Have ever looked at a chord chart for a song that you "just have to learn" and seen these big ugly nasty ominous chord symbols
with slashes and numbers and all kinds of terrible stuff? Naturally, like most of us do at first, you trembled and screamed
for mercy. Well, let's arm ourselves for the next onslaught and decipher these little buggers.
A Chords name will be divided into a few parts:
The first part will be a letter name prefix that identifies
the "root" of the chord. the root is the note that initially
identifies a chords place in harmony. it is also the
reference note from which the interval distances of all other
notes in a chord are measured. HUH???
Just think of it as the note that names the chord.
The letter name may be followed by a sharp or a flat sign.
These symbols affect the root, i.e. where you place the chord.
here is a simple voice for a G major chord
Notice that just the term "G" was used to name this chord.
If a chords name has just a letter,or a letter followed by a
sharp or a flat symbol...assume it is a major chord.
occasionally a small triangle is used to denote major
although in some cases, it is used to denote Major 7.
You may also encounter the word Major,Maj.,or a capital M (don't sweat it now)
Here is an example of a G# major chord. (notice the name:letter
followed by a sharp symbol)
If a chord is a minor chord, it will say minor in it's name.
occasionally a - symbol is used instead of the word minor or min.
or a small case m
If a chord is a dominant 7 chord it will say Dom.7 or;
the letter name prefix of the chord will be directly followed
by a subscript number 7, 9, 11, or 13.(subscript means about 1/3 of a line lower than the letter) By virture of definition, a Dominant 7 chord must contain a b7. if the number following the
letter prefix is larger than 7, assume the 7 is in there.
These numbers 9,11,13, are called extensions. these are notes
that are added to a chord for tonal "color" Without delving too
deep, please realize that diatonic chords are extracted from scale
harmony by stacking thirds,i.e. every other note. within an
octave we can stack a root, third, fifth, and seventh,
picture a c major scale
...C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C....
If you count a chord from c;
c, is the root
e, is the third
g, is the fifth
b, is the seventh
c is the octave/root and always functions the same way
*(as do any of these)*
if there is a seventh...d is the 9th
if there is no seventh...d is called an (add 2)
if there is a seventh...f is the 11th
if there is no seventh...f is called an (add 4)
if there is a seventh...a is the 13th
if there is no seventh...a is called an (add 6)
if there is a letter prefix followed directly by
a number smaller than 7 it is;
probably not a full chord but a power chord or some other
another possibility is that the chart was written incorrectly,
most likely by one of my soon to be former students who will
be summarily flogged
these rules for extension names above 7th also applies to major and minor chords as well.* Remember, major and minor chords
must say major or minor if you add an extension or a 7th. A
numeral directly after a letter name prefix infers dom 7.*
an extension may be sharp or flat or there maybe multiple extensions within a chord.
Now you will have your initial letter name root prefix,some form
of quality suffix (maj,min,dom 7,etc), and these ugly extensions
will be located in superscript parenthesis above and to the right.
For example. G7(#5,#9)
this is exactly what it says. a G dominant7 add the tones #5(d#) and the #9(a#)
use your thumb to fret the note G on the sixth string (take it out of your mouth first)
Or how about G7(#5,b9) check out the differences
There is a yin and yang pair of frightening chord symbols. The first is a + sign (in superscript) directly following a chords
letter name prefix. No, this does not mean that "it's a totally
positive chord dude". This symbol usually denotes an augmented chord. An augmented chord is exactly what it says it is...bigger,
To be more precise the 5th of a major triad is raised one
half step thus increasing the total interval distances within the chord. they can be used in some instances as functional substitutes for dom 7 chords.
This chords sinister counterpart is the Diminished chord.
it uses o as its symbol(in superscript) directly following a chords letter name prefix. This chord is basically a minor triad
with a lowerd 5th.
This chord symbol has a cousin that looks like an o with a slash
through is. This stands for a minor 7b5 chord. this chord is exactly what it says it is.
Now as for the hideous "slash"chords
sure you've seen 'em. they mean "go trade your guitar for a chain
All the slash means is - some chord/lowest note in it.
It's that simple
for example D/F#
it's a D chord and make the lowest note in it F#
use your thumb for the F#
Now you should be able to sleep much better at night knowing
that you dont have to be afraid of chords unless you try 2 of my faves D7(b5,b9)..GMaj.(add 4,6)
oh by the way...try using your thumb for the G