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Thread: Sus chords

  1. #1
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    Sus chords

    How are sus chords used actually in chords progressions? I know the theory behind them but what is their theory in relation to their use in progressions? Can they be used relatively at random, or are the some kind of 'rules' as to where they fit?

  2. #2
    Registered User Mike7771's Avatar
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    Ok here's what I have to offer on this topic.

    Sus chords are really used the same way as any extention to a triad (or as a replacement to a triad) in a chord progress. Sometimes, you want to use a Maj 7th, but you could replace that major seventh with a sus chord if you wish. (you would most like use a sus2 to replace diatonic Maj7th, sus4s are avoid tones for all scale degrees that hold a Major 7th in the Major and Natural Minor scales) They can be used "relatively at random" from scale degrees they fit on.

    You say you know what a sus chord is but there is one thing I have to talk about, you may already know this. I assume you know the forumal for the two main sus chords (sus2 = 1 - 2 - 5 ) and (sus4 = 1 - 4 - 5) Notice that there is no 3rd in either of these chords. The 3rd scale degree is important in a chord because that is what determins if a chord is Major or Minor. So a Suspended chord is not major and it is not minor, it is suspend (kinda implies minor but that also depends on what scale degree it is played from.)

    Now since a sus chord is not Major or Minor you can do things with it. For one thing they can make changing keys easier. (this goes into theories about modulation so I won't go into that). They can also be used when you want your listerner to not be sure of what the tonal center is. (you see when you play a Minor or a Major chord in a Major or Minor key there are only three scale degrees that chord could be rooted from. When you play a sus chord on the other hand, it could be rooted off 6 scale degrees, this can cause tension, and make the listerner unsure of what key you are in. I Love Sus chords use them all the time. Ever try to play a Major barr chord with heavy distortion on, it does not sound that good, but most sus chords do. Power chords don't tell you if they are major or minor either this is one reason people love them in heavy music.

    There are some basic rules too

    You should not use a sus4 on the I chord, the IV chord, and the vii chord.
    (it fits diatonicly on the frist scale degree (I) but the 11th is an hamonic avoid tone so it should not be used.)

    You should not use a sus2 on the iii chord, and the vii chord.

    Most of the above rule only apply because the sus chords in question don't fit diatonicly from these other scale degrees.

    Sorry this is so long. Hope it helps.
    Last edited by Mike7771; 04-11-2004 at 07:55 AM.

  3. #3
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    Hmm, there is no problem to use a sus4 chord on the I chord.
    You have to avoid this if the third is not ommited. The 11th is avoided if the triad is major and you are adding the fourth - in this case the 11th should be raised a half step, otherwise more dissonant sound occurs. This is in classical music, in jazz you can add natural P11 to a major triad with no problems.
    Last edited by Stone; 05-22-2004 at 11:19 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User Mike7771's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone
    Hmm, there is no problem to use a sus4 chord on the I chord.
    You have to avoid this if the third is not ommited. The 11th is avoided if the triad is major and you are adding the fourth - in this case the 11th should be raised a half step, otherwise more dissonant sound occurs. This is in classical music, in jazz you can add natural P11 to a major triad with no problems.
    Yeah this is pointed out on my site at http://forum.guitarknowledgenet.com/viewtopic.php?t=83

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