The Architecture of Music

Chords

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Documenting Common Chords Using Interval Diagrams and Chord Formulas

Interval Diagrams of Common Chords

When common chords were drawn using interval diagrams, a logical ascending order began to form. Notice how all the chords above are similar. They all contain a root note in the bass position and the note seven semitones higher in pitch (indicated by the X) known as the perfect 5th interval. Only one note—the 3rd note (represented by the triangle)—changes position, it ascends one semitone in each chord, and is the only difference in the three chords above. This variable 3rd note interval thus names the chord. The chords above are 3-note chords because they contain exactly three different notes. Chords can have upwards of 5, 6, and even 7 different notes and more. Although this book only covers 4-note chords, the design of the chord encyclopedia allows for deeper exploration of more complex chords with more than four notes.