# Determining Chords in a Scale

kick the baby
Registered User
Joined: 08/11/08
Posts: 17
12/24/2008 5:46 pm
I read the theory fundamentals, and I am a bit confused about how you determine the chords in a scale/mode. I am also confused as to what constitutes a "sus" chord. Could someone clear this up for me?
drf46
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 11/22/01
Posts: 527
12/24/2008 7:04 pm
http://guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=11389
kick the baby
Registered User
Joined: 08/11/08
Posts: 17
12/24/2008 8:41 pm
Originally Posted by: drf46Here's a lesson that will answer one of your questions:
http://guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=11389

Thanks! That's exactly what I was looking for... It was a lot simpler than I thought it would be, lol. Now I just gotta figure out about the "sus" chord...
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,346
12/25/2008 4:10 am
Here is a brief overview of music theory:

http://guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=495

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

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

Instead of C major being C - E - G. The major 3rd note (E) is moved to a 4th (F) or 2nd (D).

Thus, Csus4 is C - F - G; Csus2 is C - D - G.

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

The reason these chords exist is because their function is to "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.

Hope this helps.
Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

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