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Matt Farrow. Guitar and Bass Teacher.

Guitar and Bass teacher based in Hertfordshire

Matt Farrow is a professional guitar and bass player based in Hemel Hempstead. He's played in function bands, pop bands and his own rock and heavy met... read more > >


Matt Farrow

Chords A Bit Of Theory





What are chords and how are they made?

Chords are a collection of notes played at the same time; they are made from the notes of the major scale.

Lets look at some chord theory.

Here are the notes of the major scale:


I am going to make the most basic kind of chord, a Triad. The formula for making a major triad is: Root note + 3rd note + 5th note of the major scale. So if I take the C, E and G notes, which are the root, 3rd and 5th notes of our C major scale I have the notes of the C major triad.


If you look at the notes that you fingering when you play a C major chord in the open position, you will see from lowest to highest, C E G C E.

We can make a chord from every note in the major scale, and when we do that we create a chord scale. When you create a chord scale you can only use the notes that are in the major scale that you are working from. In our case we are using the C major scale, therefore we can only use the natural notes, i.e. no sharp or flat notes.

We have made the first chord C major. Let's look at the second chord.

So take the second note of C major, which is D. And treat D as if it was our root note. If we count out the 3rd and then 5th notes from D, we get D F A. When we play these notes it gives us the chord of D minor. I know, we have used a major scale and a major chord formula and ended up with a minor chord; this is because we can only use the notes of the parent scale, in this case, C major. In the key of D major, we would have an F sharp, therefore giving us a D major chord, but in C major we have an F, so this creates a minor chord. If we carry on using the major scale formula from each note in the scale we would end up with a pattern of major and minor chords like this:

Major Minor Minor Major Major Minor Diminished

C major D minor E minor F major G major A minor B diminished

The diminished chord on B is created because B major has the notes B E flat and G flat and we only have E and G, so creating a diminished triad from B.

This formula works for all major scales, and the chord patterns you create will all have the same structure. Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major, Minor, Diminished.

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