There are also chords that contain more than four notes. Further notes can be added to triads and 7th chords to create fuller, extended chords. If you're interested in studying jazz harmony, extended chords are a must.
Hopefully this lesson will provide you with a good knowledge base to help you see how more complex chords are constructed on guitar.
Make sure you have a good
the fretboard to supplement this lesson, because I'll only be
showing you the most common chord forms.
Adding tones to a chord root is known as "stacking". So you can have three note chords (triads) all the way up to six and even seven note chords (although obviously on a six string guitar, omissions, such as the 5th, have to be made). Extended chords are generally those chords that stack up more than 4 tones, beyond the 7th.
Below is the natural order of tones when stacking. Remember, chords may include sharp (♯) or flat (♭) tones. For example, a minor 7th chord includes a ♭3 and ♭7, whereas a major 7th chord includes a major 3 and 7.
The former numbers are to represent that tone's position in the hierarchy when it comes to abbreviating chord names. So, in actuality, the 2nd of the scale comes after the 3rd, 5th and 7th because in chord theory it's the 9th. However, there are exceptions which I admit makes it a little awkward when you're trying to learn this stuff. I'll point out these inconsistencies as they arise.A quick recap for writing the most important chords we've learned so far...
So we're just stacking the intervals up from the root. Once we stack beyond the 7th, we're into extended chord territory!Let's look at some practical examples.
Below are the tones that make up a major 9th (e.g. Gmaj9) chord. The maj9 in the chord name tells us the chord is stacked up to the major 9th tone as follows...
Below is an example of a major 9th chord (but I've left out the 5th so I can get the other tones in - this is fine)...
We can also extend dominant 7th chords to include the 9th, giving us a dominant 9th chord (e.g. G9)...
So if there's no "maj" in between the chord letter and the number, we know the 7th is a dominant (flat) 7th as opposed to a major 7th.
Apply the same stacking process to minor chords. If we add a 9th to a minor 7th chord we get a minor 9th chord...
Here's the order of natural chord tones again for non-scrolling reference...
However, it's more common to use the 11th in the context of a suspended (no 3rd) chord, to avoid dissonance. We can still write it as an 11th chord, however (e.g. C11, D11, F11) and doing so helps us distinguish a stacked 11th suspended chord from a standard sus4 chord, which only tends to include up to the b7 (1 4 5 ♭7).
Again, it's fine to leave out the 5th if, for example, the fingering doesn't allow it. Also, if the root is covered by the bass or other instrument, you can leave out the root as a guitarist and free up a finger/fret for other tones.
Unlike the 11th and major 3rd, the 11th and minor 3rd are commonly used together (especially in jazz music), giving us a minor 11th chord...
beneficial to learn how these chord tones appear right across the
This software will make your study time more productive and interesting.
With 13th chords we leave out the 11th because it tends to sound unharmonious as part of the chord (and on a 6 string guitar, it's physically impossible to play all 7 tones!). These are the inconsistencies you have to work around.
Note that even without the 9th/2nd, it's still often called a 13th chord, as it's a 7th chord with the 13th as the highest tone.
And of course, we can build major 13th chords (e.g. Gmaj13, Amaj13 etc.). The "maj" tells us the 7th is a major 7th as opposed to a minor/flat 7th, with the same overall stack of tones...
Another jazzy one there. Again, even if it didn't include the 2nd/9th, we'd still call it a maj13 chord.
For minor 13th chords, such as Am13 and Gm13, it's just the same, except we flatten the 3rd, because a flat 3rd makes it a minor chord.
Added tone chords (e.g. Gadd6, Gadd9) occur when there is no 7th, yet the chord includes tones beyond the 7th (9th, 11th, 13th). Think of them as extended chords without a 7th. This gives them a different overall sound.
Let's look at the tones in an added 9th (e.g. Gadd9) chord...
Therefore, if the 7th is not present in the chord's stack, any tone beyond the 7th becomes the added tone. In this case, the added tone is the 9th.
The same thing applies when adding the 6th/13th to chords with no 7th. Remember, the 6th becomes the 13th in the order of chord tones. So if the 7th is missing, we can note the chord as add6 or add13...
What if both the 9th and 13th tones are added to a chord with no 7th?
Good question! We could write this as add6/9, or add9/6 (e.g. Gadd9/6). The slash is like saying "and also add..."
Note that you'll see the 13th and 6th used interchangeably, as they're both the same tone. I generally see add6 being used more than add13.To summarise, "add" is like saying "an extended chord (beyond the triad) without a 7th". This applies the same to minor chords (b3) as it does major. E.g. Cmadd9, Cmadd13.
In the next lesson we'll bring all this stuff together and use our chord construction knowledge to create alternate chord voicings, not just the same old E/A form barre/movable chords.
In the meantime, make sure you keep on studying chord forms across the fretboard, based on your knowledge of how each chord type is constructed. The best way to do this is to see how chord extensions exist within scales.
Share this with your fellow guitar enthusiasts...
Please support this site. I really appreciate it!
and learn more
Enter your email below for more like this and grab your free Uncommon Chords book...