What is a Chord in Music? Types of Chords, Uses, Progressions

In this lesson you will learn:

  1. What is a Chord in Music?
  2. Types of Chords in Music
  3. Use of Chords in Music
  4. What is a Chord progression in Music?

What is a Chord in Music?

Chords are one of the most important aspects of music. They are basically a set of notes played either simultaneously or in succession that creates different sounds and tones.

Most chords are made up of 3 notes: “the root note” and intervals of a “third” and a “fifth” above the root note. These chords are called “triads” as they are made up of 3 notes and are used in almost all types of music.

A chord can be played on any instrument, but is typically played on a guitar and a piano. There are also many different types of chords like major chords, minor chords, diminished chords, or augmented chords and they can either sound happy or sad.

Chords are the basic building blocks of music composition that provide depth and textures to a song and are used in all styles of music.

What is the use of Chords in Music?

Now that we know, chords are combinations of two or more notes played simultaneously, let’s understand what is the use of chords in music.

As mentioned above, chords are the basic building blocks of music. They can be used to add color and depth to a melody, create an emotional response, or set a mood for a piece of music.

Most importantly they act as the harmonic backbone of a song by providing depth and texture.

There are many different types of chords used in music, which you will learn below and they each serve a specific purpose.

Here are the main uses of chords in Muisc

  1. Chords can be used as the foundation of a melody, providing rhythmic accompaniment to the melody line.
  2. They can also be used as an embellishment or decoration over an existing melody line.
  3. Chords are used to create tension in a piece of music, adding excitement and anticipation.
  4. Chords can be used in a variety of ways to create different sounds. Some chords are played together to create a heavier sound, while other chords are played together to create a softer sound.
  5. Chords can also be used in different ways to create tension and release in music. Tension chords are often played before releasing into a more calming chord progression.
  6. Chords can be used to create movement in music by changing chords frequently. This movement can add interest and excitement to a song or piece of music.
  7. Lastly, chords can be used as the foundation of a song or piece of music.

Types of Chords in Music

Chords can be classified in four ways: major, minor, augmented, and diminished. (There are tons of other types of chords but these four types are most commonly used in music)

Major Chord

Major Chord FormulaRootMajor ThirdPerfect Fifth

A major chord is a three-note chord that consists of the first (root), third, and fifth notes from a major scale. When played together, these notes create a happy, uplifting, and upbeat sound. The major chord is one of the most common chords in music and can be found in a variety of genres from pop to country to rock.

Here’s how a Major Chord Sound

Qualities of a Major Chord

There are several qualities that make a major chord sound different from other chords. Here are 5 important ones that you must know.

  • A major chord sounds bright, cheerful, and uplifting.
  • It’s easy to play and sounds good when strummed or picked.
  • Major chords are stable and reliable.
  • They create a happy sound that is often used in popular music.
  • A major chord has a rich tone that fills up the ears.

Here is the Major Chord Table.

ChordRootMajor thirdPerfect fifth
C♯C♯E♯ (F)G♯
D♯D♯F (G)A♯
G♯G♯B♯ (C)D♯
A♯A♯C (D)E♯ (F)

Minor Chord

Minor Chord FormulaRootMinor ThirdPerfect Fifth

Just like the major chord, a minor chord also consists of three notes but they are different from the major chord. It consists of a root, a minor third, and a perfect fifth of a minor scale. A minor chord has a darker sound than a major chord and is often used to create a sad or mysterious mood in music.

Here’s how a Minor Chord Sound

Qualities of a Minor Chord

One of the simplest chords in music is the minor chord. They are found in almost all types of music just like the major chord. Here are some sound qualities of a minor chord.

  • Minor chords sound sad or melancholic, which makes them a popular choice for slow ballads and sad love songs.
  • But they can also be used in more upbeat songs to create a feeling of tension or melancholy.
  • Minor chords are versatile and easy to play, making them a great choice for beginner musicians.

Here is the Minor Chord Table

ChordRootMinor thirdPerfect fifth
D♭mD♭F♭ (E)A♭
G♭mG♭B (A)D♭
A♭mA♭C♭ (B)E♭
A♯mA♯C♯E♯ (F)

Augmented Chord

Augmented Chord FormulaRootMajor ThirdAugmented Fifth

An augmented chord is a triad chord in which the third note is raised by a half step. In other words, an augmented chord is created by sharpening the fifth degree of a major scale. In more simple words, this means in an augmented chord, the fifth note is one semitone higher than in a regular major chord.

The symbol for an augmented chord is “aug or +”. So, the D augmented chord will be written as Daug or D+.

Augmented chords are not as common as other chords, but they can transform a piece of music when used correctly.

Qualities of an Augmented Chord

  • It has a strong sounding dominant quality.
  • The augmented chord has a feeling of tension and suspense that is perfect for creating suspenseful music.
  • Augmented chords can also be used to create an unstable atmosphere in music, or to add excitement and energy to a piece.
  • It can be used to create lush sounding chords progressions when combined with other chords.

Here is the Augmented Chord table

ChordRootMajor thirdAugmented fifth
C♯augC♯E♯ (F)G (A)
D♯augD♯F (G)A (B)
EaugEG♯B♯ (C)
E♯augE♯G (A)B (C♯)
F♯augF♯A♯C (D)
G♯augG♯B♯ (C)D (E)
AaugAC♯E♯ (F)
A♯augA♯C (D)E (F♯)
BaugBD♯F (G)
B♯augB♯D (E)F♯ (G♯)

Diminished Chord

Diminshed Chord FormulaRootMinor ThirdDiminished Fifth

In music, a diminished chord is a chord consisting of three notes: the root, minor third, and a diminished fifth. This chord is usually played as a triad, but may also be played as a seventh chord.

Diminished chords have a unique sound that is often used in jazz and blues music. They can also be used in both major and minor keys. In a major key, they create a darker, more melancholy sound, while in a minor key they create a more ominous feeling.

Qualities of a diminished Chord

  • The first quality is that they are dissonant. This means that they sound harsh and uncomfortable to the ear. This can be used to create tension in a piece of music.
  • The second quality is their ambiguous sound. This means that they can be interpreted in many different ways, which makes them versatile for use in different types of music.
  • The third quality is their ability to create harmony. Diminished chords can be used to create harmonies with other chords, which adds depth and complexity to a piece of music.
  • The fourth quality is their dark sound.
  • Lastly, diminished chords are not as commonly used as other chord types, but when used correctly they can add depth and interest to your music. Be careful not to overuse them, or they will lose their impact.

Here is the Diminished chord Table

ChordRootMinor thirdDiminished fifth
D♭dimD♭F♭ (E)A (G)
E♭dimE♭G♭B (A)
FdimFA♭C♭ (B)
G♭dimG♭B (A)D (C)
A♭dimA♭C♭ (B)E (D)
B♭dimB♭D♭F♭ (E)

What is an Inversion of a Chord?

When you play a chord, you are playing several notes at the same time. Chords can be played in different positions on the guitar neck. When a chord is played in a higher position, it is said to be in an “inversion.”

Inversions can create new sounds and add interest to your music. There are three basic types of chord inversions: root position, first inversion, and second inversion.

The root position is the most basic type of chord inversion. In this position, the chord is played with the root note as the lowest note of the chord.

The first inversion is created by moving the chord up one string so that the third note of the chord is the lowest note.

The second inversion is created by moving the chord up two strings so that the fifth note of the chord is the lowest note.

What is a Chord Progression in Music?

A chord progression can be as simple as two chords or as complex as dozens of chords played after another in a certain order.

Chord progressions are used in all styles of music, from rock to country to jazz. In fact, many songs are based around a particular chord progression. Progression is essential for creating a sense of movement and tension in the music.

There are countless different chord progressions you could use in your music. However, there are a few common progressions that you’ll likely encounter again and again.

The most basic chord progression is I-IV-V, which is found in countless popular songs. Other common progressions include ii-V-I and vi-IV-I.

What is I IV V in music?

I IV V is one of the most common 3 chord progressions in music. Here the roman numbers represent the numbers on a scale.

For example, the notes of the C major scale are: C-D-E-F-G-A-B. So, in the key of C: I, IV, and V will be C major, F major, and G major respectively. When these chords are played one after another, they are called a chord progression.

This chord progression is found in everything from pop songs to classical music.

The I IV V progression can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used as the main chord progression, or it can be used as a filler chord progression. It can also be used as the beginning, middle, or end of a song.

The I IV V progression is a great way to introduce new listeners to jazz and blues music. It’s also a great way to teach beginners how to play chords on the guitar or piano.

Here are some songs with “I IV V” chord progression

  • La Bamba by Ritchie Valens
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2
  • Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry
  • The Gambler by Kenny Rogers

How many chords are in a progression?

The number of chords in a progression can vary depending on the type of song being played. In most cases, there are between 3 and 5 chords in a progression.

However, some songs may have up to 10 chords, while others may have only 1 or 2. The chord progression is one of the most important elements of a song and should be chosen carefully to create the desired effect.


In conclusion, chords are an important part of music composition that provide depth and textures to a song. They are used in all styles of music and can be simple or complex depending on the composer’s needs. Learning how to create chords and use them in your own music can add a new level of sophistication to your compositions. So why not give it a try?

Here is a video that will help in understanding “Chords” more deeply.