How Major Chords Are Formed

how major chords are formed

Understanding how chords are created from major scale is a fundamental aspect of instrumental music creation and understanding your instrument. Most major chords comprise three triads, so get familiar with them first before beginning to create music!

Triads are composed of three notes stacked in thirds; for instance, C, E and G are an example of a major triad.


Major chords form the core of many songs, like Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, by using notes of the major scale to form root chords. We will focus on three of these notes – first, third and fifth intervals – which form this chord structure.

These chords, known as triads, have often been described as joyful and positive. Regardless of what your opinion may be on this matter, most newcomers to music begin learning by starting with these chords.

Root notes of chords form its base note; all other notes stacked above it in vertical order above this core note are called secondary notes and played multiple times to form different types of chords.

Major Third

The major third is an interval that lies between a chord’s root note and second note, giving major chords their “major” quality.

Understanding the relationship between chord qualities and intervals is also key, for instance a minor chord has both a minor third and perfect fifth above its root creating its characteristic morose sound and being used to express different emotions through music.

Understanding how triads are formed is vital for all musicians, providing you with an invaluable roadmap for learning songs and improvising – not to mention understanding why certain chords are designated major, minor, diminished, or augmented as scale degrees can be harmonized differently to create them.

Perfect Fifth

The perfect fifth is an interval composed of two notes that are one third apart and occurs above the major triad root, making it one of the more consonant intervals – alongside unison and perfect octave – in music. Twelve perfect fifths played to just intonation produce an A note three octaves higher; using equal-tempered fifths (eight perfect intervals plus two major thirds) produces seven octaves above its starting point.

Keep in mind that all intervals can be inverted by flipping them; for instance, a major 2nd can become a minor 2nd by inverting. Perfect fifths are used often in chord formation; examples include Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as two examples.

Major Seventh

Crafting chords out of stacked thirds is an invaluable skill for any musician, and knowing how to identify and play these chords will sharpen your ear for chord progressions, transposing to other keys, and creating your own distinctive sound as a guitarist.

The major seventh chord is constructed similarly to its counterparts in major triad form, but features an added major seventh interval between root and fifth tone for added depth and fullness. It is often associated with jazz voicings or ballads such as Bacharach & David’s “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” although you may also come across this chord when played rock music; its sound can become particularly dramatic and beautiful when combined with muted bass tones.

Minor Seventh

Understanding chord formation is key for playing songs and improvising freely. Furthermore, having this knowledge will enable you to use chords effectively when writing music composition or transposing to different keys.

Chord notes are typically arranged vertically and can be combined into families that sound similar, known as inversions of that chord. For instance, D minor triad contains several such inversions including major seventh chord inversions.

The major seventh chord can be found throughout pop, rock and classical music – such as Debussy’s “Claire De Lune.” This chord adds a romantic quality and adds another dimension to your playing; simply take any major triad and add an additional minor seventh above it for its construction.