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EMT Lesson Three  How to create and play chords

Sus chords

A very commonly used chord especially in pop and rock music is the ‘suspended (sus)’ chord.

There are two types of suspended chords. The suspended 4th chord (sus4) and the suspended 2nd chord (sus2).

Sus4 chords

We will look at the sus4 chord first.

As you know, major and minor chords are made up with triads. Either 1-3-5 for a major chord or 1-b3-5 for a minor chord.

In the sus4 chord the third of the major chord is raised by a semi-tone to the 4th note of the scale. Suspended chords sound as if they 'need to be resolved'(see Note) - i.e. to lead to another, more stable sounding chord. They do not have to be resolved but most commonly they are. The 4th then reverts back to the major 3rd

The sus4 chord is therefore constructed as follows: 1, 4, 5.

Note

Resolution in western tonal music theory is the 'need' for a sounded note and/or chord to move from a ‘dissonance’ or unstable sound to a more final or stable sounding one, a ‘consonance’.

Below we have the scale of A major.

Figure 19. The notes of A sus4 from the A major scale   (Enlarge)

Figure 19. The notes of A sus4 from the A major scale

To create our chord of Asus 4, take the notes: A (1), D (4) and E (5)

Sus2 chords

Sus2 chords follow a similar rule to sus4 chords. In the sus2 chord, the middle note (3rd) of the major triad is replaced by the second note in the scale. The sus2 chord, like the sus4 chord, sounds as if it 'needs to be resolved'. The 2nd usually reverts back to the major 3rd

The chord formula for a sus2 chord is: 1, 2, 5

Figure 20. The notes of A sus2 from the A major scale   (Enlarge)

Figure 20. The notes of A sus2 from the A major scale

We can see from the table above that the notes required for a chord of Asus2 are: A (1), B (2) and E (5).

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