Muze Online: Lesson 11


When we play songs on guitar or in a choir most of the time we hear more than one note at once. For example, on a guitar there are 6 strings and so you use your left hand to hold some of the strings down creating something which sounds nice. When we hold these strings down the note played is changed, and we do this so we can play chords.


Chords are the name when more than two notes are played at once. These are super important for creating effects within a song and to make it interesting, as well as creating a satisfying sound. Like with scales we can get both major and minor chords. There is also a 3rd type of chord which is quite common called a diminished chord. All of these types of chords are called ‘triads’ because they are made up of 3 notes. These chords are created by beginning with a root note and then other stacking notes on top, how these notes relate to the bottom note is how we know if they are major or minor. We can also hear this by listening. 


The two chords we will learn about today is one and five. In music we used the roman numeral term for these which is ‘I’ and ‘V’. They are called this because the root of the chord is the 1st and the 5th degree of the sale. (This means that if you sing the major scales with numbers, the root note would be the same pitch as when you sing 1 and 5).


Chord one is the ‘tonic’ chord and is created by stacking a major 3rd and then a perfect 5th interval on top of the tonic note. This is ‘do’ or ‘one’ when we were singing our scales). For example if we were in C major, C would be our tonic note and our tonic chord would be C, E and G. 


The second chord is five (V) and this is called the ‘dominant’. This chord is important because it sounds like it needs to resolve back to the tonic home key. The dominant is also a major chord and so it is made the same way as the tonic chord: stacking a major 3rd and then a perfect 5th interval on top of the root note. If you were in C major, the V chord would be made up of the notes G,B and D. 


Minor chords are made differently, instead of a major 3rd and then a perfect 5th, the chord is made of a minor 3rd interval and a perfect 5th. You can see that perfect 5ths are very important because they are in almost every chord.

The final chord is different. Diminished chords occur when chords are made from the 7th degree of the scale (This means that if you sing the major scales with numbers it would be the note you sing on number 7). These chords are created by stacking a minor 3rd and a diminished 5th over the root. In C major the ‘VII’ (7th) chord would be diminished and it would contain the notes: B, D, F.


  1. Have a go at playing through these chords if you can.

  2. Draw a C major scale on a piece of manuscript paper. Then try and create the chords above but drawing the notes one on top of each other as shown above. 

  3. Go through the interval lesson from last year and see if you can sing a broken version of these chords (one note at a time). 

c maj chord.png
C major (tonic)Artist Name
00:00 / 00:13
G major (dominant)Artist Name
00:00 / 00:15
b dim.png
B Diminished chordArtist Name
00:00 / 00:15