Sus chords and where they fit in.


Lao_Tzu
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Lao_Tzu
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09/05/2008 10:57 pm
hi everyone I have just worked out the modal approach to things but I would like to understand where sus chords fit in because they are neither major or minor since the 3rd is replaced by either the p4 or m2. i was wondering where they fit in, inside the major scale chord sequence. and how do you use the sus notes to highlight what mode you are in. this is what i want to understand. where to use sus chords, why use them, and when to use them.
# 1
Lao_Tzu
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Lao_Tzu
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09/06/2008 6:45 pm
please may someone respond soon
# 2
xMotherx
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xMotherx
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09/08/2008 1:30 am
Originally Posted by: Lao_Tzuplease may someone respond soon


well my take on this is that like you said since the chords lack the 3rd they are neither major or minor. So you can do what you want over it.

As an example if you were to record yourself simply playing the open low E string and then you wanted to play over it, what you play?

The answer is that you could play anything. E major, E minor, E dorian, E lydian, etc.. One thing to know about music is that the rythm doesn't HAVE to take the time to spell out the exact chords all the time. In fact some of my favorite pieces of music have a droning bass line playing a root and a 5th with maybe an occasional minor 7, and the rest is left open for the soloing instrument to come in and fill out. This instrument will "lead" your ear around the various modes even going from minor to major and back again. (see articles on pitch axis theory)

Sus chords are similar to this in that they don't define the 3rds. So anything goes which is why they are so much fun to use. But other times the chord choice in the progression will give your ear all it needs to fill in what it wants to hear over it.

For instance try playing the progression:
B minor 9 / G Sus 2

and give each chord 2 measures.

B minor 9
E:--7
A:--9
D:--7
G:--7
B:--7
E:--9

G Sus 2 (Hendrix fingering)
E:--3 (use thumb)
A:--X
D:--5
G:--0
B:--3
E:--5

now what mode does your ear want you to play over it? It's most likely going to hear this as B Aoelian (natural minor) and attempts to play B dorian or phrygian will sound slightly off. Why? Because it's the only diatonic chord scale that has a B-minor 9 in it and includes G major. Even though we played G as a Sus2 chord the other chord is a B chord and B is the major 3rd of G so your ear will automatically hear that B as the major 3rd of the G chord when you change chords. Plus the "9" added to B minor 7 helps reinforce this and rules out the ability to play B phyrgian.

But it's all up to your ear, as in what YOU hear, not what I hear.

Just remember the less the back ground music defines, the more your melody can work with and change without clashing, and this will allow you to make some very unique melodies that might not work otherwise. :)
# 3
Lao_Tzu
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Lao_Tzu
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09/08/2008 11:34 am
could you elaborate in where they belong diatonically
# 4
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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09/10/2008 1:19 pm
Originally Posted by: Lao_Tzuhi everyone I have just worked out the modal approach to things but I would like to understand where sus chords fit in because they are neither major or minor since the 3rd is replaced by either the p4 or m2.

Congrats. :)

Now, you are ready to start thinking in terms of tonal in addition to modal.

The tonal approach (as in tonality) deals with Functional Harmony. As in, "What is the function of such and such a tone (note), sequence of tones, or chord, or sequence of chords, etc.?"

In the case of suspended chords, think about their name: why are they called "suspended"?

The reason is because they "suspend" or temporarily delay the arrival of the major or minor third. The suspended note is a chord tone held over or "suspended" from the previous chord, leaving you hanging waiting for the arrival of the major or minor third to give a resolution. The classic, timeless example is any Bach chorale in which he uses the candential I 6-4 chord or the V7 chord or even the I at the end of a line in a suspended form, then follows with the third. Example with a V7 4-3 - I cadence:

E |------|------|------|------|
B |-3--5-|-3--3-|-3--3-|-2--3-|
G |-2--2-|-2--0-|-1--0-|-0--2-|
D |-4--5-|-4--0-|-3--2-|-2--4-|
A |-5--4-|-3--2-|-2--0-|-0--5-|
E |------|------|------|------|

List of chords and function:
D (I) - A7 (V7) | D (V7 of IV) - G (IV) | G#dim7 (vii dim7 of V) - A7sus4 | A7 (V7) - D (I)

The D note in the G#dim7 chord is held over to the A7 creating an A7sus4 chord. Which is then resolved to an A7 which then resolves to the D major. Voice leading!

This is similar to jazz (classic jazz standards, not "smooth jazz" or "jazzy sounding" fusion), except there are rarely straightforward major, minor and dominant 7 chords. There are instead mostly extended harmony chords like major 7ths, minor 7ths, 6-9, etc. But the concept is exactly the same: there is purpose and function to the harmony (voice leading!).

Examples can also be found in pop and rock guitar, like Van Halen tunes like "Unchained", Beatles tunes like "I Need You", etc. Some of the suspended chords in those tunes are tonal uses, most of them are simply ornamental (or modal).

Now, of course, you can simply use them for ornamental purposes: because you like the sound of any given suspended chord at any given place in the music. But this is precisely a modal conception, and why it is different from a tonal conception.

Both are useful tools to have in your mind. :)
Christopher Schlegel
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# 5
The Black Circl
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The Black Circl
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10/07/2008 7:32 am
Your question is vague at best but I can let you know what I know about them - which is everything!

First, however, I would like to know why you attached a p and an m to the intervallatic reference.

A suspension is beter viewed as a melodic device.

Trying playing a 1 - 4 - 3 melody and put 2 beats on the 3rd...

...Its got a pretty nice sound to it right?

I'm pretty sure you don't hear alot of 1 - 2 - 3 runs on the guitar since the phyiscal lay out of the instrument isn't accomidating to that type of fingering (at least to my level of knowlegde, I don't have time to study everything!) However a 1 9 (being the octave of 2) 3 - that has a nice jazzy, or even "dave matthews" type of sound to it (it depends on how you voice the chord.)

The reason that you have sus2 and sus4 chords is because you can't have a scale without having the chords (it would be like having letters without words.)

A good, or common use of sus chords is to add and then resolve tension - a common arrangment maybe Esus4 to Em. You typically don't end on a sus chord, but who knows - it could sound cool, and its been done before.

You could elaborate: | Em | C | Dsus4 D | Em

You can also use the sus4 or sus2 sound to simply alter the sound of the chord.

The most practical use of these chords is when playing scales and chords at the same time (theres a name for this technique in The Blues and I can't remember what its called, but its refered to as a style.) Also this type of playing is found common place in classical, and metal (the use of pedal points in metal, to where classical music pre dated this terminology.)

Now your asking how they fit in harmonically - I will TRY to explain this...

When you look at a scale (say for instance, a box pattern) take the G Major scale in 2nd position (also sometimes called first position for those who are retarded.) It would actually be a 1st postion F# Locrian Scale (but this is a different theory.)

Back to the subject:

When you look at this scale you should be able to imagine the chord shape in the scale (for example the barr shape.) Because the intervals define the scale, they also must define any chords from which the scale is built. It all kind of fits together like a puzzle.

A G Major scale, is going to build a major chord with a harmonic structure in conformity with ionian intervallatic structure. A G Sus4 derived from this scale must also conform to the G major (ionian) structure if we are to retain definition of G Major.

Essentially its rearranging your fingering so that this new chord structure maybe fretted, in harmony with G major.

Now, If you were to change your perspective, and say that you are now playing a 1st position F# Locrain scale (the same scale as 2nd Position Ionian, but with a different bass note as the root, and different compositional rules applied to the melody,) Then the same physical interface (the same box pattern) applies to the fingering, but the intervallactic relationship which we are using to define the sus chord changes:

1) When we were calling it G Major the interval relationship was a Major 1st, defined by a Major 3rd, and perfect 4th.

2) The interval relationship contained in a Locrain Scale, used to define its corresponding sus chord is: Minor 1st, defined by a Minor 3rd, and a perfect 4th

3) They are the same intervals really - a 1st 3rd and 4th, but have a voicing applied to them depending on the whole step half step, or tone semi tone relation

4) A suspended (sus) must fit or conform to the scale. So an F# Locrain Sus4 run would consist of a Minor 1st (defined by the major 1st of the Key, which is G (count the interval relation between G and F in order and you will see that its a minor 7th) and also defined by the minor 3rd interval relation between the 1st and 3rd (you can't have a minor interval relative to the key without the interval itself having a minor third (like wise with a major relationship))) and a perfect 4th (if you look at the box pattern in that position you will see that it is infact a perfect 4th or minor 2nd (cause these are the intervals that are found in locrain.)

5) Read 4 over and over again until its clear - that is the primary concept

6) Hope this helps...
# 6
Lao_Tzu
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Lao_Tzu
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10/07/2008 12:54 pm
the p is for perfect as in pefrect 4th and perfect 5th and m is for minor as in minor second minor third minor 6th and minor 7th etc.
# 7
Lao_Tzu
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Lao_Tzu
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10/07/2008 1:04 pm
what is the chord formula and the difference between add chords and sus chords what makes it different i was told its something to do with the maj3rd but im a lil confused. also when u do the hendrix fingering with a sus chord it has the maj3rd in it as well as the sus 2nd so does that make it majsus2? thats something id like to clear up. just as if u make an add9 chord with the minor 3rd after does that make it a minor add9 chord?
# 8
ChristopherSchlegel
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10/07/2008 1:28 pm
Originally Posted by: Lao_Tzuwhat is the chord formula and the difference between add chords and sus chords ...


Suspended chords do not have a 3rd (major or minor); they SUSPEND the 3rd by "moving it" to a 2nd or 4th.

Added chords do have a 3rd, IN ADDITION to a 2nd, 4th, 6th; they "add to the chord" as well as having a 3rd.

Do you understand my reply about how suspensions work in diatonic systems?
Christopher Schlegel
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The Black Circl
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The Black Circl
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10/09/2008 8:49 am
attaching a p or m to numbers is not required and infact confusing

4th are almost always perfect - so it is implied

the voicing (major/minor) of the chord can be discerned by intervals and chords if not the scale - chords are labeled with minor, but not numbers

heres why its confusing - classical guitarists number their fingers for picking style with the same letters and 2 other ones - I forget which ones
# 10
The Black Circl
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The Black Circl
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10/09/2008 8:59 am
Originally Posted by: Lao_Tzuwhat is the chord formula and the difference between add chords and sus chords what makes it different i was told its something to do with the maj3rd but im a lil confused. also when u do the hendrix fingering with a sus chord it has the maj3rd in it as well as the sus 2nd so does that make it majsus2? thats something id like to clear up. just as if u make an add9 chord with the minor 3rd after does that make it a minor add9 chord?


The only way I could accurately analyse the chord that your talking about is to see it (one of the chords called the hendrix chord was some kind of non diatonic augmented something or other - Id have to see it) - its is definately not s sus chord.

Any sus chord is literally defined as a suspension of the third in the triad. So if the chord has a third it can't be called a sus.

A sus chord doesnt have a voicing and is not named either major or minor - even though the mode of the chord has a voicing the chords are simply called sus chords

For Add9 nine chords yes it is a minor add9 or a major add9 - note if the 7th is included in the chord that the rules for naming change...

Because thats a full 9th chord

If you want to know the "chord forumla" first learn about intervals - and then triads (if you don't study them in that order - you will screw yourself)
# 11
TopTierGuitar
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TopTierGuitar
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11/06/2008 8:02 pm
Suspended chords are traditionally used to transition from one chord to another while holding out a suspended note, then resolving the suspended note. An example is an Am chord going to an Esus4 chord to an E chord (then usually back to Am or to C). The A note on the third string in the Am chord gets carried over to the Esus chord, creating some tension that is released when you pick up the A note and play the normal E major chord.

Many songs, however, use the suspended chord as a stand alone chord, which actually makes the chord technically an open 5th or 4th chord. If that's confusing reply to this and I'll try to explain further.

Nick

http://www.toptierguitarstudio.com
# 12
bubbiebear
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01/06/2017 7:38 am

OK, I'm a little confused. I know a sus chord suspends the 3rd, and is replaced by the 2nd or 4th. On occasion I have seen chords written just sus. Does it mean the 2nd or 4th or it doesn't matter, It's what ever makes you happy?


# 13
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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01/06/2017 12:49 pm
Originally Posted by: bubbiebear

I know a sus chord suspends the 3rd, and is replaced by the 2nd or 4th. On occasion I have seen chords written just sus. Does it mean the 2nd or 4th or it doesn't matter, It's what ever makes you happy?

Good question. The notation or sheet music should indicate sus2 or sus4. Because without the number it could be either. The only thing to do in this situation is listen to a recording of the song to hear which one is being used.

In my experience, the sus4 is used more than the sus2. But just as soon as you assume it should be a sus4, that's when it ought to be a sus2. :)

So, without the number indicating which sus, you need to listen to the song. Hope that helps!


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david.wagle
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david.wagle
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01/26/2017 4:26 pm
Originally Posted by: CSchlegel
Originally Posted by: Lao_Tzuwhat is the chord formula and the difference between add chords and sus chords ...
[br][br]Suspended chords do not have a 3rd (major or minor); they SUSPEND the 3rd by "moving it" to a 2nd or 4th.[br][br]Added chords do have a 3rd, IN ADDITION to a 2nd, 4th, 6th; they "add to the chord" as well as having a 3rd.[br][br]Do you understand my reply about how suspensions work in diatonic systems?

Well, to be completely accurate, "suspended chord" is funny term that isn't completely agreed upon in terms of what it means. This is because it is a terminology borrowed from classical music where it means something very different. There a suspension is something that happens across a harmonic movement. If you have one tone held over from one chord to create a dissonance that then resolves downward, you have a suspension. If it resolves upward, it is a retardation. And, lastly, if it is a new non-harmonic tone that is added, then resolved, you have an appoggiatura. Suspensions happen across time, not within a single harmonic structure. [br][br]Jazz and early blues and rock players started calling partial and quartile harmonic structures suspended chords and the name more or less stuck, but it doesn't have a completely standard definition yet. [br][br]And in many cases, it really isn't what they think it is. If, for example, the bass or another instrument is carrying the 3rd, then in the context of the composition you have an add11 or an add13 chord, NOT a sus2 or sus4. Because harmony happens in a composition, not on an instrument by instrument basis. [br][br]And if the chord is being used as part of a harmonic movement, then it is a suspension or retardation or appoggiatura or an acciaccatura or a gruppetto or a neighboring tone or a passing tone, or a grace note, or an escape tone, or something else for which there is already a well-established nomenclature within music theory. [br][br]That isn't to say that there aren't sus-chord harmonic structures or that susX isn't a good name for those chords. There are and they do. But it is a lot rarer than most people think if one actually looks at the full score.

[br]I realize this is a tad pedantic, but folks who want to converse with musicians other than guitarists should be aware of when they are using a terminology that is somewhat instrument specific rather than reflective of music theory writ large.

So, if you have something like: Em | C | Dsus4 D ... that "sus4" isn't properly called a "suspended chord" because it is just a classical suspension, the G is held over from the C as a non-harmonic tone to create dissonance and then resolves downward to the F# in the D Major chord. [br][br]While it certainly serves some utility to call this a "suspended chord" for beginners who want to know what to call each shape they play. At some point, a guitarist should want to move beyond less precise nomenclature. What is happening here is actually much more interesting than the simple playing of a single chord.


# 15
john15rhodes
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john15rhodes
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06/28/2017 7:16 pm
Originally Posted by: Lao_Tzuhi everyone I have just worked out the modal approach to things but I would like to understand where sus chords fit in because they are neither major or minor since the 3rd is replaced by either the p4 or m2. i was wondering where they fit in, inside the major scale chord sequence. and how do you use the sus notes to highlight what mode you are in. this is what i want to understand. where to use sus chords, why use them, and when to use them.

this chart identifies the possibilities of chords in major scales

https://kingofchordsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/chord-possibilities-in-major-keys.pdf

the first chord of A Major key could become,

A major 1 3 5, Amaj7 1 3 5 7, Amaj9 1 3 5 7 9, Amaj13 1 3 5 7 9 13, A6 1 5 3 6,

Aadd9 1 3 5 9 , A6/9 1 3 5 6 9, Amaj7/6 1 3 5 7 6 , Asus2 1 2 5 , Asus4 1 4 5.

There's an Asus2 in there. So a possibly variation could be to replace an Amaj9 with Asus2

example in a song

Message in a Bottle, The Police.

C#sus2 Asus2 Bsus2 F#m add9

chords from the key of C# MInor/E Major

C#sus2 is I in C#Major, II in B, IV in G#, V in F#, VI in E

Asus2 is I in A, II in G, IV in E, V in D, VI in C

Bsus2 is I in B, II in A, IV in F#, V in E, VI in D

F#m add9 is II in E, III in D, VI in A

Common denominator.......E Major

The ear likes the mystery of sus2s and sus4s.


# 16

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