Unlike scales, chords are both harmony (all notes played simultaneously) and melody (each note played individually) structures. Chords played melodically are called arpeggios.

Chords consist of three or more tones, usually major thirds and minor thirds stacked on top of one another.

Chord Construction Basics

There are three ways to construct chords:

  • From a major scale
  • Use a half-step formula
  • Alter another chord

Constructing chords from scales demonstrates the relationship between chords and scales, the basis of harmony and melody. Creating chords using the appropriate half-step formula allows the construction of chords from any note without having to know the corresponding scale. Altering a chord to produce a new chord shows how chords compare to one another. Each of these techniques are explained for each chord in the individual lessons listed below.


  • Triads
  • Sixths
  • Sevenths
  • Ninths
  • Elevenths
  • Thirteenths
  • Suspended
  • Sixth Add Nine

Top Home