How Guitar Chords Are Formed in Different Keys

Chords are constructed by using notes from one scale; however, musicians don’t tend to stick to one key when creating songs, so understanding how chords form across keys is important.

Basic major chords consist of the first note, third note and fifth note of any scale. Woodwind and brass instruments cannot play more than one note at once so chords must be used as building blocks of music to create their melodies.


Chords are composed of multiple notes played simultaneously when strumming them together. A chord’s fundamental note (known as its chord root) forms part of this chord along with triads, intervals and extensions (for more on chord theory see guitar chord theory).

Beginners looking to start learning chords should start with open chords; these are easier for newcomers to memorize and don’t require much finger strength or dexterity from them.

When learning chord shapes, try thinking of them more as shapes than individual notes; this makes playing barre and power chords up the neck much simpler later. Practice playing all natural notes on one string out loud to familiarize yourself with finger placement up and down the neck so as to prevent mistakes when strumming patterns become more complex; once this has been accomplished, move onto more advanced progressions.


Scales may not be the most pleasant exercises to practice, but they provide an invaluable foundation for improvising (since notes from one scale tend to sound great when combined together), writing songs and learning your fretboard better. Plus they help get comfortable with different finger positions!

Each chord diagram in this lesson illustrates a moveable scale pattern that you can play anywhere up the neck. A red dot marks its root note and its position determines its key. Once you know both major and minor scale patterns well enough to practice them properly, start playing around with different notes within them to start creating your own riffs and solos using this approach; these exercises also offer great practice opportunities such as hammer-ons and pull-offs!


Triads are an effective way to add harmony to a song, more stable than full chords, and easier for beginner guitarists to play.

Triads can have various expressive qualities; major triads may sound complete and resolved while remaining bright and upright, while minor triads have sadder and deeper tones. Diminished triads appear less resolved but more discordant while augmented triads create an otherworldly atmosphere.

Note that chord symbols for triads will always indicate their quality regardless of whether doublings are used or open spacing is used, making it easier for you to quickly identify each chord’s quality on the fretboard – something that is especially helpful when combined with learning scales and triad shapes.


As chord extensions can sometimes be daunting to guitar players, some guitarists shy away from them initially. However, these extensions can add much-needed dimension and variety to a triad. By adding extensions such as 9th or 13th to standard seventh chords they create new voicings which enrich its sound overall.

Another expansion that can be added to power chord shapes is the flat 5 power chord (also referred to as minor 7 power chord). This voicing can be created simply by lowering the middle note by one fret – creating a dark and menacing effect.

Subtracting out a third from a dominant 11th chord to prevent dissonance is another popular technique seen frequently in doom metal music. This can be accomplished with any of the four power chord shapes but typically features prominently.


Tablature is a type of music notation commonly employed with guitar or other stringed instruments, using lines and numbers to indicate which fret to press on a string, along with symbols representing techniques like hammering or bending.

If you see “tr” written between two notes in a tab, this indicates to rapidly strike one note before rapidly hammering on and pulling off rapidly from another to create an unusual, staccato sound.

In general, tablature should be read from left to right. Individual numbers on lines represent melodies or solos you play; stacked sets of numbers indicate chords.