When forming a Major chord, one must temporarily think in the key of the root of that chord. The Root of the chord is where we get the letter name for the chord. It is also the note by which all other notes in that chord are determined. The other two notes of the chord are taken from the scale tones a third and fifth above the root. These three notes form a Major chord.
As an example, let us form an E Major chord.
- The name of the chord gives us the root, that is, E.
- We know that the key of E Major has four sharps: F#, C#, G#, and D#. The E Major scale, then, is E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, and E.
- We now take the third and fifth from this scale, together with the root, and form the E Major chord.
- Therefore, the notes E, G#, and B make up the E Major chord.
E Major Chord from an E Major Scale
Let us follow this procedure again to form an Ab Major chord.
- The name of the chord gives us the root, that is, Ab.
- We know that the key of Ab Major has four flats: Bb, Eb, Ab, and Db. The Ab Major scale, then, is Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G, and Ab.
- We now take the third and fifth from this scale, together with the root, and form the Ab Major chord.
- Therefore, the notes Ab, C, and Eb make up the Ab Major chord.
Ab Major Chord from an Ab Major Scale
Using this system, one can find any Major chord. Most people instantly realize, however, that it takes a lot of thought to figure out a Major chord in this manner, and is impractacle for use while playing. They are right. This only serves to explain the reason as to why a Major Chord is called a Major Chord (because it is based upon the Major scale of the root). From this point, you should strive to memorize all the major chords, so that you may have them instantly at your finger tips. Then, you will find it easy to make other types of chords.
We will now begin to create a chart which will help us see how the Major chord relates to all other chords. It begins quite simply:
The 1, 3 and 5 refer to the root, third and fifth (respectively) of the scale from which the chord is based. An example of this chart being applied to a C chord is shown below, along with the common abbreviations used to describe that chord.