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Beyond Three-Note Chords

Even more chords?

We learned how to build the four simple chords by stacking triads. Now we can continue with this job. What happens if we put another triad on top of the four basic chords? Let us try it.

Possible things to do

Stacking two triads generates four basic chords. Now we can put two different triads on each basic chord giving eight new chords. Confusing? No, not at all, some chords will not be very useful as we will see later.

But at first we will see how this looks as triad-relative and root-relative relation. Doing this with one chord is enough:

Base chord Triad structure New triad New triad structure

major

1 3 3

3

1 3 3 3

Now we will convert triad-relative intervals to root-relative intervals, using what we have done with the basic chords already:

Major C chord interval structure = root + 3 + b3, putting 3 on top

Root = C
First triad (3) = E
Second triad  (b3)= G
Third triad (3) = G + 4HS = B

What is B relative to root note?

Look into our interval table! The new interval is a

MAJOR SEVENTH!

Geeeez, what a surprise! We will play Jazz? :-)

Now we know what we will get when stacking another triad on top of the old simple chords: seventh chords. Really? Let's do this game for all possible combinations.

Base chord

Additional triad

New interval

Interval structure

Chord name

Short form

major

major 3rd

7

1 3 5 7

major 7

maj7

major

minor 3rd

b7

1 3 5 b7

dominant 7

7, dom7

minor

major 3rd

7

1 b3 5 7

minor major 7

mmaj7

minor

minor 3rd

b7

1 b3 5 b7

minor 7

m7

augmented

major 3rd

8 == 1

1 3 #5 1

NO!

augmented

minor 3rd

7

1 3 #5 7

augmented 7

augm7

diminished

major 3rd

b7

1 b3 b5 b7

half diminished 7

m7b5

diminished

minor 3rd

6

1 b3 b5 6

Not useful ...

But indeed we found a lot of new chords. Augmented + major 3rd leads into an octave of root, so this is augmented again. Diminished + minor 3rd creates a really astonishing chord (which we will skip).

Prooving the concept

How can we check what chords are real 'bread and butter chords', and which ones are just nice guys, or bad guys? You might haved guessed it: diatonic scale harmonisation ...

You know how to do it, right? And you will do it yourself? Promised? Ok, here are the results of the diatonic harmonisation for the C major scale with four note chords:

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

maj7

m7

m7

maj7

dom7

m7

m7b5

Surprised? Not really, I think.

Now for something completely different

Ok, we had the basic and seventh chords, we learned intervals and scale basics, we saw how scale harmonisation works. If you are really interested in guitar playing you could continue stacking triads, getting 9th, 11th and 13th chords. In this case you should also get more familiar with scales, sight reading and headaches.

For us being earthly low enders, witty and charming, willing to support the lonely guitar heroes and keyboad bunnies these chords are enough. We can now go on with applying all these funny things for bass playing.

But not before ... having a closer look at inversions again. There are some more very interesting things to do and to understand with extended chord inversions.

But before, as always, the ...

Summary

I love it ...

Exercises

You know what comes now? Yes, do the scale harmonisation and find voicings for your 1string, 2string, 3string, 4string, 5string, 6string or 10string bass, for the 10string and the 12string stick, for guitars, for the harp ... (Colonel Zero may take his egg cutter :-))