How To Understand Chord Titles


To understand chord titles you need to learn a little bit of music theory. Or you can memorize a pattern.

Every chord title means something slightly different. If you are just starting to learn piano chords, try the page about reading chords. There's more explanations as to why they are named and how to play them.

Understand Chord Titles

What Chord Titles Do

Chord titles are used to tell you what notes of a scale to play together. Then, they tell you what notes need to be raised or lowered.

If you know the notes of the scale of the root note, you can play the chord by following each chord's formula.

The Root

Every chord has a root letter. This can include a sharp or a flat. It is the bottom note of the chord. You figure out the rest of the chord by working from the major scale of the root note. 

The root of a chord

The Titles

Bb - Only a letter name 

This means it's a major chord. You play the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale. To understand chord titles, you must understand how to play a major chord.

C#m - small "m" 

This means it's a minor chord. You play it by lowering the 3rd note of the scale one semi-tone. (This means playing an Eb instead of an E.)

D7 - a 7

This is a 7th chord. You play the major chord and plus a lowered seventh. It's a 4 note chord. You need to take the 7th note of the scale and lower it a semi-tone.

EM7 - a big "M" and a 7

This is a major 7th chord. You play the major chord plus the 7th note of the scale.

F#m7 - a small "m" and a 7

This is a minor 7th chord. Play it by playing a minor chord (lowered 3rd) and adding a lowered 7th. The chord is then root - b3 - 5 - b7. It's like a 7th chord with a lowered 3rd.

G6 - a 6

This is a 6th chord. Play the major chord and the 6th note of the major scale.

A2 - a 2

This is a second chord. Play the major scale and add the second note of the scale.

B4 / Bsus - a 4 or the letters "sus" or both together

This is a suspended chord. Play the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of the scale.

Csus7 - "sus" plus a 7

This is a suspended 7th chord. Play a suspended chord and add a lowered 7th note (the 7th note of the scale down one semi-tone).

Scales help you understand chords

To understand chord titles, it really helps if you know the major scales. If you know them, all you have to do is remember the formula's. If you get stuck on a chord, here's a chord finder. After you understand chord titles, learn how to play chords.

My Favourite Online Piano Course

Piano For All

To keep learning piano and chords, check out the best online piano course I've found, Piano For All. It's the number one online chord course I recommend. It teaches all chords from basics to advanced progressions.

Be sure to get yourself the Free Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet as well!


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