Introduction to basic chords

What is a Chord?

A chord is simply two or more notes played together (simultaneously).

We can recall from the major scales lesson that a scale is a group of notes played one after the other , so in essence the difference between a scale and a chord is thus; notes of a scale are played one after the other while notes of a chord are played together.

We derive chords from scales since we are only picking few notes of a particular scale to form a chord hence it’s very important to review both your Major and minor scales since we will be building chords on them.

The C major scale is C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C

The C major chord is C + E + G (simply CEG)

We picked only three notes C,E and G from the C major scale to form the “C major chord”. This tells us that chords depends solely on scales to be created. Playing chords without knowing the scale (or key precisely) you are in is like flying an airplane without coordinates or direction.

In the light of this knowledge we pick notes from the Major scale to form Major chords while we pick notes from the Natural minor scale to form minor chords and this depends on the root (starting note) of whichever chord you are playing.

The “A natural minor scale” is A,B,C,D,E,F,G,A

The “A minor chord” is A + C + E (simply ACE)

We literally picked out the notes A,C and E from the “A natural minor scale” to form the “A minor chord”

Types of Chords

We have been mentioning the Major and minor chords since and it’s good to know that we have three basic types of chords in music.

The Major chord

The minor chord

The diminished chord

All these basic chords are also referred to as triads because we play them with just three fingers.

However, in strict music theory triads are three-note chords that have intervals of thirds between each notes.

From the Major scale degrees we treated earlier (please do a quick review on it), we know we have seven unique notes in the Major scale.

A quick example using the key of C major;

The Major chords are derived from the 1st,4th and 5th scale degrees hence we have the;

1 chord

4 chord

5 chord

In the key of C they are;

C major chord

F major chord

G major chord

……………………………………………………………………………

The minor chords on the other hand are derived from the 2nd,3rd and 6th scale degrees of the major scale hence we have the;

2 chord

3 chord

6 chord

In the key of C major they are;

D minor chord

E minor chord

A minor chord

………………………………………………………………………………….

The diminished triad is a chord I term as a lonely chord because it stands alone in the Major scale unlike the Major and minor chords which are three in each group. The diminished triad is derives its root from the 7th scale degree of the major scale.

Hence we have the 7 chord (NOT 7th chord)

The 7 chord is the B diminished chord in the key of C major.

 

In the next few articles we will discuss each chord types in details but for now I take a bow.

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