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:
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