• Easy to Ways to Remember Large Chords

    in Chords & Progressions

    As you know, there is a formula for everything! Nothing is random — even when playing by ear…
     
    From the most basic triad (or three-fingered chord) to the largest thirteenth chord, there are easy, systematic ways to remember ALL chords, regardless of size.
     
    Let’s start basic and then I’ll show you how to remember larger chords.
     
    If you have the 300pg course, page 50 displays a chart like this:
     
    # of notes Type of chord
    Three Triad
    Four Seventh
    Five Ninth
    Six Eleventh
    Seven Thirteenth
     
     
    … If you’re just starting out, don’t be confused by these names and numbers.
     
    Simply put, three-note chords (like a Cmaj or Fmin) are called “triads.”
     
    As you add tones to the basic triad, you form “sevenths” and “ninths” — and all the others. We will get into this in a moment.
     
    Key Rule: By knowing major scales, you can figure out any triad, seventh, ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth.
     
    I always talk about major scales so I won’t waste time listing them here. You can find newsletters on them at my new archive site www.pianoweekly.com or in the 300pg course (chapter four).
     
    But for now, I’ll show the C major scale:
     
    C D E F G A B C
     
    Basically, to form various chords, you just take notes from the C major scale. Keep in mind that each note of a scale is played individually, one after the other (don’t confuse scales and chords).
     
    On the other hand, when you are playing chords, you are holding down multiple notes at the same time.
     
    In order to apply these simple principles below, you’ll have to convert the major scale above to numbers. We’ve discussed techniques like this in prior weeks (www.pianoweekly.com) .
     
    C = 1
    D = 2
    E = 3
    F = 4
    G = 5
    A = 6
    B = 7
     
    So…
     
    Once you know your major scales as numbers, you can apply these formulas to make any chord you want:
     
    Major triads (Ch 5): 1 + 3  + 5
    Minor triads (Ch 8): 1 + b3 + 5
    Diminished triad (Ch 9): 1 + b3 + b5
    Augmented triad: 1 + 3 + #5
     
    Major seventh (Ch 10): 1 + 3 + 5 + 7
    Minor seventh (Ch 10): 1 + b3 + 5 + b7
    Dominant seventh (Ch 10): 1 + 3 + 5 + b7
    Half Diminished seventh: 1 + b3 + b5 + b7
    Diminished seventh (Ch 13): 1 + b3 + b5 + bb7  (or just think of it as “6”)
     
    Major ninth (Ch 11): 1 + 3 + 5  + 7 + 9
    Minor ninth (Ch 11): 1 + b3 + 5 + b7 + 9
    Dominant ninth (Ch 11): 1 + 3 + 5 + b7 + 9
     
    and so on… (eleventh chords, thirteenth chords, altered chords, major sixth, minor sixth…)
     
     
    Now… let me help you to apply these formulas:
     
    In the key of C major, let’s say you wanted to play a C maj chord (aka “C major triad”). Since the formula is 1+3+5, simply take the first, third, and fifth tone of the C major scale and play them together.
     
    What’s the 1st tone of the C major scale?  Answer: C
    What’s the 3rd tone of the C major scale? Answer: E
    What’s the 5th tone of the C major scale? Answer: G
     
    C major triad: C E G
     
    It’s that simple.
     
    If you’re just starting out, you may have run into a problem with the “b3”, “b5”, or “bb7” and — that’s understandable (I’d be confused too if I were just starting out). Let me explain.
     
    Whenever you see a “b” or “#”, that simply means to lower or raise the note a half step.
     
    “b” means to lower the note a half step. So if you see b3, that means to take the third tone of the scale and lower it one-half step.
     
    So if a minor chord is 1 + b3 + 5, in the key of C major, that is:
     
    C Eb G
     
    Why Eb?
     
    Because we simply took the third tone of the scale and lowered it one-half step.
     
    With that said, you should be able to figure out all the chords above:
     
    Major triads (Ch 5): 1 + 3  + 5
    Cmaj: C E G
     
    Minor triads (Ch 8): 1 + b3 + 5
    Cmin: C Eb G
     
    Diminished triad (Ch 9): 1 + b3 + b5
    Cdim: C Eb Gb
     
    Augmented triad: 1 + 3 + #5
    Caug: C E G#
     
    Major seventh (Ch 10): 1 + 3 + 5 + 7
    Cmaj7: C E G B
     
    Minor seventh (Ch 10): 1 + b3 + 5 + b7
    Cmin7: C Eb G Bb
     
    Dominant seventh (Ch 10): 1 + 3 + 5 + b7
    C7 (aka Cdom7): C E G Bb
     
    Half Diminished seventh: 1 + b3 + b5 + b7
    C half dim7: C Eb Gb Bb
     
    Diminished seventh (Ch 13): 1 + b3 + b5 + bb7  (or just think of it as “6”)
    Cdim7: C Eb Gb A
     
     
     
    What about the more extended chords like ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths?
     
    What if I told you that you could play any ninth, eleventh, or thirteenth chord by knowing just seventh chords?
     
    You can.
     
    Major Ninth Chords
     
    The formula for a major ninth chord is:
    1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9
     
    The Cmaj9 chord, for example, is:
     
    C E G B D
     
    But a shortcut is to simply play an Emin7 over C.
     
    C bass   *  E G B D (Emin7) on right hand = Cmaj9
     
    So, how can we make this a “rule” to apply to all maj9 chords?
     
     
    Simply put, take the iii min7 of any major key.
     
    1) Start with the keynote of the major scale. So if you want to play a Cmaj9 chord, the keynote would be “C”. Play this on your left hand.
     
    2) On your right hand, locate the third tone of the scale and play a minor seventh chord on that tone. So in the key of C, the third tone is E. Therefore, you’d play an Emin7 chord on C bass.
     
    For your convenience, here’s a list of all twelve major ninth chords:
     
    Cmaj9: C + Emin7 chord (C E G B D)
    Fmaj9: F + Amin7 chord (F A C E G)
    Bbmaj9: Bb + Dmin7 chord (Bb D F A C)
    Ebmaj9: Eb + Gmin7 chord (Eb G Bb D F)
    Abmaj9: Ab + Cmin7 chord (Ab C Eb G Bb)
    Dbmaj9: Db + Fmin7 chord (Db F Ab C Eb)
    Gbmaj9: Gb + Bbmin7 chord (Gb Bb Db F Ab)
    Bmaj9: B + D#min7 (B D# F# A# C#)
    Emaj9: E + G#min7 (E G# B D# F#)
    Amaj9: A + C#min7 (A C# E G# B)
    Dmaj9: D + F#min7 (D F# A C# E)
    Gmaj9: G + Bmin7 (G B D F# A)
     
    Let’s move on…
     
    Minor Ninth Chords
     
    Minor ninth chords have a similar formula. Instead of taking the 3rd tone of the scale and playing a minor 7th chord on it (like we did above), simply take the b3rd of the scale and play a major 7th chord on it.
     
    So it’s sort of like the opposite of the maj9 chord.
     
    Maj 9 vs Min 9
     
    Maj 9: We took the 3rd tone of the scale and played its minor seventh chord.
    Min 9: We will take the b3rd tone of the scale (or the relative major) and play its major seventh chord. Don’t worry about relative major/minor — this would take a few more concepts to explain. For now, just remember the b3 of any key!
     
    1) Start with the keynote of the major scale (C for example).
     
    2) On your right hand, locate the b3 tone of the scale. That involves finding the natural third tone (E) and lowering it one-half step to Eb. So, to recap, the b3 of C major is “Eb.”
     
    3) Simply play Ebmaj7 over C bass and there’s a nice min9 chord!
     
    Cmin9: C + Ebmaj7 chord (C Eb G Bb D)
     
    You try the rest…
     
    Cmin9: C + Ebmaj7 chord (C Eb G Bb D)
    Fmin9: _______________________
    Bbmin9: _______________________
    Ebmin9: _______________________
    Abmin9: _______________________
    Dbmin9: _______________________
    Gbmin9: _______________________
    Bmin9: _______________________
    min9: _______________________
    Amin9: _______________________
    Dmin9: _______________________
    Gmin9: _______________________
     
     
    Next week, I’ll teach you easy ways to play eleventh and thirteenth chords using similar formulas.
    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    songtutor600x314-4jpg



    { 17 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 comptxnllyNewbie

    Can’t wait to see how the eleventh and thirteenth are done. I’m tired of the same old chords. I want to learn something new. Thanks.

    Reply

    2 MS

    Jermaine, isn’t the Cmaj9 expressed as C + Emin7 = C E G B D? If this is so, then:
    Fmaj9 = F + Amin7 = F A C E G
    Bbmaj9 = Bb + Dmin7 = Bb D F A C

    Perhaps other students might use the opportunity to post. Thanks for your efforts, keep up the good work and God will surely bless you and your team.

    Reply

    3 Calvin

    Jermaine, you just have that unique way of shearing your musical Talent with the world,
    much love,brother keep up the good work, thanks God Bless.

    Reply

    4 Jonathan

    Where can i find the formulas for the 11th and 13th chords… Thanks a lot Jermaine you make everything seem so simple :)

    Reply

    5 Jermaine Griggs
    6 brad

    after you explained how to make minor 9ths by adding the flatted 3rds maj 7th chord above the 1st tone of any scale….. you showed C min9th correctly… then said ,”you try the rest…” then it looks like I you listed all the remaining min 9th chords incorrectly as maj 9ths

    right? they should have all been minor 9ths

    or am I misunderstanding min 9ths?

    but, I really appreciate the part that I understand

    Reply

    7 Jermaine Griggs

    You are totally right. I changed those titles at the end to min9. Sorry about that.

    Reply

    8 Convine

    Wonderful

    Reply

    9 sheetmetal stamping process

    salutations from over the world. Great blog I will return for more.

    Reply

    10 Branding London

    I thought leaving this trackback excellent function

    Reply

    11 Car Valeting accessories

    hi I thought you possibly appreciate my information

    Reply

    12 Corazon

    Since you mentioned the iii (the Mediant), I wonder if you can have a lesson and a video on Chromatic Mediants. I can’t understand when it is said that “Chromatic Mediants come from and to the Tonic (seldom to the Dominant)”. I would highly appreciate if you could enlighten me on this. Thanks

    Reply

    13 Bernice Gaymon

    Super, and excellent . Tons of information . This is so helpful and informative.

    Thank you so much!

    Reply

    14 Engine block

    U are indeed a superb teacher. With explanations that will make a student go to skul early n witout brekfast. Tnks a lot sir. I love u!

    Reply

    15 Covenant Geoffrey

    U are indeed a superb teacher. With explanations that will make a student go to skul early n witout brekfast. Tnks a lot sir. I love u! This is actually wat u are cald 4.

    Reply

    16 Ekundayo Peter

    I love this Griggs

    Reply

    17 Pat

    Thank you!!!!!!

    Reply

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: