What Is a Chord?
What's a chord? Essentially, a chord is three or more notes sounded simultaneously. Chords can, of course, be more than three notes, so a few things need to be clarified. First, the simplest kind of chord is a triad, which begins with the prefix tri, meaning “three.” A triad is a three-note chord, and the intervals between the notes (as you will learn soon) are always thirds apart—yet another use of the prefix tri.
Just like intervals, chords come in different qualities. The quality refers to the type of chord it is, which is always based on some sort of construction rule. The basic chord qualities for triads are major, minor, augmented, and diminished. Those are the same qualities that the intervals had (excluding perfect). So to recap, a chord, at its simplest, is a three-note triad with intervals that are thirds apart and notes that ring together. Before you go any further, look at FIGURE 7.1 to see a simple C major triad.
FIGURE 7.1 A Simple C Major Triad
FIGURE 7.2 A Guitarist's Version of C Major
That is the simplest way to look at a chord, essentially the model or prototype voicing, but rarely do you see chords in such clear order. You should think of triads as model chords. They are the simplest way to spell a chord. Unfortunately, rarely do you ever see such models of perfection in music. What you do see are chord voicings. A voicing is a rearrangement of the notes of the triad without adding or taking away from the essential ingredients (in the case of C major: C–E–G).
FIGURE 7.2 shows what a guitarist plays when asked to play a C major chord.
If you compare this chord with the pure triad in FIGURE 7.1, you can see that while they appear visually different on the page, in fact, they contain the same elements. Both chords contain the principal notes C, E, and G, but the guitar voicing repeats the notes C and E to fill out the chord and makes it sound fuller. Either way, it's still C–E–G, no matter how you slice it. When you analyze a chord, you look for the basic notes that define it. Typically, They are not all in a pretty little row, in triadic order; many times you have to hunt around, but you can do that
The son of a schoolmaster, Franz Schubert was born in Vienna on January 31, 1797, and died in Vienna on November 19, 1828, at the age of thirty-one. Even as a child he showed an extraordinary aptitude for music and studied the violin as well as the piano. His fame increased markedly after his death, and today he is perhaps best known for his piano sonatas.