Chord Formulas and ‘Feel’

February 23, 2012

Where R=root note and the ascending numbers are semitone intervals. 7th note extensions in parenthesis.

Chord Formula  ‘Feel’
Semitone Root+1 Suspenseful, threatening
5th R+7 Solid, ‘power chord’
Major R+4+3(+3) complacent, satisfied, optimistic
Minor R+3+4(+3) Sad (but not always)
7th  R+4+3+4 Tough, bluesey jazzy rocky
Major 7th  R+4+3+4 Happy, almost jazzy
Minor 7th R+3+4+3 Airy, melancholy, ‘Not quite’ sad
Min/Maj 7th R+3+4+4 Softer still
Augmented R+4+4*(+3) Blues, country, jazz
Diminished R+3+3*(+3) Classical, jazz, gospel
Sus2 R+2+5 ‘Open’ sound , hanging there
Sus4 R+5+2 As above
Major 9th R+3+3+3+4 Open, soaring, airy
9th (dom 9th) R+4+3+3+4 Open, soaring, airy
m9th R+3+7+10+14 Tragic, hopeless
6th R+4+3+2 Jazzy-bossa playfulness
m6 R+3+7+9 Suspenseful, mysterious

To find the desired chord on the keyboard: Place a finger on the root note, count-up the semitones to the next position, place your finger and count-up again for the next position, etc. Example: A Maj7th = R+4-3-4 = A – Csharp – E – Gsharp.

To find the first inversion of any chord, take your finger off the root and place it on the note one octave above (in our example, still an A, just an octave higher).

To find the second inversion, move your lowest finger up to the next available note in the chord.

This way you can cycle up and down the keyboard, in the process using the same notes – = A – Csharp – E – Gsharp in different order.

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