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Chord Spellings

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Players interested in chord study can download my free PDF book Jazz Chording for Mandolin


Knowing how a chord is constructed is very important to a Jazz musician.  It is often the first step in finding good sound chord voicings to play in a tune.  If you know what notes are contained in a chord, you will know what notes work best for improvising against that chord (the same notes!). 

 

Chord Spellings are simply the note numbers of the major scale that make a chord.  For example a major chord is constructed with the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale, or 1, 3, 5.  For a C major chord, those notes are C, E and G.  Any place on the fingerboard you find a combination of all 3 notes is a C major chord.

Chord Type                                   Symbol                  Spelling
                                       
Major X 1 3 5
Minor   Xm  1 b3 5
Sixth X6 1 3 5 6
Major Seventh XMaj7 1 3 5 7
Dominant Seventh X7 1 3 5 b7
Minor Seventh Xm7 1 b3 5 b7
Diminished Xdim or X° 1 b3 b5 bb7 (6)
Half Diminished XØ or Xm7b5 1 b3 b5 b7
Minor Seventh Flat Fifth XØ or Xm7b5 1 b3 b5 b7
Minor Sixth Xm6 1 b3 5 6
Minor Major Seventh XmMaj7 1 b3 5 7
Suspended  Xsus 1 4 5
Augmented X+ X#5 X+5  1 3 #5
                                                                                     
                                                                        
Chord Extensions (9, 11, 13)
Ninth X9 1 3 5 b7 9
Eleventh  X11 1 3 5 b7 9 11
Thirteenth   X13 1 3 5 b7 9 (11) 13
Minor Ninth Xm9 1 b3 5 b7 9
Minor Eleventh   Xm11 1 b3 5 b7 9 11
Minor Thirteenth   Xm13  1 b3 5 b7 9 (11) 13
Major Ninth XMaj9 1 3 5 7 9
Major Eleventh   XMaj11  1 3 5 7 9 11
Major Thirteenth XMaj13 1 3 5 7 9 (11) 13
 
                                                                                                   
These are just some, any chord can be extended.  The 11 is usually omitted on 13th chords.
Chord Alterations (5, 9, 11, 13)
Sharp Nine X7#9 1 3 5 b7 #9
Flat Nine X7(b9) 1 3 5 b7 b9
Sharp Eleventh   X7#11 1 3 5 b7 9 #11
Sharp Thirteenth X7#13   1 3 5 b7 9 (11) #13
Major Seven Flat Five XMaj7b5 1 3 b5 7
 

These are just some, any chord can be altered

A PDF file of chord spellings is HERE



 

 

 

 

Have fun learning Jazz!

 

 


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