14 April, 2010

How do I construct a major chord?

As you have read in my previous post on "How to figure out the notes for a major scale", this post will now talk about constructing a major chord.

What are major chords? They are chords that you would have definitely come across when learning to play the guitar. Examples of major chords are A, A#, B, C, C#, D etc... Of course besides the major chord, there are other chords out there like the minor chord, diminish chord, dominant chord etc. But for this post, I will be focusing on the major chord.

Remember in my last post how I was differentiating between a note and a chord? Well, a major chord is made up of 3 notes. The notes are the 1st note, the 3rd note, and the 5th note. So, put these 3 notes together and you would have constructed a major chord.

Let's take the C chord for example. We know that the C major scale is C D E F G A B C. So, just simply count the 1st, 3rd and 5th note from the scale. This will give you the notes C, E and G. These 3 notes give you the C chord. Now, let's look at the C major chord pictorially (you will soon understand why it is played the way it is played) :

The picture above shows the standard C chord that most of you will know how to play. Notice the 3 notes C, E and G? That is why this chord you're playing is a C. Isn't that interesting? It's really fun to finally understand why a C is played the way it is played.

What this also means is that you can probably find many other ways to play a C major chord on the guitar. So, when you have the time, play around with the guitar and find out different ways to play a C major chord.

Let's take the E chord now to see if you understood what I was explaining. The first step is to find out what the E major scale is (read my post "How to figure out the notes for a major scale"). The E major scale is E F# G# A B C# D E. Now, look for the 1st, 3rd and 5th note. They are E, G# and B. Let's look at the E major chord that we all have used so commonly:

Notice the 3 notes that are in the E chord above?

So, if ever you are faced with a situation where you do not know how to play a major chord, just apply the steps I showed you. You will be able to construct a major chord this way.

You can try the other major chords as practice. The really fun part comes when you find other ways of playing a major chord. You will soon realise that there are many different ways you can play a C etc. Have fun figuring out other ways to play a major chord.


Mat said...

Can you please explain scientifically why there is no E# or B# in music?

daniel said...

Hi Mat,

I do not know how to answer your question because similarly, no one has ever told me why there is not E# or B# in music.

However, I think E# is just known as F and B# is known as C.