#1
Chord Formation

I think this is one of the most vital parts of theory knowledge that every bassist needs to learn at some point during their bass playing career, and think the sooner they learn the better , it also fits in nicely with the last lesson on scales. I’ll just do examples in C with chord shapes which can be transferred to any other note, and with a formula for each chord from the number note it is from the major scale.

Let’s start with the major chord:
Formula: 1-3-5
Notes: C-E-G
Possible chord symbols: C, Cmaj, CM, Cma
------------
------------
-----7--10--
--8---------


Minor chord:
Formula: 1-b3-5
Notes: C-Eb-G
Possible chord symbols: Cm, C-, Cmin, Cmi
The typical “sad” chord, the other basic building block to music.
------------
------------
-----6--10--
--8---------


Suspended chords:
Suspended chords are those with no third, but usually a dissonant 2nd or 4th in the scale and are so named.
sus2
Formula: 1-2-5
Notes: C-D-G
-------------
-------------
---------10--
--8--10------


sus4
Formula: 1-4-5
Notes: C-F-G
------------
------------
-----8--10--
--8---------

NB. Chords called jus sus, (eg Csus) can also be written in the clearer format of 7sus4, ie there is a dominant 7 on top of sus4 chord, this will be explained later.

Augmented
Formula: 1-3-#5
Notes: C-E-G#
Formula: 1-3-5
Notes: C-E-G
Possible chord symbols: C+, C+, Caug
------------
------------
-----7--11--
--8---------

NB. A C+ chord is also identical in terms of notes to an E+ and G#+ chords.

Diminished
Formula 1-b3-b5
Notes: C-Eb-Gb
Possible chord symbols: Cm(b5), Cº, Cdim
-----------
-----------
-----6--9--
--8--------

As the first chord symbol highlights, a diminished is the same as a minor chord with a flattened (down one step) fifth.

These basic chords can be extended as shown below.
Seventh chords
These come in two forms the dominant seventh and the major seventh, each will be dealt with individually.

Dominant seventh (also called seventh, major minor seventh)
Formula: 1-3-5-b7
Notes: C-E-G-Bb
Possible chord symbols: C7, C7
---------------
------------8--
-----7--10-----
--8------------

Another way of thinking of the dominant seventh chord is to think of an interval of 2 steps between root and third and 1½ steps between the fifth and dominant seventh.

Major seventh
Formula: 1-3-5-7
Notes: C-E-G-B
Possible chord symbols: CMaj7, CMA7, CM7, CΔ, Cj7
---------------
------------9--
-----7--10-----
--8------------

In this chord the seventh remains the seventh step of the major scale, and due to only one semitone (one step) between the C and B can sound dissonant.
All other chords called something 7 use the dominant seventh unless a major seventh is mentioned in the chord name.

Minor seventh
Formula: 1-b3-5-b7
Notes: C-Eb-G-Bb
Possible chord symbols: Cm7, C-7, C-7
---------------
------------8--
-----6--10-----
--8------------


Diminished seventh (full diminished)
Formula: 1-b3-b5-bb7
Notes: C-Eb-Gb-Bbb(A)
Possible chord symbols: Co, Cdim7

--------------
-----------7--
-----6--9-----
--8-----------

different shape, that is really useful for diminished improv

----------------
----------------
---------9--12--
--8--11---------


The bb7 is enharmonically equivalent (posh way of saying the same note) as the 6 note in the major scale, but is always referred to as a double flattened dominant seventh, in theory terms.
NB Cdim7 is the same in terms as notes as the other notes in the chord diminished. IE Cdim7 = Ebdim7 = Gbdim7 = Adim7

Half-diminished
Formula: 1-b3-b5-b7
Notes: C-Eb-Gb-Bb
Possible chord symbols: Cø, Cm7b5, C-7(b5)
--------------
-----------8--
-----6--9-----
--8-----------


Sometimes also referred to as a minor-seven, flat five chord due to the notes involved, I haven’t seen this used much outside jazz, but I’m sure plenty of people know of examples in other genres.

Augmented seventh
Formula: 1-3-#5-b7
Notes: C-E-G#-Bb
Possible chord symbols: C+7, C7+, C7+5, C7#5
---------------
------------8--
-----7--11-----
--8------------

Technically I shouldn’t have a sharp and flat there, but I think it makes it easier to understand that way.

Minor, major seventh
Formula: 1-b3-5-7
Notes: C-Eb-G-B
Possible chord symbols: Cm(Maj7), C-(j7)
---------------
------------9--
-----6--10-----
--8------------


Extended chords

These come in two forms those with just the number afterwards eg C9 and the add chords eg C(add9)

I’ll deal with the chords with just the numbers. These always include all the intervals before them, eg a C13 chord will have the root, 3, 5, dominant 7, 9,11 and 13 in the chord but due to most instruments only being able to play a limited number of notes notes are omitted, generally first the fifth and then the root note, as long as at least one instrument plays the root note for the duration of the chord. Extended chords always use the dominant seventh unless it is specifically mentioned, a ninth chord with the major seventh will be called a major9 chord. These can all be made minor but taking the third down a step but I’m only showing them in the major form. Also they can be made with flat fives, augmented and any other variations, but I’ll just show the main chords.

Sixth
Formula: 1-3-5-6
Notes: C-E-G-A
 ---------------
------------7--
-----7--10-----
--8------------ 

Possible chord symbols: C6 (might be others but that’s all I know)
NB This chord has the same notes a the minor7 chord of the sixth, in this case Am7. A minor sixth chord also exists, ie a note with a b6 in terms of the major scale, and is notated as Cmin(min6) or Cmin(Aeolian) is very rare as the minor sixth is seen as a note to avoid as there is only a semitone between it and the perfect fifth.

Dominant Ninth
Formula: 1-3-5-b7-9
Notes: C-E-G-Bb-D
Possible chord symbols: C9
 
---------------7--
------------8-----
-----7--10--------
--8--------------- 

NB The ninth is the octave of the second note in the major scale

Major Ninth
Formula: 1-3-5-7-9
Notes: C-E-G-B-D
Possble chord symbols: Cma9, Cmaj9, CM9
 
---------------7--
------------9-----
-----7--10--------
--8--------------- 

Seven, sharp nine (sometimes referred to by some people as the “Hendrix chord&rdquo
Formula: 1-3-5-b7-#9
Notes: C-E-G-Bb-D#
Possible chord symbols: C7#9, C7(b9)
 ---------------8--
------------8-----
-----7--10--------
--8--------------- 

The inclusion of the sharpened ninth brings dissonance to the chord due to the gap of only one semitone between the major thir and the sharpened ninth. It also means the chord is neither major nor minor as both major and minor thirds are included. The 7#9 chord is also used a lot in funk music.

Seven, flat nine
Formula: 1-3-5-b7-b9
Notes: C-E-G-Bb-Db
Possible chord symbols: C7b9, C7(b9)
 
---------------6--
------------8-----
-----7--10--------
--8--------------- 


Dominant eleventh
Formula: 1-3-5-b7-9-11
Notes: C-E-G-Bb-D-F
Possible chord symbols: C11
 ---------------7--10--
------------8---------
-----7--10------------
--8------------------- 


Dominant thirteenth
Formula: 1-3-5-b7-9-11-13
Notes: C-E-G-Bb-D-F-A
Possible chord symbols: C13
 ---------------7--10--14--
------------8-------------
-----7--10----------------
--8----------------------- 


Six-Nine
Formula: 1-3-5-6-9
Notes: C-E-G-A-D
Possible chord symbols: C6/9
 ---------------7--
------------7-----
-----7--10--------
--8--------------- 


Please note that individual notes in each can be altered by a semitone either flat or sharp, for example it is possible to get a chord such as C7(b9)(#11)(b13), where each of the bracketed notes would be altered by the sign in the bracket.

(Add) chords are the same as the extended chords however they do not include all the notes in between. This will be made clear below.

Added ninth
Formula: 1-3-5-9
Notes: C-E-G-D
 ------------7--
---------------
-----7--10-----
--8------------ 

NB NO dominant seventh

Added eleventh
Formula: 1-3-5-11
Notes: C-E-G-F
 ------------10--
----------------
-----7--10------
--8------------- 


Added thirteenth chords are the same as sixth chords except that the sixth is an octave higher. Please note “added” chords are the same as suspended chords except for the presence of a third.


Power chords
These are not true chords as there are only 2 different notes present, but I’ll still include them here.
Formula: 1-5
Notes: C-G
 ---------
---------
-----10--
--8------
 

Slash chords
Final type of chord in this theory of the month, is the slash chord. One such example would be C/E. All this means is there is a C major chord being played while the bass note is an E.

There are other chords as well as those I have mentioned for example chords with no third or a dominant thirteenth chord without an eleventh bu these are usually made clear on the music. I hope all this has been clear and concise and any questions, I will gladly answer.
Founder of Jaco society

[22:08:23] <Confusius> I wish I was a bassist
[22:08:26] <Confusius> you fuckers look cool


Want to know how to play bass in jazz? Read this.
Last edited by sinan90 at Mar 9, 2007,
#2
I might aswell comment

Nice, I skimmed a little but seems informative. I'll read it properly when I have the time. Cheers for posting the lesson.
The will to neither strive nor cry,
The power to feel with others give.
Calm, calm me more; nor let me die
Before I have begun to live.

-Matthew Arnold

Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.
#3
Quote by sinan90
Let’s start with the major chord:
Formula: 1-3-5
Notes: C-E-G
Possible chord symbols: C, Cmaj, CM, Cma
------------
------------
-----7--10--
--8---------


I'm sure this is a stupid question but how do you play a chord like this when there are 2 notes on the same string?
#4
Just a few things..

You've spelt out your C°7 chord wrong. It should be C - Eb - Gb - Bbb, not C - Eb - Gb - A.

Another possible and more common way of notating a min/maj7 chord is -Δ. For example, C-Δ.

You said.. 'A minor sixth chord also exists, ie a note with a b6 in terms of the major scale'... that is incorrect. A minor sixth chord does not contain a minor sixth interval above the root. The construction of a minor sixth chord is 1 - b3 - 5 - 6, not 1 - b3 - 5 - b6.

In reference to the _7#9 chord, you said.. 'It also means the chord is neither major nor minor as both major and minor thirds are included'.. That is also incorrect. The minor third is not included in function, but replaced by the augmented 9th (I know they are enharmonic).. but this is why we call it 7#9 and not min7(add10) (which doesn't exist). Because the note that is the minor third, is now functioning as an augmented ninth because the major third interval takes precedence because the quality of the chord is dominant, and it's use confirms that, most commonly functioning as the V chord resolving to the I chord, or the tonic I chord, and rarely the tonic i chord, which is somewhere it would function as a minor chord - but very rarely is it used, and it's primary function is either functioning as the V chord, or I chord. So saying that it is neither major nor minor is incorrect because it will always have a function depending on where it's place.. it's functioning as a major chord if it's being used as the V chord or tonic I, or minor if it's being using as the tonic i chord.

It's a very good lesson.. but I think it could be extended to include a lot more chords, especially those associated with major scale harmony, susb9, m7b13, maj7#11 and so forth.. an also more explanation on certain chords to clear up why certain chords are favoured in certain situations, for example why phrygian is rarely used over a m7 chord, why maj7#11 is favoured over maj9#11 as the Lydian chord, why a diminished triad almost always functions as a V chord in major scale harmony and so forth. But still, a nice lesson.

Last edited by Johnljones7443 at Mar 2, 2007,
#5
Quote by Johnljones7443
Just a few things..

You've spelt out your C°7 chord wrong. It should be C - Eb - Gb - Bbb, not C - Eb - Gb - A.

Another possible and more common way of notating a min/maj7 chord is -Δ. For example, C-Δ.

You said.. 'A minor sixth chord also exists, ie a note with a b6 in terms of the major scale'... that is incorrect. A minor sixth chord does not contain a minor sixth interval above the root. The construction of a minor sixth chord is 1 - b3 - 5 - 6, not 1 - b3 - 5 - b6.

In reference to the _7#9 chord, you said.. 'It also means the chord is neither major nor minor as both major and minor thirds are included'.. That is also incorrect. The minor third is not included in function, but replaced by the augmented 9th (I know they are enharmonic).. but this is why we call it 7#9 and not min7(add10) (which doesn't exist). Because the note that is the minor third, is now functioning as an augmented ninth because the major third interval takes precedence because the quality of the chord is dominant, and it's use confirms that, most commonly functioning as the V chord resolving to the I chord, or the tonic I chord, and rarely the tonic i chord, which is somewhere it would function as a minor chord - but very rarely is it used, and it's primary function is either functioning as the V chord, or I chord. So saying that it is neither major nor minor is incorrect because it will always have a function depending on where it's place.. it's functioning as a major chord if it's being used as the V chord or tonic I, or minor if it's being using as the tonic i chord.

It's a very good lesson.. but I think it could be extended to include a lot more chords, especially those associated with major scale harmony, susb9, m7b13, maj7#11 and so forth.. an also more explanation on certain chords to clear up why certain chords are favoured in certain situations, for example why phrygian is rarely used over a m7 chord, why maj7#11 is favoured over maj9#11 as the Lydian chord, why a diminished triad almost always functions as a V chord in major scale harmony and so forth. But still, a nice lesson.





Dont worry about it threadstarter, John always points out our smallest errors in the MT forum Its like we are never right.

However, pretty good lesson. This should help a lot of people out here.
Quote by funkdaddyfresh
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#10
damn. i know a shitload more about chords now.
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#11
Quote by Anthony5555
I'm sure this is a stupid question but how do you play a chord like this when there are 2 notes on the same string?

Basses don't often strum chords like guitars do, but they would mainly play those notes in the form of a triad.
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#12
I'd love to see a printer friendly version of this
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Sex, pizza, the smell of fresh washing and slap bass.
#14
Quote by Johnljones7443
Just a few things..

You've spelt out your C°7 chord wrong. It should be C - Eb - Gb - Bbb, not C - Eb - Gb - A.

Another possible and more common way of notating a min/maj7 chord is -Δ. For example, C-Δ.

You said.. 'A minor sixth chord also exists, ie a note with a b6 in terms of the major scale'... that is incorrect. A minor sixth chord does not contain a minor sixth interval above the root. The construction of a minor sixth chord is 1 - b3 - 5 - 6, not 1 - b3 - 5 - b6.

In reference to the _7#9 chord, you said.. 'It also means the chord is neither major nor minor as both major and minor thirds are included'.. That is also incorrect. The minor third is not included in function, but replaced by the augmented 9th (I know they are enharmonic).. but this is why we call it 7#9 and not min7(add10) (which doesn't exist). Because the note that is the minor third, is now functioning as an augmented ninth because the major third interval takes precedence because the quality of the chord is dominant, and it's use confirms that, most commonly functioning as the V chord resolving to the I chord, or the tonic I chord, and rarely the tonic i chord, which is somewhere it would function as a minor chord - but very rarely is it used, and it's primary function is either functioning as the V chord, or I chord. So saying that it is neither major nor minor is incorrect because it will always have a function depending on where it's place.. it's functioning as a major chord if it's being used as the V chord or tonic I, or minor if it's being using as the tonic i chord.

It's a very good lesson.. but I think it could be extended to include a lot more chords, especially those associated with major scale harmony, susb9, m7b13, maj7#11 and so forth.. an also more explanation on certain chords to clear up why certain chords are favoured in certain situations, for example why phrygian is rarely used over a m7 chord, why maj7#11 is favoured over maj9#11 as the Lydian chord, why a diminished triad almost always functions as a V chord in major scale harmony and so forth. But still, a nice lesson.



Thanks for that, I've corrected the bit about the diminished chord but I'll keep the A bracketed because it's enharmonic and it'll be easier for the majority of people to understand. I also know what I said about the 7#9 chord is wrong about it being major and minor, but I always think of it that way and play it that way on a piano becuse I can't make the #9 stretch . In respect to other chords and when they fit in terms of scales, I don't much on that so I left that out And with the chord with a minor 6, I've read somewhere that the chord with the minor 6th does exist but it's hardly ever used.
Founder of Jaco society

[22:08:23] <Confusius> I wish I was a bassist
[22:08:26] <Confusius> you fuckers look cool


Want to know how to play bass in jazz? Read this.
#15
johnljones, i would kill for your knowledge of the 'theory'..
"I don't mind making sissy rock. I'll rock your ass sensitive style" - John Mayer
#16
It's good, but it doesn't explain why use this chord rather than that, or what to do with them. It's basically a list of chords.
#17
Quote by smb
It's good, but it doesn't explain why use this chord rather than that, or what to do with them. It's basically a list of chords.


I don't have enough theory knowledge to something like that, but it's still important to know what notes there are in each chord, because generally they are your primary notes when coming up with a bassline.
Founder of Jaco society

[22:08:23] <Confusius> I wish I was a bassist
[22:08:26] <Confusius> you fuckers look cool


Want to know how to play bass in jazz? Read this.
#19
All formulas are based from the major scale sequence, hence in C:
1=C
2=D
3=E
4=F
5=G
6=A
7=B

And something like b7 would be a Bb in C.
Founder of Jaco society

[22:08:23] <Confusius> I wish I was a bassist
[22:08:26] <Confusius> you fuckers look cool


Want to know how to play bass in jazz? Read this.
#21
I knew alot of this already, but I enjoyed reading it.
Sinan...You've done it again
Quote by Demonikk
+1
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Quote by Charlatan_001
EDIT: Sammcl pretty much got it dead on.
#22
This is really old you know guys. There was huge bump on it.
Founder of Jaco society

[22:08:23] <Confusius> I wish I was a bassist
[22:08:26] <Confusius> you fuckers look cool


Want to know how to play bass in jazz? Read this.
#23
Quote by sinan90
This is really old you know guys. There was huge bump on it.


Oh...I thought it was new and waiting to be stickied...Oops. Kudos anyway.
Quote by Demonikk
+1
I live by the method: 3 or less orange warning labels, and it's safe as a kitten


Quote by Charlatan_001
EDIT: Sammcl pretty much got it dead on.
#25
Quote by smb
It's good, but it doesn't explain why use this chord rather than that, or what to do with them. It's basically a list of chords.


If it's ok with Sinan, I could tack on some general pointers for that, later in the week. (I've work to see to, and my car to fix. And I'll need to dig out my Chuck Rainey and Jonas Hellborg books to be sure I don't make a horrendous howler!)
It remains a good lesson tho! Knowledge is power...
#26
very nice man my knowledge of chords has expanded im gonna try use this to play chords as chords as well not just triads
I am me. Live with it.
#28
God, I thought the flu was making me hallucinate or have a strong deja vu experience.

yeah Sinan, I remembered this thread and referenced it earlier this week. Forgot to give you your props tho'.