Major and Minor Chords Definition

major chords definition

Dependent upon its use and context, major and minor are used interchangeably when discussing intervals, chords or scales. Chords tend to fall under either category depending on how far apart their root tone and third tone are located.

Major chords consist of three notes – root, major third and perfect fifth. Chords that contain these three notes are known as triads.

Major Triads

Triads are simple three-note chords composed of the root, third, and fifth notes of any scale; these chords serve as essential building blocks in tonal music.

Triad quality can be determined by examining its interval between its third and fifth notes. Triads created on scale degrees I-IV-V are considered major; those created on degree VI are considered minor; and those created on VII are diminished.

To create a major triad, begin at the root and add the third and fifth notes from your scale’s scale. To form a minor triad, start from your tonic note before adding its respective third and fifth to complete it.

Major Thirds

The major third is an interval that determines whether a chord has major or minor qualities. As an oversimplification, chords that utilize major scales will usually possess major qualities while those constructed using minor scales will exhibit minor qualities.

Major chords consist of three components, which make up their chord tones and ultimately determine its sound.

Major Fifths

When counting intervals, always keep in mind that a major third comprises three notes while minor thirds consist of only two notes. Major intervals consist of whole steps. When counting from C to G it takes 7 semitones (half steps), making it a major fifth interval.

Diatonic scales consist of patterns consisting of major and minor triads with their diminished and augmented counterparts; this allows any major key to use this scale without needing chromatic adjustments. Major chords may sound happy while minor chords might sound sad depending on context and circumstance; this decision should always be left up to you and the listener alone.

Major Sixths

A major sixth is a musical interval spanning nine semitones and is one of two commonly occurring sixths (its smaller equivalent is known as a minor sixth and spans 8 semitones).

Major sixths can be found in chord progressions by looking at the first, third and fifth scale degrees of any major key (they may also exist within fourth and fifth inversions of major seventh chords).

Sixths are soothing-sounding intervals that don’t have as much tension or dissonance than 2nds and 7ths; making them great for creating harmony and setting an uplifting musical tone.

Major Sevenths

Major sevenths differ from other chord types in that they form when you construct a triad on the third, fifth, and seventh scale degrees of any major key.

There are various kinds of major sevenths, each offering its own particular qualities. For instance, dominant sevenths feature an added minor third that builds tension until eventually leading into resolution.

Half-diminished chords composed of me and le are known as half-diminished. They comprise of a minor triad at their core with an added diminished seventh on top – they can add tension or resolution to your music with relative ease. Although less commonly encountered, half-diminished chords still serve an invaluable purpose.

Major Nineths

If a chord consists of the first, third and fifth notes from a major scale (C, E and G for example), it is considered a major chord. These three notes are known as the root note, major third note and perfect fifth.

These chords can be voiced differently but produce the same sound. By adding a ninth note to a seventh chord you create a major ninth chord Cmaj9.

Minor ninth chords combine the reflective qualities of minor sevenths with additional intensity, often written as Cm9.

Major Elevenths

Addition of an eleventh to a chord can create a different sound, often ignored when other extensions are present; but can also be raised for dominant eleventh (C11, C-E-G-B-D-F).

Notably, the interval between seventh and eleventh notes forms a tritone which was traditionally considered dissonant in music centuries ago and this tension often discourages musicians from exploring such chords.

These chords, commonly referred to as ‘add 9’ and ‘add 2’ chords, can provide an excellent alternative to dominant seventh chords when their three notes make too much dissonance with other chords in a progression.