This Is­sue: No Thirds

Guitarist - - Contents -

in mu­sic the­ory, the 3rd is a very im­por­tant note. more than just the third note in a scale, it’s also the middle note in the tri­ads form­ing the ba­sis of most chords. it has ma­jor and mi­nor vari­ants (four or three semi­tones above the root) and this dis­tinc­tion de­fines whether the re­sult­ing chord is ma­jor or mi­nor. it’s VI­TAL! But you know what? No-one likes a smart-arse. Let’s get rid of it.

Chords without 3rds are by na­ture am­bigu­ous, with no ex­plicit ma­jor or mi­nor qual­ity. Usu­ally, though, we tend to work with sim­ple sus2 or sus4 chords, cre­ated by tak­ing a triad and push­ing the 3rd up or down to the 2nd or 4th (‘sus­pend­ing’ the 2nd or 4th). Those chords have a dis­tinc­tively hol­low, aus­tere sound, but there’s a lot more you can do, us­ing more com­plex chords. There are two ways to ap­proach this: you can sus­pend the 2nd or 4th of the chord, or you can just omit the 3rd, not re­plac­ing it with the 2nd or 4th.

From our ‘vanilla’ pro­gres­sion, we’ll use both ap­proaches and you’ll see that they can of­ten be in­ter­preted both ways. This ba­sic shape is a fu­sion ev­er­green; as you’ll see later, it also works with a ma­jor 7th.

The D7­sus4 never seems quite as ob­vi­ously Pin­ball Wizard as the straight sus4, so it’s a bit more cliché-proof. Also, although we call it D7­sus4, that’s mu­sic the­ory con­ven­tion – it’s not dom­i­nant or ma­jor. It’ll work per­fectly in mi­nor con­texts.

here’s the ma­jor 7th ver­sion of the first shape, and this is an­other com­mon fu­sion chord. Don’t let that put you off, though; these chords can be ap­plied to loads of dif­fer­ent styles.

here’s an­other chord that’s ac­tu­ally quite com­mon – you’ll hear it in fu­sion, Steely Dan, 70s Mo­town and loads more.You can in­ter­pret it as a mod­i­fied F dom­i­nant chord or sim­ply as an E triad over an F bass (E

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