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#994720 - 12/29/08 05:48 PM Im going chord crazy!!!! Please help...  
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 420
KaylaX Offline
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KaylaX  Offline
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Joined: May 2008
Posts: 420
N. Cali
I do not understand chords. I have two books that im working out of and I think they are confusing me even more. I have a few questions, and let me know if im completely on the wrong path...

1. O.K so a C-chord is CEG right, well then can it also be EGC or GCE ???? and why??? And can all chords be flopped around like that???

2. And what is up with a Gsus4 chord??? I understand that its a three note chord that uses the 4th instead of the 3rd, but can all chords do that???? Or is this a special case???

3. And whats the difference between major and minor chords???

As you can see im completely confused. And im not even into the hard part of this stuff yet. And, yes, I have used the search function to try and find my own answers but I just got confused even more. Maybe im reading into this more than neccesary??? Im not sure.

Your help is appreciated. Thank You.

Im trying to memorize them but they keep changing. I thought on a C chord that the bottom note was always going to be a C but im finding that, thats not always the case. And the same with all th others. Is there something im missing?????

Its been 7 years since ive played. But im back, and I have a teacher and im excited !!! and finally...a Baby Grand !!! Cheap & used, but I LOVE its sound smile
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#994721 - 12/29/08 06:52 PM Re: Im going chord crazy!!!! Please help...  
Joined: Nov 2008
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ll Offline
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ll  Offline
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1. Yes, they are called inversions. EGC would be the first inversion of the CEG chord. All chords can be inverted.

2. I don't understand this question...

3. The structure of the chord in its root position--major chords are constructed as "root+major third+perfect fifth" intervals. A minor chord is constructed as "root+minor third+perfect fifth" intervals. There are, of course, more details, but that is the gist of it.

The best way to work through chords is to get a scale book that covers everything. A series that builds (such as Keith Snell's Scale Studies) or a cumulative musicianship book (I use Alfred's Beginning Musicianship) will introduce the scales, their chords, their inversions, their candences and arpeggios, etc. Another way would to be buy a chord book that shows you all the chords possible (and usually how they are constructed).

You aren't reading too much into chords--I just think you are worrying yourself with small details. Which two books are you using? Do they have theory pages or a theory workbook? Those might help in reinforcing the information.

II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.
#994722 - 12/29/08 06:58 PM Re: Im going chord crazy!!!! Please help...  
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KaylaX Offline
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KaylaX  Offline
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N. Cali
Thanks for your response,

Inversions....O.K I got it. And for my question number "2". I just got confused with the Sus part. It seemed odd. And the two books im working out of is Faber and Faber All in one, and Alfreds All in one. They are great books. I like Alfreds better but my teacher has me working on Fabers. And my teacher is on vacation this month so thats why im turning to the forum for help.

Your answers really helped. I just needed the gist. Thats great, Thanks!!!!!

Its been 7 years since ive played. But im back, and I have a teacher and im excited !!! and finally...a Baby Grand !!! Cheap & used, but I LOVE its sound smile
#994723 - 12/29/08 09:12 PM Re: Im going chord crazy!!!! Please help...  
Joined: Jan 2008
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mom3gram Offline
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mom3gram  Offline
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New Jersey
Yeah, that Csus4 or whatever they called it in the Faber book confused me too. I had never heard of that chord. It looked too much like a G7 chord. We must be in the same page on that book. I have a bit of trouble remembering which chords are which sometimes. I made myself up a chart by scanning the little pictures of them that the Alfred book provided each time a new chord was introduced. It helped, and I'm okay with them for now until a new one comes up.


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#994724 - 12/29/08 10:09 PM Re: Im going chord crazy!!!! Please help...  
Joined: Nov 2007
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epf Offline
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Central Texas
The chord Gsus4 is a G chord with a "suspended 4th". The suspended 4th simply means to move the major 3rd up 1/2 tone to the 4th. So, a C chord is CEG while a Csus4 is CFG. And, yes, all chords can do that. It's used to get a slightly different sound -- usually to set up "tension" which is then resolved by playing the major chord instead of the suspended chord.

As for major and minor chords, they are different in that the major chord uses a major third and the minor chord flattens that major third creating a minor third (hmmm, that sounds redundant). Using the C chord as an example, the major is CEG while the minor is CEbG. And, as with suspended chords, all chords have a major and a minor.

Rather than try to explain this piecemeal, you might consider getting a book on music theory. A good one is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory.


"...a man ... should engage himself with the causes of the harmonious combination of sounds, and with the composition of music." Anatolius of Alexandria
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#994725 - 12/29/08 10:42 PM Re: Im going chord crazy!!!! Please help...  
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 331
majones Offline
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Deep East Texas Piney Woods
One has been answered.

Two has been answered. I'll add why sus? Makes a great lead to chord, i.e. some words take two melody notes for example "lit-tle" or "Ma-ry" Try the Sus4 chord under the first melody note and then the parent major chord under the second melody note. That same pattern makes a good ending.

3. And whats the difference between major and minor chords? The major 3rd or diminished 3rd has been addressed already. Major chords are said to be happy and minor chords are said to be sad. I don't hear that much sadness. Every key has three major chords, three minor chords and one diminished chord, which by the way is also minor as well as diminished.

I play from lead sheet music most of the time and as there is no bass clef with lead sheet all I have is the chord name (Dm, G7, etc.)and it's up to me to make the chord. Here is what I use, perhaps it will clear up some things:

Any major chord is R + 4 + 3
R = the root note of the chord or the name of the chord. Then that + 4 means count up scale four black and white notes. Then the + 3 means go on up three more black and white notes to complete the major chord. So .....

Major = R + 4 + 3
Minor = R + 3 + 4
Diminished = R + 3 + 3
Major 6th = R + 4 + 3 + 2
Minor 6th = R + 3 + 4 + 2
Not going to talk about the minors I think you can figure that out from here on.
Dominant 7 = R + 4 + 3 + 3
Major 7 (maj7) = R + 4 + 3 + 4
So the extensions are + 2 for a 6th, + 3 for a dominant 7th and + 4 for a maj7.
Sus2 = R + 2 + 5
Sus4 + R + 5 + 2

That will pretty much take you through your sevenths. Grab the Root and count up from there. That will give you the basic block chord. Inversions and the C not being on the botton ....... If music was cut and dried, black and white it would be called science, I'm glad it's not and we call it art. You are doing great, keep asking questions.

#994726 - 12/29/08 11:02 PM Re: Im going chord crazy!!!! Please help...  
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 420
KaylaX Offline
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KaylaX  Offline
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Joined: May 2008
Posts: 420
N. Cali
Hi Mom3gram,
I have actually passed that part in my book about the Gsus4 chord, but when I was working in my Alfreds book I decided to really try and get a grasp on this chord stuff before I got any further in and thas when all these questions came up. I am just too afraid I might miss something that might be vital later. Ugh!!! This is such a journey....

epf, thank you for your explanation on the sus chords. And the major and minor. And I will go out and get that book that you susggested. Im sure it has a wealth of info. Amazon.com here I come!!!!! Thank you

And Majones, I think I need some time to digest the wealth of info you gave me. I understand it, but now id like to put it all to use. Thank you

And to all, you have all been a great help. This is why I like this forum so much. If you ask a question you can get so many different answers that are all helpfull. I know everyone earns diffrently so having different opinions is such a huge help. Thanks everyone!!!!!!


Its been 7 years since ive played. But im back, and I have a teacher and im excited !!! and finally...a Baby Grand !!! Cheap & used, but I LOVE its sound smile
#994727 - 12/29/08 11:06 PM Re: Im going chord crazy!!!! Please help...  
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,755
mdsdurango Offline
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mdsdurango  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,755
Durango Colorado
Relax first of all.
Chords take time and only get more complicated.
Don't try to figure them all out at once. Pick a tune with simple enough chords and figure those chords out. Inversions should be used to move the hand as little as possible from where it lies, for instance; C chord = CEG (root position), F chord = CFA (third inversion), G chord = DGB (also third inversion), and back to C in root position. This is a 1-4-5 progression. Same principle should apply with any chordal progression.
As for sus fourths, you can still play the third, it just starts sounding jazzier and a bit weird when played next to one another.

As I say, chords only get more and more convoluted as you progress so the first thing to do is relax and realize that you've a long road ahead (and you are laying the bricks).


Yamaha S6, U5C, P120

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