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How To Construct Basic Major and Minor Chords (Triads)
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 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.
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.