Extended chord theory – from beginner to pro

 

Chords can be a daunting thing to learn when you start learning an instrument, but it doesn’t have to be. If you haven’t already, check out our lesson on Intervals and come back when your done.
Now assuming you have seen our Intervals lesson, we are going to start from the basic chords and extend them as we go.
After we have gone through chord extensions we will run you through chord progressions and soon enough, you will be under way at writing your own songs. When you have got your chord building skills up to scratch, you will also be able to incorporate extended chords into your improvisation (jazz anyone?)
Okay so we are going to start with a basic C major chord. Your major chord is build from your 1 – 3 – 5 out of your C major scale. That is C – E – G. Now I will list out a bunch of chords to get you started; if you can think of any more with significant importance, let us know.
Major – 1 – 3 – 5
Minor – 1 – ♭3 – 5
Sus 2 – 1 – 2 – 5
Sus 4 – 1 – 4 – 5
Major 6th – 1 – 3 – 5 – 6
Minor 6th- 1 – 3 – 5 – ♭6
Major 7th – 1 – 3 – 5 – 7
Minor 7th – 1 – ♭3 – 5 – ♭7
Dominant 7th – 1 – 3 – 5 – ♭7
Major 9th – 1 – 3 – 5 – 7 – 9
Minor 9th – 1 – ♭3 – 5 – ♭7 – 9
Dominant 9th – 1 – 3 – 5 – ♭7 – 9
Major 11th – 1 – 3 – 5 – 7 – 9 – 11
Minor 11th – 1 – ♭3 – 5 – ♭7 – 9 – 11
Dominant 11th – 1 – 3 – 5 – m7 – 9 – 11
Major 13th – 1 – 3 – 5 – 7 – 9 – 11 – 13
Minor 13th – 1 – ♭3 – 5 – ♭7 – 13
Dominant 13th – 1 – 3 – 5 – ♭7 – 9 – 11 – 13
Diminished – 1 – ♭3 – ♭5
Augmented – 1 – 3 – #5
Here’s the list we are going to go with to start you off. If you are already well equipped in your chord directory, check out altered chords!
Now we are going to break down these chords so it doesn’t seem like a bunch of meaningless numbers. Use the above as a reference throughout the lesson.
To make things easier, let’s split the chords down into groups.
The first group for us will be major chords. With major chords, whether it be a basic 1-3-5 or an extended 13th, there are no minor intervals. The longest example of an extension I am going to give is the 13th which is 1-3-5-7-9-11-13. These numbers indicate the interval between each note. C major 13th example:
C – E – G – B – D – F – A
Bear in mind that there are only 8 notes in a major scale, so in the key of c major your 9th is D.
Using this, try to work out some chords by name on your given instrument before moving on. If you understand how to build all the notes up to a 13th chord, you should easily be able to work out a 7th on your own.
Next we are going to go with minor chords. With minor Chords, you need to flatten your 3rd. Once you extend your minor chord you will need to keep your 3rd flattened as well as flattening your 7th. These two will define the chord as being a minor. C minor 7th would be played as followed: C – D# – G – A#
Simple no?
Our next bundle of chords will be dominant. Dominant chords do not flatten the third but do flatten the 7th. I will do an example in Gdominant11:
G – B – D – F – A – C
Take some time on these three chord types; Major, Minor and dominant, before moving on.
Now we need to know when to play these chords and how to build a progression with them. Firstly we need to organize our notes into roman numerals. To do this, use your tonic/ root chord and label it I. below is a demonstration in c major.
C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C
I – ii – iii – IV – V – Vi – VII – VIII
first, lets figure out how each chord should be played. the sequence for major progressions is: Major – minor – minor – Major – Major – minor – diminished. (for the minor scale it is minor – diminished – Major – minor – minor – Major – Major).
apply the chord type to the c major scale and you will have as follows.
C major – d minor – e minor – F major – G major – a minor – B Diminished
now we need to pick a sequence. there are a lot of combinations; some being more common then others. below is a list of common chord progressions with the demonstrated sequence in C Major:
I – IV – V – V (C Major – F Major – G Major – G Major)
I – vi – IV – V (C Major – a minor – F Major _ G Major)
I – vi – ii – V (C Major – a minor – d minor – G Major)
vi – IV – I – V (a minor – F Major – C Major – G Major)
try applying this theory into a different key using this method and you should be able to pick it up in no time!

Click the link below to view the full post with our easy cheat sheet 🙂

Extended chord theory – from beginner to pro

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