Hey guys,
I am in my school's Jazz band (just started) and I am supposed to be comping on a few chords, one of which is a Bb7sus.
Not a Bb7sus4 or sus2....just suspended.

So my question is, what notes are in that and why? Also, (for bonus points) there are numbers in parenthesis near some of the chords, those are just optional chord extensions right?

For a jazz band, Im assumign yoru reading off chord charts, when sus is simply stated (especially in jazz) its always shorthand for 7sus4. (as in 1 4 5 b7)

A 7sus4 can be seen as a re-harmonization of the ii and V into one chord, also a good definition for a 7sus4 chord, is, a chord in which the nat 11th/4th does not sound like/act as an aviod note.
well, the notes in a b7sub4 chord would be the root (1), major third (3), fourth (4), fifth (5) and the dominant seventh (b7)

the sus2 would include the second note of the scale and not the fourth.

the major third is optional, but since it's not a minor chord, you COULD include the third, but it isn't required and might cause unwanted harmonic clutter. i would play the Bb7sus4 as:


hope that helps. i'm a bit rusty, but the numbers in parentheses can either refer to which fret you play the root note on, or which alternate version of the chord is intended at that part of the score.

i don't know why it would not include a note along with "sus" in your worksheets, unless it doesn't matter if you do a sus2 or a sus 4. both are kinda dissonant, but in different ways. i always think a sus2 sounds way sadder, and a sus4 sounds uplifting.
Last edited by frigginjerk at Oct 16, 2008,
Quote by Galvanise69
From what I've learned, 7sus4 chords, do not include a nat 3rd.

A Dominant 11 would.

that's what i figured. a major third would cause too much "closeness" and tension around the sus4, which is the note that the chord is supposed to emphasize.
Yes, but moreso than that, if you include the Major 3rd, The chord will function as a Dom11 not a 7sus4.

Sorry if im wrong, I dont quite know, im just saying what Ive learnt, (not much)
The typical Sus jazz voicing makes use of the fourth in a way that it doesn't sound like a dissonant note.

You would want to play the 1st, 4th and 7th of the Mixolydian mode to emphasis the Sus "feeling".

An easy commonly used voicing is playing the root in the bass and a major triad one step below the root in the lead. Gsus for example would be voiced as a F/G. here's an easy way to play it on guitar:


(for Gsus)
Last edited by gutsman at Oct 16, 2008,
also, it is perfectly fine to add a third to your voicing as long as you keep it above the fourth
If you're playing in a school jazz band you certainly have a bassist and a pianist, likely some low brass and reeds as well. So I'd voice your sus chords as 2 stacked fourths, like

Bb Eb Ab


It's a nice sound.

gutsman's voicing is also nice but I'd leave out the root in your situation: so for Bbsus just play an Ab major triad. (or an Fm7 chord)
Quote by gutsman
also, it is perfectly fine to add a third to your voicing as long as you keep it above the fourth


Take this with a grain of salt.

sometimes its okay, but others its definitely not. Sometimes the entirely reason a sus chord is used is to make a chord with a mediant, but has no third.
A few questions.

In a sus chord, can/should you include the 3rd or not?

I get

a) No (me)
b) Yes (frigginjerk)
c) Yes, but as long as its above the third


So, a common way to voice sus chords, is with the root in the bass, and a major triad a step below the root.

So, F/G

G - F - A - C

I thought a 7sus4 was 1 4 5 b7

This has 1 b7 2 4

Is the fifth necessary?

Is the 2nd meant to be present in a sus chord?

Nick you said to voice sus chords, as just two stacked 4ths.. So as in a Csus

C - F - Bb?

And for a sus chord, jus play it rootless, and instead play a major triad a step below?

So for Csus..

Bb D F
b7 2 4

Is the 2nd/9th common in a sus chord.

Or instead of playing Abmaj, you could play Fmaj7 (or Cmin7?)

But rollinrhythm, said that the 3rd should not be included in 7sus4 chords..

Some help, please?
It all depends. In most scenarios, it is not acceptable to use a third in a sus chord. The entire purpose of the Sus is the removal of the third.

There are exceptions, but they are rare, and almost never in a band setting.
Well, thats what I thought.

Having the third in a sus chord, (to me) would mean Dom11

But Ill keep it in my mind, that a 7sus4 can be voiced with the 3rd, as long as it's ontop of the 4th.
Voicing a third above the fourth avoids the b9 dissonance of having it below. Use if it sounds right.

My point was that in a large ensemble, you always have someone playing the root of the chord you're comping. So you don't have to. So you're still playing Ab/Bb if you just play an Ab triad at the point in the piece where the Bbsus is indicated, because your bassist will handle it. Fm7/Bb also creates the Bbsus but includes the fifth. 9th is a safe extension over sus chords, and it sounds nice.
ahh the "sus" chords...another mystery set of sounds....how/where/when are they used..??
for me its a experimental chord .."see how it fits/sounds before/ after this other chord" if there are rules for using sus chords..they are well hidden...as they have an ethereal sound that is quality ambigious..sort of like diminished chords but without any anticipation of resolution...

listen to "Ricky don't lose that number" by steely dan...the opening three chords are sus types.. (Dsus2 Asus & Esus..if i remember correctly)..used in this context they convey a key sense because they are all sus ... other uses in song structures are less defined...in jazz harmony...the logic can be baffling..

find one or two nice sus sounds you like and try to use them in progressions...the more your ear gets used to the sound the easier you will find a "place" for them in progressions..

play well

if it contains the third its not suspended

and if the third or the fourth are and octave apart then it is acceptable
Here lies a problem that most guitar players face in this day of internet tab and short attention spans — they don't know how to express themselves.

-Nick Layton
okay, what i actually said was that in theory you COULD include the major third, but it would probably ruin the sus4 chord feel. it would probably still sound better than a minor third and a fourth.
well, what I meant when I said that it was fine to use a major third don't take as if you should add it to every sus chord you play. just don't view the fourth as a replacement for the third altogether. Use your ear and estimate for yourself as to whether it sounds tasteful or not. When you use it in most situations you would want to voice it above the fourth because else the fourth and third will create a minor second within the chord which gives it a lot of dissonance.

Also, don't think so squarely about modes in jazz. playing a third in a sus segment does not automatically mean it's an entirely different chord altogether and would therefor disturb the original feeling that would go with it. Remember, the things people are stating here are just guidelines that will help you get a sense about why things are done the way a lot of people have done them over the years. Above all you should try different voicings out for yourself and see when it sounds right or not. Developing an internal sense about what feels right is much more important then just following a set of rules.
Sweet! Thanks guys, this helped alot. I am taking AP Music Theory at school, but we haven't gotten to suspended chords yet, so I have been watching this with interest. I just read it as a sus4, which is what was recommended by most of you (before the discussion on whether to play the third or not.)

Once again, UG has not failed me!
Thanks guys,
In AP music theory you'll be studying a different kind of suspension, the classical definition, it's one type of nonharmonic tone in harmony writing: A delayed downward step. Jazz uses the term suspension differently.