Hey guys. I'm really interested in learning how to name chords but I'm not sure where to start. I know a little bit of music theory but don't know where to go to learn more. I know a little about how chords are derived from scales using formulas, and a bit about diatonic chords.

Any hints on where I should go to continue learning more complex music theory?
First step, I think, would be to learn all the chord formulas, if you're already headed in that direction. It would also help to learn how harmony is written. Try analyzing some songs that you know, then try to take a simple melody and write a harmony to it. Try to do it more than one way, too. Most harmony is very flexible, and depending on the melody, you can write it many different ways.

Name That Chord was always one of my favorite activities, and I also use the concept to quiz all my students. For example, I'd give them a set of notes and ask them to name the chord, then quiz them on stuff like:

What keys can this chord be found diatonically in?
How many different names could this chord be named?
Depending on context, which is the most correct name?
What chords would commonly preceed or follow this chord?
What is the function of the chord?

This is all stuff you should be thinking about when you're analyzing a harmony, eventually you won't have to think about it, and it will be routine. Once you get your ear training up, you will be able to hear it when listening to a song for the first time.

http://www.musictheory.net/ is a great resource for all things music theory, very interactive too. They have an ear training app, very useful.
Exactly as stated. Learn chord formulae. Now I think that having some sort of structured study into it helps, because you will have the correct note names for the correct chord.

For example, an E7#9, Hendrix chord. If you play it on the guitar, what notes make it up?

Did you come up with any of these?

E Ab B D G?
E G# B D G?

If so, they are wrong. The correct notes of that chord, in music theory are E G# B D Fx.

A structured guided study of music theory would prove essential in understanding how that is true and why that is true.

As for how to learn these things, lots of ways. There are online sources that teach these things. But, you can learn the same thing at your own pace by understanding the intervals, the correct notes at those intervals, and the chord structure/formulae.

Step one, learn the correct notes for every interval. Scales have one alphabetic character per degree. For example in A:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Seven notes in an A major scale (not including the octave)


So A with some sort of 6th would mean that the alphabetic letter at 6 is some sort of F, it could be F# or F, depending upon the context, but they are always the letter F

If you needed a 3rd in A, it will only be some sort of C.

This is what I mean about naming the intervals with the correct alphabetic identity.

Hope this gets you started. Knowing every chord no matter how crazy is an awesome skillset, that can help you also decide what would work with it.


Last edited by Sean0913 at Apr 21, 2015,