Cyberfret.com: Theory for Guitar: Basic Chord Construction - Page 5
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Basic Chord Construction

Chord formulas


If you look at a D major scale and give each note in the scale a number, then a D major chord is made up of 1, 3, and 5.

 

 



D E F#G A B C#D --> D major scale
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 --> Scale degrees
|___|___| = D (D major chord)

If you look at a D minor chord and compare it to a D major chord, you will see that there is only one note that is different. There is an F# in the D major chord, and there is an F in the D minor chord.

So if D major is 1, 3 and 5 (D F# A), then D minor is 1, b3(flat 3) and 5 (D F A). The b3 just means that the note is a half step (1 fret) lower than the 3rd note in the major scale with the same root (D). No matter what chord you are looking at, you are always going to compare it to the major scale. So what you have learned here is the "formula" for a major and minor chord. This idea of a chord formula will be very important as you learn about constructing other types of chords.

D E F G A B C#D --> D major scale with b3
1 2b4 5 6 7 1 --> Scale degrees
|___|___| = Dm (D minor chord)

 

Major and minor chord formulas

Major = 1 3 5
Minor = 1 b3 5


Here is a basic D major chord with the note names and the formula numbers.

D chord chart



Here is a basic D minor chord with the note names and the formula numbers.

Dm chord chart

Here are some other basic chord formulas, and the notes that would be in the chord if the root was C. This is by no means a comprehensive list. A more detail explanation of these chords will be given in the up comings lessons in this chord construction series (3 note chords, 4 note chords, extended chords). But this will at least get you thinking about other types of chords.

major = 1 3 5 (C E G)
minor = 1 b3 5 (C Eb G)
augmented = 1 3 #5 (C E G#)
diminished = 1 b3 b5 (C Eb Gb)
sus2 = 1 2 5 (C D G)
sus4 = 1 4 5 (C F G)

major 7 = 1 3 5 7 (C E G B)
7 = 1 3 5 b7 (C E G Bb)
minor 7 = 1 b3 5 b7 (C Eb G Bb)
minor 7b5 = 1 b3 b5 b7 (C Eb Gb Bb)
diminished 7 = 1 b3 5 bb7(6) (C Eb G Bbb* or A)

6 = 1 3 5 6 (C E G A)
minor 6 = 1 b3 5 6 (C Eb G A)

* bb = Double flat means to lower a note by 2 half steps (2 frets)

Page 4, Comparing major and minor chords

Page 1, Building chords from the major scale


Basic chord construction jump zone

Building chords from the major scale
Basic triads built from the C major scale
Applying the theory to the neck of the guitar
Comparing major and minor chords
Chord formulas




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