• An Answer To The Question: What Are Extended Chords?

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    In this lesson, we’ll be learning about extended chords.

    There are basically three classes of chords – triads, seventh chords, and extended chords. It is important for every musician to be acquainted with triads and seventh chords before proceeding into the study of extended chords – which are much more complicated.

    Although I’ll be fair to assume that you’re already acquainted with triads and seventh chords, however, I’ll suggest we start this study by reviewing the concept of chords.

    A Quick Review On The Concept Of Chords

    According to Jermaine Griggs, “a chord is a product of three or more related notes (agreeable or not), which may be played or heard together.”

    Let’s breakdown some essential keywords in the definition of a chord.

    “…Three Or More…”

    It takes at least three notes to form a chord. This explains why the most basic chords are referred to as triads. In the classification of chords according to the number of notes they consist of, take note of the following:

    Triads are three-note chords

    Seventh chords are four-note chords

    Extended chords have more than four notes

    “…Related Notes…”

    The notes of a chord must have scale and intervallic relationship. For example, the notes of the C major triad:

    …are related by the C major scale:

    …and that’s a scale relationship.

    C, E, G:

    …which are the tones of the C major triad, are the first, third, and fifth tones of the C major scale:

    “Furthermore…”

    The notes of the C major triad:

    …are apart from each other in third intervals – that’s intervallic relationship.

    From C to E:

    …is a third interval, and so is E to G:

    “…Together”

    The term chord is derived from an old English word “accord” which means together.

    Although the notes of a chord can be broken down into arpeggios, broken chords, etc., a chord is designed to be played or heard together.

    This explains why chords are used to harmonize or accompany melodies.

    “What Are Extended Chords?”

    Triads and seventh chords all fall within the compass of the octave. For example, the C major triad:

    …and C major seventh chord:

    …all fall within the compass of an octave:

    Extended chords exceed the compass of an octave and that’s why they are classified asĀ extended chords because their width extend across the compass of the octave.

    In the key of C major:

    …stacking notes in third intervals from C:

    …produces the C major triad:

    Adding another note, a third above the C major triad:

    …(which is B):

    …to the C major triad:

    …produces the C major seventh chord:

    Now, beyond the C major seventh chord (a seventh chord) are extended chords — that extend beyond the compass of the C octave:

    Adding another note, a third above the C major seventh chord:

    …(which is D):

    …to the C major seventh chord:

    …produces the C major ninth chord:

    Adding another note, a third above the C major ninth chord:

    …(which is F):

    …to the C major ninth chord:

    …produces the C major eleventh chord:

    Adding another note, a third above the C major eleventh chord:

    …(which is A):

    …to the C major eleventh chord:

    …produces the C major thirteenth chord:

    Adding another note, a third above the C major thirteenth chord:

    …(which is C):

    …to the C major thirteenth chord:

    …duplicates the root of the chord:

    …which is C:

    Apart from the duplicate, we came across three extended chords – ninth chords, eleventh chords, and thirteenth chords.

    Final Words

    I’m sure you have a fair knowledge of what extended chords are. I’ll see you in another lesson where we’ll go deeper into the study of altered chords.

    See you then!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Joe

    So does that mean a Maj add 9, is really major add 2, since its within the Octave?

    Reply

    2 Chuku Onyemachi

    Thanks for that question, Joe!

    It’s still an add9 chord because the extension “ninth” is used. The term “add” is used because the ninth (which should be found beyond the compass of the octave) is within the octave.

    Reply

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