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Thread: sus chords

  1. #1
    Registered User urucoug's Avatar
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    sus chords

    Hi,

    I'm trying to understand how to construct my own chords.

    What is meant by sus--suspended chords? Generally, when I've seen sus, it is sus4. I've recently seen sus2s and sus without a number following it. So many people mislabel their chords that I have little faith in figuring it out myself based on what other people wrote in tabs.


    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Sus without a number means sus4.
    Jazz charts frequently use "sus" for sus4 (even for 7sus4), because it doesn't recognise sus2 chords.
    A sus2 chord (to them) is simply an inverted sus4:
    "Csus2" = C-D-G = G-C-D = Gsus4.
    (There's never really any occasion in jazz where adding the 2nd or 9th to a chord would require leaving out the 3rd. They like 3rds in jazz, except when they want a sus4.)

    In jazz, a plain "Gsus" symbol might mean G7sus4: G-C-D-F. (Although they would usually call that "G7sus")

    You do very occasionally see a "susb9" chord in jazz, but this is still a 7sus4 chord, just with a b9 added.
    "Gsusb9" = G-C-D-F-Ab (G phrygian modal chord)

    A confusing symbol you might occasionally see (in rock) is a plain "2", as in "C2".
    I'm never quite sure what this means myself. I suspect it's meant to mean Csus2, but it could be Cadd9 (C-E-G-D).

    To sum up:

    sus4 or sus = 1-4-5 (if it's jazz think about adding a b7 too. Don't do this in rock.)
    sus2 = 1-2-5 or 1-5-9
    add9 = 1-3-5-9
    susb9 = 1-4-5-b7-b9 (very rare!)
    2 = 1-2-5... or maybe 1-3-5-9?

    9 = 1-3-5-b7-9
    maj9 = 1-3-5-7-9
    m9 = 1-b3-5-b7-9
    m(maj9) = 1-b3-5-7-9
    Last edited by JonR; 06-12-2008 at 07:18 AM.

  3. #3
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    I can't add from Jon R cuz hes the man!




    My favorite is the sus2 chord, I use them alot, but then again I'm not normal

  4. #4
    Registered User urucoug's Avatar
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    Thanks.

    So, if I understand correctly, when they say 'sus', they mean suspend a note in the chord. For example, if they say sus4, are they talking about suspend the 3rd scale degree to a 4th (if it's sus2, suspend the first scale degree to a 2nd, or 9th, depending on the way you look at it)? If not, why do they use the word 'sus'?

    Also, if I'm understanding you, an addX is just talking about adding a scale degree into a regular triad.

    Am I very far off?

  5. #5
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    'sus' just means 'replace the 3rd in the triad with'...

    so sus2 is 1-2-5 (or 1-5-9) instead of 1-3-5
    and sus4 is 1-4-5 instead of 1-3-5

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by urucoug
    Thanks.

    So, if I understand correctly, when they say 'sus', they mean suspend a note in the chord. For example, if they say sus4, are they talking about suspend the 3rd scale degree to a 4th (if it's sus2, suspend the first scale degree to a 2nd, or 9th, depending on the way you look at it)? If not, why do they use the word 'sus'?

    Also, if I'm understanding you, an addX is just talking about adding a scale degree into a regular triad.

    Am I very far off?
    You're exactly right with the "add" term.

    "Sus", however, actually derives from the classical practice of "suspending" a chord tone from a previous chord: "holding it over" the next chord, temporarily.
    Eg, in classical music, when you get an F on a C chord, it will almost always be hanging over from a previous F, Dm or G7 chord. It then moves down to E in a "delayed resolution".
    So it's suspended in the sense of "hanging over" (the F) rather than "removed" (the E).

    Here's a typical classical use of a sus4:
    Code:
      C       G(7)    Csus4  (C)
    |---------------|---------------------------------------------------------
    |---------------|---------------------------------------------------------
    |-0---2---0-----|-0-------------------------------------------------------
    |-2-------0---3-|-3---2-0-2---------------------------------------------
    |-3-------2-----|-3-------------------------------------------------------
    |---------3-----|---------------------------------------------------------
    Suspensions can also be used without having appeared in a previous chord, but the implication is always (classically) that they will resolve to the nearest chord tone. A suspended 2nd can go either way (to 1 or 3), but usually down to the root.
    Suspensions have a recognisable (if subtle) "yearning" quality, which composers often employ intuitively. Eg, Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" has suspensions at the beginning of each line:
    Code:
      sus2 (on F)                  sus2 (on Dm)               sus4 (on F)
    |---------------|----------0-1|0-----------|--------------|---------
    |---------------|----0-2-3----|--3-3-------|--3-3-1-------|---------
    |-0-------------|--2----------|------------|--------3-2-0-|3--2-2---
    |---3-3---------|-------------|------------|--------------|---------
    |---------------|-------------|------------|--------------|---------
    |---------------|-------------|------------|--------------|---------
    In the 2nd 2 cases, the suspended note is part of the previous chord (A7 or C7), but is not exactly held over in a direct way.
    And they don't necessarily need this gentle pseudo-classical context. G'n'R's "Sweet Child o'Mine" uses melodic suspensions (sus4s) in a similar way, for their emotional impact - eg, "...break down and cry-y" - obviously intuitive. He could have sung "cry" right on the 3rd of the chord, but to sing it on the 4th (suspended from the root of the previous IV chord) gives it extra force, letting it fall to the 3rd later.


    In modal jazz, and quite often in rock, sus chords are used without resolution. Modern ears find unresolved suspensions quite attractive (in the right context), we don't necessarily feel they have to move to a more consonant chord tone.
    Eg, (to invoke the Beatles again) the opening chord to "Hard Days Night" - a fairly revolutionary use (for pop music) of an unresolved G7sus4.
    Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" is a classic jazz modal tune, a sequence of 4 unresolved 7sus4s, not even sharing the same key. Interestingly this was recorded the year after Hard Days Night. So that sound was big in the air in the early/mid 60s - deriving from Bill Evans' use of m11 chords (voiced in 4ths) in Miles Davis's "So What" (1959).
    Last edited by JonR; 06-13-2008 at 09:30 AM.

  7. #7
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    If you are familiar with Intervals and their names I would suggest a read through my Chord Construction series: http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons.../ChdConTOC.htm

    It covers how chords are constructed.

    If you are not familiar with Intervals and naming them I suggest you first read my Interval series: http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons...tervalsTOC.htm

    There are more lessons here under the Beginner to Advanced Series: http://lessons.mikedodge.com

    Enjoy!

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