Three Note Chords

MONDAY, October 7, 2019Mixolydian 2019-10-07-01

Use Mixolydian for numbers…

Always remember that the Mixolydian mode is used to number chords. This one basic fact causes students more problems than anything else in music. The most common three note chords are major, minor, diminished, augmented and sus (suspensions), but three note chords can also be seven chords with a note omitted. For instance, C7 is often C E Bb, with G omitted. The 7 comes from C Mixolydian, not C major.

  • Major is root 3 5.
  • Minor is root  b3 5.
  • Diminished is root b3 b5.
  • Augmented is 1 3 #5.
  • Suspended 4 is root 4 5.
  • Suspended 2 is root 2 5.
  • The double suspension is four notes – root 2 4 5, but it belongs with the other “sus”  chords (suspension chords.)
  • A 3 note dominant 7 chord is root 3 7, and we use this frequently.

Major, minor and suspended chords are normally 100% standard in spelling. Diminished and augmented chords may be spelled in any possible way and are therefore often difficult to recognize just looking at a score. Three note dominant seven chords are not always standard.

Four or five qualities…

In traditional theory there are four qualities: major minor diminished augmented. But suspension chords are incredibly common and important, so I teach them as a fifth quality. There are five qualities in my teaching.




1 thought on “Three Note Chords

  1. I really like the idea of relating to Mixolydian.

    I noticed that in your chord types, everything has “root” as the first thing, except for the augmented chord, which as “1”. I suspect you did this for a reason. (?)


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