[THEORY] Suspended Chords

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  • #181117
    Andrei Moraru
    Andrei Moraru
    Participant

    Hello one and all and welcome to our latest installment in the realm of music theory. Last time we talked about triads…now it’s time to play around with them a bit.

    We know that a triad is basically a group of three notes all played at the same time and that when we play a triad on any instrument, it’s enough for it to be considered a chord. Last time we talked about major, minor, augmented and diminished triad, which all revolved around thirds (stacking two thirds on top of each other). Usually, such triads are notated using the digits 1, 3 and 5 and adding accidentals where necessary.

    This time around, we are going to change the middle note from a 3 to a 2 or a 4. The resulting new chords are known as suspended chords. There are two types of such chords:

    • suspended second (sus2) chords, which consist of a second and a fourth stacked on top of each other (1-2-5 is the formula for them)
    • suspended fourth (sus4) chords, which consist of a fourth and a second stacked on top of each other (1-4-5 is the formula for them)

    Note that these formulas are based on the notes of the major scale. For example, a Csus2 triad consists of the C, D and G notes (the first, second and fifth notes of the C major scale), while a Csus4 triad consist of the C, F and G notes (the first, fourth and fifth notes of the C major scale).

    Suspended chords are neither major nor minor (since they lack that quality defining third in their formula) and they can be used to replace their major or minor counterpart in order to add variety to your songs. They do add a bit of tension in your song so you might feel the need to resolve that tension when you play. Tension is most easily resolved in your songs by playing the tonic chord, but that’s another discussion for another day.

    That about covers it for this post.

    Previous posts:

    Notes, pitches, semitones and octaves
    Accidentals and enharmonic-notes
    Musical Intervals
    Triads

    #181118
    Ids Schiere
    Ids Schiere
    Participant

    Nice!

    In the basic sense with triads yes Susan chords are neither major or minor but if you look at 7ths and stuff like that you can actually make suspended chords major depending when you play a major 7th. Suspended only accounts for the third so adding a major 7th can give you a maj7sus2 chord for example(which means the third is replaced by a 2nd but it’s still major because of the maj7). If you would add a minor 7th to your sus chord you would get a dominant7sus chord for example 7sus2. Since a minor 7th can either be used to make a minor7th chord or a dominant chord where there third decides whether it is dominant or just a minor 7 chord. And since there is no third in a suspended chord you just assume it’s a dominant chord hence 7sus2

    #181119
    Andrei Moraru
    Andrei Moraru
    Participant

    Yeah, you are correct. Those are more in the realm of intermediate to advanced chords though, as they require you to add a note on top of a triad while also altering said triad.

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    #181121
    Ed Seith
    Ed Seith
    Participant

    I haven’t had the time to really dig into these, but with the bike race over, I plan to pore over them. Please keep ’em coming!

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