Chord Construction for Beginners

Ever wondered what a chord is and how it is built? Don't worry, because here are the answers you are looking for.

Ultimate Guitar
Note: I could easily explain you all the theory from the beginning, but let's just say you already know basic music theory. If you don't know what intervals are you should probably look it up or ask me to do a lesson about this matter. Chords are a compilation of 3 or more notes that are played at the same time. You could actually also just have a chord fingering and play notes one by one. But this would only be a chord fingering and it would not actually be a chord that is played. You could also confuse chords with arpeggios depending on how you play them. Today we are going to look at very basic chords; triads. You probably already know the basic chords and how to play them. But do you understand what you are actually playing? Chords can be played in many different ways, beginning with the root note or with inversions. Here are the basic triads: Major, Minor, Diminished and Augmented. And here is how you build them. Major: Root note, Major third and perfect fifth. Minor: Root note, minor third and perfect fifth. Diminished: Root note, minor third and Diminished fifth. Augmented: Root note, Major third and augmented fifth. You can also think about these chords in a different way. Putting thirds on top of each other. All of them obviously have a root note. Major: Major third and minor third. Minor: Minor third and Major third. Diminished: Minor third and minor third. Augmented: Major third and Major third. If you understand this basic chord construction you will be able to move away from the basic chord fingerings and make your own chord fingerings and make them sound more interesting. In the future I will refer to Major and minor with M (Major) and m (minor). Intervals will also be in numbers and not written down in words. So if I write M6 you should know that I am referring to a Major sixth. For diminished and augmented I will use dim (diminished) and aug (augmented). I will try to keep up with these lessons and submit as much as possible. If you wish to have a certain lesson, just message me.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    i should learn music theory first i have avtually no clue what going on here
    DJ Esus
    Oh noes, the example chord progression is breaking one of Palestrina's harmonic composision rules.
    DJ Esus
    That's not a Gsus either, ohwell.
    Dude. The image has nothing to do with the lesson. It is a random image. Did you even read this lesson completely or did you just focus on the image?
    Great post and good topic. Even for intermediate to expert guitarists, triads progressing onto 7ths and 9ths and ultimately a mixed-variation within a composition, of all chord progressions is extremely healthy for you as a practicing musician, especially if you are playing in a band. Understanding the simple power chords and decorating them with augmented or diminished notes truly compliment a composition as a whole. Unfortunately again, the more notes per chord, the harder it is for anyone to build a solo over it, without being boxed in, in the same chord-box. There will always be pros and cons. The pros in this case is that one comes to understand progression-theory and when to use it and when NOT to use it... Once again, great post, good topic!
    It will get more complicated with chords that have more notes. But don't worry, that's why I'm here. Chord progressions and analysis of songs will be a lesson in the near future. Thanks for you positive post
    I did not choose the image. The image was put randomly I guess. Thanks for the comments. There will be more to come. Any special questions about theory? Well just ask me and I will upload it as soon as possible
    thanks for the lesson, Possibly if you correlated things like diminished fifth with the major scale (flat 5th sharp fifth etc) it would connect more dots.
    I'm not going to explain the chords with scales just yet. This is basic chord construction. If you already know this things than please just wait for the future lessons. Thanks for enjoying my lesson
    great idea for a lesson, i actually knew this stuff by searching wikipedia, then assimilating it with my guitar, it is not that hard if you have a basic understanding of intervals (which i also gained through the internet), what i have trouble with, is using these chords in different contexts, sometimes i feel like i simply don't know when to use some kinds of chords, and if i manage to fit them in a composition it is out of sheer luck and/or experimentation... i also feel like minor and major chords are way too generic, seeing how familiarized i have become with them pretty much since i started playing, but then you have bands like extol who use major chords and progressions in such a unique-sounding way... this was a pretty well done lesson, and i hope that down the road you'll touch on the themes i have discussed above, ie proper and/or creative ways to use these chords... cheers dude
    Well, it doesn't really matter at all. If it sounds good, you can choose whatever chords you want. But I would really suggest you to check out the chord progressions of the major, minor, melodic minor and harmonic minor scale. And don't just use triads, but also 7th and 9th chords. You can also just wait for me to put up a lesson about that. It might take a month maybe because All the lessons I'm uploading are from basic music theory to advanced music theory. Cheers
    You, sir, are telling me that people on Ultimate Guitar, don't care about music theory and you, are also kinda telling me that they are ignorant and simplistic? Only because you don't have the brain skills to understand this things, does not mean that the rest of the Ultimate Guitar users are like you. If people want to learn this things they will come and learn it. If they want to stick with power chords it doesn't matter either. The important thing is to be happy with what you want to learn, doesn't matter what. You should really get some manners kid. Don't be ignorant.
    I understood all but the part where u said putting thirds on top of each other then there was a different formula ? or it was just to memorize them better ? thank you