View Full Version : Chord flavor library

05-21-2002, 12:36 PM
Hi there fellow guitar players all over the universe!

When you pick some fancy chord on your guitar just for fun you try to capture the unique flavor it contains. Have you ever played this game when you just roam along your fretboard and listen to what happens if you strum this or that random chord?

Your perception of such chord would be as unique. Every person wouldn't feel absolutely the same about it but still there is something common we could mark out of the whole range of the emotions evoked by combination of tones. I know, I know - you would say that the chord pulled out of the harmonic context cannot have its individuality. :( Well... I guess it does have ;)

What I propose is creating some sort of discussion where we could share our feelings about flavors brought by some type of chord so we can anticipate more easily what happens if we insert some particular chord into the progression. Again, I understand the importance of harmonic context here but I guess this approach will help as well.

So, now's my turn:

For instance:

1. Xm#5/b9 (X - any pitch, in case of C it would make Cm#5/b9).

> Brings some conflicting feeling due to presence of #5. In my opinion #5 has a property of amplifying the imotion of any chord, making it more sharp and staying along with it sort of invisible. In this case it evokes the shade of bright feeling reminding of sad pervertive pleasure, because this is minor chord with diminished 9, which is dissonant with the root and rather sad and painful in presence of minor 3rd.

I hope I haven't scared you off with my loony ideas :D

So if you're interested please add to my first chord. The more complex chords we'll try to describe the more exciting will be our discussion!

Ultra mega best regards,

05-21-2002, 01:30 PM
Hi Zatz.

Those ideas are not looney at all... I remember that Steve Vai once wrote a column about listening to chords and kinda interpreting them that way, too...
Itīs a nice idea, and it is different than just analyzing a chord by strict music theory.
Iīm kinda heading out of the door right now, but I will add something to this thread ASAP... and by the way, I was kinda trying to initiate something like that with my "Show me a chord"-thread in the "Play"-Forum... there I was talking about unusual chords and "making up" chords on the spot, just putting your fingers somewhere randomly to see what comes out...

Great idea, letīs talk about it ;)
Warm regards

NP: Wayne Krantz- Signals

05-21-2002, 04:05 PM
Ok, here is my contribution to this thread.
As you might have seen, I posted a TAB of two of those open chords that I used in "Canyon Of Spirits" at the "Play"-Forum.
I love those kinda chords, and I use them frequently.
Here is another example, key of E Major:


And the MIDI (http://www.ericvandenberg.com/ibreathe/open.mid)

I could go into the detail and tell you about how I first got into those chords ( has to do with a teacher who wasnīt really a good player ), but I think what matters is that:

Once I experimented of those chords, combining those regular triads with the open strings ( because thatīs how I look at those chords ), I fell in love with that wide-open, floating sound.

Thatīs what their sound represents to me: a certain wide open sound, kinda dream-y... not as "narrow" as regular major- and minor triads.
If you play those on acoustic guitar ( because I think those chords really work and sound best on a guitar ), and you keep it at slow tempo, it really inspires you to play different ( that happens to me, anyway )...
I phrase different, leave more breaks and open spaces, kinda "letting it breathe"...
Those are some of my favorite chords ( sus2- and add9-chords are right up there, too )...
Thanks for bringing it up. Looking forward to see what the others will add...
Warm regards

05-24-2002, 11:52 PM
Thanx Eric for your contribution!

I really do like those open chords too!

I tried to play your examples and I liked them very much. There's a good song by Red Hot Chili Peppers "Breakign the girl" where they use the same technique (E major sliding along the fretboard). It's absolutely easy to perform and sounds like stressed prolonged sorrow with pedal two lower strings open almost all through the song.

I would like to add what I feel about sus2-chords and how I can explain why they seem to be so broad and free. Let's take Csus2 (c d g). Most of you guys know that every tone in reality sounds as the major chord with lots of overtones heard besides that (ex. c sounds as C major - c e g ... ). The root and the fifth can be heard rather distinctly so let's just have in mind these two main tones which form one single pitch if put together. So in case of "c" we would hear "c" itself with a slight "whisper" of "g" (fifth of "c") as a satellite. Let's get back to our Csus2 chord and have a better look at the tones this chord contains and their intervalic structure:

C - root
G - fifth of C
D - fifth of G

Every next sound sort of emphasizes the last one! That's why these Xsus2 chords produce an effect of the bell ringing - very bright and vivid sound (though a bit emotionless).

Some guitar players even classify Xsus2 as a power chord for its strong and empty sound. And every time you have to play X5 (without a third) power chords for a long time on your rhythm guitar you can use Xsus2 and Xsus4 to improvise and even create short riffs on the fly during your comping.

Ultra mega best regards,

PS: Sorry for bad english

05-27-2002, 03:00 PM
Hi Zatz,

yes, I figured that out after playing only powerchords for a while, back when I was starting out.
These days, when teaching my students rhythm guitar and using powerchords as an example, I switch to sus2 and sus4 chords after a while, showing them the added depth of those chords, compared to powerchords.
I consider those chords an important musical tool, thatīs why I am making sure that students try them and apply them to their music.
Warm regards

07-10-2002, 01:51 PM
I decided to resurrect my thread if you don't mind :)

Here's the extracts from John Petrucci's article "Stretch The Boundries: Extended major voicings". We already mentioned sus2, sus4 and open chords so let's expand this topic upon using some more color tones in chord progressions. John explains the flavour of each chord he talks about just like the way I intended to depict feelings any sounds played together evokeon this thread.

1. http://www.guitarworld.com/lessons/art/9509.jpf1.gif
"To my ears, one of the most beautiful-sounding voicings on the guitar is the maj9 chord depicted in FIGURE 1. The natural seventh on the B string ringing against the root on the E string (creating an interval of a minor second) adds a unique chime-like quality to this voicing. The ninth and the natural seventh, along with the third, also invoke a very strong, resolved major sound."

2. http://www.guitarworld.com/lessons/art/9509.jpf3.gif
"FIGURE 2 features another favorite chord of mine, the add9#11. In this particular voicing, the raised eleventh replaces the third, creating a Lydian sound. Since this chord doesn't contain the third, it's technically neither major nor minor. In context, however, it functions as a major chord. Its usage is very specific-since the raised eleventh defines the Lydian sound, the add9#11 chord can only be used as a substitute for the IV chord in a diatonic major progression."

If you want to read this article in full, here's the link:

John Petrucci's article (http://www.guitarworld.com/lessons/artists/1995/9509.petrucci.html)

Ultra mega best regards,

07-10-2002, 06:20 PM
It is interesting to note that

The second inversion of a Sus 2 Chord is a Sus 4 chord (starting on the 5th of the original Sus 2).

G Sus 2

G (bottom)

D Sus 4

D (bottom)

also the first inversion of Sus 2 Chord is a Quartal Chord
(I don't know the proper term is triad correct?)


07-10-2002, 06:26 PM
Yeah, I would call this "a triad comprised of stacked fourths"...

07-11-2002, 12:04 AM
I was going to call them Quartal Triads

07-11-2002, 09:50 AM
Right. Thats the better and shorter definition. :D
Warm regards

07-11-2002, 12:33 PM
I always thought that triad meant three notes but after reading some books I was led to believe that it was refering to tertiary harmony being based on thirds. I was scouring the net yo find the definative answer and was unable to.

07-11-2002, 12:41 PM
The way it was taught to me:
- A triad is a chord comprised of three notes. Since in most popular and classical music, there are chords of stacked thirds used, thereīs no further addition to that term, since usually, we have triads based on stacked thirds. If you stack fourths instead, you use a definition like quartal triads or "stacked fourths triads"

- The name triad refers to the fact that the chord consists of three notes. There also are "diads", which are also called doublestops... two notes in harmony. That kinda is a good reason to believe that the "triad" refers to the number of notes in the chord.
Thatīs what I heard, anyway :)
Warm regards