Practical Music Theory unit 6: Chord Symbols and definitions

Terms and symbols in chord names


Add (as in add9): The 9th is added to the triad (7th is not present)
Notation Example: Dadd9

Alt (altered)–means that 5th, 9th, and 13th are ALL either flatted or sharped (player’s discretion as to which to include in a chord voicing).
Notation Example: C7(alt)

Augmented: The 5th is sharped
Notation Examples: C+, Caug, C7+, C7(+5)

Diminished:  Both the 3rd and 5th are flatted.
Notation examples: Cdim, C°, C°7

Dominant: Contains a flatted 7th, as well as a natural 3rd & 5th.
Notation examples: C7, C9, C11, C13 (all of these are “dominant” chords)

Flat: Lowered by 1/2 step. Symbol looks like a lower-case b (very difficult to get this symbol to work well on web pages, so I just use the lowercase b)
Notation example: Bb, Ebm7

Half-Diminished: A.K.A. “minor 7 flat 5”, a chord containing a minor 3rd, a flat 5th, and a flat 7 (note that a full diminished chord contains a double-flat 7th).
Notation Examples: Cm7b5, Cm7(b5), CØ

Major:  Contains natural (a.k.a. “major”) 3rd and natural 5th.
Notation examples: Cmaj7, CΔ

Minor: Contains a flat (a.k.a. “minor”) 3rd and a natural 5th.
Notation examples: Cm, Cm7, C-, C-7

Sharp: Raised by 1/2 step.
Notation examples: C#, C#m, C#dim, etc.

Sus (suspended): 3rd is omitted (suspended), usually replaced with 2nd or 4th.
Notation examples: Csus, C7sus, Csus2, Csus4


△    major

–      minor

°      diminished

+     augmented

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