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Novice Karate Group (ages 8 & up)

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How to Build Your Own Guitar Chords: Really Useful Guitar Stuff (Part 2)



Really Useful Guitar Stuff Part 2: Chord Construction Guide




Have you ever wondered how guitar chords are made? Do you want to learn how to create your own chords and understand their names? If so, this article is for you. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about chord construction, which is the process of building chords from individual notes. You will also learn how to apply this knowledge to your guitar playing and improvisation.




Really Useful Guitar Stuff Part 2 Chord Construction Guide



Chord construction is useful for guitarists because it helps you:


  • Expand your chord vocabulary and repertoire



  • Play chords in different positions and voicings



  • Understand chord progressions and harmony



  • Improvise over chords and create melodies



  • Write your own songs and arrangements



There are three main types of chords that you should know: triads, seventh chords, and extended chords. Triads are three-note chords that form the basis of most chords. Seventh chords are four-note chords that add more color and tension to triads. Extended chords are chords that contain additional notes beyond the seventh degree, such as ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths.


There are two methods of chord construction that you can use: using intervals and using formulas. Intervals are the distance between two notes measured in half-steps or semitones. Formulas are combinations of scale degrees that define a chord type. Scale degrees are the notes of a scale numbered from 1 to 7.


In this article, you will learn how to construct chords using both methods, as well as how to name them and play them on the guitar. Let's get started!


Triads




Triads are the simplest and most common type of chords. They consist of three notes: a root, a third, and a fifth. The root is the note that gives the chord its name and its position on the fretboard. The third is the note that determines whether the chord is major or minor. The fifth is the note that adds stability and fullness to the chord.


To construct triads using intervals, you need to stack two thirds over a root note. A third is an interval of three or four half-steps. There are two types of thirds: major and minor. A major third is four half-steps, while a minor third is three half-steps. Depending on the combination of thirds, you can get different types of triads:


  • Major triad: root + major third + minor third (e.g. C + E + G)



  • Minor triad: root + minor third + major third (e.g. C + Eb + G)



  • Diminished triad: root + minor third + minor third (e.g. C + Eb + Gb)



  • Augmented triad: root + major third + major third (e.g. C + E + G#)



  • Suspended triad: root + perfect fourth or second + perfect fifth (e.g. C + F + G or C + D + G)



To construct triads using formulas, you need to use the notes of the major scale as a reference. The major scale is a seven-note scale that follows the pattern of whole-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step, whole-step, whole-step, half-step (W-W-H-W-W-W-H). For example, the C major scale is C-D-E-F-G-A-B. Each note of the scale has a degree number from 1 to 7. The formula for a triad is simply the combination of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th degrees of the scale. Depending on the quality of the 3rd and 5th degrees, you can get different types of triads:


  • Major triad: 1-3-5 (e.g. C-E-G)



  • Minor triad: 1-b3-5 (e.g. C-Eb-G)



  • Diminished triad: 1-b3-b5 (e.g. C-Eb-Gb)



  • Augmented triad: 1-3-#5 (e.g. C-E-G#)



  • Suspended triad: 1-4-5 or 1-2-5 (e.g. C-F-G or C-D-G)



To play triads on the guitar, you need to find the root note on one of the strings and then add the other two notes on adjacent strings. You can use different shapes and fingerings depending on which string you start from and which type of triad you want to play. Here are some examples of triad shapes and fingerings on the guitar:


E------------------------------------ B----R--3--5--R--3--5--R--3--5--R--3- G----5--R--3--5--R--3--5--R--3--5--R- D----3--5--R--3--5--R--3--5--R--3--5- A------------------------------------ E------------------------------------ Major Triad Shapes E--0----1----2----3----4----5----6----7----8----9----10----11-- B--0----1----2----3----4----5----6----7----8----9----10----11-- G--0----1----2----3----4----5----6----7----8----9----10----11-- D--0----1----2----3----4----5----6----7----8----9----10----11-- Ax----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x---- Ex----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x---- Ex----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----- Bx-----0-----1-----2-----3-----4-----5-----6-----7-----8 Gx-----0-----1-----2-----3-----4-----5-----6-----7-----8 Seventh Chords




Seventh chords are chords that have four notes: a root, a third, a fifth, and a seventh. The seventh is the note that adds more complexity and flavor to the triad. The seventh can be a major or a minor interval above the root, depending on the chord type. There are several types of seventh chords, but the most common ones are major 7, minor 7, and dominant 7.


To construct seventh chords using intervals, you need to stack three thirds over a root note. A third can be either major or minor, as we learned before. A seventh can be either major or minor as well. A major seventh is an interval of 11 half-steps, while a minor seventh is an interval of 10 half-steps. Depending on the combination of thirds and sevenths, you can get different types of seventh chords:


  • Major 7 chord: root + major third + minor third + major third (e.g. C + E + G + B)



  • Minor 7 chord: root + minor third + major third + minor third (e.g. C + Eb + G + Bb)



  • Dominant 7 chord: root + major third + minor third + minor third (e.g. C + E + G + Bb)



  • Half-diminished 7 chord: root + minor third + minor third + major third (e.g. C + Eb + Gb + Bb)



  • Fully-diminished 7 chord: root + minor third + minor third + minor third (e.g. C + Eb + Gb + Bbb)



  • Augmented 7 chord: root + major third + major third + minor third (e.g. C + E + G# + Bb)



To construct seventh chords using formulas, you need to use the notes of the major scale as a reference again. The formula for a seventh chord is simply the combination of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th degrees of the scale. Depending on the quality of the 3rd, 5th, and 7th degrees, you can get different types of seventh chords:


  • Major 7 chord: 1-3-5-7 (e.g. C-E-G-B)



  • Minor 7 chord: 1-b3-5-b7 (e.g. C-Eb-G-Bb)



  • Dominant 7 chord: 1-3-5-b7 (e.g. C-E-G-Bb)



  • Half-diminished 7 chord: 1-b3-b5-b7 (e.g. C-Eb-Gb-Bb)



  • Fully-diminished 7 chord: 1-b3-b5-bb7 (e.g. C-Eb-Gb-Bbb)



  • Augmented 7 chord: 1-3-#5-b7 (e.g. C-E-G#-Bb)



To play seventh chords on the guitar, you need to find the root note on one of the strings and then add the other three notes on adjacent strings. You can use different shapes and fingerings depending on which string you start from and which type of seventh chord you want to play. Here are some examples of seventh chord shapes and fingerings on the guitar:


E------------------------------------ B----R--3--5--7--R--3--5--7--R--3--5- G----5--7--R--3--5--7--R--3--5--7--R- D----3--5--7--R--3--5--7--R--3--5--7- A------------------------------------ E------------------------------------ Seventh Chord Shapes E--0----1----2----3----4----5----6----7----8----9----10----11-- B--0----1----2----3----4----5----6----7----8----9----10----11-- G--0----1----2----3----4----5----6----7----8----9----10----11-- Dx----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x---- Ax----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x---- Ex----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----- Ex-----0-----1-----2-----3-----4-----5-----6-----7-----8 Bx-----0-----1-----2-----3-----4-----5-----6-----7-----8 Extended Chords




Extended chords are chords that have more than four notes. They contain additional notes beyond the seventh degree, such as ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths. These notes are called extensions because they extend the range of the chord beyond an octave. Extended chords add more richness and variety to the harmony and create interesting sounds and tensions.


To construct extended chords using intervals, you need to stack more thirds over a seventh chord. A third can be either major or minor, as we learned before. A ninth can be either major or minor as well. A major ninth is an interval of 14 half-steps, while a minor ninth is an interval of 13 half-steps. An eleventh can be either perfect or augmented. A perfect eleventh is an interval of 17 half-steps, while an augmented eleventh is an interval of 18 half-steps. A thirteenth can be either major or minor as well. A major thirteenth is an interval of 21 half-steps, while a minor thirteenth is an interval of 20 half-steps. Depending on the combination of thirds and extensions, you can get different types of extended chords:


  • Major 9 chord: root + major third + minor third + major third + major third (e.g. C + E + G + B + D)



  • Minor 9 chord: root + minor third + major third + minor third + major third (e.g. C + Eb + G + Bb + D)



  • Dominant 9 chord: root + major third + minor third + minor third + major third (e.g. C + E + G + Bb + D)



  • Major 11 chord: root + major third + minor third + major third + major third + perfect fourth (e.g. C + E + G + B + D + F)



  • Minor 11 chord: root + minor third + major third + minor third + major third + perfect fourth (e.g. C + Eb + G + Bb + D + F)



  • Dominant 11 chord: root + major third + minor third + minor third + major third + perfect fourth (e.g. C + E + G + Bb + D + F)



  • Major 13 chord: root + major third + minor third + major third + major third + perfect fourth + major sixth (e.g. C+E+G+B+D+F+A)



  • Minor 13 chord: root+minor third+major third+minor third+major third+perfect fourth +major sixth (e.g. C+Eb+G+Bb+D+F+A)



  • Dominant 13 chord: root+major third+minor third+minor third+major third+perfect fourth +major sixth (e.g. C+E+G+Bb+D+F+A)



To construct extended chords using formulas, you need to use the notes of the major scale as a reference again. The formula for an extended chord is simply the combination of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and one or more extensions of the scale. The extensions are usually the 9th, 11th, or 13th degrees of the scale, which are the same as the 2nd, 4th, or 6th degrees in a higher octave. Depending on the quality of the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and extensions, you can get different types of extended chords:


  • Major 9 chord: 1-3-5-7-9 (e.g. C-E-G-B-D)



  • Minor 9 chord: 1-b3-5-b7-9 (e.g. C-Eb-G-Bb-D)



  • Dominant 9 chord: 1-3-5-b7-9 (e.g. C-E-G-Bb-D)



  • Major 11 chord: 1-3-5-7-9-11 (e.g. C-E-G-B-D-F)



  • Minor 11 chord: 1-b3-5-b7-9-11 (e.g. C-Eb-G-Bb-D-F)



  • Dominant 11 chord: 1-3-5-b7-9-11 (e.g. C-E-G-Bb-D-F)



  • Major 13 chord: 1-3-5-7-9-11-13 (e.g. C-E-G-B-D-F-A)



  • Minor 13 chord: 1-b3-5-b7-9-11-13 (e.g. C-Eb-G-Bb-D-F-A)



  • Dominant 13 chord: 1-3-5-b7-9-11-13 (e.g. C-E-G-Bb-D-F-A)



To play extended chords on the guitar, you need to find the root note on one of the strings and then add the other notes on adjacent strings. You can use different shapes and fingerings depending on which string you start from and which type of extended chord you want to play. However, since extended chords have more than four notes, you may not be able to play all of them on a six-string guitar. In that case, you need to omit some notes or use alternate tunings. Here are some examples of extended chord shapes and fingerings on the guitar:


E------------------------------------ B----R--3--5--7--9--11-13-R--3--5--7- G----5--7--9--11-13-R--3--5--7--9--11 D----3--5--7--9--11-13-R--3--5--7--9- A------------------------------------ E------------------------------------ Extended Chord Shapes E--0----1----2----3----4----5----6----7----8----9----10----11-- B--0----1----2----3----4----5----6----7----8----9----10----11-- Gx----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x---- Dx----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----x----- Ex-----0-----1-----2-----3-----4-----5-----6-----7-----8 Bx-----0-----1-----2-----3-----4-----5-----6-----7-----8 Conclusion




In this article, you have learned how to construct chords using two methods: using intervals and using formulas. You have also learned how to name and play different types of chords on the guitar: triads, seventh chords, and extended chords. By mastering chord construction, you will be able to create your own chords and understand their function and sound. You will also be able to play chords in different positions and voicings, which will make your guitar playing more versatile and expressive.


Chord construction is a skill that requires practice and experimentation. You should try to apply what you have learned to different songs and genres, and see how different chords work together. You should also try to modify and embellish chords by adding or removing notes, changing their order, or altering their quality. You will discover new sounds and possibilities that will enrich your musical vocabulary and creativity.


If you want to learn more about chord construction and harmony, here are some resources that you can use:


  • Chord Construction - Guitar Lesson World: A comprehensive guide to chord construction with simple rules and examples.



  • Guitar Chord Theory and Construction - TheGuitarLesson.com: A detailed explanation of chord theory and construction with diagrams and exercises.



  • What are Sus2 and Sus4 Chords? - Guitar Music Theory by Desi Serna: A lesson on how to construct and use suspended chords.



  • Guitar Chord Construction: Intervals & Chord Names Oolimo.com: A tool that helps you construct and identify chords using intervals.



FAQs




Here are some common questions and answers about chord construction:



  • What is the difference between a chord and an arpeggio?



A chord is a group of notes that are played simultaneously, while an arpeggio is a group of notes that are played one at a time. An arpeggio can be derived from a chord by breaking it down into its individual notes. For example, if you play the notes C-E-G-B-D one after another, you are playing an arpeggio based on the C major 9 chord.


  • What is the difference between a chord inversion and a chord voicing?



A chord inversion is a way of rearranging the order of the notes in a chord without changing their pitch. A chord voicing is a way of rearranging the order of the notes in a chord by changing their pitch. For example, if you play the notes C-E-G in that order, you are playing the root position of the C major triad. If you play the notes E-G-C in that order, you are playing the first inversion of the C major triad. If you play the notes G-C-E in that order, you are playing the second inversion of the C major triad. These are all examples of chord inversions. If you play the notes C-G-E in that order, you are playing a different voicing of the C major triad, because you have changed the pitch of the E note from the third string to the first string.


  • What is the difference between a slash chord and a polychord?



A slash chord is a way of writing a chord with a different bass note than its root note. A polychord is a way of writing two chords stacked on top of each other. For example, if you write C/E, you are indicating a C major triad with an E note in the bass. This is an example of a slash chord. If you write C/Dm, you are indicating a C major triad over a D minor triad. This is an example of a polychord.


  • What is the difference between a diatonic chord and a chromatic chord?



A diatonic chord is a chord that belongs to a certain key or scale. A chromatic chord is a chord that does not belong to a certain key or scale. For example, if you are in the key of C major, the diatonic chords are C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, and Bdim. These chords are all built from the notes of the C major scale. A chromatic chord would be any chord that contains notes outside of the C major scale, such as C#, D#, F#, G#, or A#.


  • What is the difference between a consonant chord and a dissonant chord?



A consonant chord is a chord that sounds stable and harmonious. A dissonant chord is a chord that sounds unstable and tense. Consonance and dissonance are relative terms that depend on the context and the listener's perception. Generally, chords that have simple ratios between their notes, such as octaves, fifths, and fourths, are considered consonant. Chords that have complex ratios between their notes, such as seconds, sevenths, and tritones, are considered dissonant.


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