Chord types

Triads, four-note chords, five-note chords and alterations are the main categories of chords.


A triad is a chord consisting of three notes. There are four main types of triads:

"Root" refers to the first note and the rest are terms for describing the intervals in a scale. You will better understand this by looking at the chord diagrams presented together with the theoretical descriptions that could be found on this site.

Four-note chords

These are the three most common types of four-note chords:

Once again, the terms refers to different intervals. These chords are often named from the last part, which is the seventh note above the root in the actual scale.

Five-note chords

These are the three most common types of five-note chords:

The five-note chords are not as common as the other two categories, even less common are ...

Six- and seven-note chords

In this category we found the eleventh and thirteenth chords:

Six- and seven-note chords are often played as polychords, meaning that they are divided into two smaller ones for each hand to play.


There are also alterations, which means that one note is lowered or raised one step. Here are two examples:

In the two examples the fifth is either lowered (diminished) or raised (augmented).

See also Build chords using half steps ›