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Thread: Sus chords???

  1. #1
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    Sus chords???

    A family friend (my former piano teacher) called and asked me to translate some piano tabs to blocked chords for her on the computer. She called the chords out to me over the phone.

    I'm just confused about the sus chords. I understand how to make sus2 and sus4, but what is just sus? For example, I have g sus to g and e minor sus over d. What do these mean?

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
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    If you just see sus it's generally meant to mean sus4.

  3. #3
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    I use sus chords to harmonize a melody phrase. If a 2 or 4 is needed, for harmonization, use the one you need. Sus wants to move to it's parent chord so adding a sus chord does not mess up the rest, tension, climax, resolution journey the chords are on and brings harmonization.

    Yes I know about 9's, etc.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 11-20-2011 at 02:46 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User xyzzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    I use sus chords to harmonize a melody phrase. If a 2 or 4 is needed, for harmonization, use the one you need. Sus wants to move to it's parent chord so adding a sus chord does not mess up the rest, tension, climax, resolution journey the chords are on and brings harmonization.
    Another interesting thing about sus chords is that a sus(sus4) is always an inversion of a sus2. i.e.
    C = (C E G) raise the third to a fourth: Csus = (C F G)
    F = (F A C) drop the third to a second: Fsus2 = (F G C)

    So it makes a nice transition chord. C -> Csus -> F etc

  5. #5
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sawbg View Post
    A family friend (my former piano teacher) called and asked me to translate some piano tabs to blocked chords for her on the computer. She called the chords out to me over the phone.

    I'm just confused about the sus chords. I understand how to make sus2 and sus4, but what is just sus? For example, I have g sus to g and e minor sus over d. What do these mean?

    Thanks for any help!
    As walter says, "sus" is short for sus4. (Sus2 chords are not recognised in jazz, for the reason xyzzy points out: a sus2 would be seen as an inverted sus4.
    A jazz musician sees no reason to omit a 3rd if the 2nd is included in the chord. Eg, C-D-G is a voicing for Gsus4 (and would have a G in the bass); if it had C in the bass, the jazz musician is going to consider adding either E or Eb as appropriate, because there is no good reason to exclude it.
    This is not a hard and fast rule. If a jazz musician saw a "sus2" symbol, he'd know what it meant, and would probably see it as coming from a rock chart.

    Anyway...

    "g sus to g" is certainly Gsus4 to G. (The C resolving down to B)

    "e minor sus over d" needs more explanation.
    To a rock player, "minor" and "sus" are contradictions in terms: a "sus" chord has no 3rd and therefore is neither major nor minor. But in jazz , "sus" just means a quartal chord quality - root-4th-7th, possible with 5th as well - and such a chord might have either a major or minor 3rd (whichever is modally appropriate) added on top. It would still be a "sus" chord in its main sound quality.
    In this case, then, it implies E-A-B-D, with a G added somewhere - could be on top of the chord, or could be right next to the A. (Pianists can do this easily - guitarists have trouble!)
    "over d", of course, means D in the bass; either as well as or instead of in the upper part of the chord. Ie, the following are possible:
    D-E-G-A-B
    D-E-A-B-G
    D-E-A-B-D-G
    etc.
    Which voicing is best should be determined by how it works with chords either side.

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