01. Introduction

You have no idea how excited I am that we will spend time together on Fuzzzap's chord building lessons! Let's start with some general information!🤩

Firstly, why chords? In my opinion, chords are the best way to start exploring the world of music. Just imagine when we learn to play, for example, the guitar, we most often begin by mastering simple chords like C major, A major, D major, and we play them until we can't play anymore, or at least until our fingertips can't take it 😁. Thanks to chords, we often, even unconsciously, pave the way to discover rhythm, harmony, or playing solos. That's everything that gives us goosebumps and the pleasure of a full spectrum of colorful sounds. How is it all connected?👉

Before we move on, I'd like to write a few words about how the course is structured. These lessons are based on my own experience, materials from music school, private lessons, information from the internet, and books. My goal is not just to show you those fundamental chord shapes (although after going through these lessons, you'll better understand why you finger them on the fretboard in a specific way). I intend to demonstrate how such a chord is constructed and how you can finger it differently, explore its various versions across the fretboard, and, moreover, construct the full form of your composition.

At this stage of Fuzzzapp's development, it's quite general knowledge. I hope it's presented in an accessible way. With a few additional features and references to other Fuzzzapp applications. The lessons will also serve as a small introduction to our tools, and after going through them, you will be able to use them comfortably, even if they seem a bit unclear now. You can choose a topic from the side menu or go through all the topics one by one.

Of course, many people may disagree with me even on basic theory matters and have different opinions based on their knowledge. Therefore, my goal is to show you my path and the methods I've learned along the way regarding this topic. If you find this format appealing, I plan to expand its content over time and add more (advanced) chapters, so stay close! 💪

Throughout the lessons, you will find informative colored banners. Depending on the color, they will provide you with information about:

Pay special attention to

This color indicates a tip

A reference to another application

In the meantime, there's no need to wait, and let's start with the first topic, which is intervals! 🤘 Let's get rocked!

02. Intervals

Let's start getting to know the theory!

Intervals determine the distances between notes. We measure their distance in half-steps (a full octave contains 12 half-steps).

Does it sound like it's from a school textbook? Don't worry, it's a great beginning!

Although the topic may seem quite simple, I'll interject a bit here because some of you might be thinking that you don't need all this theoretical knowledge and are wondering when I'll finally show some chord shapes. I won't judge, but if you're not familiar with this topic, I'm convinced that even at the intervals stage, you'll get to know your instrument much better. Just playing around and experimenting with how two notes sound together opens up many doors in your mind, provides numerous possibilities, and helps you familiarize yourself with the layout of notes on your instrument. Thanks to my knowledge of intervals, I've seen how the musicians I listen to every day create those incredible melodies, elegant riffs (e.g., fifths and fourths), or heavy breakdowns (based on tritones), amazing! 🤯 (*I remember the first time I realized that my favorite riffs, made up of power chords that I played endlessly with the distortion on, were not even chords but two-note combinations consisting of the root and fifth. That was a significant discovery for me! 😍).

Furthermore, they are the fundamental building blocks of music, and their understanding is crucial for comprehending harmony, constructing scales, and chords.

Now, let's get to know these distances between notes. We mentioned that an octave is divided into 12 half-steps. Let's visualize it, and here's what we have in C, one by one:

C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C

or C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, Gb, G, As, A, Bb, B, C

These presented notes give us a chromatic scale (a twelve-note scale). Based on it, we can then identify a specific interval:

unison - 0 half-steps (in our example, from C)

minor second - 1 half-step

major second - 2 half-steps

minor third - 3 half-steps

major third - 4 half-steps

perfect fourth - 5 half-steps

tritone (augmented fourth, diminished fifth) - 6 half-steps

perfect fifth - 7 half-steps

minor sixth - 8 half-steps

major sixth - 9 half-steps

minor seventh - 10 half-steps

major seventh - 11 half-steps

octave - 12 half-steps

We can categorize these intervals into groups as consonances and dissonances.

In short, consonance is the pleasant-sounding combination of tones, while dissonance is the opposite, where we immediately perceive some 'clash' between the tones. We categorize:

Consonances - perfect unison, minor third, major third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, minor sixth, major sixth, perfect octave

Dissonances - minor second, major second, minor seventh, major seventh, tritone

Understanding consonances and dissonances can be useful for composing and coming up with your own melodies. Just knowing the division of intervals can quickly suggest what kind of sound you want to achieve (e.g., a heavy riff with a tritone typical of a dirty muted sound 😈 or a pleasant melody with a major third 😇 - can, for example, refer to the major chord played and we will discuss their structure in the next lesson).

Due to the fact that these are lessons about chords, I want to mention additional intervals that we can use in chords occurring after 13 half-steps. These are:

  • ninth – octave + second – 13 or 14 half-steps

  • tenth – octave + third – 15 or 16 half-steps

  • eleventh – octave + fourth – 17 half-steps

  • octave & tritone – octave + tritone – 18 half-steps

  • twelfth – octave + fifth – 19 half-steps

  • thirteenth – octave + sixth – 20 or 21 half-steps

  • fourteenth – octave + seventh – 22 or 23 half-steps

  • fifteenth – two octaves – 24 half-steps.

Now you know what intervals are and how we can divide them. You'll often use them in playing and composing, and if the need arises, you can always come back here for a quick review or reference.

See how it looks on your instrument! With the above information, you can now open the Interval Fretboard App from the side menu., choose the name of the interval and see how they are placed on the guitar and piano keyboard. Note that the intervals are the same for each selected key, so the layout remains unchanged. This is very useful knowledge, as it not only tells you how the notes are arranged but also makes it easy to find the components of scales, chords, arpeggios, or passages (we will cover these topics later).

Great! 😁 Such basic knowledge as understanding intervals gives us a ticket to understanding our instruments and music theory!

03. Chord Construction

Now that we know the names of intervals, we can move on to the topic of chord construction.

It is through the names of intervals that we will determine the distances between notes in a chord and the names of the chord components.

Okay, what are these distances, and what are the components? Let's organize this somehow. Let's list the most important things with numbers so that we can discuss them later:

  1. A chord consists of at least three notes played simultaneously.

  2. These notes are usually spaced apart by the fundamental building block of a chord, which is a third (we will discuss various modifications of this concept later).

  3. Each note in a chord is called a chord tone, and as mentioned earlier, we label them with interval names.

Referring to these points, let's see how it works with an example.

1. Let's take the simplest major triad from the C note (We'll discuss other types of chords in a moment).

Three notes of the C major chord are: C, E, G.

2. Next, let's talk about the tertial structure of the chord and how it relates to our example.

We have the root note -> C

If you refer back to the lessons on intervals, you'll see that the note E is 4 half steps away from C, which gives us a major third.

So, we have C with a major third, E.

Let's count how many semitones separate E and G in our chromatic scale. It's 3 semitones, which this time gives us a minor third.

So, we have a major third between the notes C and E, and a minor third between E and G.

We've created a sequence of thirds and formed the C major chord in this way.

This way, if we want to expand our chord, we'll be adding more thirds (we'll discuss this with examples in further sections).

3. Let's see how to name the three notes in our chord and identify them as chord components.

Since these are interval names, the basic note from which we will count is the root. The note E is our mentioned third, and we also know that G is a minor third from E. Therefore, the total distance from root C to G is 7 semitones, which gives us a perfect fifth.

Let's summarize everything and take a look again:

C major chord:

Successive thirds in the sequence are:

C, E = major third,

E, G = minor third

Chord components are:

C = root (1)

E = major third (3)

G = perfect fifth (5)

C(1) + major third -> E(3) + minor third -> G(5)

It looks great! 🤩 And with this information, we can discuss other types of triads! Let's keep going... 😎

04. Triads

Since a chord consists of at least three notes, this means that triads are the most basic type of chord. We also mentioned that a chord is built from thirds. It also determines the mode of the chord in the tonal system of major-minor (basic types of scales), and it will be:

Chord mode:

MAJOR (major third, e.g., C-E) / clearly hear the cheerful character of the chord

MINOR (minor third, e.g., C-E♭) / in this case, you will hear a sad atmosphere

In the previous chapter, using the example of C major, we learned about the major triad which is characterized by consisting of a root, a major third, and a perfect fifth. We also know that between the root and the major third, we have a major third interval, and between the major third and the perfect fifth, we have a minor third interval. The major triad is represented by a capital letter symbol, in our case, it's C.

If we reverse this pattern, we get a minor triad. Let's break it down. Take the first component, the root C. Add a minor third, and you'll get the third component, which is Eb. Then add a major third, and you'll obtain the fifth component, which is the G note. The minor triad is represented by a capital letter symbol followed by MI or MIN, in our case, it's C MI or C MIN

Before we visualize these examples, what we can do next is build a chord with two major thirds and two minor thirds:

Let's take the note C with a major third E, then add another major third, and we get the note G#. In this way, we've constructed an augmented triad and represent it with the symbol C+ or C aug.

Let's do the same with a minor third. C + minor third = Eb + minor third = Gb. This time, we've got a diminished triad, represented with the symbol C○ or C dim.

Alright, let's do a brief summary and take a look at all the examples together:

Major Triad:

C (root of the chord) + major third -> E (major third of the chord) + minor third -> G (perfect fifth of the chord)

Chord symbol: C


Minor Triad:

C (root) + minor third -> Eb (minor third of the chord) + major third -> G (perfect fifth of the chord)

Chord symbol: C MI or C MIN


Augmented Triad:

C (root of the chord) + major third -> E (major third of the chord) + major third -> G# (augmented fifth of the chord)

Chord symbol: C+ or C aug


Diminished Triad:

C (root of the chord) + minor third -> Eb (minor third of the chord) + minor third -> Gb (diminished fifth of the chord)

Chord symbol: C○ or C dim

Great, we've learned all four types of triads based on thirds! These are the most well-known and fundamental chords that you can find in practically every genre of music!

Remember that a chord consists of notes played simultaneously. However, you can use individual notes to play melodies around the chord you're playing! It's a great exercise to introduce you to composition and improvisation! We'll discuss specific examples of such techniques later on. Have fun!

We will expand on the topic of triads and other chords soon. Remember that in our newsletter, I will provide preliminary discussions of upcoming topics and keep you informed about any changes and content updates in the applications!

What's next? 🤔

At this stage of your chord knowledge, you can see how triads are laid out on your instrument! Visualize the sounds by going to the Chords Fretboard tab. Pay attention to how the patterns change with different keys, but the distances between the notes remain the same! 💪

I mentioned that intervals provide a great opportunity to play around with sounds. Chords offer plenty of options for that! In the upcoming sections, we will discuss other topics that will give you a broader understanding of note distribution and chords (exciting stuff like inversions, extended chords, chords within scales 😋). But for now, take a look and compare the information from the lesson with your fretboard or keyboard. You might come up with your own insights and ideas! Have fun, and see you back here soon! Let’s do this! 🙌

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