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Chord Spelling Chart

Correct chord construction and spelling are essential to good arranging and composition. The following tables have the chords grouped in CHORD FAMILIES. A CHORD FAMILY consists of those chords that have a similar basis and function the same way in a diatonic key area. It is important that you not only learn to spell and construct the chord correctly but also the FUNCTION and SOUND of the chord.

I MAJOR CHORD FAMILY These chords function as a 1 CHORD in a MAJOR KEY AREA.

Altered

 

C

C +

 

w

 

w

 
 

w

#

w

&

w

w

C

6

 

w

w

 
 

w

&

w

C

MA 7

CMA 7( b 5)

CMA 7 +

 

w

 

w

 

w

 

w

w

 

w

 

w

b

w

#

w

&

&

w

C

MA 9

w

C

MA 9 ( b 5)

w

CMA 9 +

 

w

 

w

 

w

 

w

w

 

w

 

w

w

 

w

 

w

b

w

#

w

 

w

w

w

C

6 9

 

w

 
 

w

w

 

w

&

w

&

C

MA 7 ( 6 9)

 

w

 
 

w

 

w

w

 

w

 

w

C

MA 9( # 11)

#

w

 

w

 
 

w

 

w

 

w

&

w

CMA 13( # 11)

#

w

w

 

w

     
 

w

 

 

w

     
 

w

     

&

w

II MINOR 7 CHORD FAMILY These chords function as a II CHORD in a MAJOR KEY AREA. They function as a II CHORD in MINOR KEY AREAS when altered by the use of b 5. Altered

D MI

D MI w w & w & D MI 7 w w w w & D

w

w

&

w

&

D MI 7

w

w w

w

&

DMI 9

w w

w w

w

&

DMI 11

w

w w

w w

w

DMI 13

w w

w w

w w

&

w

MI 7( b 5)

D

D w w

w

w

b

w

w

D MI 9 ( b 5)

w w

b

w w

w

D MI 11( b 5)

w

w w

b

w w

w

V7 DOMINANT 7th CHORD FAMILY These chords function as a V CHORD in a MAJOR KEY AREA. They function as a V CHORD in MINOR KEY AREAS when altered. Note: black noteheads are omitted from the chord.

Altered

&

G 7

& G 7 w w w w G 9 w w & w w w G

w

w

w w

G 9

& G 7 w w w w G 9 w w & w w w G

w w

&

w

w w

G 11

w

w w

&

w œ

w

G 7( b 5) w b w w w
G 7( b 5)
w
b
w
w
w

5 ) )

G + 7

w # w w w 7( # 9) G # w w w w w
w
#
w
w
w
7( # 9)
G
#
w
w
w
w
w
+ 7( # 9)
G
# w
w
# w
w
w

9( # 11)

 

G

 

w

 

#

w

w

&

w

w

w

G 13

& w œ

w w w w w

w

w

w

w

w

13( # 11)

G

 

w

w

 

#

w

w

&

w

w

w

9 ( b

G

b w

13

#

11 )

 

# w

w

w

&

w

w

w

I MINOR CHORD FAMILY These chords function as a I CHORD in a MINOR KEY AREA.

&

C MI

 

b

w

 

w

w

&

CMI(MA 7 )

 

b

w

w

 

w

w

CMI 6 9

 

w

 

b

w

w

&

w

w

C MI 6

b w w w w C MI(MA 9 ) w b w w w w

b

w w

w

w

CMI(MA 9 )

w

b

w w

w w

DIMINISHED CHORDS

These chords function as a VII CHORD or substitute for V7 in a MAJOR or MINOR KEY AREA.

Also useful for harmonising passing notes.

black noteheads may be added to dim7 chord

b œ

C

`

C `

C

` 7 (add D )

&

   

w

œ

œ

b w

b w

b w

b w

b w

b w

w

b

b w w

œ

w

w

w

w

w