Overview about chords symbols
Going on our studying about chords and keys of a chord, we will see now the most used nomenclatures in chords dictionaries and songbooks. Check below the chord symbols:
- Minor seventh chords: they receive only the number 7. Examples: G7, Bm7, etc.
- Major seventh chords: There are many alternatives to represent theses chords. One of them is to put the number 7 followed by the capital letter M. Examples: C7M, A7M, Bm(7M), etc. Another possible notation is “Maj”: Cmaj7 or just Cmaj (abbreviation of Major Seventh). In popular music websites, people use the notation 7+ (C7+), however this is not the most suitable notation, since it is used for augmented chords.
- Added ninth chords: They receive the number 9 followed by the word “add”. Example: Cadd9. These are the chords created by the triad with an added ninth. When the chord also has the seventh. The American notation use to put only the number 9. As we will see.
- Ninth and seventh minor chords: They can receive just the number 9, or the number 7 followed by the number 9. Example: C9 or C7(9). This happens because the ninth chords use to have seventh too; this is why it is understood that the symbol “9” also informs that there is already a seventh together. When there is not a minor seventh in the chord, it will be clear by using the symbol “add”, as we saw. It would be like saying: “this chord has a ninth added, in other words, it is the ninth added to a triad. There is not a seventh!”. Therefore in practice, not everybody makes this distinction, so it is important to proceed with caution.
- Suspended chords: They are the chords that do not have the third. They receive the acronym “sus”. Generally, these chords are followed by a perfect fourth. Example: Asus4. We will explain why this fourth when we talk about “extension notes”.
- Augmented chords: They can receive the symbol “#” or “+” aside the altered degree in question. Example: G7(#5) or G7(+5). Observation: when the alternated note is a fifth, the chord can also receive only “+”, for example: C+.
- Diminished chords: They receive the symbol “ ° ”. Example: C°. The diminished chord is formed by 1, 3b, 5b and 7bb degrees. When only one note is diminished, we can use the symbol “b” or “-”. Example: G7(b5) or G7(-5). The symbol “-” is also used in the American notation to say that is a minor chord (besides the letter “m”), for example: A- (it is the same as Am). So, because of this do not make a mistake when you see something like C-7 (in this case, it is the Cm7 chord, and not a C chord with a diminished seventh).
Observation: we will study the diminished chord in another topic. Here we are just seeing nomenclatures.
- Half diminished chords: They are the chords with the extension m7(b5). Example: Dm7(b5). We say “D half diminished 7th chord”. This nickname is widely used, because the m7(b5) chord is almost a diminished chord; the only difference is in the seventh (that in a diminished chord is the diminished seventh besides minor seventh). Moreover, it is easier to say “D half diminished” than saying “Minor D with seventh and flatted fifth”. Don’t you think?!
- Altered chords: They are the chords with the extension #9#5. Example: G#9#5. Generally, this kind of chord also contains the minor seventh (G7#9#5). We will give you more details about this subject in the topic “altered scale”. For now, you only have to know that this extension #9#5 is represented by the acronym “alt”. For example, the previous chord could be written like G7alt besides G7#9#5 (Major seventh G, augmented ninth and fifth).
In an overview of all we saw, we could conclude that there are things that the symbology tells us and things that it does not tell us.
What does chords symbols establish?
– If the chord is major, minor or suspended.
– If the chord has a seventh or further added degrees (4th, 6th, 9th).
– If the chord has alterations (5#, 9b, etc.)
– If the chord is inverted (3rd, 5th or 7th in the bass). Observation: we will study this in another topic.
What does chords symbology does not establish?
– The chord position in the instrument (it can be in different regions).
– Duplications or exclusions of notes in a chord (we can duplicate, triplicate or exclude the perfect fifth, duplicate the third, etc.).
Very well, now you are already an expert in this subject of chord symbols and chord names! It is just to exercise the concepts learned here and you will have total autonomy in chords creation, never more with a help of a chord dictionary. Now you are the dictionary!
Go to: Tonality
Back to: Module 3