I. Intro to Chords

II. Triads and Inversions

III. Sus Chords

IV. Sixth Chords

V. Seventh Chords

VI. Extensions

VII. Add chords and Alterations

VIII. Bass and Polychords

IX. Modern and Chromatic Chords

 

 

Part III: Suspended Chords

There are other types of chords formed from three tones that are not considered triads (simply because they arenít formed on the 1, 3, and 5 of the scale). First and foremost are the sus chords.

 

A sus chord is just the shortened name for a suspended chord. In a suspended triad the third is either raised or dropped so that the distance from the root or the fifth and the suspended note is a whole stop, depending on what type of sus chord it is.

 

In a sus2 chord, the 3rd degree of the chord is dropped a whole step. So letís take our typical C Major chord once again and try it out. So we have C E and G.

 

Letís drop the E a whole step. You get a D. The new chord is now C D and G, or Csus2.

 

[Picture showing C Major and Csus2]

 

As you can see, the distance from the suspended note and the root of the triad is a whole step.

 

Now in a sus4 chord, as mentioned earlier, the 3rd degree of the chord is raised to form a whole step between this tone and the fifth. In order to accomplish this, the tone will only be raised a whole step (in this case). In other chords the alteration of steps of the 3rd will differ.

 

The easiest way to remember the two types is to compare it to the major scale as summarized below:

 

Type

Tones

Example Symbol

Suspended 4th

1,4,5

Csus4

Suspended 2nd

1,2,5

Csus2

 

So you take the 1,4,5 or 1,2,5 tones of the major scale based on the root note you are using. So if we are in E major, we have F#, C#, G#, D#. We are in E major starting on root E. If we want to form an Esus4 chord, take the 1,4, and 5 of the scale: E A B. Esus2? Thatís just E F# B.

 

Sus chords are particularly useful in adding more color or density to the sound. They are used extensively in modern music to create different modes and have been used in classical music extensively as well. Note also, that sus chords can be inverted if necessary.

 

To learn more about their usage in lead/melody writing as well as chord progressions, see the segment on non-chord tones (NCT) in section X.