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How Chord Symbols Tell You What You Can Play

Chords and What They Tell Us

I just posted a video on which I explain a little about some of the common chords we all face from week-to-week, but want to use this post to provide a little more info.

Below are a few more chords not mentioned in the video but are good to know.

sus Chords (Csus, Ebsus)

When you see a sus chord (ex: Csus, Esus), it will usually be followed by the same, non-sus chord. You can hear an example in Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons at the end of the chorus “…His holy name” has a Gsus followed by a G.  As the basic structure of any chord consists of the 1 (root), 3, and 5 notes, the sus chord uses the 4 in place of the 3. You can reproduce this sound on the bass by playing a G (root) along with the next highest C. Then pull off the C and play the B one fret down. The sound of these 2 chords played in this order creates a sense of resolve.

Diminished Chords (Cdim, C°)

Not very common in CCM, but good for every musician to understand.  Diminished Chords also produce a sense of tension, or dissonance that will be followed by a chord that relieves that tension.  They are used in transitions between chords to add color and a feel of tension and relief.  You can hear a diminished chord in the popular song What A Wonderful World at the end of the bridge at the line, “they’re really saying I love you”.  The dim chord happens at the word “saying”.  Listen for the diminished chord in this acoustic cover of the song by David Blair (right around 1:48-1:50 in the video).

The diminished chord is built on minor thirds.  So, if you play a C, D#, and F#, you’ll have the sound of a C diminished chord.  Add an A to that mix and you’ll have a Cdim7 chord.  Please note, with every chord discussed there are a number of variations.  I’m trying to keep my lessons and posts at a basic level to help beginners and those who might be experienced players, but have little music theory background.  Short post this week.  For those who haven’t seen my intro video on chords, here it is. Thanks and see ya next week!