

1 – indicates the index finger

2 – indicated the middle finger

3 – indicates the ring finger

4 – indicates the pinky finger

T – indicated the thumb

0 – indicated an open string is played.

X – indicates a string is not played.

Major Chords

A Major Chord
A Major Chord
B Major Chord
B Major Chord
C Major Chord
C Major Chord
D Major Chord
D Major Chord
E Major Chord
E Major Chord
F Major Chord
F Major Chord
G Major Chord
G Major Chord
A Minor Chord
A Minor Chord
B Minor Chord
B Minor Chord
D Minor Chord
D Minor Chord
E Minor Chord
E Minor Chord
F Minor Chord
F Minor Chord

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    • Dave Smiles profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Smiles 

      4 years ago from Melbourne

      If you need help creating scales check out this feature --

      https://hubpages.com/entertainment/How-to-Create-S...

    • Dave Smiles profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Smiles 

      4 years ago from Melbourne

      Thanks to both midget38 and DealForALiving for sharing this post.

      Chord Inversions are fun. You can get different feels form the same combination of notes, just voiced differently.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 

      4 years ago from Earth

      Emailing this to a friend who just bought a guitar. Thanks!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      The beautiful part about music is playing with chord inversions! Sharing the hub for ya!

    • Dave Smiles profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Smiles 

      4 years ago from Melbourne

      Correct. As long as you have at least one of each of the required notes in your chord it will be correct. You can find various different positions 'voiceings' on the fret board. You can also start off on a different note. You can make a G major chord but start on B, which would be called the second inversion.

    • profile image

      Mia polyviou 

      4 years ago

      So when you construct the chord on the fretboard is it just from finding the closest notes to make the chord? Also with the c major how come there are two c played? The G note is played open is that right?

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