The online Music library (vexflow) used to create the tabs and scores for this lesson has been discontinued, therefore the music notation is not displayed correctly.

I am working to replace them with ones created with a new “future-proof” library. Stay tuned!


A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously.These need not actually be played together: arpeggios and broken chords may, for many practical and theoretical purposes, constitute chords. Chords and sequences of chords are frequently used in modern Western, West African and Oceanian music, whereas they are absent from the music of many other parts of the world.

The most frequently encountered chords are triads, so called because they consist of three distinct notes: further notes may be added to give seventh chords, extended chords, or added tone chords. The most common chords are the major and minor triads and then the augmented and diminished triads. The descriptions major, minor, augmented, and diminished are sometimes referred to collectively as chordal quality. Chords are also commonly classed by their root note—so, for instance, the chord C major may be described as a triad of major quality built upon the note C. Chords may also be classified by inversion, the order in which the notes are stacked.

Source: wikipedia

Is this too complicated? Let’s take it step by step.

Chord basics

Let’s start with a (simple) definition. What is a chord?

A chord is a combination of three or more notes.

What is a chord root?

A root is a single note that we use to build a chord.

What is a triad?

A triad is a chord that built with three notes: the root the 3rd and the 5th.

Minor, Major, Augmented and Diminished Triads

So, what is a major triad (or major chord)?

A major triad is a chord built with a major 3rd and a perfect 5th from the root.

Playing Common Chords with a Mandolin

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