Hi all,

This is the 4th post in a series of 6 posts dedicated to the fundamentals of music theory for chords.

Please follow these links to get a quick access to the previous posts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Today I would like to discuss one more chord type: the suspended chord. It is not a triad, but is usually grouped with triads.

Suspended chords of 3 notes

A new chord...

Let me introduce you another chord: the suspended chord (or sus chord)
It is made of a root, a fourth, and a fifth. As you can see, it is similar to a triad, the only difference being that the third has been replaced by a fourth.

Here we have, a C (the root) , an F (the fourth : the interval between the C and the F is a perfect fourth) a G (the fifth : the interval between the C and the G is a fifth)
This structure (root, perfect fourth, perfect fifth) has a name : it is a sus chord in root position.

…but not a triad

As you remember,

"A triad is a chord of 3 notes that can be stacked in thirds."

Let us have another look at this chord :

It is made of a C, an F and a G. There is no way of staking those pitches un thirds. None of the combination C-F-G ; C-G-F ; F-C-G ; F-G-C ; G-C-F ; G-F-C are made of third staked.

This is why this chord is not a triad... but it's not really important. 😉

Here are some examples

Here are some examples of sus chords:

Just take a minute to check that:
1. Each chord is a sus chord root position (root, fourth, fifth);
2. For each chord, the interval between the root and the next note is a perfect fourth;
3. The interval between the root and the fifth is a perfect fifth, which means that all those chords are suspended 3 note chords in root position.

In everyday music, a 3 note suspended chord is often followed by a major triad.
If you are a guitar player, I am sure you have played those two measures a million times. 😀

See you next week for our part 5/6: we will discuss inversions. ✌️

Have a nice day,

Sebastien