View Full Version : Basic classification of chords

12-01-2016, 07:52 PM
There are so many chords on ukulele and some of them are very complex shapes and names. But they are not random, they have simple rules and classifications. This thread gives you a first step of classification of chords.

Basic chords have two types, triad and 7th chords (shown in the far bottom figure). We look at triad first. We use C major triad (See the figure below). It has root (C), major 3rd (E) and perfect 5th (G). There are 4 types of basic triad (M, m, aug and -5), but it is not the point of this thread. The intervals of the elements (red circles on the bottom figures) of triads are thirds (See the circle of thirds figure below). If we add major 7th (B) to the C major triad, we get CM7 (C Major 7). The chord consists of root (C), major 3rd (E), perfect 5th (G) and 7th (B). There are 6 basic 7th chords (7, M7, m7, 7+5, m7-5, dim). The intervals of the elements (red and green circles on the bottom figures) of 7th are still all thirds.

https://s15.postimg.org/dwt36xtqj/combine_images.png (https://postimg.org/image/8y5ksepxj/)image upload (https://postimage.org/)

The basic elements of the chords have 3rd intervals. Hence C6 is not same as C7. 6th is not basic elements of chords. We think it tension note same as 9, 11. We think C6 belongs to triad (See the figure below), triad plus tension note. Sus4 is an exception of the chord style because it has 4th interval instead of 3rd on its basic element. We can summarize the basic chord classification as the figure below.

https://s15.postimg.org/59efd76zv/classification.png (https://postimg.org/image/xm9x3nspz/)how to take a screen shot (https://postimage.org/app.php)

12-14-2016, 06:26 PM
There is another classification. Previous classification is based on the intervals shown in the post above. Another classification is based on the number of the notes. Triad and sus4 have 3 chord notes. They are basic three note chord in this classification. 6th and 7th have 4 notes, and if we add tension notes, they become more than 5 notes. In this classification, 6th and 7th are same category. But in interval classification, 7th belongs to chord note and 6th belongs to tension note.

https://s27.postimg.org/8sp6jeb9f/tmp.png (https://postimg.org/image/nonpqzmnz/)picture upload (https://postimage.org/index.php?lang=chinese_simplified)

Many people take interval classification rather than number in popular music. I think one of the reason may be the importance of 7th chords especially in Jazz.

12-16-2016, 03:47 AM
No offense, but music theory makes my head hurt! I'd rather just be playing my ukulele and making pretty noises. :rolleyes:

12-16-2016, 04:07 AM
When forming chords, it can be useful to know how the chord is constructed. If you know the basic major scales and can count, and you know the root which counts 1 C, G, F etc it is easy to make a chord shape by counting 1, 2, 3. 4, 5 etc along the scale. This helps to learn chords and fretboard positions.

12-16-2016, 07:07 PM
Hi, Larry! Thanks for the reply. Yes, we don't need mysic theory and there are may great players who don't care about music theory.

Hi, Barrytone! Thanks for the reply. You are totally right. We don't need classification when forming chords.

12-17-2016, 03:33 AM
I just need to step in and say that we DO need music theory, and while I understand what you are doing with classification of chords, the function of chords is so much more important.

When I taught high school music theory, I explained it like this: notes make scales, scales make chords and melodies, chords make progressions, and progressions (under melody) make music.

You don't need to know "academic" theory to make music, in the same way that you don't need to read or write to speak. That said, even if you are illiterate in your language, you learn how to communicate following the same rules everyone else does (particularly those that are literate), because you are immersed in those rules all day long and are subject to those rules all day long.

You know what you are also submerged in throughout your life? Music theory. It is the backbone of nearly all the music we listen to--and even if you listen to music that intentionally breaks the rules of music theory (atonal or aleatory), that music has to know the rules to break the rules.

So, you may not know theory--but you are still subject to it and bend to its will, as you are surrounded by it all the time--not just when you are playing, but in the store, in your car, in elevators, and more.

So I would say: don't you want to know more about these rules that so strongly impact your life?

Chord function: saved for another time.

12-17-2016, 10:14 PM
So I would say: don't you want to know more about these rules that so strongly impact your life?

Thank you Chorguy! Good catch. It remind me "Don't want you no more" by Allman Brothers Band. :)